• Susan Heckman

Move Over, John

I asked John if I could grab the mic this time, as today is my first anniversary at The Gallery and I wanted to share the story of how I got here, how my life has changed since joining the team and how much John is to thank for it all.

I met John in 2004 when he was newly licensed and had joined Murphy Realty Preferred Homes, where I was also working at the time, supporting agents with their marketing needs. John was a bit of a punk, honestly (he’s more charming now), but driven to success and full of energy (this has not changed!). He was always in a hurry so when I’d hear his voice outside my office, I knew he was likely to come get the status of an ad request or ask how quickly I could design a new marketing piece. John was different from other Realtors, finding opportunities to reach sellers and making bold choices we rarely saw in rookie agents. But I liked him a lot. He brought great energy to the office.

John left the company in 2006, but I’d hear about him occasionally and followed his career as he moved through various real estate agencies in the area. Fast-forward 10+ years to February 2017 when on LinkedIn, John announced that he had started his new real estate company along with his close friend and business partner Jeff Kniffin. I was surprised to read that but I shouldn’t have been, really. He was right where he was supposed to be. I messaged him to let him know how happy I was for him.

Little did I know what lay ahead. Just over a year later, John reached out and asked for a meeting. I sat with him and Jeff in their Wall office for an hour, a cozy space with a fire going in the fireplace, catching up on our lives and talking about The Gallery, now heading into its second year. It was well established by then, with a second office opened in Asbury Park, and they were building a great team of Realtors. Did that meeting plant a seed in my head? At the time I didn’t think so -- I wasn’t thinking about becoming a real estate agent myself. I had my comfortable job at Coldwell Banker, even if I wasn’t fulfilled there and wasn’t being utilized to my full potential.

Soon after that meeting, the opportunity came for me to get my license. I needed it for my job and started class right away. As the weather warmed to Spring, I got my license, but by then, things had soured at work and through mutual agreement, I had parted ways with Coldwell Banker. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to know what happened next, right?

I joined The Gallery on July 1, 2018 as a Realtor-With-Benefits. My first priority was to build my real estate business, but I could also offer freelance design services to everyone there. I had my feet on two gas pedals — it wasn’t easy but I was revved up for the challenge. The Gallery had a serious demand for a designer/marketer/advertiser, and I hadn’t felt so needed in 10 years. I can’t fully describe the feeling. My husband could probably tell you better — the late nights and early mornings at my laptop which now has its regular place at the kitchen table, the growing piles of stuff in our home office and dining room, and my completely unpredictable schedule which is the new norm now.

John said this to me recently, after my promotion to Director: “You were always this company’s Marketing Director. You just hadn’t gotten here until now.”

If I feel like I’m going 100 miles an hour, John is warp speed. He leads in the present but has big goals and long-term vision. He’s busy but accessible and when you meet with him, he is intently focused on you. He listens. He reacts. He’s funny. He will help you solve any problem, set your course for success and offer real advice to help you achieve your goals. He is a charismatic speaker and has a way of using unexpected analogies when explaining things which are funny as hell, such as comparing home buying to shoes, farming neighborhoods for listings to jungles, being a major league player versus the little league, and Dave Mathews, Foo Fighters, and bacon cheeseburgers make appearances too.

John has made me appreciate my worth in ways I’d never understood before. Clearly, I was holding myself back all these years and John wasn’t having any of it — he’s pushed me so far out of my comfort zone, I don’t even know where it went. There’s only forward now and I really owe him so much for that. Nothing is easy but all of it is worth it.

So thanks, John. For your friendship, the opportunities you’ve given me and all the guidance along the way. This past year has redefined my life and I look forward to each day (seven days a week, holidays included!) as we work together with the team to grow The Gallery.

I’m home. (mic drop)

Susan Heckman

Read John’s blog at

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