Ladies, Is That Voice in Your Head Killing Your Business?

Home Stager with Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc.

home stager frustrationI loved the Active Rain blog post Rich Real Estate Agent, Poor Real Estate Agent and accompanying report. It has a lot of great examples of the differences in marketing activities of both groups and the resultant earnings.

Their research also found that rich real estate agents (those earning at least $100,000 a year) tend to be male, while the poor real estate agents (earning under $35,000/year) tended to be female.

I'm sure many readers would automatically think, "that's because more of them work part-time, they have kids to take care of, etc." You know, the usual "reasons" we trot out for the relative under-earning power of women in almost any field.

My theory is it also has a ton to do with mindset and the way women sabotage themselves with negative self-talk.

I speak with hundreds of female home stagers and real estate agents during business coaching calls and I'm always struck by how much negative self-talk is going on.

In a single 30-minute conversation, I'll hear someone say "I'm so stupid when it comes to xyz" 4 or 5 times. Imagine how many times they're saying it to themselves when no one is there to hear it?!

I'm guilty of negative self talk too, we all are!

Most of the time I know I'm not consciously aware of that voice inside my head that can suck all the joy out of a situation. For example, I'll take a break from working to walk the dog around the block. It can be a beautiful sunny day, one of the few we have left before winter rolls in. Ten minutes into it, I'll suddenly realize that I haven't stopped to enjoy the sun on my face or the fact that I don't need a warm coat, because I've been too busy fighting with someone inside my head, or berating myself for not working hard enough.

Last week I was listening to an interview with Rev. Karen Russo, author of The Money Keys: Unlocking Peace, Freedom and Real Financial Power,The Money Keysand she made a suggestion that really helped me around this whole issue of negative self-talk in terms of realizing how debilitating it can be.

If you're a mother like I am, you'll probably really relate to this. Imagine saying to a 9 year old girl:

"You'll never amount to anything if you don't work harder. Too bad, if you weren't so stupid about xyz you might be able to make money in your business, but given who you are, it will never work. If only you were smarter/prettier/skinnier your life would be perfect, but you're not, etc."

Doesn't that make you want to cry?! Would you expect that 9 year old to have confidence and be inspired and go out and do big things in the world? We'd never talk to a child that way because we know the long-term damage that would cause to her self-esteem and ultimately her chances of living a happy and successful life.

So why are we so verbally abusive to ourselves?

Rev. Russo said something that really hit home with me. I'm paraphrasing here, but it was something like, "Speaking to yourself with a voice of compassion doesn't make you weak and you're ambition won't dry up because you're nice to yourself."

In that moment I realized that I have been operating from a belief that if I don't keep pushing myself to conquer ever more challenging business situations, my business will stop growing and I'll stop accomplishing anything.

Does this resonate with you? What negative messages have you been listening to that are killing your home staging or real estate business and more importantly, your spirit and happiness? Please share your thoughts by commenting below. I know this discussion can lead to insights and inspiration for others.

Debra Gould, The Staging Diva




Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Inc.


Internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould is President of Six Elements Inc. and creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program. An entrepreneur for almost 25 years and author of several guides, Debra has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate and uses her expertise to train others worldwide.


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Lynn B. Friedman
REALTOR ATL BuckheadMidtownWestside 404.939.2727
- - - Concierge Real Estate Services for YOU - - - Providing SERVICE for Sellers & Buyers is our BUSINESS

Dear Debra -

Decided to answer again after thinking about this some more.

You said: "In that moment I realized that I have been operating from a belief that if I don't keep ..."
One could finish that sentence differently for evey person.

You asked for "what negative messages have you been listening to" that could be hurting your business, spirit and happiness. I'd like to come at that from the positive side rather than listing the negatives. 

I have been taught that one cannot STOP a thought but one may SUBSTITUTE a thought.  What I do now is be as vigilant as possible to intercept those messages as they crop up in my mind. As soon as I consciously "hear" that negative thought trying to gain foothold in my mind, I just "stare back" at it and ask myself if I would ever say something like that to any other person. Of course, I wouldn't. So I don't need to say it to me. 

I am happy to report that I am aware of those thoughts much sooner. Like any other "exercise", the more we do it the easier it gets.  I am delighted for those commentators on your post who don't have this issue confronting them.  They were fortunate to have guidance towards confidence. 

I made sure to instill the positive in guiding my five children into adulthood.  I am happy to say that they are all are happy with themselves and are doing work they love.  I count myself as lucky that I was able to break the family patterns of the past so they could see themselves as winners from the get-go.

Thanks for stimulating this conversation with your blog post!

Have a happy day -

November 16, 2011 01:28 AM
Pamela Seley, REALTOR®
Menifee Lakes California Real Estate

I would be considered a Poor Agent, I make less than 100K per year. I'm ok with that, as I am a wife and mother and have other priorities. I do work full-time in real estate. What's holding me back from becoming a Rich Agent is time and doing the right things at the right time. I'm not ready or willing to make those compromises, yet anyway. P.S. It's taken me years to get rid of negative self-talk. Every once in awhile it pops in for a visit.  

November 16, 2011 02:06 AM
Nancy Laswick
Your Phoenix/Scottsdale REALTOR®

You've got to eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative and don't mess with Mr. In-be-tween. A catchy song with a great message. I've learned over the past few years of health battles to be thankful for each and every day and that hope is the fuel that life runs on.

November 16, 2011 03:49 AM
Joan Congilose
CRS, CDPE, Top Producer Marlboro, Manalapan Homes
RE/MAX Central (732)232-5277

Hi Debra

This is one of the  best blog posts I have read in a while. You are so right about women self sabotaging their business and personal life with negative thoughts. I totally disagree that women are less productive than men as realtors; here is totally opposite & I praise them for it.  

November 16, 2011 07:12 AM
Loreena Yeo
Realtor® | Frisco TX Community Ambassador
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co.

Perhaps that there are some truth to your analysis of negative talk. However, I think ladies can work based on emotions rather than logic and running a business is absolutely about Objectively how to run a successful business - something that men see better than women in general.

November 16, 2011 07:32 AM
Gabe Sanders
Stuart Florida Real Estate
the BlueWater Realty team specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales

Then again, it could be that women don't do as many questionaires as men, or possibly don't inflate their statistics as much either!

November 16, 2011 08:26 AM
Joni Staples
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties

Oh what a powerful point you make. Thank you for this! A WELL EARNED Gold Star!

November 16, 2011 08:59 AM
Anonymous #27

Wow!! Are you inside my head? :)

What a great pep talk. Thanks, you put lots of things in perspective for me today.



November 16, 2011 10:11 AM
Julie Moorhead
Selling Homes: It's What I Do
Edina Realty, affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway

Hi Debra,

Thanks for a reality check. And, thanks for posting the link to the AR Survey on Rich Agent poor Agent. I missed that one and it is Really Good! I am so glad I saw your post this morning.

November 16, 2011 11:15 AM
Tatyana Makarov
Your Greater Hartford Area Realtor
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Thanks, Debra,

Great post. I have been thinking about Rich vs. Poor agent post...

Thank you for you wonderful post!!!

November 16, 2011 08:08 PM
Kim Boekholder **Results Real Estate**
Broker, Selling Salt Lake Homes
Results Real Estate 801.580.5624

I know personally that I am also the one who is in charge of getting the kids to and from school, to all their after school activities, homework, and everything/anything else that may pop up.  It really does impact how much business you can do and for me this is one of the challenges I have.   This is not an excuse.  I know many others are able to juggle it all and their income/production are a  lot higher than mine.  It is simply my daily challenge.  Great post! thank you 

November 17, 2011 09:06 AM
Debra Gould
The Staging Diva
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc.

Wow, thanks for all your great comments! I was out of office and missed commenting on them as they came in. I'm so glad I was able to inspire so many of you!

Some further questions/observations after reading them:

I have always LOVED the buzz of real estate, bought my first property on my own at 29 and I'm on my 8th house now. As a parent though I didn't think it was the right career because of the 24/7 "on call" nature of it. That's a big reason I became a home stager instead (and earned 6 figures at it). So I was surprised at the agents who commented that many women go into real estate without aspiring to make much money because they want to focus on their kids instead. I still don't get why so many of us have the limiting belief that this is an either/or choice. You CAN earn lots of money and be there for your kids, but it has to be a deliberate life/business strategy before you can implement the steps to make it happen. If that voice in your head keeps saying, "If I earn more money, I won't be there for my family." I challenge you to question that assumption.

Kate, Thank you for sharing your poignant story about seeing the lost dog! Isn't it awesome when life's most important lessons come to us in a flash? I think we miss most of these when we're too busy rushing from point A to point B.

Norma, I totally agree with you. Why don't female agents hire assistants like the men do?

I think if you read the survey of what strategies "rich" agents use, you'll find that many don't cost a thing and also won't interfere with spending time with your families.


November 17, 2011 01:29 PM
Anonymous #32
Christina Rodriguez

This is so true, Debra. I have had a hard time with it myself, but lately I have stopped comparing myself with others and am trying to accept myself as I am. I'm me, and I can do anything I set my mind to. I've done it before and I will do it again. Others can do the same! Thanks for the reminder!

November 17, 2011 01:40 PM
Debra Gould
The Staging Diva
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc.

You're welcome Christina! That comparison game is always bound to take you to a dark place, unless you look at all the people who have it far worse than you. Of course we rarely do, we always look around and think everyone else has more :)


November 17, 2011 03:37 PM
Debra Gould
The Staging Diva
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc.

Kate and others, I just found this quote on Twitter that seems fitting to share given discussion:

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. ~ Siddhartha Gautama

November 18, 2011 12:01 AM
Sara Garden
MBA, HSE, HSR, APSD, Home Stager
Rocky Mountain Home Staging

Excellent post - am enjoying the comments. Learning to manage the self talk and juggle the number of responsibilities that most of us have as women is a daily challenge. I find time management and goal setting to be critical.

November 18, 2011 01:35 PM
Kristi Knutson
Blog Trainer ☂
ActiveRain ♥ 888-643-3837

What a wake up call! Thanks for this blog, Debra - wish I had read it yesterday! What a good reminder to kick off the week!

December 06, 2011 03:03 PM
Debra Gould
The Staging Diva
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc.

Sara, Kristi: Thanks for your feedback, glad you found this helpful!

December 12, 2011 09:13 AM
MaryBeth Mills Muldowney
Massachusetts Broker Owner
TradeWinds Realty Group LLC

Great points, how true somedays we are our worst enemies!  Happy New Year!

January 08, 2012 05:46 PM
Debra Gould
The Staging Diva
Staging Diva / Six Elements Inc.

Thanks MaryBeth, glad you liked it!

January 14, 2012 12:32 PM
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