Mary Shoane
Mary Shoane (By Jim Chapman)
What's your background?

I received my master's degree in education from San Jose State University. In 1977, I began working as a program coordinator on campus. Then, I became an assistant director for the bilingual center at De Anza College in Cupertino. It was then that I realized I wanted to teach English as a second language classes. I returned to school in 1981 for my second master's degree in English from San Francisco State University and began teaching ESL courses at City College of San Francisco. In 1985, I returned to the South Bay to continue my ESL teaching at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. I currently split my time teaching there and in my second vocation as a real estate coach and trainer.

I began my career in real estate as a loan officer nearly 20 years ago. Soon after, I added real estate sales to my portfolio. In those days, training was sparse, and I learned primarily via trial and error, which was frustrating. But, I wanted to turn this negative experience into a positive one.

Because I had a teaching background, I began writing a lesson plan for all of the information I learned and aimed to improve it and make it simpler for the next agent to understand. Today, that same lesson plan has become a booklet of tips and guidelines I share with agents in my training programs.

In 2004, I was fortunate to have met a kind real estate broker who gave me the impetus to start my training company.


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He initially asked me to teach a pre-license course and sales and marketing workshop to new agents, and later promoted me to the position of trainer for his 200-agent company. I began writing a course for loan officer training and real estate agents training. I have since trained at other major real estate companies as an independent contractor, where I work as a mentor with new agents from start to finish.

What are your duties?

I market my training courses to the public. I keep a database of clients and network with brokers and agents. I am an information junkie; pertinent information to the industry is collected, categorized and organized in an understandable format. Then I edit and incorporate it into my lesson plans and handouts. I keep abreast of changes in the market and keep my students current of new regulations and laws. I answer questions from calls and e-mail graduating students of current changes. If enough students sign up for one of my training courses, I hold the class in a set location; in other cases, I go out to various real estate offices and train them in their own facility and in the field.

Are there challenges you face?

Determining whether a class is a go based on enrollment status can be stressful. Cancellations in the last minute have prompted me to make quick adjustments to accommodate everyone's schedules. Because of the diverse levels of experiences from my students, I need to pace my presentation differently according to their expertise.

What do you love about your job?

Having turned 60, I wanted to do something I love and still be able to support myself. So, I have found the perfect job for me that combines teaching with real estate. I love being in front of an audience and sharing my knowledge with others. I get as much energy from them as they do from me; training is all about being connected to the audience. Teaching to a motivated group of students is very rewarding.

Any advice to potential real estate trainers?

You must have a passion for teaching. You must focus on the topic and can deliver the information within a limited timeline. You should be able to turn a dry topic, such as real estate law, into real live scenarios that the audience can relate to, and be able to gauge the pulse of the audience and be readily able to change course. You need a combination of book knowledge and field experience. Here in the real estate industry, we're anticipating momentum to take off this summer, so it's a great time to be thinking about a career such as this.

If you would like to be considered for a career profile or want to nominate someone, please e-mail Charlotte Cusack at ccusack@bayareanewsgroup.com.