For a short guy, Reid Weinbrom could hit you really hard on the football field. He wasn’t athletic-looking, but he put every ounce of effort he could muster into our neighborhood football and basketball games.
Reid wasn’t much fun to block or tackle, I remember, because he just wouldn’t give up. That was 40 years ago in our suburban York, Pa., neighborhood. He sometimes was the butt of jokes because of his size and because he stuttered, a problem he conquered with hours and hours of practice in front of a mirror at home.
Now Reid, 56, puts that same kind of effort into his three-year-old career as a real estate agent in his hometown. Listen to him talk about his new job: “I love it. I absolutely love it. I love the competition. It’s a real contact sport. I love it. I love pitting myself against the best agents there are here in York.”
When he began selling houses, Reid left behind a completely different world. He had spent more than 20 years as a chef. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and has worked as the executive chef for the exclusive Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh, Pa., and the executive chef at Hyatt’s Hamilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.
He loved that career, too. “I did well, I think. There were times that it was very difficult. The hours kind of got to you after a while. But the passion was always there, and the passion never left.”
Then his wife, Carol, developed breast cancer, and Reid decided he needed to do something that would keep him closer to home. He opened his own restaurant in York, but that failed, and he taught cooking for a while at a local technical school. A friend, who also runs a real estate company, convinced him to try real estate.
He’s learned to sell himself
He discovered his inner salesman. “It still comes down to service,” Reid said. “There are a lot of salesmen here who sell a product. I don’t sell a product. I sell myself. And I sell trust, and I sell honesty. That’s why I’m busy and they (other agents) aren’t.”
There’ve been challenges. In real estate there are no steady paychecks, and he’s “groping for business every single second.” And he’s had to get used to rejection. On the plus side, he’s home most evenings and he’s able to do some work at home, too.
“I’ve discovered that the most important thing in my life is my wife. This is giving me the opportunity to go with her to the York Cancer Center or go with her to Fox Chase” when she has appointments or treatments.
“My wife and I are still looking forward to our vacation in October. I don’t care about that money any more. I don’t have that urge to continually prove myself to myself or to someone else anymore. I just have the urge to do the best that I can every single stinking day. That’s it!”
Reid makes sure to remind his prospective real estate customers about his culinary background. Taglines on his business web page read “From sauté to settlement,” and “I hold the recipe for your successful transaction.”
To those who are facing decisions about whether to change careers late in life, Reid suggests preparing for failure. “Make sure you have enough money saved up in the bank so that you can go two or three years without pulling a decent salary. That’s on the very practical side.”
Otherwise, he said, “Don’t be afraid to take that risk. The worst that could happen is that you could be turned down or that you could fail. If you fail and if you’re strong enough, then you can get back up again.”
From experience, I can tell you Reid always gets back up.
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