By Chris Keeley
People ask me all the time which career I liked best? My 22 years as a fireman or my 20 years in commercial real estate brokerage. The truth is I’ve loved them both although, of course, they’re such different jobs. I was in sales before I joined the fire department so going back to sales was natural after my fire department retirement.
I actually started in commercial real estate years before I retired from fire. I heard about one of the most successful commercial real estate brokers in Chicago who was a fireman also and thought I can do that. That and the fact my brother Jim Keeley was so successful in commercial real estate in Scottsdale gave me the courage to try. So I followed the footsteps of both my brothers, Kevin the fire chief and Jim the real estate broker.
Commercial Real Estate and The Fire Department are really only similar that there’s something new every day. And you better be prepared to be surprised because the unexpected will always happen. Just like the fire department, things happen in every real estate deal that you could never predict. And even when you do everything right things still might not work out. Or even when everything goes wrong the deal might still go through, or the patient might still live.
One of the most treasured gifts I ever received came from a patient we had when I was a paramedic. An elderly couple came to the fire station and gave my medic partner and me pocketknives as gifts. We asked, for what? The husband said, “ I was the dead guy you saved last month. When you came to my house I was dead.” This was one of the worst, messiest, code arrests my partner and I had ever been on. No ones fault. It just didn’t go smoothly, at all. Nothing went right but he made it anyways. What a great gift to meet this man and shake his hand and get hugs from his wife. My partner and I both learned through this man, it’s great to help people but life and death decisions are left to the maker not us. We had them go the other way of course. Where we did everything perfect and still lost the patient. Police, Fire, Doctors, Nurses; we all learn to do our best but the final outcome falls on a higher source.
I’ve had bad days in the real estate business as everyone in every business has. But I’ve never seen a bad enough business day that can ever compare to some of the really bad days I’ve seen people have while working on the fire department. It helps me keep perspective and know the really important things in life. No bad day in business can ever be as bad as that day that mother and father had in that emergency room with their 7-year-old daughter that I witnessed years ago.
I guess the whole point of this article is to give some perspective and remind people to never forget the really important things in life. The ones you love are the true treasures in your life. Business is only to support what you treasure. So with that in mind, there are no really bad days in business, only new opportunities. Take care of your treasures!