Vocation: Real Estate Broker
Location: New York, NY
1. What do you currently do now and how did you end up here? Any pit stops along the way and did those pit stops help you get to the career and woman you are now?
I am an Associate Real Estate Broker in NYC. I sell Co-ops, Condos and Townhouses in Manhattan, Brooklyn and sometimes Queens. There have been many pit stops along the way.
Growing up, I was absolutely certain I was going to be a musician. I studied classical Piano from the time I was 10, later attending a specialized Arts High School and a Conservatory for college. After finishing school, I was in for a pretty big awakening when my lack of experience and good Chopin skills didn’t translate into an awesome rent-paying job! I temped for a few months and eventually fell into Advertising. I worked for a long time as an Advertising Manager/ Director for variety of consumer and trade publications. To channel my creative energies, simultaneously, I wrote freelance for a different set of magazines, mostly in the U.K., about music, film, fashion, culture etc. After about 10 years Advertising changed moving more towards digital sales. The magazine where I was employed folded and I started looking for a new job.
It was then I did a little soul-searching and realized I didn’t want to continue in advertising the way it was going. I felt un-challenged. My dad had suggested for years I try Real Estate he always thought it would be a good fit. I was very hesitant as not only was it starting fresh in a new field but you are essentially starting a job with no salary, no benefits and no business! I took a big chance, accepted the start was a little bumpy and am happy to say I have been working full time as a Real Estate broker for over 9 years now! In retrospect I am glad I took the risk and made a change.
People come to things in all sorts of ways. It’s hard to admit that you were committed to something for so long and it did not work out as you expected-but I am grateful for all the experiences I had and surprisingly some of them have translated into great skills for Real Estate.
The key to selling advertising or essentially anything is relationships-people need to trust you and you need to be able to deliver in order to acquire, keep and grow your business. I take really good care of my clients and maintain an average of getting my sellers over 99% percent of their asking prices.
One of the reasons that number is so high is I know to ‘position’ a property. I can see where a particular property fits, anticipate the kind of buyer it could attract and know how to market it to get those buyers through the door-this comes with Real Estate experience but also from years prior working with Fortune 500 companies to get them to buy into the various magazines I was representing at the time. In advertising you need to show clients how a particular environment can change the way a product is seen by a specific audience. In Real Estate you are selling an environment literally and need to anticipate how it will fit the buyer(s) in order to facilitate a sale. It is an oddly similar skill.
Studying music and writing freelance may seem as far from Real Estate as possible but with all those things you have to be driven, disciplined and thick-skinned. Having experience in competitive fields from the time I was a kid made me realize that there will be people better than you and people who will say no to you but you have to keep going and work as hard as you can-with what you have-to get what you want-that’s an invaluable lesson to learn early on.
2. What are your current gaps, barriers, facilitators, or motivators? Any of those in particular that helped you along the way?
I never take for granted I am entrusted to facilitate what is likely the largest financial transaction of a person’s life. It is a huge responsibility and it motivates me to do the best job I can every day. One of the hardest things working in Real Estate is you must be able to put aside everything that affects you personally for the day and stay 100% focused on the task at hand which is making certain you do the best job for your clients and their respective sales proceed as smoothly as possible. It is a big deal selling or buying a home- people get emotional, things happen-you need to really be there for your clients on a professional and sometimes personal level because essentially people are depending on you.
3. What is your ideal state / dream state of being as a woman in your career and a woman in this world? How will you get there?
I am always aiming for better work/life Balance which for me I would say is a work-in-progress –not sure how I will get there but trying to be fully present wherever you and with whoever you spend time with is really important. I don’t take relationships or time for granted.
4. What common misconceptions do you find about your field, your life, about women in general?
I think that reality shows like Million Dollar Listing and House Hunters give the public a very fuzzy picture of what a career in Real Estate really looks like. If you had no frame of reference and watched Million Dollar Listing you would think we are just given huge listing by our companies, toss a stellar party to bring in buyers and then move on to collect our six figure check. On shows like House Hunters you see people look at 3 properties and then make the biggest decision of their lives weighing the pros and cons in under 10 minutes. It is television, I know, but for those outside the industry it can be pretty misleading. The attrition rate in Real Estate is extremely high something like 80% of all people who try it quit in the first year-there are reasons why! Though parts of Real Estate can be somewhat glamorous -we do see amazing properties first, meet great people and creating you own destiny is often rewarding -there is so much work behind the scenes and moving parts for a deal to move forward, it bares very little resemblance to what is shown on those shows. Real Estate is a great business but it is not a 9-5 kind of job. You must be highly self-motivated. Most agents that are successful need to put in a great deal of time and hard work to obtain exceptional results.
5. Any advice or tips & tricks you want to give to a younger you? Whether it be how to apt hunt on craigslist to getting your shoes cobble to getting a work mentor etc.
The advice I would give to anyone who is younger is to be kinder to yourself and others and to take chances and risks, especially when you are young and the stakes are not as high, try to be a little fearless and really put yourself out there. You will make mistakes and encounter a few disasters here and there but it is all the ‘skinned knees’ and knock-downs that you will recover from that will make you a stronger, smarter and more successful person in the future.
BONUS QUESTION: What should lead your life: passion or pragmatism? (General thoughts, could be a convergence, could be one or the other!) You need both! Passion can never be underestimated. It is what will drive you full force to whatever you want in life but you need some level of pragmatism to get where you need to be!
Nicole can be reached at:
49 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003