PODCAST

Multifamily Women® Podcast

Carrie Antrim

The Multifamily Women® Podcast will explore insightful discussions on the importance of not only elevating women in leadership but also becoming mentors and helping shape the future of the Multifamily industry. As technology advances at rapid pace, you will hear from top experts on the ever-evolving roles women play in multifamily organizations, how they got started in the industry, roadblocks they’ve faced along the way, and what they’re doing now to build and strengthen their current organizations.
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The Argument Hangover
Nov 18 2021
58 mins
The Argument Hangover
The Argument Hangover Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman lead Session 2 of the Multifamily Women’s Summit. Carrie Antrim, Co-Founder of Multifamily Women and Chief Operating Officer of Multifamily Leadership, introduces the Freemans as “relationship whisperers.”  “They just get it,” said Antrim. The Antrim family has known the Freemans for a while now and can vouch for their abilities. “They know how to take any relationship – romantic, children, co-workers, whatever it is,” said Antrim. “They’re not just fixing. You could have an amazing relationship and they’ll take it to the next level.”  Rather than sticking around for an interview-style conversation as Antrim has with previous guests, she simply turns the stage over to Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman to give their own presentation. Aaron kicks things off by talking about the mental, emotional, and physical struggles people have been going through during the pandemic. He says shutdowns and restrictions have made clear how important relationships really are. Then, Jocelyn interrupts his speech, accusing him of taking her line in their demonstration, leading to a brief, awkward, and of course feigned argument.  They use that as a jumping-off point to bring up how often arguments, tension, and disagreements can happen in a relationship. Jocelyn says she doesn’t discourage confrontation; it’s important to talk things through. Rather, she wants to talk about the argument hangover.  That’s the awkward, tense period that follows an argument where people don’t feel as comfortable with one another or are harboring resentment.  “Think about how you feel when you get into some tension with somebody,” said Aaron. “Guilty? You feel upset, you distance yourself from them.”  Since people want to avoid that argument hangover, they limit themselves to two options: avoidance of particular topics, or avoidance of the person. In both of those cases, Aaron says, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect more closely and more deeply with that person. “That’s where the juice of life actually is!” said Aaron. “We can’t just go around avoiding because you miss out on the real opportunity. The real opportunity is relationships, because relationships – when you get down to it, whether it’s the money, whether it’s the business driving the revenue, what people are doing – success in your life comes down to relationships both in your personal life and your professional life. That’s where true fulfilment is.”  The Freemans handed out worksheets that include a portion where people can pick out a relationship in their own lives, then jot down notes on how to improve or strengthen that relationship. As people finish that exercise, they’re then told to blow up a balloon that was placed in front of them. Then, they try to hit the balloon back and forth to themselves without hitting anyone. From there, they turn to a partner beside them and share their favorite menu of all time while playing with the balloon. The purpose is to show the effect the distraction had on the quality of conversation. Those distractions aren’t inherently bad, but they do affect your ability to give your full attention. Communication Personality Types Jocelyn says people know the cliché, “Communication is key to all relationships” but aren’t provided with training in communications skills.  “Here’s the thing: it’s easy to say you’re a great communicator when people agree with you,” said Jocelyn. That’s called positional leadership. She points out that people have seemed to be in staunch disagreement quite frequently these days. “True influence is being a true masterful communicator in those moments [of disagreement].”   Jocelyn says it’s important to consider whether you’ve ever made people feel invalidated in their emotions, or if there’s a topic that a person feels they have to avoid.  “Avoiding conflict in the short-term builds resentment in the long-term and resentment is harder to repair than a healthy disagreement.”  “You’ve heard communication is key to relationships,” says Aaron, “but here’s what gets missed: communication is not one size fits all.”  There are four communication personality types. Those start with two base dimensions. The first is your level of assertiveness to how reserved you are.  “Assertiveness does not mean that you just actively express your complaints or what you don’t like, or that you talk a lot,” said Aaron. “Assertiveness on this scale is your ability and your openness to proactively express your feelings, your needs, and desires in your relationships.”  The other dimension is flexibility to inflexibility.  “This is your ability to adjust your perspective,” explained Aaron. “Your ability and your openness to adjust your own point of view of how you see a situation, adjust your behaviors, and adjust maybe your role, depending on arising challenges or circumstances.”  Those dimensions combine to the following communication breakdowns: Assertive-Inflexible This is what Jocelyn says she defaults to. “We process our thoughts and emotions through talking. But because of the inflexibility piece, we can tend to be more rigid to our perspective, and, if we’re not conscious of it, can somewhat reject the other perspective, or argue it, or not be willing to see it that way.”  Another problem that comes with this communication style is that assertive-inflexible people can tend to raise their voices or sound somewhat more aggressive if they don’t feel they’re being understood. That can lead people to feel dominated in conversations. Assertive-Flexible This group also processes thoughts and emotions by talking them through aloud, but can be more open to another person’s perspective.  “Here’s the key thing, because people would think, ‘Oh, this is the best type if you’re having this flexibility,’ but assertive-flexible people can, when they’re not aware, commit to things and not follow through,” said Jocelyn.  She warns, those people might say yes to something out of compliance rather than actual commitment.  Reserved-Inflexible Aaron says he defaults to this sub-group. “The reserve dimension processes thoughts and emotions more silently or on your own, but then can have this fear that if you share it, you might be disagreed with. Someone might not see it your way. That’s the inflexibility piece – ‘I’m pretty sure I’m right about this.’ Then, if conflict arises, you  may share your thoughts or ideas one time and think, ‘I shouldn’t have to say that again. Said it one time already, you should already know!’”  This group might be more likely to bottle things up inside and let things out in bursts.  Reserved-Flexible This group still processes things on their own, but still wants to engage with their partner to understand their perspective. “But if conflict arises as a reserve-flexible type, you can give lip service. Meaning, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear you. Yeah, I’m going to do that,’ but you don’t have any real intention of making that change and there will be no follow-through.’” Over some time, reserve-flexible people can start to discount their own intuition. This is often a problem for women in male-dominated businesses. If the loudest person is the one whose ideas are always being heard, you may start to diminish your view of yourself because you seem passed over repeatedly. You may notice yourself defaulting to one of these communication styles when your emotions are heightened. It’s important to consider not only your communication form, but also the other person in your relationship. The Freemans have found that opposites attract when it comes to communication. That can be good in some instances, but can also cause challenges.  Jocelyn says her advice for assertive-inflexible people is to ask the reserved people their thoughts and opinions before voicing your own. That keeps you from dominating the conversation, and keeps the other person from suppressing their feelings. She says that’s particularly important in romantic partnerships. You should also be careful of your tone of voice, sounding curious rather than direct.  For assertive-flexible people, you should still have your partner speak first. Just be careful not to be overly flexible.  “Have a list of your priority areas and really be conscious of your ‘yes’ and your ‘no.’ What are you really saying yes to? Are you really saying yes to it, or is this a complaint?” challenges Jocelyn.  She warns you should also be careful to let reserved people finish their thoughts completely – don’t interrupt, that makes people feel diminished.  Aaron speaks next to the reserved-inflexible people. He says that reserved people might start to feel tension and physiologically retreat when their emotions spike. He advises that you should get moving, opening up your muscles and your chest and encouraging you to vocalize. The couple says having discussions while on walks is helpful to them. “You have to verbally be clear about what you agree to and what you don’t agree to, and what you’re actually going to do and not do,” said Aaron. “This is so real for me!”  Aaron gives an example of when Jocelyn was telling him something and he verbalized that he heard what she was saying and that he understood where she was coming from, but never verbalized that he disagreed.  Moving to reserved-flexible, Aaron says it’s a good idea to have scheduled meetings to have discussions. That helps people feel safer saying what they need to say, because they understand that’s the specific point of the meeting.  A show of hands from the audience proves the majority of those in attendance are assertive people with reserved partners. Jocelyn warns reserved people can tend to stifle their emotions then abruptly let them out in an angry burst. You can’t count on reserved people bringing something up on their own just because the topic at hand comes up. Having a weekly family meeting helps with that expression. That’s true both at home and in the workplace.  Aaron says in the workplace, those meetings can be tremendously beneficial for getting people to share their ideas. That helps everyone to improve. The Five R’s to Repair from Conflict The Freemans understand it’s often easier to end a relationship than to put in the work to repair it. Miscommunication is going to happen from time to time. “People think after a disagreement – big or small – all they have to do is say, ‘I’m sorry,’” said Jocelyn. “But who knows, ‘I’m sorry’ is not enough? You know that either if you say ‘I’m sorry’ all the time or this other person does, it starts to mean a lot less.” On top of saying the words ‘I’m sorry’ you need to work on repairing from there. That’s where the Five R’s come in. Reflect The first step after an argument is to reflect. Jocelyn says this is often stepped over. Rather than moving on and distracting yourself with busywork, take some time to think about the root cause of the argument. There’s often a deeper source to the issue than the way it manifested in the argument. Consider whether you might have an expectation that you never expressed to your partner or peer. Think about whether you’d had the same discussion in the past but never really resolved things. “When you miss out on the reflection piece, you miss out on the gold,” said Jocelyn. “What’s the lesson here? We believe that relationships are about learning, and if you want to learn about yourself, the best place to learn about yourself is in relationships with others.”  Responsibility Taking responsibility doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as taking blame. It just means your have the ability to respond. Jocelyn says you should never seek to find out if you bear responsibility, but instead find where you bear it.  Aaron says this part is the hardest for him and many other men, because they take things personally. “We put blame on ourselves and no one wants to feel that way!” said Aaron. “But as a leader, you don’t have that option. You’re not a victim to the things that are happening to you! You’re a leader, so you look for where you have responsibility.” Aaron says you don’t have to make yourself the center of anything, just discuss action and impact – “When I took ___ action, how did that impact you?” That might be after you express dissatisfaction or use a tone of voice that may have hurt someone.  Reconnect Jocelyn says that if there’s a relationship that’s been strained, don’t let the argument hangover wear on for days and weeks. Challenge yourself to reconnect after just a few hours.  This step will go much better if you’ve already done the first two Rs and can say, “I’ve reflected and here’s where I take responsibility.”  Waiting for the other person to take responsibility is not good leadership. When plans change, you have to follow your intuition and tap into your emotions.  “Emotions are the juice of life!” exclaims Aaron. “We’ve got men out here like, ‘Oh I don’t talk about emotions.’ Life is getting boring as hell! The juice – the juice of life, the experience, is in that emotion, yet we just want to numb people out.”  He says it’s time to shift that. That isn’t to say you should be reactive, but you should always aim to be expressive.  “If I - for the sake of men at all – could start to just say this out loud, and trust you powerful women with your emotions and your intuition and let business and life be more guided by your hearts, man that’s a better place, I think. I think that’s where we need to go,” said Aaron to a round of applause. Remind Jocelyn says this step is often missing.  “Remind each other of what you’re committed to,” she explained. “When was the last time you shared with people in your life – both personally and professionally – what you’re committed to in that relationship? When was the last time you even thought about that?”  Jocelyn says people make their vows at their weddings and discuss their commitments at jobs right when they’re hired, but often never check back on them again. She warns your ego might be prioritizing your commitments rather than your heart.  During times of conflict, remind yourself of what agreements you’ve made. “We believe that in any relationship, there should be a plan and agreements for what is okay and not okay during conflict, especially in a romantic sense,” said Jocelyn. That might include things like no yelling, no hitting below the belt, no bringing up the past, or no leaving the room or shutting down. Reconcile Aaron says arguments are challenges and therefore they’re opportunities, as long as you reconcile them to be so.  Aaron warns the Five Rs need to be done in the exact order they’re presented in. Once you’ve reflected and taken responsibility so that you’re able to reconnect, you’re then able to remind yourself and others of your commitments, so that you can then reconcile. Aaron brings up Carrie Antrim, the host of the Multifamily Women’s Summit and the co-founder of Multifamily Women. “She is such a huge reminder of looking for the gold, changing the mindset,” said Aaron.  He explains that if you have a recurring problem in a relationship, it’s only because of your memory. You might still feel hurt by that. Once you’ve reconciled and seen how disagreements are an opportunity for growth, it affects your previous arguments. It clears your mind of them so they don’t bear the same weight, since you’ve established your commitment to getting over the argument hangover. Jocelyn advises that everyone should think about the Five Rs and decide which they want to improve upon.  Aaron says these Five Rs are the key to good leadership.  “We cannot step over avoiding these challenges, these are actually gifts.”  He admits not everything will always go smoothly, but that’s why you have tools available to help you get over the argument hangover.  “Challenges are going to come up,” said Aaron. “They’re going to come up in your relationships, but the real takeaway today is that those challenges and those relationships are actually the place to grow. To grow your understanding, to grow and strengthen that relationship. If you’re doing that and relationships really are the key to success in your profession and your personal life, by doing these steps, that is leading to an absolutely fulfilling work environment, personal environment, and romantic relationship.”  Jocelyn points out that relationships can be a great relief or a great stress within your life, and you should consider how to improve upon them. You don’t want to look back on a failed relationship with regret.  Resources The Freemans have a podcast called Empowered Couples that you can get on any podcast streaming service. They talk about all things relationships, including communication tools. She also says that by going to TheArgumentHangover.com you can get $200 of free bonuses, including a workbook and courses in communication and conflict. All you need to get those bonuses is a receipt number for their book of the same name, “The Argument Hangover.”  Questions Carrie Antrim comes to the stage to lead a round of questions. An audience member asks, “So you guys never fight, right?”  “We do argue,” Jocelyn she answers, re-stating that the Freemans as a couple view arguments as opportunities. “We just focus on fighting smarter.”  “When you keep brushing things under the rug, you have a tripping hazard,” she analogizes.  “It’s not about the conflicts,” explains Aaron. “It’s about not having conflicts escalate to do more damage to that person. And then, you want to shorten your argument hangovers.”  Another audience member asks how long the Freemans have been married. The answer is 6 years. Another person asks for advice on being emotional. Aaron says to never suppress that, even in a corporate setting. Everyone is human, and humans are driven by emotions – even if you’re trying to suppress them or even if you don’t have the language to communicate, and even if you yourself aren’t even sure what you’re feeling. Just keep in mind whether the emotion is reactive or responsive. Check in with yourself often, and communicate. Jocelyn has two tips regarding emotional people. The first is to say to your partner or peer, “Something is coming up for me, is now a good time to talk about it?” Getting the other partner’s permission is key so that you don’t blindside people. The second piece of advice is to communicate how you would like to be listened to. Some people just want to share and talk without feedback or anyone trying to solve the problem.  Your communication styles in combination may seem like they create conflict. For instance, you may talk over each other. Permission-based communication can help, so that assertive people don’t catch the other person off guard. That also helps to create an agreement to take turns sharing. Picture yourself holding a microphone and passing it back and forth so you maintain one speaker at a time without interrupting.  Always make sure to keep conversations constructive. That comes from the agreement and ground rules set for the conversation.
Nov 18 2021
58 mins
How Improv Can Help With Everything
How Improv Can Help With Everything Lyndsay Hailey closes out Day 1 of the Multifamily Women’s Summit. She makes a grand entrance, walking out to the song “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers and draping her legs over the back of an interviewee chair as she tips herself over it upside down.  “It’s so nice to finally be back on stage!” she shouts, legs flung up in the air, head hanging near the floor. “I’m here to offer you a different perspective today,” she says, laughing at the very intentional pun that went along with her positioning in her chair. “The improv perspective.”  Hailey says improvisation is just making things up on the spot without preparation. “It’s synonymous with comedy,” she says, though she says it started out as a theatre game invented by a woman named Viola Spolin. It was meant to help actors get more deeply into character, but shifted in the 70s.  Yes, and…. The format for improv comedy is that each exchange starts with, “Yes, and…” “What does ‘Yes, and’ mean? It means not only am I going to agree to something, I’m going to agree to it instantly, and I’m going to add specifics, emotional value, weight, support, in whichever way I can to make you feel like a genius instantaneously,” said Hailey. “An improviser knows that instantaneous agreement can elicit a laugh, so that’s kind of exactly what we’re going for all the time.”   Hailey flips back around in the chair and starts jokingly listing her accolades and what makes her qualified to speak on the subject of improvisational comedy. She brings up that she’s worked with Channing Tatum and toured with Second City, an improv comedy troupe, as well as touring the nation teaching improv. Finally standing upright, Hailey says this is her first time back on stage for three years because of hiccups caused by the pandemic.  “I wanted to share what I believe in passionately and what has helped me gain any success in my field,” said Hailey. She says improv is taught outside of comedians, “Because our underlying philosophy of ‘Yes, and’ and rules of agreement enhance productivity, innovation, creativity. We create a universal language of support for companies.” In the “Yes, and” format, the response comes instantly. You don’t have time to judge the choice of the ensemble, you just immediately support them. “There’s lots of ways to ‘And’ a ‘Yes.’ Some is through emotion, verbal specifics, through creating or committing to a character or a choice that your ensemble members made,” explained Hailey. “But we know that if we do that right away, the very nature of instantaneous agreement will evoke a response from the audience. Why? Because it’s atypical in our society to agree to something right away.” She provides an example, setting the scene of her driving a car with her improv partner next to her. She’d say, “Hey, Sheila, I’m going to drive this car right off a cliff!”  “In real life, Sheila would be like, ‘No, no, no, what are you doing, you can’t do that! Please stop the car!’ Improv Sheila is going to be like, ‘Ooooh boy, I can’t wait! Let’s roll down the windows so everybody can hear me scream!’ That instant agreement to something that’s absolutely wild is what we can draw on.” She leads into an exercise based around the idea of immediately giving up judgement. She asks people to reflect on what they thought when they saw her upside down in the chair, and consider their inner critic. Then she tells people to picture their favorite cartoon animal. Next, she says to fuse their inner critic with the voice of that adorable animal. She instructs everyone to find the closest exit, say hello to the cute version of the inner critic, talk to it, shake hands with it, thank it, and escort it out the exit.  “We have to train ourselves to see everyone in front of us in our improv ensemble as an artist, a genius, and a poet. We never second-guess this. We make the assumption that our scene partners are geniuses from the moment they open their mouths. I want you to think about how, if you made that assumption day-to-day with people who talk to you or make suggestions to you, how much differently you would listen to what they were supposing.”  She says that would lead you to listen with more conviction and make more space for their ideas. People spend too much time in their heads pre-planning their responses and don’t fully listen. We should all be more active listeners. Remembering not to pass judgment comes in two forms: you have to avoid passing judgment on others and on yourself.  A real-life example is that a couple days ago, when she thought that maybe she would start her keynote speech upside-down, she immediately told herself, “Yes, and” rather than second-guessing herself.  She did the same thing in her career; when she was 25, she was acting in North Carolina for “One Tree Hill.” Her agent told her that auditioning is an art of itself, and she should go to some auditions for practice. She auditioned with an improv group and after a while, someone from that group told her she should go to Second City in Chicago. She decided then and there to go, and made the move after just one month, which she was spending back home in Richmond for Christmas. While she was home, she called into a radio show that was doing a competition, and after winning, got to do a five-minute comedy set on Last Comic Standing. While she was performing, she started having an allergic reaction that made her seem extremely drunk; she doesn’t remember what happened.  She bombed. Her dad told her she wasn’t funny. She chose not to listen to her inner critic and moved to Chicago anyway.  She starts hyping people in the crowd up, blasting the song that the Chicago Bulls rush out onto the court to. She draws some energy from the audience, but says it isn’t enough.  So she rushes backstage and then comes out in a regal red blazer with gold tassels and a yellow paper hat, urging people to get up and dance to a song that sounds like a techno club version of a ditty from Mario Bros. Then, in a rap-style sing-song, she tells people, “Everybody stand there! Hey, everybody stand there! Stop moving! You can do it if you’re a woman, you can do it if you’re a man. Get up, stand up, but stay as still as you can!”  After the song, she discards her outfit backstage and tells the crowd, “See, if I ever judged myself a day in my life, Captain Juggles would never have been born. That, my friends, is Captain Juggles.” Have fun The next rule of improv: Have fun.  “Improv is a self-fulfilling prophecy, so if you walk out on stage and you decide that you’re not going to have a good show, you’re probably not going to have a good show,” explained Hailey. “We get back what we give.” Because of that, it’s your responsibility to go out with a good attitude.  Be in the Present Moment  The next exercise she directs people through starts with them looking directly at the other people at their tables. “While you’re looking at each other, I want you to really think and feel into your hearts about what has happened over the last two years, and these women at these tables and all the mountains they’ve moved to restructure businesses, to work stay-at-home schooling and maintaining their lives, to balance work, life, family, you name it.”   She tells the crowd to pass the energy they’re feeling onto the people near them and applaud each other, then applaud everyone in the entire room.  “Take a moment to sincerely realize that you’re one of the women in the room that you’re applauding for,” said Hailey. “It should be the biggest and loudest applause of the night.”  She’s met with whooping, hollering, table-banging, and uproarious hand-clapping.  “You feel that? I’ve got goosebumps,” said Hailey. “I have goose bumps because we just shifted the energy in the room. It got real. We are in the present now, we have up-leveled because we feel that, truly. I know it got passed to me in the room because that’s why my arm hairs started standing up. I’m honored to be here before you, truly.” An improviser knows you have to always remain in the now. “If we worry about the future, we’re in anxiety; if we worry about the past, we’re in depression.” The final exercise in the keynote is to take 3 minutes to connect with the table and have present conversation in which each statement begins, “In this moment, I feel.”   Hailey points out that when people tell a story and end it with, “You had to be there,” she feels that’s a real phenomenon. Sometimes you really did have to be there in order to engage with the story in a present way. You should strive for presence in every moment. Think of all your favorite celebrities, be they stars or actors. Most tend to be very present, and that tends to make people better human beings overall. “When you’re trained in presence, often you end up being funny and joyful. That’s the philosophy behind improv fundamentals. A lot of people are intimidated by the word improv, but really it’s just a code of ethics based in agreement and cooperation and innovation.” How This Can Apply in Your Business   Of course, everyone still has boundaries. Not everyone will “Yes, and” you. Hailey advises to take what serves you and what adds value, and leave the rest.  You should also consider what constitutes brainstorming and what’s editing.  “Often, everyone just wants to feel heard and seen. So the way this would work is, perhaps there’s a brainstorming, team-building session. You go around the room and say, ‘Okay, we’re going to hear from every single person in this room for 3 minutes. Then after Amy goes, we’re going to add. We’re going to say, Yes, and – we’re not going to bring in competitive interests or ideas.’”  That way, you build on ideas, make sure everyone feels heard, and the momentum wins. “Inevitably, momentum and energy don't lie,” said Hailey. “So you can create a space in your teams or your companies where you’re using these ‘Yes, and’ principles to brainstorm effectively, and then you implement the boundaries and the ‘No’ in the editing process. But there’s sacred time for brainstorming.”  There Are No Me-Stakes in Improv This is the final rule of the night: there are no me-stakes in improv. Hailey mispronounces “mistakes” repeatedly, bringing up that eventually, people would just think it was funny. She points out that it’s happened for everyone where you’re in a meeting, someone makes a mistake, and the meeting gets derailed with someone correcting them, even though everyone knew what the person meant in the first place.  “Is that really necessary, to stifle that momentum? Or can you just roll with choices and not need to be right all the time?” Embrace the me-stakes and treat them with love and care. Believe that any idea can be a good idea.  To close the night, Hailey re-enacts what she expects she must have seemed like on stage for The Last Comic Standing when she was having an allergic reaction that made her seem astoundingly drunk. Then, she again plays Michael Jordan’s walk-out music to close out her performance.  Additional Information about Lyndsay: During the past two years Lyndsay Co-Founded Improv International with former Google stud, Abi Goettsch. Improv International teaches improv fundamentals to businesses as a tool for personal and professional development. Additionally, when presence expands, so does graceful communication, creativity, intuition, and productivity. Presence Practice® is the perfect professional development tool for any team.
Nov 13 2021
45 mins
Shifting Customer Expectations and How Work Will Change
Shifting Customer Expectations and How Work Will Change The last guests of Day 2 of the Multifamily Women® Summit are Nicole Wray and Kesha Fisher, who both work for Greystar.  Fisher works in Newport Beach as the Senior Director of Real Estate. She started as a Regional Manager and was promoted to Senior Regional Manager for the Development Team, then went to Director and finally Senior Director. She’s been with the company for seven years in total. Now, she oversees assets for development on the West Coast, and her portfolio is 100% lease-ups.  Wray is based in Scottsdale, Arizona and is the Managing Director of Real Estate for Greystar. She started there in 2010 as a Regional Manager, and from there was promoted to Director, then Senior Director, and finally Managing Director. Today, she oversees all assets in Arizona and the corporate office. In total, she says they have about 44,000 units, 130 buildings, and are the largest corporate office in the company.  Carrie Antrim, the Chief Operating Officer of Multifamily Leadership and Co-Founder of Multifamily Women®, begins the conversation by bringing up the amount that women contribute to the nation and world’s GDP. She gives the statistic that the total contribution is $26 billion in labor every day in the United States alone. “How important is it that those voices – our voices – are represented in the higher levels, at the table with the decision makers?” asked Antrim. “And how does that affect every decision that’s made?”  Wray answers first, reflecting on her own career with Greystar, where she was promoted from within several times. “That growth for women can happen and does happen,” said Wray. She says Greystar has several women at the very top at the Executive Director level.  “It’s still not uncommon, for any of us, I’m sure – I know I walk into a room with developers or big mega-institutional clients – to be the only woman in the room, the only one not wearing the grey suit. That’s fine by me, but I still do notice. But I would say overall, it has been getting better.” She says she sees women taking advantage of opportunities more often and in a more strategic way.  “Don’t be afraid to kick down a few doors,” said Wray. “Sometimes you need to be a little relentless in standing up for yourself. And sometimes it takes a few years to get comfortable enough in your own skills and your own capability, but it’s key.”   Fisher says she believes it’s important for women to have a seat at the table, not just because they’re women. “I’m a double-minority – I’m a woman, and I’m a woman of color. In my position, I’m the very first woman of color. So being at that position in development and construction, I’m typically the only woman in the room. Speaking on development and speaking on construction is not typical for women,” said Fisher. She says that it took a while to learn.  Fisher says it’s also important to ensure other women are there with you, and that you’re paying it forward. Finding Future Leaders   “How are you identifying future leaders, both within the organization, who you see and work with every day, but also outside the industry, bringing new people in?” asked Antrim. “Are there certain traits or characteristics that you’re looking for?” “Mindset trumps skill,” Fisher answered immediately. “I think that’s the one thing I look for. I can teach you how to look at a report. I can teach you the Greystar way, but I can’t change your mindset. I can’t make you more excited, I can’t give you the energy, I can’t give you the grit that it takes to be in this position. So if you have that mindset, I’m willing to spend the time, I’m willing to give you the attention, I’m willing to teach you to get there.” Wray says Greystar has a sort of mantra that they “hire for attitude.”  “I think as you move up through the ranks, you realize there’s a big difference between being a great leader and being a great manager,” said Wray. She elaborated, “Leadership is by far more difficult.” She says she spent 20 years learning certain skills that she’d use in day-to-day affairs, and now as a leader she uses just about none of those skills as she oversees about 1000 employees. “Leadership is drive, competition, humility, vulnerability,” said Wray. “It’s not about wearing your power suit and walking in. I’ve kicked down a few doors in my day. I love the velvet hammer approach, if you know what I mean. It’s having that ability to walk into a room as a leader and inspire and motivate, but also be real. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear or be goofy.” Wray says you have to carry humility with you. Of course, they’re looking for above-average intelligence, too, but mindset plays the greatest factor in what determines managing as opposed to leading. Fisher says about 80% of your workday as a leader is dedicated to interacting with people. You have to be kind, and that’s easy to forget for folks who’ve been competitively vying to move up in the ranks. You have to remain empathetic along the way. “How did you both personally develop that intentional leadership?” asked Antrim. “Does it just come naturally for both of you? Do you work at it, have you studied things? What do you do for yourself to be able to show up that way?” Fisher says she reads a lot and asks frequent questions. Understand what other people have to offer.  “One question I always ask people that work for me is, ‘What can I do better?’ I think certain times when you reach a certain level, you think, ‘I’ve made it! I’ve done it!’ But you still have more to learn. I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room, and I can learn from someone for me, I can learn from someone for them.”  She says sometimes she still has to talk with her personal advocate to lift herself up. Wray brings up again how quickly everything had to change during the pandemic. “I know I found myself in Management Land, which is sometimes necessary, when you realize that you’ve got to manage your way through this process. But when you do get stuck there in Management Land and you’re very task-driven, it really does pull you away from that true leadership of looking in the mirror.” Wray says she looks at herself in the mirror every night and tells herself, “It’s not enough, because the responsibility for others is so great.” She warns against getting stuck in a task-driven world. We all have tasks, of course, but you always have to make time for other people. True leadership requires you to be intentional.  Fisher also says working on your EQ – your emotional intelligence – is important, too. “You have to meet people where they are, and sometimes that may not be where you want to be. But it’s important to them, and if it’s important to them, it should be important to you,” said Fisher. “Always give them that minute.” She elaborates on the Management Land mindset that Wray was discussing. She says you will always have individual things you need to take care of, but you should always stop what you’re doing and give people a few minutes any time people need you.  “Spend time with people, because they’ll remember that. They’ll remember that time that you spent with them and they’ll make sure that if you need something from them, they’ll reciprocate,” said Fisher. “Time is so important – it’s important to build a team. Because that’s how you build trust. You can’t build trust with tasks. You build trust with experience and with time.” Wray says she learned about what type of leader she wanted to be by having someone in her life who she knew she wanted to be the polar opposite of. Everything is a lesson, so you should watch leaders around you and you should aspire to be the best leader in your own view. Get comfortable in your own skin as comfortable as possible, she advises. New Tech Antrim brings up that Fisher is on something called the Global Innovation Committee.  “I’m an innovation geek,” said Fisher. “I’m all about changing processes, making things more efficient, looking at technology.” She says she started in the industry as a temp leasing consultant and never left.  “What we as an industry have done is we’ve always been very old school, we’ve always been behind as far as multifamily is concerned, and COVID pushed everybody into this technology platform, which I was already in the space. Understanding what innovation can do for your teams is priceless,” she says. She explains technology can help you make things more efficient and less mundane, while you’re still able to learn and teach others.  “Now, we have so much technology that’s at our fingertips, and there are so many things we can continue to learn. In order to keep your on-site teams vested, they can’t keep doing the same things every day.” Now, her team is more comfortable and understands innovation is not going to take their jobs away. Instead, it will help them grow.   Wray says you have to be understanding and accepting of change, so that it’ll bleed down to the lower levels. She says Wray is a global group, and moving that fast with so many employees means it takes a lot of guts to raise your hand. Even still, you should always raise your hand and get noticed as often as you can. Those are the people who get promoted. Still, Wray says you have to be methodical about change, because technology can make or break a company. The industry is moving forward at light-speed. “The sophistication level in our software and our practices is increasing, but so is our clients. On any given day, I have a number of institutional clients where they know more about what’s going on in our property than even we do.”  Wray adds that you have to be mindful of the speed at which the innovation is happening. That was important to the pandemic. “I don’t believe in dragging people into the future. I won’t drag you. But I’ll hold your hand.” Antrim builds on the topic of shifting customer expectations as technology has been changing so quickly.  “The shift in customer expectations – are they taking us to new places? Where do you see – is it exciting, is it scary – where do you see the future of work going?” asked Antrim. Fisher, again, responded immediately: “It’s a little bit of both.”  She explained residents are looking for things that companies didn’t think were important until recently, like smart thermostats and smart locks. She recommends surveying residents so you learn what they’re actually after and what the best way to implement those changes would be.  “We want them to be able to go from the sidewalk to their sofa without pulling out anything but their cell phone,” said Fisher. “That’s what we’ve been striving for for quite some time, and we’re almost there.” A lot of innovation has to hinge around how quickly you can do things or fix problems. Wray explains that it’s difficult to maintain the human touch as things become more virtual.  “I know everyone out there is trying to figure out how to move forward with this innovation that’s so important, change in the industry, but yet, here go our renewals. We’re not creating that stickiness within our own communities where people want to stay, because you like to live where your friends live. That’s the scary part,” said Wray.  The virtual business climate makes it more difficult to build office culture.  It’s easy to forget how important the birthday celebration and cooler chit chat can be. Wray says the inability to convey emotionality over a computer screen is keeping her up at night.  Technology and innovation aren’t the only things making a company great; it’s the people, Wray and Fisher say in a tag-teamed sentence.  Since everything has been virtual, there are plenty of people that haven’t met in real life who are working together. It’s hard to create relationships that way.  A woman from the audience raises her hand to ask a question. “What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you along your career journey?” she asks.  Wray answers first: Be yourself. “I was so driven and really wanted to climb that corporate ladder. I was always worried and anxious and driving toward that next position, and always trying to look the part, act the part. Then finally – it was actually a supervisor, a woman supervisor, who said to me (I was doing asset management) and she said, ‘Nicole, stop trying so hard. You’re it. You’re it now.’ It really resonated with me.”  She says it took her some time to be comfortable in her own skin, but she thinks it’s an attractive and magnetic quality.  “You can’t fake integrity. Being genuine and warm and vulnerable, you can’t fake it,” Wray says.  Fisher says her piece of advice that’s stuck with her is also simple: Do the right thing. “Sometimes we lose track of what our core values are and what we really believe in. If you just do the right thing, you’re typically going to make the right decision,” Fisher says. “And always take the high road,” Wray adds. “Even if it’s not fun, not popular.” Wray says this year she took a poll with the Multifamily Association ahead of a gathering that the group had already spent $18,000 on. The Delta Variant of the coronavirus was spreading rapidly, and they decided to walk away from their investment to avoid the risk of illness. “Sometimes as a leader, it’s hard to be the bad guy. But when you know it’s the right thing, it’s worth it,” said Wray. “And at the end of the day, you have to sleep at night,” adds Antrim. “And it’s much easier to do that when you know that decision sucked and was hard, but it was the right one.” Another audience member asks, “You said you both started at Greystar in a regional position. What got you into the industry?” The audience member jokes, “No one wakes up when they’re 12 and thinks, ‘You know what, I want to be a leasing agent.’” “Isn’t that too bad, too, because it’s such a fabulous industry!” Fisher says she was an accountant, and didn’t think she would be happy doing that for the rest of her life. She quit without a job lined up, and a friend recommended she try out being a leasing agent.  “I wanted a free apartment,” said Wray, laughing. “And I got it!”  She says she’d heard from a friend that if you’re a leasing agent, you can get a free apartment. So she saved up her money, got a real estate license, and then got her first job in the industry. She’s been there now for more than 25 years.  Wray says being in development is a blast. You get to boss men in hardhats around! Fisher says her hardhat is bedazzled. “In this industry, it doesn’t matter what level you’re at – marketing, development – we have a client service team that’s phenomenal; all they do is prioritize client needs… software, training. It’s really crazy. We see people all over the world across apartments jumping into marketing and jumping back,” Wray said.  Greystar is expanding massively. They’re now a 24-hour company because they have a new office in India. They have 20,000 employees across 13 countries. One way they’re finding talent is by recruiting from high schools.  Wray loops back to how she got started. She was 22 and never got her college degree.  “I knew I wanted to be a boss of something. And young, because I was very bossy at the time, and I just thought, ‘Well maybe I’ll just make a career out of it!’ And I would have never dreamed I’d have the responsibility I have, or I’d make the money I make, or the people I get to work with as a leader. It’s a dream come true.” Fisher says she understands Greystar can seem daunting because of its size. But she maintains, you can create a work family no matter what. She says she loves this industry because of the people in it. “This is an amazing industry. You can be creative, you can be an accountant and do financials, you can go into marketing, you can go on the vendor side. There are so many opportunities in multifamily that people don’t even know exist.” Fisher recommends talking with people you meet out in the world just to spread the word about how wonderful multifamily is. “That was magical. All of that,” said Antrim, closing out Day 2 of the Summit. “My favorite part of this whole thing is, I’m pretty sure there’s a higher power working here because I think each group of women that’s been on this stage are leaving as like besties,” she laughs.  The Summit ends with a group photo and cocktails.
Nov 13 2021
43 mins
Giving a Damn is Good for Business
Giving a Damn is Good for You and Your Business Carrie Antrim, the Chief Operating Officer of Multifamily Leadership and Co-Founder of Multifamily Women®, kicked off Day 2 of the Multifamily Women® Summit by inviting Sarah Saglam and Stacy Stemen to discuss what sort of things they truly care about.  Sarah Saglam is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales Operations at LeaseHawk. Stacy Stemen is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Development with a real estate investment company called Passco. Both are extremely focused on relationships and creating a sense of family within the office. The three are dressed in matching shirts that read in a graceful yet playful font, “I give a damn.” The word “damn” is underlined. The font and design match the lettering used as a centerpiece for the summit, with the words “Multifamily Women” hanging overhead between the chairs when the presenters sat.Giving A Damn Antrim starts the discussion by getting right to the point: “We’re talking about giving a damn. What does that mean?” For Sarah Saglam, giving a damn means being passionate about the people you work with, the things you work for, and creating a culture of kindness. That requires recognizing milestones and being aware of what people are going through. Something as simple as a sticky-note showing your appreciation for someone can make a huge difference in someone’s day.  You often spend more time with your work family than you do with your own spouse or children, so you should celebrate those relationships. Do things to lift each other’s spirits and support one another.  “It’s a very competitive market right now, so the more things you can do to create a culture of kindness and a feeling of family will really resonate in retaining and attracting talent,” Saglam explained.  Stacy Stemen says passion is the most important element of all this. It requires you to go outside the box, go beyond the norm, and create a powerful energy that people want to be around. Stemen says that needs to start from Day 1, and that you should always be welcoming and encouraging toward your teammates.  Having an attitude like that helps people to be happier in the office, which makes them more excited about work and therefore more likely to stay with the company for a longer period of time. There are all sorts of ways to do that. Passco, for instance, has charity drives that give money to organizations chosen by people within the company and engages their employees with charity walks or runs. Things like that can make people feel bigger than themselves, as well as making people feel closer. A plus from that, Saglam says, is that people are more likely to buy from or contract with companies that are involved with nonprofits.  Stemen says she gives a damn about giving back to the community.  “It’s just important that you make yourself stand out. Everybody can be the norm. I live by a saying: ‘Live beyond your desk.’ You may be given a job – you may be in accounting, you might be in acquisitions, but do more than that. Get to know other departments. Get to know what they do so you can broaden your horizons and actually go and do a bunch of different jobs.” Identifying Leaders Stemen says there’s a difference between a sponsor and a mentor, but both are necessary in every industry.  “When I think of a mentor, I think of somebody that is educating and training somebody maybe within your specific field. Whether it’s marketing, acquisitions, it’s someone you can look up to and actually feed off of their knowledge. You maybe have a call with them a week or a month, maybe go to lunch and do all that kind of stuff. Mentorship is definitely needed,” Stemen says, and brings up that her mentee was present in the audience during the presentation.  “A sponsor, on the other hand, is somebody that’s out there promoting you when you’re not around. We’re here sitting here talking about people in this industry and they don’t even know it,” Stemen explains. “There’s sponsors that sponsor the event, but then you’re sponsoring an individual.” Saglam adds that being accessible to people in the workplace so that you’re available if someone needs to talk is important. You should offer yourself as a resource and support others. Stemen builds on that, suggesting you build groups within larger groups to build your network and knowledge base. For instance, she has a group that gets together monthly to brainstorm ideas, consider what conferences or meetings to attend, and feeds off each other’s energy.  Stemen says telling people something isn’t your job is limiting. By doing other jobs, you can find what you’re passionate about.  Antrim takes a pause to hand out cards that look similar to name tags, but instead say, “I give a damn about” with a blank space for people to fill out. They’re handed out amongst the crowd, inviting people to reflect on their values and their focus. Then, she uses that time to pivot the conversation.  “I also wanted to touch on when you can tell – when you just know that someone in the organization doesn’t give a damn, and managing that, whatever it is,” said Antrim. “Either transition into a different position that maybe gets them fired up, or transitioning out, a different career path. How do you guys manage that type of – at least for me, it’s a little more difficult. I’m not one to have those types of conversations. How do you do that but maintain the relationship?” Saglam says being aware and noticing that person is struggling, and not being afraid to have a conversation about it is helpful. Often, people are going through something in their personal lives that’s distracting them. It’s all about communication, but the key is to go into the conversation with the right mindset.  You should also try to meet them on their terms. For instance, if they’re a quiet person, they might not be comfortable talking in a large group. So instead, you could send them a note asking them to catch up, or invite them to lunch. That doesn’t have to come from a manager; anyone reaching out and showing they care is a good place to start. “Finding your advocate in the company, I think is big,” said Stemen. “That way, you become their confidante and you become that person who they come to and you can be the voice. This actually gives you more power, going and speaking to these executives and really understanding what the company is going through.”  A common problem, Stemen says, is that people feel overworked, underpaid, or underappreciated. Those feelings can be exacerbated if certain employees’ bosses treat them differently than people in other departments are treated.  “If you’re in a company where you don’t believe in the culture, something has to change,” Stemen says. She encourages you to be that change.  The Power of Moments Stemen brought a book called “The Power of Moments” by Chip and Dan Heath. They go over “Why certain experiences have extraordinary impact.” An example Stemen liked in the book is a Popsicle Hotline at the Magic Castle Hotel in Los Angeles. You pick up the phone and someone brings you a popsicle, delivered on a silver platter. Stemen says that’s a perfect example of thinking outside the box to create something that will make people happy in an unforgettable way.  “I think everybody should have a Popsicle Hotline. Make it something cool that people will remember. It’s those moments that stand out.” Both Stemen and Saglam’s companies have something similar that’s meant to lighten the mood. Passco has breaks where the boss will pay for cookies and whatever else employees have their eyes on; Lease Hawk does impromptu ice cream parties. “It’s something to take your mind off everything that’s going on,” said Saglam. “And then we start talking. It just creates some fun.” Saglam points out that it’s always important to celebrate milestones, but it’s just as important to celebrate tiny moments. That can change your view of the workday and make you more invested in the workplace and your work family. Hearing from the Audience Antrim invited everyone from the audience – either in-person or watching the stream of the conference remotely – to share their own perspectives. Some people had questions, others had bits of wisdom they hoped to share that they believed others might benefit from. Saglam and Stemen offered free “Give a Damn” books or shirts to anyone from the crowd who participated in a discussion. A woman named Teresa from the crowd at the summit had a question for the presenters. On a badge handed out during the conference where people were told to write what they give a damn about, Teresa wrote “inclusion and diversity.” Teresa asked, “What are some ideas or some things you’ve done to create culture when your team is not in the same place or the same office?” Saglam suggests having a name for the team, which makes people more excited about the unit they’re part of. Then, have regular meetings with that team. Start those meetings off by talking about three good things that happened in the past day, which encourages people to have an attitude of gratitude.  A woman named Rebecca, who works with Chadwell Supply, says she sent a hand-written encouragement card to each employee and mailed them out, since the team is spread out across the country. She says it made a huge difference. “We have the Amazon Business Incentives Program,” said Stemen. “So we will send gift cards out to our teams. I also made a partnership with Uber Eats. If we’re going to have our monthly call, we’ll send out gift cards to them to let them know we’re thinking of them.” Stemen says it can be hard to spread the company culture across the country and keep people engaged even if they aren’t in the same office. She says it’s important to take the time to ask people what they want. Thinking outside the box to create events where you can bring people together is great, and you can often get them sponsored by other companies.  In the crowd, Stephanie from Leonardo 24/7 says they find out what sort of music people like and create a playlist that they’ll turn on as they’re working. “It’s a neat way to create a moment that carries on.” A woman named Tina texted in saying they do virtual tailgates with contests throughout.  Jules in the crowd said that she’s in a male dominated-company. “In our organization, we don’t have a Women’s Leadership Council. So myself and an attorney and a VP, who is the most powerful woman at our company, are creating one. We’re just in the beginning stages. So I want some solid advice from y’all on what we should do.” Stemen says coming to the event she’s attending is a good first step. You could also bring in speakers or go to other conferences together to further their education on how to become better leaders. You just have to make sure you have the support from your executives.  “You’re going to see things evolve. The company culture will start changing, and people will notice from the outside. They’re going to start talking about you and go, ‘I want to work for that company. I see myself fitting in here.’ That’s who you want to be in this industry,” said Stemen. Linda, an audience member, works with Saglam. She says a thing that was fun for her was the invitation to bring their pets to their virtual meetings. “It created a fun way for us to get to know one another.” Kristina with Trust Hub said from the crowd that she mails everyone on her team a cute purse, wallet, or lanyard. She’s into pump-up songs as well. At the end of the day, rather than asking what each person did, she asks, “How did your day go? Is there anything you need from me?” That creates a personal connection and makes sure you aren’t micro-managing but can still get questions answered about work.  Saglam says those check-ins that aren’t totally focused on work are a great idea. It breaks the ice and gives a new way to connect. Brooke, a woman from the audience who works with The Management Group, says any time there’s a death in the family (human or animal) they send a peace lily. She says that surprises people and creates a good moment in a hard time. They also do weekly maintenance meetings and make sure the refrigerators are stocked with beverages – small things that make a big difference. During the pandemic, Brooke started a women’s leadership group, where people were allowed to pick bracelets from the Little Words Project. They have small messages, and once you feel the message has been spoken to you, you can pass it on.  Kim Cross says her team is remote as well, but sends gifts out twice a year. For Christmas, she sent small gifts and had a virtual party where they played music and opened their presents and cards. She wants people to understand that the team comes first.  Tracy with Watch Tower Security started a monthly lunch where people from the industry can meet up and form connections.  Paula from the crowd has monthly dinners with other women from the industry in Atlanta. “It’s amazing, because we get to share our challenges. We get to share our good news, bad news, and also during the pandemic we did it virtually.” Stemen says after hearing all the input from the audience, she wants to go back to her company and do a personal survey trying to find out what makes everyone tick. That way, you can tailor certain things you do for that person in the future.  Stemen is trying to start up something called Living with a Purpose, where people are encouraged to help with charities or individual causes. Rather than having floors be named A, B, C, she has her leasing agents tell people specific stories about floors and launch community events with each center.
Nov 13 2021
54 mins
Taking Control of the Company from A to Z
Taking Control of the Company from A to Z The second group of guests in Day 2 of the Multifamily Women® Summit are Cindy Fisher and Georgianna Oliver. Carrie Antrim, the Chief Operating Officer of Multifamily Leadership and Co-Founder of Multifamily Women®, is carrying out an interview and leading a discussion between them. Georgianna Oliver has been in the industry for over a decade, beginning in multifamily management and then moved on to start a few companies of her own. The most recent of them is Tour24, a new self-guided tour product for apartment complexes that so far is live in over 300 different properties. “It’s a true startup, in the sense that it’s hard. It’s really hard. Our biggest challenge, which you guys will understand is buy-in from the site managers, the leasing teams, and access,” said Oliver. Right now, she’s trying to raise a few million dollars to be able to hire more people and advance the technology they’re using. Cindy Fisher is the president of a multifamily developer, investor, and property manager called KETTLER.  “I didn’t plot my course, exactly, it just came upon me.” She worked in property management for about 5 years, then spent almost 20 years in multifamily, focusing largely on financing. From there, wanting to do something different, she went to the Washington Post. She worked for a couple nonprofits as well. After a while, she linked up with a real estate investor named Bob Kettler, who took a liking to her. “I am a change agent. I love change, I love being in the middle of disruption. I love being part of restructuring, reorganizing, and figuring out how to get organizations where they need to go.” That’s what she was brought in to do.  She transformed the KETTLER organization, making it much more integrated and trying to figure out what drives the industry, so they’d know what to do moving forward. Bob Kettler decided he wanted her to run the company.  Making A Team of Leaders   “Before we get into managing teams and change and all that, I want to go a little inward,” said Antrim. “You both, I would imagine, on any given day, are going from finance meetings, to HR, to marketing. You’re doing all of the things there are to do. How do you switch hats quickly and still remain present for the people you’re interacting with every day?” “One thing I want to say is, you have to step in and step out,” answers Oliver. She explains, some teams you check in with once a month; others, you check in with once a week; others, you talk to daily. Throughout that, you have to keep the big picture in mind and workflow anything that isn’t functioning.  “Never lose sight of those details that could cripple you.” Oliver’s other piece of advice is to bring what she calls the E Factor. “Bring that energy. Like what happened when we walked in the room here!” she says, referring to the hype-song Antrim played for the interviewees as they walked on stage, and the audience’s excitable reaction. “When there’s energy, you can get things done so much more easily. If you’re engaged, energized, enthusiastic, always bring that to every meeting you have and it will shock you what you’ll be able to accomplish.” “I bring a little bit of the crazy, too,” joked Fisher. She admits that sometimes she’s impressed by how many meetings she or others manage to get done in a day. “But you know what it is? It’s trust. I built leadership around me of people I trust. People that I count on to know their job. I am not a micromanager – I’m the worst micromanager on the planet… I need people to be challenged and take leadership and feel empowered to do what they’re doing.” Fisher says the most important thing to her is having a clear vision and strategy. Each person has to understand and own those, and has to have the resources and tools to achieve the goal. Oliver does her best to remove any barriers for those people. “Finally, if we put good monitoring and measuring systems in place, I know where things are going,” said Fisher. “We can manage by exception. If you’re trying to manage the details every single day, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. You have to know enough to be dangerous, so I do agree 100% that getting down to understand what people are talking about builds that trust and respect.”  Fisher passes on a bit of advice from her father: Don’t ever think you’re the smartest person in the room. Instead, build smart people around you who you can trust, and let them have a place at the table.  “I love how you mentioned that you aren’t going to micromanage,” said Antrim. “You have to trust that they’re going to get it done. What are you looking for? Is it something you see in people, is it a character trait, is it a work ethic? How are you building those teams that are working toward your vision and strategy?”  Oliver says she looks for accountability. “If you’re accountable, you’re thinking about all of the different things that are part of the equation.” Fisher gives a woman who has grown through the past year to be much more independent. “You have to look for people to pick up those rocks and look under them and see what’s going on and find the answers.” Fisher points out it’s also important to be comfortable letting people find answers on their own. She prefers to use hiring techniques where prospective employees are thrown into certain situations and asked how they’d handle things, so you can see whether they’d be a good fit. Fisher said she learned early on as a manager that she had to simply present a problem and ask her employee to figure out on their own how they would solve it. Embracing that strategy, she says, was a bit of a learning curve, but now she knows it helps people to build confidence.  “It’s a way for me to see what they can do. And then from there, you really start placing people in the right place. Because not everyone thinks like that. Some people are doers, some people are real task-owners. We need all levels of employees across our company and it’s good to recognize where people are. But when you find those people you know are going to start rising up and be those rising leaders for you, you have to challenge them. You have to make them think, you have to give them that empowerment and autonomy.”  Oliver says each month, the whole group does a virtual meeting.  “One of the things I’ve learned in my life is to focus on your strengths. And that’s what I said to the team, and the people you manage and even ourselves. Focus on what you’re good at, don’t focus on what you’re not. Because you will find success and you will be more successful doing the things you know you’re good at. Guess what, experts are good at ‘blank’ because they’ve built their whole lives building that knowledge and being the best at that. That’s what I said on the call.” Fisher builds on that notion saying passion is so important. She adds, you must learn everything you can about the area you’re passionate about.  “You both are speaking straight to my soul, because I am very high-task by nature,” said Antrim. “It has been a complete mindset shift for me to be able to hold someone capable and then to let it go. ‘I feel like this person’s capable, pretty sure, I’m just going to let them figure it out, I’ll see what happens,’ and the magic is done when it does.” “What the teams need is, they need to know there’s a vision, there’s a strategy, there’s plan ahead. That’s what teams of people rally around, is organizations that have a clear vision, a growth strategy, a plan that they can get connected to. So you have to have that balance,” said Fisher.  Overcoming Barriers   “You both have done amazing things in your careers,” said Antrim, “and sold companies and worked in different places. Has anyone tried to tell you ‘no,’ either of you? Because I feel sorry for that person.” Fisher says she’s heard it all the time. She views those challenges as opportunities to grow and take risks. Recently, when she came into KETTLER after several different organizational changes, she brought up a lot of ideas and was met with vitriol. She heard no for several years, and finally came up with a full proposition that she could sell to the company. That was only possible in the end, she feels, because of her passion for the industry.  “Let’s keep pushing ourselves, let’s keep thinking about how we can do things differently,” said Fisher. “Let’s not get caught up in the 40-year story. It’s great, it’s wonderful, but we’re in a new era.”  Fisher says to remain tenacious if you truly believe in something.  Oliver says when someone tells her no, she simply doesn’t believe it. “I’m like, ‘Oh, you didn’t hear my question right,’ or, ‘So you’re saying there’s a shot!’” “The road to success is paved with no’s. That’s what problem-solving is: it’s roadblocks. In sales, they say the first time you hear a ‘no’ is when you start selling,” Oliver says. If she hears no, she just tries to convince people otherwise, even if it takes time. “What do you do when your team is telling you no?” asked Antrim. “You’re talking about being a change agent. Some people aren’t as excited about change as Cindy! But when you have to make changes and people have to go along with it?” The way there are seven stages of grief, Fisher says there are similar stages when people undergo the shock of changes. Being clear about why the change is happening and staying true to the path of that change is important. Ownership is key, she says – both for the leader and for people feeling part of the change. “As a leader you need to stay strong about what you’re trying to do, but it’s okay to let people challenge you,” said Fisher. “Don’t be afraid of people telling you, ‘I don’t like that,’ or getting angry or resenting that you’re trying to change what they’re doing every day. It’s okay for people to feel that way. But what we have to do as leaders is lead them through that change. Let’s not leave them out there floundering trying to figure out how to do it; let me lead you through the change.” Celebrate small victories along the way, and after the change has happened, measure the success to demonstrate how the change has been crucial.  Since Fisher talked a good deal about how it’s okay if your employees challenge you, since that’s how everyone learns, Oliver asks the crowd, “How many people would feel comfortable saying no to your boss?” About half of the attendees raised their hands hesitantly as the crowd erupted in laughter.  “Don’t be afraid to!” says Fisher encouragingly. “It’s poor leadership if people are afraid to hear – everybody’s voice matters. I don’t care what the job is in the organization, we all matter equally.”  In the end, Fisher concedes that not all organizations encourage employees to act in that way. Oliver shares a story where an employee yelled at her, to the horror of another co-worker. Fisher told the aghast employee, “I can take it.” She says people have to have a way to communicate with you. “You take the good with the bad, you always try to be polite, you always try to be nice. But he was unhappy about something,” said Fisher. “The point is, it was important to him and he wanted to tell me about it.”  Antrim asks her interviewees to think back to when they were 25 or so. “What would be a takeaway that you’ve learned? How have things changed?” Oliver says she lives by certain one-liners and sayings.  “One of them that I would say to all of you at 25 is, ‘Life is long in business.’ Very long. You will come across and be around the same people over and over in your careers, and you’ll never get away from them, I’m sorry.” She warns, if you have a bad interaction with someone, just be aware you are likely to run into them again in your business down the line. “You’ll get so many chances, but there will be those things you want to make sure you handle just right. But you’re going to make mistakes, because that’s the only way we learn.” Fisher adds, “Be opportunistic.”  “Do not be afraid to make your own opportunities,” she continued. “I’m always looking at that challenge in front of me. ‘What is that thing I want to do? What is it I think I might be good at to go in and influence and add value to whatever organization I’m in?’”  She says that it takes fearlessness.  Keep in mind too, it is okay to make mistakes. Rather than getting discouraged, think about what you learned and what you could’ve done differently, brush it off, and move on.  Another bit of advice Fisher shares is, “Find those advocates and champions for you. I cannot emphasize that enough. Find people that are going to help you grow in your career and want to be an advocate for you.”  You’ll never stop growing and learning, she says.  Lessons Learned   Antrim opens the floor to questions from the audience, but first asks Fisher about her time with the Washington Post.  She helped manage the transition to focus more on the digital aspects of the paper, rather than just paper. She says the digital crowd was new and hip, while the print journalists were practically curmudgeonly; all, she says, were brilliant.  She says it required a culture change, but people were united because they had the common goal of quality journalism. She wanted to focus on how to come into an organization as a newbie and add value.  “Understanding where people are coming from and putting yourself in their shoes, I think is a really valuable lesson that I learned. I use that technique over and over again,” said Fisher. Antrim asks Oliver how she’s able to reset rather than internalize after a failure. “I have to feel like I accomplish something significant every day,” said Oliver. “One a day. That resonated with me. The other thing I want to say is, you make mistakes because you step outside your comfort zone. You step outside your comfort zone because you want to learn and grow.” Oliver says she’s made mistakes in just the past year. She pushed herself outside her comfort zone while trying to fundraise. “There are things you just don’t know, but you don’t learn them unless you go outside your comfort zone. And the way you recover is, the next day, you push the ball forward in the other direction… Anything you’re trying to accomplish, as long as you do something each day towards that end, you will feel like you’re making progress. Because guess what? You are.”  Oliver says it’s all about grit, and it’s okay to pivot.  “If you have grit, you absolutely push forward no matter what. The most successful people have done that. We all have obstacles.”  Fisher says you should celebrate yourself every day. Don’t focus on your failures, focus on your successes, and give yourself credit for the things you’ve done. If today wasn’t that great, don’t worry; there’s always tomorrow.  Fisher also says anyone can reach out to her any time if they want some advice. Oliver adds that she gets energy and inspiration from the people around her, so she welcomes it as well. Questions from the Audience   A woman from the audience brings up the “E Factor” mentioned earlier in the seminar. “How do you get to that point where you keep yourself rallied and energized and bring the E so that the people you lead to the same thing? And keep it authentic?” Fisher says she gets energy from the people around her, so the more people she’s interacting with, the more energy she draws. Getting ideas flowing among the staff helps. “We all can get overwhelmed, but when I find I get that way, the best thing I do is I find that group or that core or those other people I need to talk to – whether it’s peers – and I say, ‘let’s talk through this,’ and then I feel energized.”  Oliver says when she feels things getting to her, she checks herself before heading into a meeting. Be present and aware of yourself and your emotions. She acts silly or goes for walks to break up the anxiety and the mundane elements of the day. Traveling helps too, because she says it inspires her to do better. “You’ve just got to shake things up.” Antrim moves on to other questions that viewers texted in.  “What are some recommendations you have for seeking out a mentor? How should we approach someone with the desire to be mentored?” the texter asked. Fisher says her organization tries to build mentorship programs structurally. In other circumstances, people who have worked closely with her on a project will ask her if she’d be open to a mentorship relationship. Sometimes, a male manager will ask her for help mentoring a female employee. Sometimes it starts with something as simple as someone reaching out to her over an email.  “When it does happen, talk through what it is they really want to do,” said Fisher. “Just something real and authentic and genuine, so it doesn’t feel like, ‘Okay we had this one meeting and off you can go.’ I usually try to set up something where we’re working together on something where they can develop in an area they’re hoping to develop in.”  Oliver says it doesn’t always have to be extremely formal. She’s been drawing in nuggets from other people she’s worked with, like the advice that not everyone works well together, and you should change up teams based on who will interact successfully. She also thinks it’s a good idea to be around people who are not similar to you, because you can learn from them.  “You don’t know what you learn when you’re around them, so pursue that,” said Oliver. “Because when you’re around people that think differently or are more ambitious than you, you rise, and you don’t even know.”  The last question from the audience, Antrim says, is from a woman named Terry: “What’s the best advice you have for a woman trying to grow her company’s third-party management portfolio?” Fisher says anything that talks about growth and strategy should mean you’re focusing on the type of market and type of client you’re trying to grow with. From there, connection and outreach is crucial toward sales.  “Have a good strategy. What differentiates you from other third-party management companies? Because at the end of the day, all of us can check certain boxes,” said Fisher. “It’s what you bring to that equation that’s really going to spark their attention.” You should also make it about them. Find a way to figure out what exactly they’re looking for, and personalize your pitch to be specifically about how you can help that exact company. Listen to them first so you can truly understand their goals and how you can reach them.
Nov 13 2021
58 mins
Focusing Your Mind to Achieve Your Goals
Focusing Your Mind to Achieve Your Goals Carrie Antrim, Chief Operating Officer of Multifamily Leadership and Co-Founder of Multifamily Women®, begins Day 1 of the Multifamily Women’s Summit with a bang. She invites the crowd to stand up and fill the room with energy as “Fight Song” by Dave Basset and Rachel Platten blasts through the speakers. “I love this song!” shouts Dr. Cari Skrdla as she walks onstage, dancing and pumping her arms, her face beaming.  Dr. Cari Skrdla runs a company called LifeBack, which is a personal coaching service that helps people figure out what they’d like to do with their lives, and then set their sights on achieving it. But the journey there had many twists and turns.  “Where did it all begin?” asked Antrim.  Dr. Skrdla answers that she’s from Detroit, Michigan originally. She was raised in the 60s, during the era of Motown and says the city was absolutely beautiful. Her father, a Christian minister, headed the clergy council. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote her father a letter from the Birmingham jail, asking him to head south and join the Civil Rights movement.  Her father ended up organizing the very first Civil Rights March in 1963, with just 30 days to plan. That was Dr. Skrdla’s first march as well – her mother brought her while Cari was still in the womb. “This really does tie into why my life has taken all the turns and bends that it has,” said Dr. Skrdla. Dr. Skrdla went through something called the Early Identification College Program in Detroit, which brought 32 students in to be part of a co-op with a parent company. Dr. Skrdla’s parent company was Disney. When she was in tenth grade, she would go from school to one of five Disney facilities in Michigan.  “What I didn’t realize is that they were developing me as human capital,” said Dr. Skrdla. “The agreement was, if I graduated with high honors, they would give me an academic ride.” That’s how she ended up attending Eastern Michigan University. Disney recruited her in her senior year and she began working in Employee Relations Management. “Imagine this. It’s 1985, I’m 23 years old, and they gave me $50,000! Like, wow, that’s all the money in the world! I worked there for ten years, and left just shy of being the first African American President that Disney would have had. I did that because of this little guy named Kyle – my baby. I was just not one of those women that could drop him off and be okay with that.” Dr. Skrdla says the women at Disney were extremely regulated in what they could wear in that time, and seemed stern and bitter for reasons Dr. Skrdla couldn’t quite pinpoint. That led her on a track toward neuroscience, where she studied something called MQ, rather than IQ. “The Mindset Quotient assessment is something I created with a good friend of mine who’s a best-selling author. She’s written three books. Her name is Leslie Householder, and if you haven’t read it, her first book is The Jackrabbit Factor. She’d been a facilitator for Bob Proctor. Some of you are probably familiar with him; he’s known mostly for being in The Secret.  So this is Mindset Work. After my divorce, I moved into a little house in a neighborhood. It was like I was starting over; my mother was all panicked trying to fix me up. ‘What are you doing with your life?’ That’s how I met Leslie Householder, we were walking together everyday and she was asking me questions about the brain and the mind, and specifically what I call the Super-Conscious, because that’s what my dissertation was based on. I went from the brain into the heart. It was an interesting pathway to that.” Dr. Skrdla says Householder did a fantastic job of consolidating what she’d been studying and breaking it down into simple terms anyone could understand. They started working on a test to determine Mindset Quotient, which looks at the level of thinking one is experiencing.  You can take that test at MindsetQuotientTest.com. “Thinking is an act of creation. All that busy stuff going on in our minds all the time, that’s not us thinking. Thinking is actually saying, ‘This is what I want and this is how I’m going to get there’ or not even knowing what you want and entering into enough curiosity that you discover that and then invent it.” Dr. Skrdla says the most powerful word her father ever taught her was “make-believe.”  “We get talked out of that so early in life. But we have the ability to make anything that we believe.” The MQ assessment helps people make breakthroughs based on that notion, overcoming plateaus by helping people identify what level they’re on and point them to the resources that can help them reach the next level.  “I think that’s really interesting, because I would imagine that – myself included – many of us are operating on a daily basis in that comfort zone,” said Antrim. “Busy executives, professionals, moms even – you wake up and you do the same thing everyday. It’s get up, whatever your routine is, get the kids to school – whatever that is. To take the time to stop and make believe can be scary.”  It’s all about reaching the next level, Dr. Skrdla says. “Your brain waves enter into what’s called a theta-state, and that’s where you want to be in order to create. And this isn’t new in the science world, and today, thanks to many, many authors that are out there, and definitely the Youtubers, there are tons of books and videos about our brain waves.” Dr. Skrdla started trying to get people to understand that everyone is, in fact, manufactured. There are different influences throughout your life that make you who you are. When you first wake up and right before you go to sleep are perfect times for self-reflection.  Education, Dr. Skrdla argues, can come from within.  “You know what it is you need, you know what it is you want, and you know how to get there. The world around you won’t always give you that opportunity.” Dr. Skrdla says brain waves elevate during labor, when women are creating life. The heart rate slows down and pressure drops, nearly identical to someone transitioning into death. Researchers have found that women ascend to the highest level of brain wave function during that state, making you superhuman for just a moment.  Dr. Skrdla says you can do that intentionally. She, for instance, has trained herself to get excited anytime she feels afraid. She associates that with being alive. That’s how she was able to skip over climbing the corporate ladder and instead go straight into becoming an investor. She started on that path because she wanted to feel alive.   Your comfort zone won’t necessarily look bad from the outside – you could have enough money and a happy life. But Dr. Skrdla wants a thrill. She argues we’re only truly conscious 2% of the time.  “That 2% is regulated by something new, something out of the ordinary. Or else it’s just all fading in the background.” Dr. Skrdla wakes up each morning and uses those early hours to focus her day, very intentionally. The night before, she’ll have set herself up to do certain things she understands as odd, such as asking Alexa to remind her at noon to be alive, or purposely planting something to startle herself to wake herself up.  “Everything in your house, everything in your car – the moment it’s set and you know where it should be, you know your job and you know your life; the moment you know something, you just die. So we have to be in a constant state of discovery.” You have the choice to change your mindset about many things in life. You can decide to fall back in love; you can alter your perspective on yourself or your age. It’s simple make-believe. The mind, Dr. Skrdla says, is the most powerful thing in the universe. Thought is so powerful, it can be observed outside of the mind itself by scientists.  Antrim says Dr. Skrdla also has an insight into finding your soulmate, and has an entire course around it.  Addictions, Dr. Skrdla says, are all peptides. You can become addicted to the thought that you’re aging and are undergoing something negative; instead, addict yourself to the idea that you’re confident in how you look. You can addict yourself to the people in your life, finding your soulmate or falling deeper in love with the person you’re already with. You can even addict yourself to your goals.  Another good idea is to choose a theme song for yourself. Music is extremely powerful. You can use it to hypnotize yourself.  “This is what I know is true: Any time I’m with Dr. Cari and she leaves the room, I’m left wanting more.” said Antrim, “There’s no more genuine person that I’ve ever met. Genuinely – I know this was not a rehearsed keynote, we barely discussed the questions or the road we were going to go down today. Every time you speak, I can tell it’s from the heart and it’s what you’re passionate about.”  You can find Dr. Skrdla on Facebook by searching “Dr. Cari LifeBack” or going to LifeBack.life. She sends out a newsletter once a month, which you can get by emailing her assistant at Kimmy@LifeBack.life.
Nov 13 2021
39 mins
Women's Influence at the Executive Level
Women's Influence at the Executive Level After a break, Day 2 of the Multifamily Women® Summit continues the conference with Kim Senn Cross and Kaycee Kisling. Carrie Antrim, the Chief Operating Officer of Multifamily Leadership and Co-Founder of Multifamily Women® who is hosting the summit, says this pairing is a good mix because they are both very innovative and focus largely on new technologies. Kim Senn Cross is the President and founder of a multifamily consulting firm called the KSC Group. They do things like help desk support, data conversion, and more. They support clients on all platforms.  She started in the industry in 1990 at Lincoln Property Company. She’s worked for several companies in several locations along the way. “What we’re doing is just trying to be of service to the industry and help our clients through the challenges of prop tech. And anything else we can do to help make it easier to use software.” Kaycee Kisling is the Managing Director of Multifamily Investments at a property management company in Scottsdale called Mark-Taylor, Inc. She’s been with the company for 16 years and oversees about 30% of all the build-to-rent products and helps them stay up-to-date with the latest technologies. The Times, They Are A’ Changin’ “We talked a little bit earlier about change and getting by,” said Antrim, pivoting from introductions to the start of the discussion with Cross and Kisling. “Why do you think it’s so hard? Do you experience it being difficult to introduce change?” “Change is difficult, positive or negative,” answers Cross. “If you’re on a platform and you’re looking for change, it disrupts the entire company, then the organization. You’re taking something that you’re familiar with and you’re introducing something that’s brand-new. Your super-users, your strong users and learning just like everybody else in the company.”  Even good change, like being newly promoted, can be difficult. The pandemic also showed how difficult change can be, although much of it turned out to be fantastic and likely to stay permanently.  Kisling agrees, particularly through the coronavirus, there was no option but to change.  “In the absence of knowledge and understanding is fear,” said Kisling. “Superusers – people who feel like they know how to navigate a platform or they know how to navigate a process – when they don’t know what it’s going to look like on the other side, how they’ll adapt to it, they’re fearful. I think navigating through that requires a lot of transparency – radical transparency from your leadership team. Just having people that can galvanize you around why you’re making the change so they really understand the precipice behind it, down through every user level, they are easier to opt in and adapt to the change ideas and get excited about it.”  Antrim asks what people should do if they come to realize the change they’re trying to make might not be the proper path. Do you keep going or jump ship?  Cross says even if you do plenty of vetting of a product before adding it on, you may come to realize some small element is missing, or the product isn’t quite what you wanted. “There are times when they put that on hold, but then there’s times where the executives are getting pushback from their teams and they have to be the change agent. They have to say, ‘We’re moving forward. Even if 25% of the company disagrees, this is the path we’re going down,’ and they have to help push that.” “The change has to be smart,” adds Kisling. “It has to be timed properly.” Kisling points out that teams are dealing with more now than ever before, so any change you make has to be geared toward efficiency.  “It’s really about having synergies in an ecosystem that makes sense and you’re using your best in-class products together,” she says. Antrim points out that Kisling started as a leasing consultant with Mark-Taylor and worked her way up.  “Does that give you some unique superpowers, having been from where you started to where you are now in managing teams, because you understand firsthand what they’re going through and how to best approach things like this?” Kisling says it’s both a superpower and a handicap. She has the firsthand knowledge of what her teams are going through because she’s experienced it herself, but she doesn’t have the experience from being in other industries that might have broadened her horizons. She tries to bring in people from other job sectors because of that. “We always talk about building healthy organizations and having all conversations represented at the table. Are you seeing the approach to change differently between men and women at all?” Kisling says women are more adept to change and don’t back away from a crisis. “We’re also excellent communicators by nature and intuitive and we really see other people and what they’re going through and learn how to lean into them. I think all of those are superpowers for women who are going through and pushing forward with change.” She adds that men do bring a lot of other things to the table that can help. “Here’s the irony,” says Cross. “I will go into a company, and they’ve made a choice, and sometimes those are the male executives. Then they turn around and have a female deploy it.” Kisling agrees women are great at discernment. “What do you do when you get pushback?” asked Antrim. “When you say, ‘Yes, this is the best decision, we’re moving forward with this,’ do you get pushback? How do you handle that?” Cross says to handle it with kid gloves. “Try to understand the reason for the pushback,” she says, reminding the audience that it probably is rooted in fear. They might be worried about losing their jobs, but typically it’s about repurposing positions rather than eliminating them.  Dealing with Pushback  “When somebody digs in their heels because they just don’t want to change, then we flip it up to the executives and say, ‘That’s your problem, you’ve got to go fix that,’” Cross says only half-facetiously.  Kisling says sometimes the pushback is coming from the executive level.  “You have to give that process time to work through, because if you skip steps then the user end is going to feel that in their implementation.” She admits they’ve rolled things out too quickly before, but it’s all a learning opportunity.  Cross says she’s seen lots of trends come and go through the years, like revenue management or mandatory rent insurance, or smart homes.  “It’s funny to see what the tipping point is for the adoption of the technology.”  Kisling reminds the audience that this industry was still typewriting leases within the past 20 years. “We’re an industry that technology forgot about for a long time, until institutional money started coming in that required us to be tech savvy and move more quickly,” she says.  “Are you noticing with your teams and the people you’re working with – is there a fear of that technology coming in? You know, ‘The robots are going to take over and our jobs are going to go away.’ Are you noticing that fear or are people more willing to adopt that technology and understand how it could help them, potentially?” asked Antrim. Cross says she’s finally seeing a change and people are coming to embrace technology. AI has been a great fit in some places and can help gather data. Innovation to help with training new people is good, and everyone is trying to figure out the model that fits for them to best support their teams. Kisling says communicating the benefits of the technology helps people adapt, especially in the service teams. “How much time are you willing to spend rallying your troops around your idea, getting them excited about it so that they understand how it’s going to benefit them,” Kisling brings up. She says it’s important to have a transparent company, whether you’re communicating downward to lower-level employees or upward to the executives.  Cross says in her consulting company, they try to funnel things to the appropriate team.  “We just keep a pulse going on what we see in the different aspects we’re involved in. If we see trends, support tickets go up or somebody struggling, we contact and say, ‘I think this person needs a little more help, can you give us permission to work one-on-one with them?’ Because ultimately, our goal is to make whatever platform you choose to operate smoother for you so at the end, you have all the data you need to analyze,” said Cross. Antrim asks whether there were any silver linings with the pandemic.  “Obviously, technology advanced very quickly,” Antrim says. “But I’m curious, in your own opinions, what good happened? There’s got to be something, right?” “If you’ve let a good crisis go to waste, you’ve lost a huge opportunity,” said Kisling. She says Mark-Taylor understood that people still want a human connection, even as technology advances and things become more automated. They saw what happened when they unplugged completely, so now they can work to find the perfect middle ground. Never forget to put people first.  Becoming a Leader Cross says she identifies as an “accidental leader.”  “In working with the companies I worked with, I managed teams and I managed deployments. The human element really came in, and all of the sudden, my team is hurting,” said Cross. She explains, some had issues with COVID, some were homeschooling. She decided to choose a family-first mentality.  “You have to take care of your mental health first,” said Cross. “I became very intentional about learning to be a leader. I became very intentional about reaching out and getting a life coach and asking questions: ‘How do I lead? Because I don’t know what to do.’” She says the whole experience has given her fresh eyes.  Antrim asks Kisling whether she had any mentorship at any point. She says the founders of Mark-Taylor started with a family-first mentality like Cross was discussing, aiming to always do the right thing and aim for quality. She says a lot of men in the company have been fantastic in teaching her the fundamentals.  There are several other Mark-Taylor members in the crowd, who Antrim has raise their hands or clap. That leads to a discussion about the work family. Cross says she had a hard time during the pandemic, trying to be a leader. Sometimes, she’s learned, it’s a good thing to show your vulnerability. “Everyone talks about the work family, but just because you’re the leader doesn’t mean you’re bulletproof and invincible. And I broke during this. And my team came to me and said, ‘We’ve got your back, and we’re going to take this on while you get through this.’ That meant more than anything to me. Because I give my heart for them, I love them, and for them to then support me was life-changing.”  Kisling says seeing her work family in the crowd supporting her has been fantastic. “This industry is not so large. So the support we’ve had, the comradery through the past few years as we all go through the same things together has been really fantastic.” “As moms and women and just a human in general, I’m assuming we all have those mornings when you wake up and it’s just not happening today. You’re both leading teams, you both have people looking up to you and need you. How do you work through that when you just wake up and something happens and you’re just not in it to win it for the moment?” asked Antrim. “Do you have a walk-up song?” she joked. Cross says she learned from something she used to do with her kids when they woke up and were simply having a bad time of it. She’d have them go through a “do-over.” She’d tuck them back into bed and have them close their eyes, and then they’d pretend to start the whole day over. Cross says when she’s having a hard time getting up, she asks her husband to play her music. He plays fun, energetic songs that make her giggle and get her ready. Kisling is going through something with her children. She asks them to analyze whether something is a big deal or a little deal, and now she does the same thing to get herself to think about whether she’s overreacting. She also does the “Five-second rule” to get herself to snap out of something if she catches herself disassociating. Another trick she has is to reframe her mindset, so if she’s nervous, she’ll instead tell herself she’s excited, since the two things have similar physiological effects.  Growth “Do you find yourselves getting caught up in the competitiveness, either with yourself or just in general?” asked Antrim. Cross says she was competitive and controlling when she was younger. Eventually, something changes.  “I think you get humbled a lot,” said Cross. “I’m on the back half. So for me, I have a different viewpoint and it’s more like my passion is to give back, to lift others up, to pass things along. I choose now to love people for things instead of controlling them.”  Kisling brings up the “I give a damn about ___” stickers she and the rest of the Multifamily Women’s Summit filled out earlier in the day. “I’d written on it that continuous development of myself and others is what I really give a damn about,” said Kisling. “I’m probably the most competitive with myself. I want to be better than I was yesterday, and I want to do better than last time. If I make a mistake, I’m harder on myself than my biggest critic.”  She says she works with such talented and varied women that she couldn’t possibly be competitive. Instead, she’s in it for everyone’s growth and development, and believes she can grow from the power-houses she works with.  Antrim checks in with the audience to see if anyone has questions. “How did you deal with your patience?” someone from the crowd asks. “Climbing up that ladder and getting closer and closer to making bigger decisions and managing teams – how did you cope with the time that it takes to get there?” Kisling says it took her much longer than she expected to get to where she is. She was a manager for 12 years before moving up. “Some of that, I think, is just professional maturity. When I got knocked down, I took it really personally. And then, I got really introspective: okay, why, what do I need to do to be better? What do I not know that I need to overcome?” She says you need to have the grit to always strive to be better. You need loyalty and trust in the organization. Working on your patience takes work daily, Kisling says. Cross says once she stopped being competitive, she started seeing life in abundance – she says she’s learned that there is enough to go around in this industry. That’s not to say that there aren’t competitive people in the consulting industry. But she’s confident that she doesn’t really have to worry about others in her space.  The audience member who originally asked the question recommends a documentary called The Secret. Another audience member asks, “How did you get into the business? When you started, was that your vision?” Cross says her path has been unexpected. Once, she was in a lobby to apply for a job when someone randomly asked her to fix a printer. It turned out to serve as a test and she got the job. That experience came into play later, she says. She loves going to properties to get tours. One day, she was at a leasing agent’s desk and a prospect came in, but there was no one to show the person around, so she grabbed a clipboard, took the person on a tour because she’d heard the spiel often enough, and ended up leasing the apartment. She got the leasing bonus on her check. “I think once you get in, you stay in. It’s whatever you want it to be. There are so many opportunities,” said Cross. “Whatever it is, there’s something here in this industry for you.” Kisling says she was a cocktail waitress working two jobs and going to school full time for a degree in psychology (which turned out to be useful). One of the guys she knew from a restaurant had a sister who worked with Mark-Taylor and asked her to try out being a leasing agent, simply because she thought she’d be good at it.  “I was five years in before I even signed up for my 401K because I just didn’t think of it as a career at first,” said Kisling. “But I really fell in love with the industry.” Another audience member asks, “What are some resources for those of us that are trying to climb that ladder? Books, podcasts, organizations to join, or other conferences?” Cross says she likes to lift up the individual. This year, they’re launching the KSC Prop-Tech Division and one of the things they’re aiming for is to take training to the individual or to companies to share that knowledge.  She also recommends getting involved with your local apartment association. “They have classes all the time for certified leasing associates and certified maintenance technicians, and they have all the different classes.”  If you want to learn about business, the Small Business Administration offers a nation-wide virtual teaching program through score.org that has classes on budgeting, reading financials, starting a business and many other things. When you get involved with those things, Cross says you make connections within the industry who will want to help you.  “I want to leave a legacy, me personally. I want something left behind from my love for this industry,” said Cross. “So what I’m trying to put together now – and I don’t have it all worked out, so I’m just going to share with you my idea. I want to start a nationwide school that takes people that may be in affordable housing or an individual and I want to bring them, teach them, mentor them, and then have job fairs to place them in our industry and get them started.”  She says once you’re in the industry, you have opportunities for growth and can get bonus perks like having a portion of your rent discounted.  The industry is only growing, and will only continue to grow. There are tons of people working on different types of living styles, like co-living which is basically like student housing for adults living in expensive cities who need roommates.  Kisling says mentorship is critical.  “Be around the people you aspire to be like. Find somebody who is going to teach you things you don’t know. One of the hurdles I had to overcome in coming from on-site to the corporate world was that there were things I just didn’t know that I didn’t know. How do you close that gap and identify what those are and be able to develop those skills? You have to have a mentor who will be transparent with you and walk you through those things and give you a road map.” She also says you should always do the job you aspire to do by taking on extra responsibilities and building confidence. Another bit of wisdom Kisling shares is that leadership isn’t about you; it’s about the people you’re leading. “The more robust your coaching tree is, the more fulfilling your day is going to be,” said Kisling.  “For resources, I always try to have an entrepreneurial mindset,” Kisling adds.  She recommends the EntreLeadership podcast and Pat Lencioni’s podcast.  Cross recommends Jason Stoughton’s books and podcast. Brene Brown has another podcast she likes. “Always be reading, always be discovering,” said Cross.  Antrim contributes her own bit of wisdom: “Take your education into your own hands.” She says that helps people to understand their own passions and what journey they want to take.  “There are so many resources,” Antrim says. She reminds the audience that the audio from each of the multifamily summits is stripped down so people can listen to it as though it were a podcast, then closes this session of the summit.
Nov 13 2021
54 mins

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