Thrive Global Interview – Jennifer Berman
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The biggest change an individual can make to support gender balance is to stand up when you see a situation. If you push away from the table, then you are contributing to not helping the cause of change.
Companies should create a culture of diversity and pull a diverse team together to work on this for the company. A “think tank” to join forces to see how they as a team can make the changes necessary for diversity growth. The power is coming together for awareness and setting initiatives to ensure change as an organization. Society changes comes from individuals and companies standing up for one another and creating the change together. Social Media is excellent for awareness so let’s put it to positive use and show how we have contributed to change no matter how small it may be. We all make a difference so hashtag that! #diversitychangeTODAY As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Berman. As one of the most respected international keynote speakers in the real estate industry, Jennifer Berman is a dynamic personality and highly-sought-after expert when it comes to the ultra-luxury market. Speaking to audiences as large as 5,000 at times, Jennifer always makes any presentation informative, inspiring, and energizing. She’s been featured on several media outlets, and you can catch her on CNBC’s new real estate show, “Listing Impossible” where she stars and is a producer. Jennifer’s credentials speak for themselves as to why she’s consistently invited as a speaker — she has managed teams of over 200 agents, increased company sales by $1 Billion within a 12-month period for a top luxury real estate firm, and facilitated projects with foreign entities, which has established Jennifer as a multicultural leader. As a coach and mentor, Jennifer’s leadership style has been featured on television for Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing”, and through realtor.com, Hilton & Hyland, Juwai, and many more throughout the world. She is an asset that has exceeded quotas, established company records, orchestrated 10-figure sales increases, and continues to seek the next challenge in real estate with her business partner, Chris Pollinger. Together, they are Co-CEOs of Berman & Pollinger, a multifunctional consulting company with an emphasis on the ultra-luxury real estate market. On a personal level, Jennifer is a three-time cancer survivor and a major advocate for female leadership. At every one of her speaking engagements, Jennifer fills the room with her customized presentations and high-impact message. She is a true role model, friend, and living proof that your future is always worth fighting for. Thank you so much for doing this with us Jennifer! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry? I graduated college and needed a job before going into Law School. I fell into a construction job selling windows, siding and redoing kitchens. I was making money hand over fist and my dad said you are a born salesman it’s in your blood. So, after building my own construction company with partners I then knew I needed to sell homes. My sister built a huge luxury home in Willow Bend Country and her builder is who said I had to get my license, so I did, and never looked back. Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story? I live in Beverly Hills so Hollywood can be a bit crazy here. Having said that we had a seller drunk and definitely on drugs walk out in his front yard whilst we were doing an open house and he fell face first in the grass and just went to sleep. People were not fazed by this and literally walked around him to go preview his home. It was incredible. So, the listing agent was a bit chaotic in her life and the lesson learned was “like attracts like”. I find that my real estate agents that have a crazy life attract clients that live the same way. Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people? I have been working on funding for the new Aman Project in Costa Rica. Working with the Aman group is an honor and a privilege, so I feel introducing American’s to the #amanjunkie club is a life altering experience in living a more Zen life. What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story? Chris Pollinger, my business partner, and I are very different than any other consulting company in the real estate industry. We focus on high-end luxury for not only the HNWI but the UHNWI. We both have lived all over the world and have proven boots on the ground experience in changing brokerages and teams in the luxury market. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that? Dean Poole. Hands down my mentor since the 90’s. I came to LA only because of him. He taught me how to be a public speaker, and how to slow down and be able to relate to anyone n any level. Unfortunately, he lost his battle with cancer this Christmas. It is a battle both he and I have been going through together for many years. He was my rock. I am now joining up with several people in the industry to create a cancer fund for all agents in our industry. Dean changed my professional career in so many ways, and I want his legacy to live on. Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance? I am honored and privileged to be a part of the WomansUP! Group that CAR created to break the glass ceiling for woman in our industry. We have made so many changes in awareness within our lioness tribe in just the past two years. I emceed our last convention and welcomed the ladies into the roaring 20’s together and help our next generation of women in leadership. I had no one to turn to, and it was a hard road as I grew in our industry. WomanUP! Is a group of female leaders in the real estate industry mentoring other ladies and providing a safe space for us to grow and conquer together. What 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward? A.) The biggest change an individual can make to support gender balance is to stand up when you see a situation. If you push away from the table, then you are contributing to not helping the cause of change. B.) Companies should create a culture of diversity and pull a diverse team together to work on this for the company. A “think tank” to join forces to see how they as a team can make the changes necessary for diversity growth. The power is coming together for awareness and setting initiatives to ensure change as an organization. C.) Society changes comes from individuals and companies standing up for one another and creating the change together. Social Media is excellent for awareness so let’s put it to positive use and show how we have contributed to change no matter how small it may be. We all make a difference so hash tag that! #diversitychangeTODAY In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? I’d like to see a man do hair & makeup every morning, match your purse, shoes and jewelry EACH DAY, make it to the gym, take the kids to school, and be calm cool and collected for your 8:30am office arrival each day at the office. God forbid you ever get frustrated at work, because then you are labeled a Bitch, Unbalanced, Frazzled or Unstable. I hear these words from all levels of woman in business that they complain their male counterparts say about them. A woman has to watch her tone and choose her words carefully to avoid any negative interaction with her male counterparts. I think one of the most common issues I see are the email responses women give opposed to their male counterparts one-word responses. Women have a tendency to write a book in an email and a man just responds with a few words if that. We need email etiquette classes in college. LOL Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
- The high-end game of it all. I prefer working in the luxury space and dealing with the HNWI challenges. Negotiations and discussions are very different.
- Selling the Impossible Listing. Nothing better than accomplishing the goal of the seller that no one else could.
- Money opportunity is up to you and not someone else. You control your professional growth.
- Not everyone deserves to receive a real estate license. A more difficult process of being able to work in our industry needs to be addressed. Agents not understanding their market well enough can hurt the client in either searching for their perfect home or trying to sell their home.
- Broker Reciprocity is a big issue. The introduction agents give to other “shark agents” to work with them on a client can be disastrous. Clients, for the most part, are not loyal so establishing those ethical guidelines in our industry has not been established as well as it could be.
- Health care for Independent Contractors which are what we are is horrendous. I have struggled with cancer and it can financially destroy you especially if you don’t have access to a company’s support. Many real estate leaders are helping me with a cancer fund for our industry, so no one has to endure the pain I have had to go through all these years being a single woman with no one to support me in any way during a tough physical challenge. I am honored and privileged this group as decided to call it the Jennifer Berman Fund. I hope while I am alive, I can raise money for this fund and my legacy will be to help thousands of agents in need for the future.
- Get an assistant. You cannot do this alone. There are far too many things you must do to be successful and doing this alone is not possible anymore due to technology and marketing demands that we must address for our clients.
- If you want to break into the luxury market, then find a seasoned agent you can split deals with on your first 3–5 luxury transactions. Learn from the best before you wing it on a luxury client
- Do all of your paperwork for multiple types of transactions at the beginning so you can understand legally how to protect your clients and your business. Skillset is everything for not wasting your clients time and understanding how to successfully negotiate on your client’s behalf.
- Study trends not only nationwide but globally. Travel is critical especially if you want to work in the luxury space. Understanding how to work with different cultures is a way of business now more so than ever.
- Be prepared to not work 6 days a week and not make a dollar your first year. Hopefully, this won’t happen, but it can. So, be prepared for constant disappointment and not being paid anything for your time and effort.