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In today's Tip Jar section, our guest provider of business tips (Tere Blanca) lets you know who you should be speaking with when starting a business. She also offers solid advice on something people forget to consider when leaving a company.
But the big takeaway is how to press on in the face of personal adversity.
“You’ll find, as we talk, that I’m probably one of the most positive persons you’ll ever meet.”
Little did I know that when Tere Blanca, the Chairman and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, told me about her sunny outlook on life that it would be guided by something I didn’t expect.
Actually, the answer came at the very end of our interview - in the form of something really awful.
“It’s like watching a horror movie. You never think that anything like that can happen to you.”
INDUSTRY: Real Estate (Commercial)
STARTED BUSINESS: 2009
LATINO/HISPANIC CONNECTION: Born in Cuba, family is Cuban
University of Miami – Master’s degree in Business Administration
University of Miami – Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration
DREAM JOB AS A KID: “I was certain I was going to follow… [in] my maternal grandfather’s footsteps and become a top banking/finance executive. And I tried that after my undergraduate degree for two years. I couldn’t stand it. So I went back to school.”
BIGGEST GOAL YET: “I say to my team, we’re just getting started…”
“There’s so much opportunity with the technology that is accessible and still being developed for the commercial and real estate industry. And how that can be leveraged to advance our business is very exciting. So, continuing to grow geographically and expand our property management platform are big goals for me…”
That real-life horror movie was that Blanca’s mother died in a fire at home.
The year was 2005.
Blanca’s mother was energetic and 70 years old at the time.
“She was with her husband. He made it. She didn’t make it out of the house.”
The grief that followed changed Blanca. It molded her.
“I choose to show up with, you know, a lot of enthusiasm and positivity because, putting things in perspective, frankly, there’s very little that will rock me after having lived that.”
A NEW BEGINNING
Four years after her mother’s death, Blanca started her commercial real estate business.
Sure, Blanca had the entrepreneurial influence of both of her parents when she was a child. But she says, this business does require patience, especially in the beginning.
“This is an industry that requires a little bit more time, I think, than others to become an authority.”
From learning the market to understanding clients’ needs to becoming sales-oriented and, of course, building the sales pipeline, Blanca says, “It’s not a quick fix.”
IT’S ABOUT EXECUTION
So I wanted to know how she was able to do it, especially in 2009, during the Great Recession.
She says it’s about action and execution.
“You can’t drown in analysis paralysis.”
THE DIFFERENT ONE IN THE ROOM
So what about, sometimes, being the only woman in the room when it’s deal-making time?
She credits the women who paved the way for her.
But, she also adds, being the only woman in the room can be an advantage.
“You’re the different one in the room.”
A POWERFUL WEAPON
“I think the best advice is almost like, become gender-neutral... It doesn’t matter whether we’re all women in the room or all men in the room. When you show up owning your knowledge, owning who you are, [with] integrity and with a dedication… I think you come out of that room having done a fabulous job.”
She calls it a powerful weapon.
Blanca has used that powerful weapon to build a team of more than 30 people, including brokers, at her firm. She and her company have earned all kinds of awards that establish her as a power player in the industry in South Florida.
TAKING THE NECESSARY STEPS
“And taking that step forward and placing myself maybe in a little bit [of an] uncomfortable position to push myself to the next level. And so I try to do that with our team, as well. To make sure that I can, hopefully, help unlock their full potential, too.”
In the end, the road Blanca took allowed her to have a career and a family. It’s not about “having it all” for her. It’s about creating a structure that allows for flexibility for both.
But the biggest lesson came with her mother’s death.
It taught her there’s no point in fighting to control things we cannot change.
“All we can control is how much we show up. How much we care. How much we give. How much we choose to give of ourselves and what legacy we want to leave is how much we show up every moment and every day.”
THE TIP JAR (tips passed out courtesy of Tere Blanca)
STARTING OUT: “I think it’s very helpful to speak to close advisors. And to share what your vision is and what your desire is, because it helps you contextualize and move you forward one step closer to that execution.”
“Speaking to people that are in different businesses… gives you a rich perspective.”
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career): “Being respectful of your departure from wherever you are – since, you know, there are contracts in place. Oftentimes, there are all sorts of non-disclosures, non-solicitations, even non-competes, and so on. Having a good exit to start your own business is a very healthy thing to do.”
At the end of the day, she thinks the most important thing is to answer the following questions:
“Where do you want to be?”
“How do I want to live my life?”
“Where do I want to be three years from now? 5 years from now?”
“What is it that I enjoy doing?”
“What am I really good at?”
STARTING OVER: “The knowledge that we gain that is specific to a certain… profession and studies… It’s informing us and always can provide tremendous fuel, tremendous success as we apply that across other industries.”
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Blanca points to a lot of successful professionals in the commercial real estate capital markets sector. She says many of them were former CPAs or tax consultants and then transitioned into commercial real estate investments or brokerage advisory work.
The other example she gives are CEOs. She says many of them became turnaround CEOs, moving from one industry to another and turning around other enterprises.
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN: Blanca says she’ll never go against her gut again.
“Trust your gut. Don’t doubt it.”
She says it was reinforced by a keynote speaker at her stepdaughter’s graduation at Skidmore College. She remembers the speaker saying, “Trust your gut. It’s nothing else but your intelligence speaking to you.”
She didn’t follow that advice until her late 30s. “But since I’ve done that, oh my God. What a beautiful journey it has been.”
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”/BEST “HOUSE” ADVICE:
The best advice Blanca got came from her parents.
“It’s all about education, right? I mean, as an immigrant… you have to focus on your education. And no one can take that away from you. They can take everything else away from you, but not your education and what you’ve learned.”
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
Financial Plan, Anyone?
Most of us have heard about getting a business plan together to start a business. But what about your financial plan? What? That, too? Yes! If accounting and finance are not your strong suits, consider this FREE class.
It will help you understand financial controls, income statements, cash flow and balance sheets. Feel a little intimidated? No problem. This course is designed for those who need to learn the basics. Here’s the link:
NEC (National Entrepreneurship Center) and SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
“Building Your Financial Plan”
Thursday, January 20, 2022
6:00 p.m. EST – 9:00 p.m. EST
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
“Dump the Junk”
That’s what it said in the course description. Really. This seminar is designed to help you come up with your master plan for 2022 and provides you with the know-how to “dump the junk in your plan.”
I like the focus on attitude, momentum and grand goals. Plus, it’s part of the Coffee with a Leader series (In my opinion, coffee makes everything better). Take a look:
Thursday, January 13, 2022
8 a.m. EST – 9:30 a.m. EST
INSPIRATION FOR THIS ISSUE:
Rotten day? It’s all perspective.
Failure? It’s just an experience to “help inform the next steps in your life,” according to Tere Blanca.
When I first spoke with her, I thought her cheery way was just that – the by-product of a naturally positive person.
She says she doesn’t kid herself about challenges in business.
Yeah, she sees the risks. She knows.
She just chooses to focus on the positive.
I find it fascinating how, when you peel the layers, you find that the people who are, sometimes, the kindest or gentlest are the ones who have endured something tragic or devastating.
Look, we all complain about something. Some more than others. Some sure are louder than others.
But in the grand scheme of things, is the thing or situation you’re complaining about really all that bad? Again, perspective.
That’s why, when you meet someone like Blanca, who seems to approach life with meaning, you want to learn more.
After losing her mother in a fire, Blanca said things that I think show character.
She said, “I came out understanding that all we can do is show up. And how we show up matters most. And, so, how you show up to a crisis. How you show up [for] opportunity. How you show up to your family, to your friends, to your clients… “
And then Blanca explained that she doesn’t reveal the devastating loss to many people. That’s why I’m so grateful she chose to share it with us.
“It was an awakening – an awakening of so much for me in my life. And so I wanted to share it. I think it’s important to be able to express that with gratitude, even in the tragic circumstances that it was.”
Her words really resonated with me. I hope they stay with you, too.
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