I believe this crisis has forced us to reset, reground and refocus. Before the world paused as it did when COVID-19 struck, many of us were in more of a rush, on our phones a little too much and sweating the small stuff. Now, we’re realizing what matters most to us and re-evaluating our goals because life as we knew it changed in the blink of an eye.
There truly is light at the end of the tunnel because we won’t be stuck in this crisis forever. We will come out of this on the other side, hopefully having learned something about ourselves and humanity through it all.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sue Yannaccone.
With nearly two decades of leadership experience in franchise management and real estate brokerage operations, Sue Yannaccone assumed the role of regional executive vice president of the Eastern Seaboard and Midwest regions of Coldwell Banker® / NRT in 2018, overseeing the sales operations of 239 offices. A mentor and advocate for women in real estate, she is involved in Realogy’s women’s employee resource group and the founder of the What Moves Her series within the CB Women initiative across the country each of which encourages women to pursue their goals, whether they seek leadership positions or choose to run brokerage teams.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I moved around a lot growing up. I think that gave “home” a special meaning for me since there was so much more to it than just a roof over my head — it meant the people I lived with and the communities I shared it with. Having family in real estate, I knew it was an industry I wanted to work in, so I naturally gravitated towards it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
I’ve experienced many interesting and eye-opening moments through my time with Coldwell Banker, but one that’s really stuck with me was at a conference in 2019. A woman who’d been in the industry for years but didn’t know where to go for support asked me for advice about how to grow her team. I took the time to talk with her to discuss her goals and give her guidance — and she succeeded with flying colors! It’s not always easy to ask for help, but it’s so important to do so when you need it. I felt so rewarded helping her, and still check in with her to this day.
It’s these moments that really shine when I look back in my career — they may seem small in the moment but it’s so fulfilling to help someone and to know they trust you enough to be vulnerable to ask for help. Women helping women — that’s why my project What Moves Her is so important to me!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Coldwell Banker is continuing to expand the What Moves Her program, which we created last year as a platform for women in real estate to hone and develop their leadership skills and fully realize their professional abilities. What was supposed to be a live series turned into a virtual online series due to COVID, called “Portraits of What Moves Her.” Every month we have a special guest to discuss topics relevant to the current climate, such as resilient leadership, taking control of your career, wellness, mental health and more. It’s an inspiring program and I’m proud to be a part of it.
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?
I don’t believe there is just one person who’s helped me get to where I am today. So many people in the real estate industry have challenged me and believed in me when I was new to the industry, when I was still learning and when I was put in higher roles. The mutual sense of respect shared between my past and present colleagues and I has been what’s motivated me to do my best and get to where I am today. I truly feel a sense of responsibility to succeed when someone puts their support behind me; I don’t take that lightly.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
The biggest family-related challenge I faced when lockdown first began was adjusting to such an unfamiliar lifestyle. Not only did I go from constantly traveling for work to being home 24/7, but I also had to take on multiple roles at once. Like many other parents did, I became a “teacher” while being an employee, a mother and a wife.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Finding a way to manage work, family time and my own time to relax all under the same roof was difficult at first, but I found that setting boundaries was the solution. Knowing when work needed to come first, but also blocking off lunch every day to eat with my family and taking time to play with my daughter became their own boundaries that I’ve stuck to. My daughter has a cute little “do not enter” sign on her playroom door that I ended up taking and putting on my office door while working! Setting realistic expectations with my family and colleagues has allowed us all to understand each other’s schedules and needs.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
When the realities of this pandemic first set in, I think the biggest work-related challenge was keeping our staff motivated, engaged and focused on still driving the business forward. As a leader, I am very focused on three things: the health and safety of my employees and agents, leading with good intent and protecting the business. Given the unprecedented challenges we have been facing, there was a need to ensure I remained empathetic to the additional challenges we were facing on the home front while simultaneously protecting our business. Often, women tend to be more sympathetic and with all of the fear, it was easy to forget that we still need to protect and grow our business
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
In the beginning, I made sure to give my team time to take a breath, wrap their heads around this reality and then pull them back to focus on business goals. I believe that keeping them on track has helped them to feel a sense of normalcy by having structure and goals to work towards. I didn’t change the finish line, I just changed the path we were taking to get there. I truly believe that leaders are made when overcoming challenges, and I wanted my teams to realize that and grow from it. The company still has to go on, so making sure we all stay healthy and safe while maintaining structure and routine is key.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
My advice when balancing working from home with the needs of your family is to give yourself grace. There is no playbook for this, so you just have to figure out what works for you and do your best at it. Drown out the noise, don’t listen to negativity, and don’t question your decisions. Don’t read the mommy blogs or spend time in social media groups! There is no “perfect”, there is only what is right for you! Do what will give you a stable structure, take a break when you have to and catch your breath.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
What I’ve done to stay sane and serene is exercising. I exercise almost every day, whether it’s running or lifting. Exercising is my thing, and I think everyone needs to identify their “thing” and take time for it every day. I also find that simply being home for dinner with my family every night or drinking a cup of coffee before everyone else is awake in the morning have provided serenity in their own ways, since those are things I couldn’t do when I was commuting and working long days in the office. Taking time to enjoy the simple moments has been an amazing form of sanity for me.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- I believe this crisis has forced us to reset, reground and refocus. Before the world paused as it did when COVID-19 struck, many of us were in more of a rush, on our phones a little too much and sweating the small stuff. Now, we’re realizing what matters most to us and re-evaluating our goals because life as we knew it changed in the blink of an eye.
- We’re re-gaining appreciation for the things we may have taken for granted. For me, the extra time with family, being able to all eat dinner together, and having extra time to reach out to loved ones has been a silver lining. Having renewed appreciation is something I think we’ll all take with us when we return to a normal world one day.
- Our society is resilient, even if many of us are still learning resilience. Not everyone likes change or handles it well, but I’m seeing so many people rising to this challenge and growing from it. You have to trust that you will grow from these obstacles, challenges and opportunities.
- There’s more good in the world than we realize. I’ve seen so many people step up and give back to those who need it most. Coldwell Banker’s agents have done a tremendous job with that. We started a movement called #CBGoodNews to focus on our agents who have been making masks, donating food and other necessities to the communities that have given so much to them. Despite so much negativity, the people doing good in the world have provided me a major source of hope.
- There truly is light at the end of the tunnel because we won’t be stuck in this crisis forever. We will come out of this on the other side, hopefully having learned something about ourselves and humanity through it all.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to reach out to loved ones. Many people are alone during this time of isolation, and it’s hard for people to be alone. You can’t assume that everyone you love is doing fine. This is a time of major uncertainty, and there’s a lot of anxiety in the unknown. Be sure to reach out to your loved ones and keep it continuous.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A quote I live by is a Chinese proverb that says, “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” Whenever someone says something can’t be done, I like to focus on the people who try do it anyway. I’m very much a “let’s figure it out” person. When there’s too much negativity about something that can’t be done, I try to drown out the noise and focus on how to get it done.
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Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!