For a great number of years I’ve looked through my own myopic real estate prism in a fairly consistent way. As the current economic downturn has progressed, my view has narrowed, some would say into a very cynical eye for the professional world around me. The passing of Joe Ferrara has caused me to revisit that.
To be clear I did not know him but only had the privilege of reading the countless thoughts of people far more versed in his world than I ever was. This morning, I picked up the July/August Realtor Magazine and saw the piece he had written entitled ‘Do Right by Doing Good.’
There it was. All of the comments that I’d seen from others, quotes attributed to him, anecdotes from friends – were all summarized in that column. The emphasis was that in even in these challenging times we should be finding ways to help those who couldn’t afford it, to give unselfishly of our knowledge and expertise even as some of us struggled for survival.
To Joe, the words pro bono were ones that we should all be embracing and sharing within each of our respective communities. The concept wasn’t optional… it was a necessity. Amidst the half a dozen examples of how he proposed we do that, I began to think about the last several years of my business and how it had affected me.
For all of us it has been a trying time. For many, we haven’t always taken the time to step back and look at who we were becoming professionally in the midst of all of these challenges. Joe, no doubt, had these too but still managed to keep perspective even in the face of his own mortality.
In reading one of the last pieces he must have written, I could not help but be affected by his enormous amount of unselfishness and grace when it would have been easily forgiven if he’d been otherwise. I’ve not always been so gracious in the face of adversity, I’m embarrassed to admit, but his example has inspired me to consider another path.
I cannot promise not to blast the next mortgage broker who tells me ‘this buyer is gold Greg,’ only to not be able to complete the transaction. In addition I cannot always promise to be forgiving when someone in our industry intentionally undermines an effort to give back to those around me. What I will take from learning more about Joe Ferrara is that there are people in our midst who care enough to give, work hard enough to make a difference and share enough to matter.
I’ve heard it said that the mark of a true legacy is the lasting affect one has on those they’ve never met. I think we all have a legacy to live up to in realizing how special Joe was to our industry and the communities he affected.