Michelle Kam is a Toronto-based broker, specializing in high-volume downtown condo properties, who fell in love with the real estate landscape once she had all the chips in place.
As a child, I was obsessed with putting puzzle pieces together. “Where’s Waldo?” 1,000-piece dinosaurs were a revelation. Learning to match the patterns and pieces to look like the image on the front of the box thrilled me. I began to imagine how I might assemble my life in a similar manner. Only, life doesn’t always come with all the right pieces, or with a clear picture of what the whole thing should look like when it’s completed.
When starting my career, I signed with one of the best-known brokers in the business, imagining all there was to learn from this “mentor.” Within months, as more of the pieces I was given seemed never to click into place, my mentor became my tor-mentor.
Instead of support and empowerment, he would sabotage deals I was working hard to accomplish. One night I cried myself asleep on the floor. When I awoke and dried my eyes, I began to make out the pattern. Whenever I was close to finishing a deal, he would withhold pieces until the whole thing was about to collapse. Then he’d step in at the eleventh hour and snap the right piece into place to complete the picture I’d put together. Casting himself as savior, he was the one who was paid the commission.
It took a while before I realized it wasn’t me or the profession itself that was the problem. So, I quit my tormentor and set out to build my own picture puzzle, with all of the pieces I needed to become sole proprietor of my own career. The result was that more of the pieces then fell into place. I was moving ahead with success at a pace that surpassed expectations, watching my tormentor’s anguished face fade in my rear-view mirrors.
My career is one part of the puzzle, as are my personal happiness and family-life ambitions. The pieces you’re given in a neat box with pretty pictures aren’t the only pieces you need to complete the whole picture.