Forget about “traditional” roles and the way things have always been. The beautiful thing about our world (and the real estate industry) is that we have a lot of flexibility. You can design your business YOUR way.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen Cooper.
Karen Cooper is a wife, mom to 3 sons, and owner of the Platinum Group Real Estate team at Pearson Smith Realty, a team of 35 phenomenal women and moms, and one very brave man, based in Northern VA. Licensed since 2002, she has personally helped well over 700 families during her career, and has vast experience having been an agent on a rainmaker team, an individual agent, a managing broker, and now a team owner and real estate coach. A recognized expert, she has been featured on several local, regional and global Podcasts, and been a speaker at women’s real estate and business conferences. Passionate about helping women in the real estate industry, she is the founder of Empowering Women in Real Estate, with over 12,000 members nationwide, host of Empowering Women In Real Estate — The Podcast, and the principle behind Empower Coaching.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
Ioften say that I came to the real estate industry by accident, but of course there are no accidents! My then fiance and I were buying a home FSBO and I decided to sell my home the same way. Throughout the process I was the one getting paperwork from the attorney, filling things out and explaining them to the other parties. Fast forward a few months when I found out that I was going to be laid off from my position in the pharmaceutical industry I had a decision to make … move several states away to stay in the field, or try something else. That something else was real estate and the rest is history. That was 18 years ago!
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?
Truly I couldn’t narrow it down to one! I’ve helped many hundreds of families in my career. I’ve sold $1300 pieces of raw land and $2 million dollar estates and virtually everything in between. I’ve helped first time home buyers, move uppers and down sizers. No matter the budget or experience level of the client I’ve found that there is a common denominator … the desire to turn a house (or piece of land) into THEIR home.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Iam! Late last year I launched “Empowering Women In Real Estate — The Podcast”, and I am loving this platform to share with our real estate community … women in particular. There may or may not be a book (or two!) in progress. *wink*
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
One of the big differentiators for my team is the obvious … we are a team of 35 women and moms (and 1 very brave man!). We never intended to be a woman only team, and I can’t say that we will always be this way, but I can honestly say that I love what my business partner Vicky Noufal and I have built with the Platinum Group. Our team is a family, and we treat our clients the same way.
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?
There have been so many! From Sherry Wilson, the team leader who first gave me my start 18 years ago, to my business partner Vicky Noufal who pushes me to grow everyday, it is the positive (and sometimes negative) influence of others that helps to drive me. I love seeing other women accomplish big things in their businesses … it shows me (and all of us) what is possible.
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?
This is a question that I’ve often wondered myself. We see it everyday in our business. It is for lack of opportunities offered to women or that sometime women are afraid to push that far themselves? I’d say that it may be a little bit of both. I know that I often have been hesitant to achieve to the fullest extent of my potential. Fear of success is real. Couple that with the challenges of balancing career and family and concerns of not being able to do both well … this can leave some women holding back on what they can do.
What 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?
First, stop judging others. Just because it may be right for one person to stay home to raise their children doesn’t mean that is the right choice for all people.
Second, forget about “traditional” roles and the way things have always been. The beautiful thing about our world (and the real estate industry) is that we have a lot of flexibility. You can design your business YOUR way.
Third, see potential in everyone … because everyone has it. Sometimes, they just need someone else to believe in them.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Ican only speak from my own personal experience, and I can say that one of the biggest challenges I have seen with myself and even within my team is the difficulty with being the “primary” parent. There is this perception that because our jobs can be flexible that when something comes up we are the ones to drop everything to pick up the sick child from school or meet the contractor when the water heater is leaking. Relationships and a partnership, but even with the most dedicated and involved partner (as I am very blessed to have), the mom is usually the one who ends up responsible for these things.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
- The possibility! There is no ceiling, but there is also no floor. I love that my success is in direct proportion to the work that I put in.
- It’s always changing … marketing methods that is. The strategies I used to market and grow my personal brand 18 years ago looked very different than they did 10 years ago and even more different today.
- I love the challenge of problem solving. We solve problems for our clients and in our transactions all day long. Finding solutions to complicated issues is very rewarding.
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?
Myprimary concern about the lack of professionalism in our industry. When markets are good, the number of licensees go up. The barrier to entry is very low and one inexperienced, unprofessional agent can affect the view a consumer holds of our entire profession.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
You need to understand your value proposition. We can’t be all things to all people. Know what you bring and do that really, really well.
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?
Ican sum that up in 5 (actually 6!) words instead … “Want consistent results? Take consistent action.” There is no easy button. There is no product or website or tool that you can buy that will give you success. You have to work for it, again and again.
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. 🙂
Ialready have! I’m so proud to have founded the community Empowering Women In Real Estate almost 6 years ago! Our community has grown to well over 12,000 women in the real estate industry from all across the country. I know that having a positive space to share, support and inspire makes a difference for women in our industry.
How can our readers follow you online?
I’d love to connect on Instagram at @karen.w.cooper or by joining the Empowering Women In Real Estate group on Facebook.
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!