Strong Communication Skills: Properly articulate what you want from your team, and you will set them, and the company, up for success.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Christopherson.
Nicole M. Christopherson, founder of NMC Realty, is a highly respected and sought-after real estate expert who has been helping couples, families and individuals buy and sell foremost coastal and foothill properties in Orange County, California since 2003. Nicole graduated with a degree in education from Arizona State University and earned a master’s degree in literacy from Chapman University, where she serves as a student mentor. Dedicated to promoting and maintaining the highest standards of conduct in the real estate profession, she is the elected politics committee chairman for the Newport Beach Association of REALTORS®.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
After receiving my bachelor’s in English as a second language, I began my career as an elementary school educator. While I was teaching, I began practicing for my real estate career, and I eventually obtained my master’s degree in literacy education. I quickly realized that I had a unique opportunity to apply my teaching skills to educating my clients about homeownership. Moreover, I used my ability to distill complex concepts to further educate my team on how to best provide exclusive representation while being an outstanding realtor.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
My founder’s story isn’t anything radical, just hard work and a lot of passion. The most interesting thing about my journey is that it’s still being written. I seek new opportunities for growth and optimistically take on challenges, which always lead to interesting and new paths. Expanding my business to new locales, seeing the continued growth of my team and services are just a few among the recent chapters of my story, with many more to come.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In my first year as an entrepreneur and full-time practicing real estate broker, I found that my biggest hurdle was managing my finances and figuring out the intricacies of running my business. Looking back, some of the initial systems and strategies I used were not very effective and consumed too much of my time. However, through extreme determination (and trial and error), I implemented highly efficient systems and strategies, enabling me to be financially successful and maintain reserves for operating expenses. Best of all, I now have the means to give back to my clients through NMC events.
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?
I truly feel that my husband has been my biggest cheerleader throughout my real estate journey. Even though he has his hands full running his own company, he has always pushed me to try my best and encouraged me to believe in myself. His help and support have empowered me to give my all for my clients, grow my database, and bolster my reputation throughout the last 19 years.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
I honestly feel that the prospects to found a company are readily available whether people independently want to take advantage of those opportunities or not. For those willing to dedicate their time and energy, the end goal lies within them. Male or female, short or tall, young or old, the entrepreneurial drive and spirit can be found in anyone. Nevertheless, that passion is becoming rarer and rarer. I believe that the fear of the unknown is the primary culprit holding people back. Nowadays, we are exposed to so much success and hype from social media, we often overlook the challenging and strenuous tasks done behind the scenes.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
Founding a company is possible — however, it does require that individuals make the right lifestyle choices. Developing an impeccable daily routine and deciding to put your health first will set you up for tremendous success, even if you don’t end up founding a company. As for our society and government, they both should do more to promote the usefulness of living a disciplined life. Likewise, a hard work ethic is highly undervalued in today’s day and age. #WorkHardSmileLarge
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
Women have a long-standing history of being vital contributors to local economies. Look at pre-industrial times; women would function as manufacturers of market goods like cloth and yarn and trade them for other household goods. In today’s modern economy, women founders, similar to other minorities in business, provide an alternative to doing business, a different perspective that may not have been considered before. Their unique backgrounds allow them to see problems and solutions differently than their male counterparts. Women need to realize that there is a seat a the table and their voice is vital when leading companies and industries into the next economic phase.
As an added bonus, women founders are also more likely to hire and employ more women, perpetuating an environment of support and growth that will create long-term success and higher dollar-for-dollar returns on investment.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
A common myth I hear a lot is that a company founder has no time. If you choose to be a founder, you are turning your back on the opportunity to start a family. And if you do decide to raise a family, you’ll have no time to spend with your children. While I understand this sentiment, I don’t believe that it is entirely accurate. I have two daughters, and I make time for them every day. As I mentioned earlier, having a hard work ethic, being disciplined, and building an impeccable daily routine, will create time in your schedule for you to spend with your family.
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
I am always looking for ways to help my team grow and learn. From experience, I’ve realized that it truly takes a knowledgeable and compassionate person to lead their clients towards homeownership or making the best investment in the real estate industry. Although I believe everyone has the potential to become a founder, not everyone is cut out to be a good leader. In my opinion, leaders must have the patience and humility to be selfless and giving. Being a leader means having the ability to close your mouth and listen to what your team and company need.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Health: Eat right, drink water (you can’t live on coffee alone), get enough sleep, and exercise. Having a healthy lifestyle will sharpen your mind and body to be as effective as possible.
2. Strong Communication Skills: Properly articulate what you want from your team, and you will set them, and the company, up for success.
3. A Belief System: If you don’t have a strong foundation for your beliefs and values, you won’t be able to survive adversity, nor will you be able to stand by your decisions.
4. Unstoppable Morning Routine: Your entire day is predicated on how you start it; even if the rest of your day is crummy — at least you had an awesome morning.
5. Community Involvement: Being a part of something bigger than yourself, like your community or neighborhood, humbles you and gives you a sense of belonging.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
On various occasions, I have partnered with The Whole Purpose, an organization dedicated to providing individuals and corporations with the tools necessary to maintain a healthy, happy and balanced lifestyle. They have put on events for my past clients and my affiliates, teaching them nutrition and health. I also spread the message “work hard smile large” to my whole sphere of influence: every educational institution that my children attended and all of my friends and family.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
As I mentioned before, I would want to promote my movement #WORKHARDSMILELARGE. Again, working hard is undervalued in today’s society, attitudes need to change. However, it is not just about working hard — you can’t go through life without smiling large. You will become a more joyful person when you have strong beliefs, connect with a community and discipline yourself to live a healthy lifestyle.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
@realcandaceowens, @P!NK. (I recently watched her documentary… she is a rad girl and mom) and @gwenstefani. I don’t see myself as someone who really needs to have a deep conversation; I just truly would like to have an authentic hang out with any of these women because of their passions and confidence, simple as that. Coffee or wine would be great — no politics or interrogations, just a nice chat.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.