Interview by Al Wadleigh

Education has always been in Barbara Smith’s blood. Early in her career, she achieved a permanent teaching certificate for elementary education. For the last 22 years she has taught adult real estate education.

Barbara loved to learn but she was never satisfied with the real estate education available. Finally, with the encouragement of a friend, she started her own school and grew it into one of the largest and most highly respected real estate schools in all of Texas, where it is still considered the top course taught throughout the state. NLP plays an important part in the course “The Psychology of Marketing” which Barbara developed. Not yet having taken her Practitioner Certification Training, she applied what she could from NLP books and short seminars.

Having sold her school and completed her NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner Certification trainings, Barbara now teaches a new course she has created. “I’m now teaching other teachers as part of a small group that goes around the state teaching for a special certification in which I use a lot of NLP.”

Barbara and I talked further about her NLP experiences at Winter Park, where she was coaching at the NLP Comprehensive Practitioner Certification Training.

Al: What aspects of NLP have you been using in the trainings you developed?

Barbara: First of all, I think my teaching ability has improved considerably since I’ve learned how to teach to the three representational systems. I also teach some of the presuppositions in the classroom for ethical and ecological reasons and we talk about value systems. I teach them the representational systems, the eye movements, how to present a piece of property to a visual person versus how they would present it to a kinesthetic person or an auditory person; what kinds of language they should use and listen for so that they know that they are on the same level as their client or customer. We use the listening skills to teach students how to really listen to what people are saying. I teach them a lot about visual acuity because what somebody says and what they are showing you could be two different things.

I not only teach those things to people who want to become certified and approved by the Real Estate Commission to teach real estate, I also go into how to handle certain situations that arise in the classroom from the distinctions among kinesthetic, visual, and auditory modes of intake. I show my students how to make these distinctions and how they in turn can teach to all three levels. Just putting up audio visual aids doesn’t mean that you’re appealing to everybody in the classroom.

Al: Have you gotten any feedback from students that have taken your classes in terms of how their effectiveness has improved their sales?

Barbara: In applying what they’ve learned, the number of units that they actually closed on has increased. I know one person who almost tripled production because of learning how to communicate with people on their level. The sales process took less time because they found out what clients wanted and helped them to attain it.

Al: So they are able to do three times as much work because they are able to spend more quality time, more efficiently with their customers?

Barbara: Exactly. Knowing how to match their needs and their wants to what’s available in the marketplace. And all by using NLP.

Al: How did you first get into NLP?

Barbara: I guess it was meant to be. Twenty years ago, I picked up a magazine and it had a short article about NLP, about the representational systems. It mentioned Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who had come up with some of these new ideas and, even though I was working on getting a Master’s in Counseling at the time, this just intrigued me. Then I started reading a little more about it and I just felt that it fit me more than the academic program. I thought, “This is it!” So I read books and did as much as I could on my own and whenever I could possibly pick up a one day training that had anything to do with NLP, I would grab it.

Al: Did you take your Practitioner Certification with NLP Comprehensive?

Barbara: Yes, in 1996. Actually, I only signed up for eight days. I thought, “I’m going to come up here and I’ll spend the first eight days and then I’ll see where I’m going to go from there.” I never left that training. I knew this is where I’m supposed to be.

Al: Was there anything remarkable about your training experience?

Barbara: When I came here, I had just been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My doctor said there is no cure and you’ll just have to get over it or not get over it. I had already signed up for the eight day course and I called and said, “You know, I’ve got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and will I be able to attend the classes?” In fact, the person I talked to at the time said that they had had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome themselves. She said, “Yes, when you need to rest, you can lie down and the coaches will help you and bring you up to date and if, for some reason you can’t manage, we’ll work that out too.” So I asked my doctor, “If I go, will it hurt me?” and he said, “No”. I asked, “If I stay in bed, will it make me well any faster?” and he said, “No.” So I literally dragged myself here. When I came back the second year to get my Master’s, there was no stopping me after that. I could not wait to come back, learn more, and become even healthier.

Al: So what’s the status of your health now?

Barbara: Unbelievable! I feel great. People twenty years younger than I am have a hard time keeping up with me sometimes. I just feel fan-tastic! I have a lot of energy and I attribute a great deal of that to NLP.

Al: If you were to tell a colleague something about NLP, what would that be?

Barbara: I teach my students that they should have a thirty-second commercial just like on TV. Getting the definition of NLP into thirty seconds is very difficult but to boil it down without explaining what it is, I can just tell you that I’m alive, totally and wholly and completely and into life today because of NLP. It’s just changed everything for me. I’ve always had a mission to help people be the very best they can be and now with NLP it’s much clearer to me that if I can give them these skills and they use them, they will be the best.