professional development

Older, wiser?

Engel Schmidl /

I’m not sure when it happened, but all of a sudden it seems I’ve gone from being young to being old. Not in my head, not in my personal life, certainly not in the number of shoes I own, but in the workplace.

When I started my first real estate agency at 21, I was young in my own company, in my state, in my industry. I’ve been fortunate enough to have received lots of press and awards, based in part on the fact that I started that business at such a young age.

And then, without realising it, in starting my most recent real estate agency Elephant Property – I’ve become the old one! After a quick stalk on Facebook I’ve just discovered I’m the single oldest person (at 33) in our organisation, barring one of our gorgeous business partners, who isn’t based physically in either of our offices.

Last year one helpful younger staffer mentioned that perhaps she would have someone run upstairs for two of us old girls to save our legs! I find myself saying things like “What do you mean you don’t know who the Rolling Stones are?”

So while I can’t trade on my youthful status anymore, I can still remember the lessons I learnt from those times:

  • Counter youth with enthusiasm and by studying and learning more than your older counterparts.
  • Try new things! Your local marketplace doesn’t need another business doing exactly the same things as everyone else. Be different – even if it means stuffing things up!
  • If you’ve got a point of difference (like being young) – use it, don’t hide from it!

And now I can use some of the wisdom I’ve gained with my more senior age (compared to 21!) to remember:

  • Not all business is good business; sometimes it’s better to turn down business than to enter into a long term relationship with the wrong clients.
  • Not every team member will do things exactly your way – as I age I’m learning (somewhat) to release my inner control freak and trust the people around me more and more (when they’ve shown they have earned it!)

And now, rather than sit here and count my grey hairs, I’m off to make some more mistakes, do some cool things and learn some more lessons.

Kirsty Dunphey is the youngest ever Australian Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year, author of two books (her latest release is Retired at 27: If I Can do it Anyone Can) and a passionate entrepreneur who started her first business at age 15 and opened her own real estate agency at 21.

Now Kirsty does lots of fun things which you can read about here. Her favourite current projects are Elephant Property, a boutique property management agency, Baby Teresa, a baby clothing line that donates an outfit to a baby in need for each one they sell and ReallySold, which helps real estate agents stop writing boring, uninteresting ads.

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