At the individual level, I think everyone should work harder to lift up those around them. We need to be a champion for one another regardless of gender. In doing this, it will set an example for the younger generations emerging into the workplace. I believe companies need to make pointed attempts to be inclusive and recognize the successes of everyone, big or small.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jen Dinatally.
Owner/REALTOR® of United Real Estate | Strive 212, Jen Dinatally has been in the Real Estate industry for 19 years. Jen believes in an “all-in” attitude for all aspects of her life. She adds both drive and heart to providing industry-leading services to United Real Estate customers and sales agents. Her dedication and success as an agent has been recognized both, locally and nationally, numerous times as the top performing agent since 2002. Prior to starting her career in Real Estate, Jen worked for a bank in the asset management department where she gained exposure to the Real Estate industry. Jen has worked in all aspects of the industry including new construction, residential and commercial properties, but discovered her niche and love for REO Real Estate. In addition to Real Estate, her passion lies in serving her community and making a lasting impact on those in her community. For more information about Jen and her team, please visit UnitedRealEstateStrive212.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
Iwas a young mom and I had a horrendous commute to work (75 miles each way), significantly limiting the amount of time I was able to spend with my family and on myself. A friend of mine got her real estate license and told me I should as well… so I did!My friends and family thought I was crazy leaving a stable job to start again. My decision was strongly influenced by the uncertainly that existed after 9/11 and I wanted to be in control of my own financial well-being and realized real estate was the industry that allowed me to continue to push myself without any limits. My ultimate goal was to spend more time with family. I did whatever was necessary to make ends meet, including working multiple jobs, until I passed my exam and got my business going. Once I passed my real estate exam, I hit the ground running and have yet to look back.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Imostly work on foreclosures, so the “amusing” in my daily life is limited, but I do run across unique and interesting scenarios from time to time. One of my first occupancy checks, I was met with a widow whose deceased husband had a very serious gambling problem. She was unaware of his gambling problem until he had passed. This woman relied on him for so long that she didn’t even know how to write a check, let alone what a foreclosure eviction proceeding meant for her and her future. It’s an awful thing to have to be that messenger and I do try very hard to be empathetic and kind. My lesson from that unique scenario was that I will forever be in control of my own life and completely “in the know” when it comes to my finances. NO ONE is going to tell me where to live, take control of my finances or leave me in the dark about big life decisions.I strive to be entirely self-sufficient in all aspects of my life.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Myproject list never seems to end, I always have a million projects going, and it’s become kind of a chronic occurrence for me. I recently wrapped up an event for a local homeless shelter, Opportunity House, where I spent several months chairing a committee and fundraising for the shelter by gathering donations, gift cards and raffle baskets. Myself and nine of my team members worked at the event selling entry tickets, which was a GREAT success! Weraised several thousand dollars in additional funds for the Opportunity House. In addition to our event, I cook breakfast there the first Thursday of every month. Opportunity House has provided shelter, meals and assistance to hundreds of men, women and children around the Pennsylvania area. It feels great to make an impact and give back to my community.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Sales in general is very cut throat, particularly in Real Estate. My brokerage partner and I have worked very hard to create a team environment and family culture in our office and I think that sets us apart from other companies. We genuinely believe that we are stronger together and try to emphasize and implement that culture as new team members come aboard. We foster a culture of sharing knowledge and truly want our agents to help each other. We believe “all boats rise.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
At20 years old, I landed my first full-time job as a bank secretary where I was underpaid and felt extremely underappreciated. During my time working for the bank, a woman named Kate approached me in the breakroom and said, “You hate your job, don’t you?” Kate was highly regarded within the organization as an extremely intelligent, legendary officer of the bank. Her question took me by surprise and I hesitantly responded, “Yes, how did you know?” She kindly said, “I was you once. You are smart, I can tell you won’t be here forever.” In that moment, Kate helped me realize my worth and value in the workplace. When a position became available within Kate’s department, she asked me to consider applying for the positon. I then transitioned into a banking officer role and was there for five years in her department. Beyond this position, I went onto do other things in the banking and asset management fields including 18 years as a REO REALTOR®. I truly believe that moment in the breakroom was a pivotal moment in my career as a young adult. Kate and I still keep in touch and she still continues to be a mentor to this day.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?
The industries listed above are very nurturing and caretaking fields which historically are how women have been viewed and categorized in society. I think the imbalance is rooted historically in the roles women have held previously in society, although women have made significant strides to become instrumental leaders in all industries, I believe this is where the root of the problem lies. In conjunction with the previous thought process of women in the workplace, I think sometimes the realization hasn’t dawned upon some women or young girls that they are capable of achieving whatever they set their minds to. As more and more women become trailblazers in Real Estate, I think it will enhance the mindset shift of industry professionals as well as on the consumer front as buyers and sellers seeking out the most qualified agent to assist in purchase or sale of their home.
What 3 things can be done by a) Individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?
Atthe individual level, I think everyone should work harder to lift up those around them. We need to be a champion for one another regardless of gender. In doing this, it will set an example for the younger generations emerging into the workplace. I believe companies need to make pointed attempts to be inclusive and recognize the successes of everyone, big or small. Employees at every level are working hard to make a difference and meet the goals of company; therefore all are equal and each individual’s unique qualities should be considered a bonus instead of a difference in gender and used to further expand the knowledge and offerings of the company as a whole. Overall, society needs to know better and do better. I hope in the years to come that more people jump on the wagon of gender equality in all aspects of life but especially in the workplace.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
There have always been inequities for women in business. We’ve made significant strides in recent years to overcome these inequities but addressing one specific issue I don’t think is the solution to taking further strides. Everyone needs to approach workplace situations with an open mind and inclusiveness on both sides of the equation. Men and women bring unique perspectives and solutions to different situations. This should be approached as an advantage, rather than a disadvantage that you have several different perspectives on deck to conquer each task and project leading to the best outcome for your clients.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
The aspects about the Real Estate industry that excite me the most include the constantly changing work environment, entrepreneurial inclusiveness and unlimited growth potential. The Real Estate industry is not your typical “9–5” office job. It’s constantly changing with the seasons, consumer mindsets, trends in the economy and marketplace and the emergence of new technology and resources. This keeps the day-to-day exciting and interesting, providing a continuous learning opportunity for everyone to stay current with the needs of the consumers. The Real Estate industry also provides immense entrepreneurial inclusiveness and unlimited growth potential for everyone as there’s no restrictions on who or when someone can get a real estate license or own their own business. The income potential is completely derived from how ambitious and hard working the individual is within the marketplace, proving there’s no wage ceiling for anyone in the industry.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
Inmy opinion, one of the most concerning aspects of the Real Estate industry includes the thought process that “it’s easy” and anyone can get their real estate license as it doesn’t require higher education beyond a high school diploma. I think this coincides greatly with how reality TV forms a perception of the industry as an easy career path. A way to combat this mindset would be greater initial education requirements or implementing courses into college curriculums so that it’s respected in a way as a form of “higher education.” Additionally, internet giants are significantly disrupting the marketplace by offering consumers the convenience of an “instant” home buying or selling experience, framing it in a way that it’s portrayed as cost-comparative to traditional methods. This, among other things leaves the industry subject to legal complications and gray areas as technology continues to move faster than the regulations and laws of the industry. I think the industry has to work harder to keep up with the times and regulate how information is being shared to ensure that it’s the most accurate and truthful for consumers to make an educated decision.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
Mymain pieces of advice to other team leaders would be that you’re absolutely stronger together than separately. This can be achieved by implementing a team mentality from the beginning as it’s how our office thrives because we treat each other like family. It’s also extremely important to display servant leadership by instituting an environment where they can seek out help instead of looking at their fellow team members as competition. Everybody eats. This is how you provide an open and honest atmosphere for each of your team members to be the most successful and reach their fullest potential. Again, all boats rise.
Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
The top five non-intuitive aspects about working in the Real Estate industry in my experience start with not seeing everyone as competition. In this industry, I think it’s easy to approach the job with a highly competitive mindset, even within your own office, especially when there’s performance awards at the end of each year, everyone seeking out similar clientele and it being a solely commission-based career. As mentioned above, my biggest piece of advice to team leaders in the industry would be to cultivate a team atmosphere from the beginning to avoid a highly competitive working environment. My brokerage partner and I have worked extremely hard to institute a family-like culture as I think it’s beneficial for team members to be able to lean on one another and seek out advice and assistance. This type of work environment can be challenging to achieve until the mindset shifts away from seeing everyone as competition.
Additional non-intuitive cues to consider as someone begins a career in Real Estate include living by the motto “there’s no such thing as tomorrow”, being proactive, understanding certain verbal nuances and being confident in yourself. I firmly believe that you should never let anything rest until tomorrow as tomorrow brings a whole new set of challenges so if it can be completed today, do it today. Being a proactive individual can be challenging, your brain must be 3–5 steps ahead at all times. The industry changes so rapidly that if you’re not constantly on your toes and thinking of ways to improve, you’ll find yourself falling behind.
Another important part of the industry is understanding certain verbal nuances. For example, if someone says, “I don’t have time for that,” that typically that means they are saying “I don’t want to” or “Not right now.” This can transcend to prospecting, lead generating and educating yourself on your market area. It’s important to notice the difference between a serious potential lead and someone who is just merely thinking about buying or selling to ensure that you spend your time on the most important leads.
Finally, I can’t stress this enough, you don’t have to be a sales person to be in the real estate industry. You simply need to be confident and trustworthy which speaks volumes to potential clients and fellow colleagues.
Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
IfI could inspire a movement to bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, it would be a kindness movement. It may seem small and minuet, but I full-heartedly believe that when you show someone, even the smallest gesture of kindness it can have a significant impact on their day. Everyone gets so caught up in their daily lives that they forget to appreciate the things and people around them. If everyone took a moment to be more appreciative while spreading kindness to others, I think it would make the world a better and happier place overall. It’s the smallest change that can create the biggest impact, transcending into sharing the wealth and good fortune with those less fortunate. I believe the way to see this movement return in spades requires open-mindedness and living a life full of gratitude.
How can our readers follow you online?
- Facebook 🡪 https://www.facebook.com/jen.dinatally
- Instagram 🡪 https://www.instagram.com/jendinatally/
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!