Mr. Lee and Mr. McGee

When I close my eyes and remember the times with Mr. Lee and Mr. McGee, it doesn’t seem so long ago.  In reality, it was over half a lifetime ago when these two older gentlemen helped sculpt me into The Estate Lady® I would eventually become.  Way back in my mid-20s, I discovered quite by accident that I had a knack for buying and selling antiques.  While it was a risk at such a young age, newly out of college and on a strict budget, I decided to commit to renting a booth in an upscale antique mall for six months.  It just so happened it was their upscale antique mall.

As each week passed, I noticed more and more of the items I was selling were gone from the glass case, so naturally I was thrilled they were selling.  Little did I know that two of the owners of this vast and expensive mall were watching me.  One day, as I finished putting more new items into my glass case, Mr. Lee and Mr. McGee approached me and asked if we could talk.

As an extrovert, I rarely meet a stranger, yet I was intimidated by these two who had accomplished so much in life.  Both had been in the business over 40 years.  Both were successful; both knew so much.  Here I was, knowing very little, being steered by gut instinct only, and feeling like a little mouse wondering what they could possibly want from young, inexperienced me.

They took me to their finely furnished office, offered me a beverage, and watched me squirm in the big leather chair.  You can imagine the thoughts racing through my head!  Mr. Lee was a kind older man, born in Hong Kong, but raised here in the United States.  Mr. McGee was an older southern gentleman.  They began the conversation by complimenting me on my booth and wondering where I found my treasures.  After a nice and comfortable time together, they sincerely took me under their wings and shared some invaluable insight I will never forget, that I would like to share with you.

Here’s what they said to me:

“Kid, you were born with the eye.  Very few people are born with this gift.  So when you go out into the world and use it, you need to use it well and earn it.  Much will be asked of you through the years and you will be tested at every turn.  But always remember to walk a straight line.  If you can walk this straight line, people will talk about you.  They will refer others to you.  They will love you for what you can do for them, because they are completely overwhelmed.  Remember this conversation because it will make your or break you.”

Now in my 50s, I think back to that time and realize that little meeting with them was a tremendous gift to me.  A gift of guidance and affirmation.  A gift of direction and how I can serve my clients.  Hindsight is an incredible thing when all the pieces click together.  They were right on all accounts.  Much has been asked of me in the last 25 years, and I did my best to always deliver.  Temptation is everywhere, but I steered far away from it.  Honesty and ethics are always at the forefront.  Because so few possess it, I stood out among them.  Old fashioned and 19th century thinking?  Perhaps, but it’s the secret to my success.

From that moment to this, I never forgot what they told me.  Both of them are gone now, but they left an impressionable young lady with something she could never pay for, because it was priceless.

From the beginning of time, there has always been good and evil.  In today’s society, we need to be extra careful of the professionals we select to help us, whether it’s handling an estate or remodeling a bathroom.  Always look for someone who walks a straight line.  Always listen for the good people say about them.  Research these business owners who mean to serve you.  Make sure they are credible, professional, and the cream of the crop.

Why would you settle for anything less?

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising.  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at

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