Work in Affordable Housing.
Heidi Burkhart is the founder and president of Dane Real Estate, one of New York City’s only women-owned affordable housing brokerage and development firms. She founded Dane in the middle of an economic downturn in 2008 and has since built the firm to become one of the leading voices in affordable housing – not an easy feat for a young entrepreneur. Many people may wonder how she’s built and cultivated her success.
According to Burkhart, a key to maintaining this momentum has been allocating time to get away from work. We often pride ourselves on how busy we are, but Burkhart argues that for her time away is crucial when it comes to being your best at work. Her escape is a literal one; she makes time to travel consistently. From weekend trips to far flung adventures, she finds tremendous value in stepping away from her daily routine. Moreover, Burkhart argues that her travels have significantly helped her in business.
Burkhart says that traveling has broadened her perspective on both personal and professional levels, adding, “Traveling gives me new ideas on business practices and on housing in particular. On a personal level, I interact more with strangers when I’m away than here in New York City. I engage more in debates and am really intrigued by peoples’ thoughts and ideas in other parts of the world. I have learned a lot from these interactions. Compassion and willingness to hear another person out is a must . You just don’t get that as much in NYC.”
When it comes to affordable housing, Burkhart notes that traveling and seeing how housing is being dealt with around the world is an inspiration to her and has informed how she runs her business. “I have traveled all around the world, from Tahiti, Morea, Fiji, New Zealand, Rwanda, Kenya, Hawaii, Azores, Coast of Portugal, Italy, to Greece. I notice that there are so many happy people living with less than what Americans expect. So now, when I look at housing, I look for what is simple and clean.”
Beyond providing inspiration, Burkhart’s travels also provide an opportunity to step away from work in a different way. Burkhart is a fan of adventure trips, everything from diving with sharks to sky diving to gorilla trekking. Most recently, she went on a safari. “I need a rush,” Burkhart admits. “My mind is always on, and it’s so hard to turn off. The high-intensity adrenaline activities are the only ones where my mind HAS to shut off.”
Clearly travel inspires Burkhart’s work. Seeing the way people live throughtout the world has allowed her to reimagine her work in affordable housing. It also gives her the ability to see her world with a fresh perspective each time she returns from a trip. When asked if she’s able to pick a favorite trip, she says it’s impossible, “Every trip has a special place in my heart.” Most of all, Burkhart has “learned to love Mother Earth so much,” an appreciation that she considers the most important thing to come from her travels. “As a developer of housing I realize I have to consider not only the people we are building for but the future generations and how this housing will stand the test of time.”