BABE #79: MARYANNE RODRIGUEZ,
Owner @ Root Realty
MaryAnne is an absolute delight. She was nominated to be featured by another local babe (and one of our loyal Instagram followers,) Sandy, who ranted and raved about her love for Root Realty and the badass team of Babes behind it. I'm bummed that MaryAnne and I hadn't crossed paths sooner, but I've decided that from here on out, we're going to be best friends. Her passion and love for her hustle, her family, her co-workers and the community around her is super inspiring. Keep being a babe, lady!
Babe you admire and why?
Mother Teresa. She did so so much for random strangers, but also emphasized the importance of immensely loving your family. She inspires me to do those random acts of kindness for others but to also incorporate and invest those same ideals into those I sleep next to, eat dinner with, and wipe the noses of. She said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” It seems so simple to do, but when you are a crazya$$ businesswoman, sometimes you get wrapped up in, and spend your energy on, things that don’t really matter.
How do you spend your free time?
My husband and son thrive on adventure, so you can catch us at a local park, traveling across the world, or watching the latest scary flick at the theater.
Must-have item in your purse?
A plethora of business cards. You never know!
Go-to adult beverage?
Champs all day, every day.
Favorite beauty item?
My Laura Mercier eyebrow pencil.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
This is a dangerous question for a 6-month pregnant mama. Five minutes ago, spaghetti + meatballs. Now, probably an MShack burger and queso fries.
Favorite social media account to follow?
Tie between Humans of New York and any of the Teen Moms—just too entertaining not to read.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Hard one. With how busy our lives are, I would honestly have to say my husband. Between our businesses and soon-to-be two kids, its not often we sit and drink something together. Sad, I know, but I would really treasure that time with him!
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Bali—hopefully our next vacay spot once baby girl arrives!
What’s one thing you wish you knew more about?
Ugh. Probably taxes and accounting as they're such an important part of my business that I dread spending time on.
Hearing my son say the word “squirrel” because its so incorrect, but so damn cute.
What does your typical workday look like?
"Typical" isn’t much of a thing in the real estate world, and that’s what I love about it! Some days may be spent exclusively on appointments, while the next day we're giving out free coffee to every person that walks into Brew. The glamorous parts of it include meeting so many incredible people, learning their stories and motivations, and getting to steal some incredible design ideas from homes. However, as the owner, a lot of it is spent behind the scenes for me, mainly at night. That's when I'll think of a new marketing idea and email my Director of Operations at 3am or I am creating spreadsheets for expenses in-between my son's bath and bed time. A typical day for me I guess would be trying to keep a balance between my relationships, leadership tasks, the operations, and of course, my family.
When and how did you get into realty? What has that journey been like for you so far?
The reason I moved to Jacksonville was through Teach for America, where I taught for three years in a low-income school. For every incredible day, there would be three tough ones, but it was an amazing adventure and I truly discovered my love for teaching others. When I became pregnant with my son, I knew I wanted more flexibility over my schedule and my income, and I wanted to make sure he had everything he would ever need. My husband's job also was at a place where he either had to take a dive and make a change or sit in a corporate cubicle for the next 40 years. We both left full-time jobs with benefits and insurance at the same time and just went for it. Together, we decided that real estate made sense, and I passed my exam even while having contractions throughout it! The journey has been full of hardships and successes, but I have been so blessed to have such a village supporting me and my vision from day one. My family has kept our son so I could show houses late, my friends have brought over dinner so I could finish contracts, and my agents have made every day worth it, even in the worst of months.
Where did you get the idea to start Root Realty? What were your inspirations/motivators?
We were already operating as our own team at Keller Williams and business-wise, were basically doing what a brokerage would be. We had an admin, an accountant, a photographer, a marketing manager and a team of agents, and it just made sense to open our own brokerage as the next step. Beckie, a good friend and mentor of mine, pushed me to pursue the idea. Heather and Emily, two of our agents, made me really believe we could do it, and my husband didn’t doubt our success once. We looked for a trendy but functional workspace, rebranded entirely, and the rest is history.
What draws you to the reality industry?
The uniqueness of each home, each client, and each story.
What is your academic background like? Do you feel like it prepared you for the role you’re in now?
I come from a Sociology and Anthropology background, which I believe has really helped me understand the people I interact with. Understanding someone’s needs and wants is so critical to this industry and is the root of our business. Immediately upon graduating college, I taught in an environment where patience and understanding was key to my students’ success, while also having to maintain high energy and discipline at the same time, so applying that to real estate has been very helpful. I try to exude an energy that shows just how passionate I am about helping others, while also being understanding and patient with each individual and their goals.
What is your work environment/office culture like?
The BEST. While not pregnant, you can find us celebrating with champagne after a tough transaction closes, with joyful tears reading some of our clients sweet reviews, and supporting another agent and her clients while she takes a family vacation. It’s incredible. Its like a sisterhood I have never had. The amount of love within our company, I believe, completely correlates to our success.
How do you manage to stay on top of deadlines and handle delegating tasks, etc?
One word: Annie. My Director of Operations was a heck of a find. I like to say she stumbled into Brew as we gave out free coffee one morning, stalked us via social media immediately, and then basically asked me for a job. I admire her organization, her willingness to accept all and any task at hand, and her investment into the company as if it were her own. My agents also are way better than I am at meeting deadlines, so they keep me in check on a regular basis.
How would you say being a woman has affected your professional experience?
Oh wow. This one is deep, but important. Real estate is known to be a dog-eat-dog world and there are a lot of people who have been in this business forever, or someone in their family has. I will say: as a YOUNG woman, there is a lot to overcome when working with certain mindsets down here in the South. A small but eye-opening example for me was when an older male agent continued to call me "honey," "baby" and "sweetheart" for 47 days straight (not that I was counting) during a transaction we had together, despite my requests for him to stop. At times, I feel I have to over-prove myself and our business in order to compete, but then I remind myself we're doing the best we can and that's all we can do.
What's it like working so closely with the women on your team?
Oh my - it’s a dream. The ideas these women have, the compassion they exude, and the drive they pursue, inspire me to do better and be better in all ways; as a leader, a businesswoman, a mother, a wife, a friend. In what should be a competitive environment, I find them solving each other’s problems, helping one another’s clients, driving across town to bring the right key to their teammate. This dynamic has made me realize the incredible strength behind a group of women who are so similar in some ways, and so different in others. They hustle, they encourage, and they never fail to surprise me. From them, I am given so much joy and reassurance that opening our own company was the absolute best thing we could have done.
What are some common misconceptions about your job?
A lot of people think it’s all about the money and that it’s easy. I have seen my agents give up time with their families, lose sleep at night, and hold someone’s hand through what may be the hardest transaction of their lives in this industry. I think a lot of agents perpetuate that stereotype above, but I can say that the women of Root do and see things differently. To us, a raving review from a client or a note in the mail 6 months later about how much someone loves his or her new home is the most rewarding experience we can have.
What are some of the everyday struggles with your job that we might not see?
Buying and selling homes takes a lot of moving parts and there are portions of a transaction that are out of our control. For example, if a lender takes too long to send something, it can hold up closing. To a client, they may think we can control each part of the deal, and while we wish we could, it’s just not the reality.
What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work? How’d you overcome it?
Balancing it all. To be the mother and wife of the year and the business owner of the year, I don’t think one could sleep, ha. So, I prioritize both pieces of my life as best as possible, and every day and week brings a new challenge. Real estate can be 24/7 if you let it. Nowadays, everyone is looking at Zillow at 1am and expecting an answer about a house immediately. If I don’t organize my day and night, my phone would never stop ringing and every email would get answered immediately. Some days are better than others, but I'd like to think it’s a constant work of art to balance everything at hand.
What would you say is your biggest strength in your current role?
Coming from a background where educating others was everything, I find myself being able to continue to educate others: clients, agents, other business owners. It’s fascinating how much I continue to learn, too.
What would you say is the skill you most need to improve?
Stop overbooking. I often find myself committing to numerous events at the same time and thinking I can pull them all off.
Are you involved with any other community organizations or side projects?
I’m part of a pretty badass mamas group that has seen me through thick and thin and has supported so much of my business!
What advice would you give to a Babe trying to break into your industry?
Be sure to find the perfect fit in a brokerage; one where you feel supported, encouraged, and valued.
What motivates and inspires you?
Wanting to make my mom proud. She was a single mom who rocked a full-time career, raised 3 college-educated children, and never missed anything of ours. I want her to feel proud of me in all areas of my life.
What does success look like to you?
I love love love this quote and my goal is to live by it: “Being a success at work is not worth it if it means being a failure of home.” Success to me means just being the best version of myself for everyone else around me.
What’s next for you?
A new office building, four new agents, and a brand new baby girl in September!
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen.
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