Experiences of the Experienced
by Kim Morris
Sometimes I talk to trees. Because they know a lot. They have depth and knowledge and experience. I want to learn from them. Unfortunately, conversations with trees tend to be one-sided and I end up hearing more complaints from squirrels than learning life lessons.
However, life lessons can be found here, at Women’s Council, from humans who have depth and knowledge and experience. Recently we talked with Jana Walchle and Cheryl Eskridge—two members with twenty-plus years of experience with Women’s Council—about memories, why they joined Women’s Council, and why they stay.
“I’m an independent, not franchise,” Jana explained. “Women’s Council gave me the power of a franchise referral system that I wanted; it gave me a national referral base that more than justified the cost of membership.”
When Cheryl moved from her career as a medical sales rep to real estate, Women’s Council interested her because “it was a new way for me to network. I thought it was great that women could have an organization dedicated to them.” When she joined, Women’s Council had been around longer than any other women’s professional organization and was an affiliate of NAR. “I joined Women’s Council because I wanted to better myself, I wanted to be a part of a bigger thing.”
When Jana joined, “Women didn’t occupy the space we do now,” she said. When she joined the Inland Valley network after being a member at large, she found “Camaraderie. Members were doing. It opened a world for me, women talking about issues relevant to women, other like-minded professional real estate women. We built confidence in each other. I stay on,” she said, ”because I like being in a professional organization for real estate women.”
It started by someone asking her to volunteer and from there, Jana learned how to run a network—how to support, how to get it done, “we had a vision and a goal.” The State President, Bobbie Nelson, at the time, flew out to teach the logistics of getting a network up and running. This is not an uncommon element in Women’s Council growth: face-to-face, hands-on learning from leaders in the organization. Jana became involved in state and national events. “It showed a bigger picture,” that, in the spirit of Women’s Council, Jana shared with others in her network. “Send people to state and national events—it turns people’s hearts.”
Jana’s most memorable lesson she learned from her mentor: “Do not argue in front of your board. A leader doesn’t do that.” It was, Jana said, “A life lesson I’ll never forget. She took the risk to offend me, she was right. She recognized leadership qualities in me and took the risk.” Jana had the openness to listen, which is why she’s been able to give back to state and local organizations, run meetings better, understand the importance of making people feel included. “I wanted to leave a legacy, impact people, make a difference, have them make a difference; that’s what keeps me engaged in Women’s Council.”
“For me,” Cheryl explained, “the top three are: networking, learning, and giving back. Women’s Council does all three and that’s what I want to see in an organization. I’ll stay a member no matter what because of these elements of Women’s Council. I’d give my left arm.” [Editor’s note: Cheryl is left-handed.] Most memorable for Cheryl is the network of real estate agents she’s met nationwide and in Canada. “I can go anywhere in the US and find a network and make friends. That doesn’t have a price tag. Women’s Council members will take the time to get together, talk about current events. There are multiple ways to make connections.”
For Cheryl, Women’s Council makes a big difference when going for real estate designations. “My PMN designation helped me toward getting my license in Texas. I spent time working for my PMN. It was an investment. It put me in a better position for referrals, for business, for better education. I wanted to get involved, I wanted to be a part of it.” National meetings, webinars—“It’s what you make of it,” Cheryl said. “You find new and innovative ideas from others, networking, referrals.” Throughout her membership, Cheryl learned the importance of fun and welcoming volunteers with open arms. “I see now the benefit of the feeling of belonging to an organization that I supported for so long.” With experience comes perspective. The question isn’t, what’s in it for me? It’s, “what can I get out of it?” Cheryl said. “It’s, how do I engage?”
Depth. Knowledge. Experience. And wonderful conversations. A tree’s life of learning from Women’s Council members. Closing out, Jana adds, “Women’s Council is a path to learn leadership, teach others how to develop. To recognize. To nurture.”
About the Contributor
Kim Morris is a Chicago-based freelance writer and editor with more than 25 years of writing experience.