Karen Abram started her career at age 13 as a “data storyteller” working at the Los Angeles Daily News as a sports stringer. Her passion for bringing a narrative to analytics carried over to a successful 15+ year career in the Advertising industry. Working for several of the world’s leading advertising agencies, she developed analytical models for some of the most recognized brands, including Sony Electronics, Nissan, Universal, and Lionsgate. This background helped immensely when she became a Real Estate Agent. She was frustrated with the market and comparable analysis tools available. Karen turned her frustration into action and created dashCMA, a modern, interactive take on the traditional 60+ page CMA presentation. When Karen is not simplifying data, she can be found in the sports stands with her husband, Mike, rooting for their son, Dylan, and daughter, Mia.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
Ihad just started a new job at a top advertising agency. I was a new mom and was starting to develop a serious case of “working mom guilt.” My current job was a 1–2 hour commute each way into the office and a work day that typically ended around 7pm. The new job won me over with the promise of a flexible work from home schedule twice a week and a 4pm evening departure for those days when I came into the office. The promise of flexibility was attractive enough to leave my current job and accept a new job.
On my second day of the new job, my boss pulled me into her office and said, “I noticed that you left at 4pm yesterday.” I confirmed that it was true and referenced the terms of the flexibility we had agreed on. She commented, “You do have the flexibility. I just didn’t think you had the type of work ethic where you would use it.” I went home that evening completely deflated. I started questioning whether this was the right move. The questions started to multiply into wondering if this was the type of work I really enjoyed doing and whether this industry was a right fit.
I started to make a list of my strengths and the aspects of my job that I enjoyed. Using that list, I started to brainstorm potential careers to transition into. My husband pointed out, “You’ve always had a unique ability of helping people feel comfortable with big data and not making it feel overwhelming. Maybe you should try real estate. Everyone is overwhelmed in real estate. Maybe you could bring some comfort to the process.” I thought it was interesting so started on the path to get my real estate license. Pregnant again with a toddler at home as well, I kept my job in advertising and started to prep for the BRE exam during nights and weekends.
Got my license and shortly after I got my first client. A buyer.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
I have so many wonderful testimonials from agents who have reached out to let me know how dashCMA helped them win more deals. That said, when I reach out for permission to share their story about a third say “no.” Each has the same rationale, “I don’t want my secret weapon getting out there. I don’t want other agents to know what I’m using.” One agent went as far as to write a fake, bad review of dashCMA in hopes of diverting others away from using it so that she would be the only one. She has since taken it down, explained her intentions and apologized. It’s a story that validated to me that agents see dashCMA as a true differentiator.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Always! All our projects are infused with the inspiration, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” (Albert Einstein quote) and must deliver against our primary purpose: Never lose a deal over pricing.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I am a curious innovator with a passion for storytelling with data. I have walked in the agent’s shoes and understand these pain points firsthand. That said, my data background in connection with Advertising has conditioned me to look at all angles to not only build a big picture but to tell a succinct story. The inspiration I used for dashCMA is based on an Albert Einstein mantra, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
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?
Absolutely. There are many people who believed in this product early on and helped it get to where it is today. That said, my Team Leader, Meny Atias has been in my corner from day one. From arranging focus groups, to providing constructive feedback, to promoting and celebrating every win. Starting a business can be a very isolating, discouraging feeling at times. Having someone cheering you on makes all the difference. Every founder should have a “Meny” in their corner.
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 real estate industry is a very traditional industry. For example, it is not uncommon for an office meeting to start with prayer or the pledge of allegiance. I think there’s still a traditional belief of who “the breadwinner” is that jeopardizes upward movement for women.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
If a man has to work late, he’s typically not asked “Who is watching the kids tonight” but when a woman works late, she immediately gets asked, “Who is watching the kids tonight?” It’s both their kid but society has dictated who’s responsibility this falls under.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
- I love that we’re currently in a “differentiator” battle. It keeps us innovators on our toes.
- There is so much data in real estate yet it isn’t structured in a useful way. I’m excited that the industry as a whole is making steps to correct that.
- I love the role that AI is starting to play in the conversation. It’s still very early but I’m excited to see how this continues to develop to further empower the Real Estate Professional.
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?
Although we’re making steps to improve this, the industry as we know it today is set up in a way to stifle innovation rather than encourage it. This is a direct result of data access obstacles.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
Get rid of titles. An office is like a sports team. No one position is more valuable than another. Rather, everyone has a role, everyone has a purpose and everyone needs to do their job well for the success of the team.
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. 🙂
Be open. I’m a big believer that we are a product of our experiences. Those experiences develop our opinions and who we are. The more open we are to learning, the richer we are in our thoughts and the more understanding we are as a society.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!