James Harris, Kirsten Jordan and Mia Calabrese shared their journey from real estate newbies to some of the best luxury agents in the business at Inman Connect New York on Wednesday.
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James Harris, Mia Calabrese and Kirsten Jordan didn’t have glittering beginnings in real estate.
Harris spent his early days as an agent banging around Los Angeles and playing rock-paper-scissors with his business partner David Parnes to decide who would have the pleasure of being turned down next.
Meanwhile, Calabrese grew up in an immigrant household in south Chicago and moved to New York City with just $500 and the drive to succeed. Jordan found her way into real estate after returning to the US when her goal of becoming a senior executive in Italy fell through.
“I didn’t know anything when I went into this business,” Harris told the Agent Connect crowd Wednesday, while Calabrese and Jordan nodded in agreement. “I really didn’t know anything except that I had passion. I had stubbornness. I was excited. I was driven and knew I wouldn’t let anything get in my way.”
Although passion and tenacity don’t necessarily pay the bills in the beginning, all three said it’s the foundation of a long-lasting career, the days of unsuccessful cold calling, sudden market dips and moments when you start to doubt your talent and career , can survive .
“I started working for a team and it happened to be 2007, which was actually the perfect time to get into real estate because it was amazing,” Jordan said jokingly, winking at the audience. “The bottom fell out of the market and I was really lucky to find a job that worked with a luxury real estate agent who was doing consistently well.”
“At one point in 2017, when I had my third child, I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve really been in this business 10 years and I was still working for other people,'” she added. “I heard about the casting for million dollar listing, and I get a text from a casting director asking me if I’m interested.”
“I looked at the lyrics and thought they spotted me and now it’s time for me to find my way.”
Jordan spoke of the possibility of becoming the first female agent MDL Rekindled her love of real estate and finally gave her the confidence to start a team with Douglas Elliman in early 2021.
“Until then, I never knew if I really had it in me to start my team,” she said. “Now we’re almost two years old and it’s been going really well.”
Meanwhile, Calabrese said persistence helped her build a real estate career after leaving a coveted career in hospitality where she worked in luxury nightclubs.
“I was full of stubbornness, and I was probably a little delusional. We have to start somewhere,” she said of arriving in NYC as a 20-year-old. “So I lived in New York for years and just ate shit, for lack of better words, I started working in the hospitality industry and I worked at the most expensive nightclub in the world.”
“I was at the point where I was ready for a change in my life, and I knew I had developed this client list after years of working in this industry,” she added. “I had to figure out how to better position the clients and relationships I’ve had for years now in another industry, real estate.”
Calabrese said the transition was “not easy” as she learned the tricks of the trade, including cold calling and farming. While these activities didn’t initially yield much returns, they laid the foundation for a solid reputation that earned her a spot on HBO Sell the Hamptons as one of Nest Seekers’ top agents.
“I think it’s all about being consistent,” she said. “You have to be diligent and keep doing what you’re doing and be consistent. That’s the only way you’ll see results. It takes six months to really see the needle move when you do something.”
She added, “So it takes patience and trust and really just a positive attitude and energy.”
Harris used his final moments on stage to emphasize the power of positivity, especially as the market continues to spark uncertainty and doubt among agents.
“Especially in the market we are in today, I could say the glass is half empty and that’s it [effing] I’m unhappy about interest rates and this and that, but I prefer the glass to be half full,” he said. “I choose to go out and see the positive things, not the negative. I choose to go out excited every day.”
“I’m busier than ever. I don’t even understand it, but I am,” he added. “The more you put that out, the more you get it, the more you talk and breathe the positivity about what’s happening in your day versus what’s bad in your day, the more you get it back.”
Email Marian McPherson