On the Thursday the week before my sister Ruth died, I raced back from Raleigh to be at Ruth’s bed. It was the last time she talked to the family. (Read about what I wrote about my older sister’s passing on Jan. 23rd here.) She told me two things that I think about to this day. One was about my kids. She urged me to have great intention about what I want to teach them with the time I have to do so. Her next words of advice also came deep from her heart.

She said: Magic happens and the Lord steps in when you bring people together and you’re selfless in your own interest in making that happen. Ruth always believed in the importance of bringing people together, and in having the right intentions in doing so. She firmly believed that better things happen when people are together than when they are apart and that if the person bringing people together is selfless about it than the Lord is truly there doing His work.

She did that in politics, bringing people together as a state legislator. People trusted her because they knew she wasn’t there to further a personal gain. She was a good person and people knew it and knew her intentions were pure when she wanted to get groups together. And that made her as effective as she was.

In my commercial real estate practice, we have a lot of opportunity to bring people together. I know a lot of people in this area. In real estate, especially when working with land and industrial properties, you deal with a huge variety of people from all cultures and socioeconomic classes. One day I might be at the Foundations of the Carolinas for a meeting for the Catawba Lands Conservancy and the next I might be at a manufacturing warehouse in Chester, S.C. talking with the guy who oversees the painting for a lawn mower assembly plant.

Great politicians, like real estate deal makers, love interacting with a variety of people and feel equally comfortable in all types of settings. And I know this interest in people is valuable in my job.

American industrialist Henry Ford also knew the importance of togetherness. As the founder of the Ford Motor Co. has been quoted saying: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

Ruth may have been talking politics when she was talking about bringing people together. But it’s a lesson I’m taking to heart in all aspects of my daily life. As my dear sister said, more good things happen when people come together than when they are apart.