Wednesday, August 31, 2016

StepStone Mentoring

Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs. Oprah Winfrey had Maya Angelou. Woodie Guthrie had Bob Dylan. Luke Skywalker had Yoda. In all walks of life and all industries from high tech to the arts, the value of mentorship relationships have long been recognized as a key component to success. Real estate is no different. 

Last night we had dinner with some old friends and business partners to celebrate the recent closing on a project we collaborated on. We had a good time recalling all the projects and properties over the years, the horror stories and the home runs. The reminiscing reminded Dan of where we started and he told them how, when we met them early in our investing career, we were literally buying stuff at garage sales and selling it on Ebay to make ends meet.  Our friends, people who spent time mentoring us, raised their glasses and toasted our success. It was a nice moment for us all. 

We have had many mentors in our career. I still rely on many of them. However, now, more often, we find ourselves on the other side of the coin providing mentorship to those around us. And we have plenty of folks to mentor. Last week we officially added our 100th agent to the StepStone team. I find mentoring my agents to be an extremely satisfying experience.  Their questions keep me on my toes, helping them with skills keeps mine sharp, guiding them in their business helps me see where I need to refine my own. There is a Buddhist proverb that rings very true for me: "If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your own path". 

As much as Dan and I enjoy mentoring our agents and business partners we recognize that sometimes we can't be everything to everyone, particularly with a quickly growing brokerage and a demanding schedule. So, over the last few months, we have been working on a mentorship plan for StepStone Realty to ensure that each agent has the opportunity to work with a mentor, someone they can call upon when they need help navigating their agent and investor duties.  We are proud to have recruited some agents, folks who's level of integrity is high, who have proven that they can close deals, handle difficult situations and who have an interest in helping others, to provide mentorship to our new agents. 

Beginning today, every inexperienced new agent that joins StepStone (inexperienced is defined as having closed less than three agency transactions) will be assigned a mentor to work with through their first 3 agency transactions and who they can call upon for investing consulting/partnering opportunities. In return for their time and attention, the mentored agents will pay their mentors $500 on their first three closings. Of course, Dan and I will still consider ourselves a mentor to all our agents and partners and will actively work with our mentors to guide and assist our agents. But, we hope that this program will offer an extra layer of support and connection. If you are an inexperienced new agent and would like to participate in the program please reach out to Angie and ask to be assigned a mentor. 

We are confident that, by creating these mentor relationships, our community will grow stronger as we lean on and learn from each other, our new agents will be more successful on their initial endeavors and have a firmer sense of confidence when navigating new experiences, and our mentoring agents will enjoy the satisfaction and success that comes with mentoring others. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Black Sheep Open: Turning Kids into Entrepreneurs

I grew up a Girl Scout.  From my first patch as a Brownie to my awkward teen years (made even more awkward when I had to wear the whole Senior scout uniform), I was a Girl Scout through and through. I’m pretty sure my mom was still signing me up as a Girl Scout even well into my 20’s.

And while some of the photos of me are cringe worthy and I probably earned a healthy nerd reputation (I was also a formidable high school debater!). I look back now and know that my time as a Girl Scout shaped my future and played a huge part in my success today.

I grew up thinking I would be a doctor. However, the fact that year after year I achieved top cookie sales in my council should have been my first clue that I was actually destined to be a salesperson! And while I learned some great sales skills (although I don’t know that pigtails and a beanie would work for me as well now) and knowledge about finances, supply, and customer service, the one lesson that I learned in Girl Scouts that stuck with me was this golden rule: Always leave a place better than you found it.

Being an entrepreneur didn’t exactly come naturally to me.  Dan, on the other hand, set out for it with an eagerness and drive that surprised me.  I can remember talking to him on the phone while at work (maybe I was complaining), and he said, “Angie, you need to start your own business. You need to quit and work for yourself”. I thought, “He’s crazy. What do I have to offer? I don’t know the first thing about running a business.”

Now, here we are, over 10 years later and life looks very differently. I am the very humbled owner of a growing and successful real estate brokerage with nearly 100 agents and I have business network of hundreds of more buyers, sellers, investors and fellow entrepreneurs. I wake up every morning grateful that I am the source of and beneficiary of my success. Nothing feels better.

I didn’t get here alone. Dan, of course, has been my driving force and main motivator. My Dad, who before he died loved nothing more than to talk real estate with me, made me believe that my knowledge was valuable. Both my parents and Dan’s parents gave us small business loans to get us started. And yes, Girl Scouts, who first taught me both sales and business skills as well as values that I still hold dear these many years later.

Having the guts, the drive and the motivation to be an entrepreneur is a gift.  And I am grateful for the people and the organizations that instilled that gift into me. So, in the spirit of the lesson I learned in Girl Scouts, to leave a place better than you found it, StepStone Realty and Pryme Home Solutions are partnering to support VentureLab, an organization dedicated to providing entrepreneur education for kids. We, as real estate investors and entrepreneur’s, can certainly appreciate the value of what this organization provides to the next generation of innovators, thinkers and business owners. 
On Friday, October 7th, StepStone and Pryme are hosting the first Black Sheep Open, a golf benefit tournament for VentureLab. Whether you join us as a player, a sponsor, a volunteer or a spectator, your participation will have an impact on the future of some child who, through the entrepreneur education they receive from VentureLab, has the opportunity to shape their own future and maybe even be one of the next great thinkers of our time. 

Sign up at or email Invite your friends, your colleagues, your network. This is an event for the entire Real Estate Investing Community!