My younger self found creativity in the art of self-expression through poetry and dance. I learned the strength of tenacity through competitive sports and the importance of a team and how one position is not more important than the other. I knew I needed a career that would create a sense of fun and freedom, never did I think I would find this through a structured career like real estate and private lending.
I remember being a sophomore in high school and confidently telling my mother I would never work in real estate. Being the brilliant woman, she is, she offered me $3 more an hour than my first job at TCBY Yogurt. You guessed right, I began working for my mother’s brokerage and property management company when I was seventeen. Yes, it was boring and yes, I was lost at first; however, I became curious how systems flowed, how departments and positions worked together as a team, and I was fascinated with the real estate concepts I was learning. It was then, I discovered business to be an art form, the concept of cash flow and building wealth through real estate investing.
“it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you keep and for how many generations you keep it” – Dr. Mary Sawyer (my mother)
Young professionals: I encourage you to be curious minded and find a mentor, someone you look up to their qualities and belief system, who can challenge you and help bring you out of your shell. In my case, my mentor happened to be my mother.
With serious intention, I set a goal to have the option to retire on cash flow by the age of 35. At the age of 21, I purchased my first investment property: two adjacent 5-plexes. 18 years later, I did not make that goal but what I did make is a good investment and the loan pays off this year. I will now own this asset free and clear.
I established myself as a real estate investor at a young age and knew I enjoyed the business; however, I also knew I had zero interest in selling real estate as a full-time position. I didn’t see myself as a “salesman” and I had attended too many open houses as a child.
Young professionals: be mindful of the internal dialogue you tell yourself as you can change your story and your internal belief system. Feel the fear and do it anyways.
Real Estate is a vast industry and I was hungry for knowledge and exposure to different areas. I accepted a position, for less pay than I was used to, for a startup company, which became the private lender you know today as Arixa Capital. As their Operations Manager, I had an opportunity to assist in expanding their offering and building the lending operations division we use today, which subsequently fed my creativity side. I was able to see the big picture through business mapping and develop the playbook for cross-functioning departments. This is where I took my experience and tenacity from competitive team sports and with the management team, we built a culture of entrepreneurs and a work hard, play hard mentality.
As every company and newly formed team has its growing pains, technology was ours. I enjoy a good challenge, so I raised my hand and spearheaded company initiatives on the technology side. This opened a new path of interest I never knew I had. I was promoted three different times and became their Director of Loan Operations and for a while, I was the only woman on the management team.
Young professionals: challenge yourself with projects, assignments, and even roles outside your comfort zone so you can become well rounded. Raise your hand and step-up to the plate by taking initiative. Persistence through discomfort is confidence building.
Being the true Capricorn I am, once I climbed to the top of this mountain I looked around and saw another mountain to climb. I knew real estate is a male dominated industry, but I came to realize how small women represented mortgage brokers,even less in originations – especially in the private lending space. This is when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and began a new path in originations. Instead of seeing myself as a “salesman”, I began to change my internal dialogue and view my new role as a solution provider. I discovered negotiations and structuring loans to be an art form, which allows me to once again, think outside the box and feed my creativity side, while helping others achieve their financial goals
“in business you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate” – Chester KarrassYoung professionals: do not stay in one lane or with one company, unless the company offers you a path to grow, stretch your legs, and wings.
Earlier in my career, being neither green nor seasoned at the time, I’ve experienced many situations where real estate has been noted as a “boys only club”. It was in those moments that I understood the goal is not for the “boys club” to like or accept you, it’s to have them respect you. While women’s presence in this industry continues to grow, we still have a long way to equality.
Young women professionals:women do better when they have solid female friendships and are surrounded by women who support each other. It still amazes me the amount of competition amongst women in the workplace and everywhere. Let’s support each other and work with men who support us too.
Shout out to the women who pioneered in this industry. They raised me, mentored me and my mother was me.
“it takes a long time to become an overnight success” – unknown