I’m happy to share this guest post by Mara Finley, my new operations manager at Kindred SF Homes. Mara has an MA in Design, many years of restaurant experience, and a thing for Seinfeld. 

“Try, fail, fail again.”

As a newbie to the real estate world, I’ve been religiously falling back on this mantra from my design school days (Kramer’s ‘serenity now’ is another good one, especially on Monday mornings when the emails start to pour in.) 

What, you may ask, does design thinking have to do with real estate? And what is design thinking anyway? 

Although it may sound, at first, like new-age Silicon Valley mumbo jumbo, design thinking is a refreshing approach to problem solving that’s been successfully applied to everything from designing the iPhone to expanding access to potable water for underserved communities in the developing world. Design thinking can also be a helpful tool for looking inward—it’s the basis of Stanford University’s most popular class, ‘Designing Your Life’. (Oh to go back to school again in middle age—but don’t worry, you can still buy the book: https://designingyour.life/the-book/)

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are a few tenets of design thinking that I’ve been trying, failing, and then trying again to apply to my new career in real estate: 

  • Make it! Iterate, iterate, iterate: Although I’ve been stumbling a bit, I’ve found that it’s better to learn by doing than to be paralyzed by fear of the new and unknown. 
  • Creative confidence: How can I apply my design and restaurant experience to creatively and confidently solve problems that arise in this new field? 
  • Embrace ambiguity: Until the deed is recorded “down at the city,”  everything is up in the air. All I can do is stay calm, focused and organized. And keep our clients informed at every step of the way. 
  • Adopt a beginner’s mindset: Dear client, I’m a beginner too, and I’m here to learn what ratification means along with you! So don’t let your agent speak to you in code—we are here to translate, and we speak legalese. 
  • Optimism: Yes, you will find your perfect house/buyer!
  • Empathy: Buying or selling a home is a deeply emotional process. We’ve been there, and we’re here to help you navigate this momentous (and often overwhelming) transition in your life. 

And if paperwork is getting you down (yes, you do have to sign…again), you can always click here for some Seinfeldian wisdom: 


Further reading: 



Photo Credit: Diego PH 

Cynthia Cummins is the founder of Kindred SF Homes and has been serving homeowners and homebuyers for 3 decades. For information on San Francisco Bay Area real estate visit KindredSFhomes.com. For my writing and mindfulness blog, visit WildHeartWriting.org.