On January 28th, I’ll be forty. I’ve been thinking about this approaching day for a few weeks.
I’m going to be honest with you I was a slightly glum about this new decade, at first. Mainly, because I felt like I’m not where I should be at forty–professionally, feeling a bit like I had failed myself and my children. But then, like most people who reach a milestone-year, I took the time to really look back, deep into my life.
Looking at those grains of sand which have passed through that tenured hour glass, I couldn’t believe what I saw. And I frequently said to myself: I can’t believe I did that, I can’t believe I met all of those people, I can’t believe I had all of those joyous (and not-so joyous) experiences; and if someone would have been able to predict my future when I turned thirty, telling me what was in store for me over the next ten years, I wouldn’t have believed them.
I’ve never openly spoken of how and why I entered the field of real estate, but I’m going to now, and it all started prior to my thirtieth year. I needed a way out of my terrible marriage, and my role of subservient housewife in Cleveland. I had no skills at the time, except for being able to sing—but that’s not exactly resume material. So with my toddlers, I went to my local library in Cleveland, borrowing and reading books, trying to find a profession to escape our circumstances and to create a healthy home environment for the three of us. I found real estate in those books; it became my vehicle to start anew, breaking free from years of abuse and a martyr-mentality. Back then, I never had a vision of being Trump or ever working in Manhattan. I just wanted a way out my marriage, with a trade which allowed me to support my kids—on my own. And eventually, it worked.
Years later I wrote:
26 November 2005, The Palace Hotel
It’s our bi-annual trip to New York City. The kids are sleeping, as I sit near the window looking at the spirals of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, thinking. The kids asked me if we could move here, “For good!” They think Manhattan is Toys “R” US, Times Square. That it’s a gigantic toy store 24/7. I guess it is in a way. They even think the fixtures in this hotel bathroom are pure gold (I didn’t have the heart to tell them that they’re brass). Oh, well. When I was kid I used to dream of living here, too. Hell, I still dream about it. I’d love to make this big-city dream a reality, for all of us. I just don’t know how to do it…
Eight months after I wrote that, I accepted a position as the B2B Manager for the largest real estate firm in Manhattan. So we moved. Although my time with that “large firm” was short-lived, it led to so many more opportunities in Big Apple real estate, for which I’m extremely thankful for. And the people I met and helped! Damn, I can’t even to begin to write about all of the famous people, those who are considered the top 1% and those of whom are not-so fiscally fortunate, the professional soirees, and the social-events that I experienced, making an imprint in my life.
Because of all of those stamped-encounters, I became extremely goal oriented in NYC. I had some pretty high goals (a few not very realistic), and many that had changed over the five years I was there. And one of those old goals was to become a CEO by the time I was forty-four. Well, like many of my far-fetched goals, I’m not likely to reach that one, per se. (Yeah, I own my own little company, but it’s not like anyone works for me: I’m the owner, sales agent, terrible book-keeper and bill collector, receptionist, et al; and it’s not a super lucrative business, to say the least). So that goal of not being close to CEO-level has been beating on my mind lately, nearing forty. And the fact that I had to leave Manhattan a few months ago, when I didn’t feel like I was finished there, has cast a spell on me that I have, in a small way, failed. Actually, I felt like I was behind in everything the entire time I was in Manhattan, regardless of the real estate deals I had closed. I think NYC has a way of doing that to people. And it has to do with money, needing to make lots and lots of money…
But this week, I went back to that library in Cleveland. It was a cleansing experience for me, remembering where I was in my life, when I first searched its shelves, looking for a trade. “If you only knew the places I have been to because of you,” I wanted to say to those walls lined with books. But I didn’t. Standing in that holy-shrine of bounded paper, I realized that I was already a CEO—it happened the minute I read that first book over ten years ago, taking control of my life.
(And I don’t need such a title on my resume, anymore, to look or feel important.)
I’m now looking forward to the next decade, starting today.
As far as what kind of gift I’d like to receive, celebrating this fortieth year, I don’t really need anything nor do I need a splashy, over-the-hill party; but I’d like to request that you make a donation–$5 or whatever the denomination to your local library, so that, possibly, another person can become a CEO…of his or her life, whether it be at 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 years of age.