Stan Albert – Guest Column

How do we measure ourselves in life?

I have just finished reading Sidney Poitier’s autobiography, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (HarperCollins).

I read a lot of books. From trade books and historical novels to mysteries, the knowledge that I gain from the reading of books allows me to learn more about life and living.

In Poitier’s autobiography, he writes about being reared on Cat Island, one of the tiny island communities surrounding the Bahamas Islands. His struggles as an aspiring actor were encumbered by his lack of finances, and by the colour issues of the time he arrived on the stage and in front of the cameras.

Over his many successful years, he encountered many issues like many of us do here in Canada. Those issues may be focused on colour, race or religion. And Poitier, like others of colour, managed to overcome them. But the strong character he developed while growing up on Cat Island stood him in good stead for the coming years. He overcame prejudice and other travails. And throughout his storied career, his respect for others in his craft was never measured by race or colour.

His role in To Sir With Love cements what I’m driving at with this article. In one scene with the rebellious class he’s given, he says: “How and what you learn here in class will serve you well in the outside world. If you cannot treat your classmates with respect that you would like yourself, then how can you expect to survive in the outside world?”

As often as not, I am confronted by registrants who manage to paint certain ethnic groups as being of bad character, or being “sneaky.” My response to them is always: “Do you feel that your (our) own race/colour is not guilty of being impure or imprudent in their dealings?”

I personally don’t feel that anyone coming into our industry deserves to be measured on their ability and their integrity. If, for some reason(s) they go “off base,” it is not their upbringing that may be at fault, but how their manager oversees their conduct. How the registrant is made aware of the guidelines that govern us is obviously paramount as to how he will act in their professional careers.

How one behaves ethically, is usually how most of us gauge a person in our business. For example, here’s how I would examine “the measure of the man.”
How he treats his fellow colleague. Is he courteous? Does he treat him with the respect that he would like himself at all times?

How does he treat the support team, the accounting team at his brokerage? Does he treat them with respect and revere all that they perform for him 24/7?
How does he treat his brokerage? With respect and loyalty?

How does he treat the ancillary services that assist us in our dealings with the public – lawyers, bankers, home inspectors?

Does he conduct his business in accordance with the rules and regulations laid down for all of us in our individual provinces or territories?

Does he “fudge” his attendance at the required credit courses by having someone take the course online for him?

“What dreams can be fashioned into reality, what values can send us to bed comfortably and make us courageous enough to face our end with character…that’s what we’re all seeking. That’s what it’s about, you know?” concludes Poitier in his biography.

Being realistic about how you practice this profession leads to how you measure the man.

Quote for the Month: “Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open.” – Elmer G. Letterman 1859-1907

Stan Albert is celebrating his 36th year in active real estate, and is with Re/Max Excellence in Woodbridge, Ont. He serves on committees at RECO and at the Toronto Real Estate Board. He is an established trainer and business consultant and can be reached at