Twenty-two years ago, I opened the doors of my Nashville-based real estate company, Village Real Estate Services (VILLAGE). I didn’t want to follow a traditional business model for my company. I wanted VILLAGE to be different and create positive social change in the community. I thought the real estate business could benefit from a social impact model and wanted to have a role in building our neighborhoods. Thus, VILLAGE was born.

Along with the real estate company, we set up a nonprofit, called the Village Fund, and invested five percent of the company into it. The donor-advised Village Fund would help support nonprofits doing good work in our communities. In addition to five percent of the company profits, our agents, vendors and clients give money to the Village Fund so grants can flow out to the community. (More about the Village Fund in an upcoming blog.)

There were just a handful of us when VILLAGE launched. We found office space in the upstairs of a renovated stone bungalow in Nashville’s historic Hillsboro Village area and officially opened our doors. We knew we were growing something special and set out to change the way real estate was practiced by being a socially responsible business.

Our goal was to attract agents who had a sense of social mission, the desire to help homebuyers and sellers, and believed in the power of revitalizing our neighborhood commercial districts. We also hoped to use the Village Fund to support important community causes.

Today, VILLAGE has more than 350 agents and staff and we are opening our sixth neighborhood office. Our Hillsboro Village headquarters is still located just a few blocks from our original office. Collectively, our work has had a positive impact on our city, as we have helped make our neighborhoods more vibrant, sustainable and walkable places.

In our 22nd year, VILLAGE continues to be a different kind of real estate brokerage. We have remained passionate about impacting positive social change and will celebrate a few major milestones later this year. We have also remained dedicated to investing in the growth and development of our REALTORS®, providing knowledge, expertise and resources so they can be successful change agents at every level of their real estate career. The result is a great, diverse team with an abundance of energy, creativity and experience. I am so grateful for our team, our clients and everyone who has contributed to the immense success of VILLAGE.

You could say Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, helped inspire me to create VILLAGE. In her book, she recommends practicing “morning pages,” or journaling for 10 minutes daily to unlock creativity and let your spirit soar. While writing my morning pages in the late 1990s, I had my big “aha!” moment and realized I needed to start a real estate company in order to achieve my goals.

I don’t always have time for daily journaling today, but I do try to encourage creativity, both in others and myself. Walking and juggling have helped me clear my mind of distractions and encourage the creative juices to flow so I can be a more effective in continuing to grow VILLAGE, CORE Development and building overall community.

I try to share my enjoyment of those activities with others. As a company, we encourage our VILLAGE family to walk through our Steps Challenge and through “Duck Out with Deutschmann” walking meetings.

This summer, I extended a VaudeVillage juggling challenge to our staff and agents. I encouraged each of them to learn how to juggle and showcase his or her talents at our upcoming celebration. VILLAGE-imprinted juggling balls and instructions have been placed around the office, and we have made video tutorials available for staff on our intranet. Impromptu juggling is occurring in offices, hallways and conference rooms throughout VILLAGE.  The culmination of this challenge will be a juggling “group throw” in December, when VILLAGE agents and staff gather to celebrate our 22 years of success as a company.

What helps you unlock creativity and let your spirit soar so you can be a successful change agent in your business and community?