Rising Pro

From Salesforce to SoFi: My Big Career Change

2017 was a big year for me.

The SoFi Crew in NYC at Refi & Relax

I left Salesforce after 2 years on the strategic events team, joined FinTech company Social Finance (SoFi), as a manager on the community team and got married to my boyfriend of almost four years.

Needless to say, last year was full of changes, challenges and extreme emotions. This was especially true since I was interviewing for roles at both SoFi and Salesforce the 2 months leading up to my wedding and started my new job at SoFi 10 days before saying ‘I Do.’

Making the decision to leave Salesforce was not something I took lightly and was met with skepticism from both friends and family. ‘Why would you leave Salesforce?’ was the most common question, as it’s one of the best companies to work for in the world. The perks and pay are great and their dedication to upholding a workplace that celebrates diversity, equal rights/pay and giving back make it hard to look elsewhere.

But after a while, none of that was enough to keep me there because I wasn’t growing or doing work that I loved. I did learn a ton and got to travel and meet celebrities, CEOs and luminaries, but there was something missing. I knew in my heart that I couldn’t get to the next level in my career if I stuck around just so I could get a free gym membership and lattes everyday. I had to leave in order to grow, so I gave up comfort for a challenge.

My experience at SoFi has been so amazingly positive. Things move really fast and I always feel a little uncomfortable – which is good because I’m never bored. I know it’s cheesy, but I seriously think I’ve found my calling. I get to help nurture and grow our member community and also plan and host VIP experiences around the country for our members. On top of that, I work with super talented and fun people who inspire me to work harder than I ever have before.

But with a new job comes new insecurities. I’ve defiantly had many moments of self-doubt and feeling like an imposture. But during my first week, a fellow employee gave me a great piece of advice. She said, ‘If you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s fine, because no one else does either. So just try new things and be confident in them.’

This simple advice has been my guiding mantra. As a result, I’ve learned how to put myself out there, fail fast and move on. It’s been invigorating and I feel like I’ve grown more in the past 5 months than I did in two years at Salesforce.

Just like a relationship, I don’t think you should stay in something just because you’re comfortable and everyone else approves of it. Sometimes you have to make hard, life-altering changes in order to grow and flourish. And that’s what I did. I listened to myself, no one else, and as a result I am exactly where I want to be, doing work I love.

Are you thinking about making a career change?

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Top 3 Rising Pro Posts of 2017

Happy New Year!

2017 was one heck of a year for me and as a result I wasn’t able to blog as much as I would have liked to.

However, I still wanted to do my annual ‘top posts’ post to keep up with tradition. I chose to only highlight my top three posts and, no surprise, two of three are Rising PROfiles. This has been consistent throughout the years and I’m still glad to see you still like reading about fellow your Rising Pros.

I love writing these because I get to learn about people’s personal journeys, most of which are so different from mine. All of my subjects have such inspiring stories and I love being able to capture and share them with you all here.

So without further adieu, here are the top three posts from 2017 for you to enjoy all over again.

  1. Rising PROfile: Suhas Ghante is ‘The Connector’
  2. Rising PROfile: Rich Casale Retires
  3. The Seven Year Career Itch

Which one was your favorite?

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Rising PROfile: Suhas Ghante is ‘The Connector’

This week, I spoke with a management consultant turned entrepreneur, Suhas Ghante. 

I met Suhas in Spring 2016 when we both joined the board of  Young Professionals of San Francisco (YPOSF). I knew I liked him from our first conversation – he was quietly energetic, engaging and I could tell he had a real knack for connecting people.Rising Pro

Now, over a year later, I’ve watched him make a profound impact on our organization as the Director of Sponsorships & Partnerships – constantly hustling to establish and nurture key relationships to better serve our members.

Originally from Laurel, Maryland, Suhas has had a diverse career that has led him to his current role as Co-Founder & COO of Zyudly Labs, an early-stage startup focused on cybersecurity solutions for financial services organizations.

With a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, experience working in management consulting and now a fixture in SF’s startup scene – Suhas’ career journey and insights make him the perfect Rising PROfile, inspiring others to be brave and try new things.

Tell me about your career journey and what led you to your current role?

“I’ve been fortunate to have a diverse set of experiences since I started out at age 16 as an Engineering Intern at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. I worked on cutting-edge projects at an early age but yearned to explore the business side of the working world. So after college, I joined Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm, where I worked across various industries, including defense, healthcare and finance. After a couple years, I had an opportunity to join an early-stage healthcare consulting firm where I met some of my best friends.

On a whim, I took a week-long trip to San Francisco and loved every bit of it. Soon after, I found a way to make it to SF, hone in on what I love the most (connecting people) and use both my engineering & consulting background. In late 2013, I made the big move out west and joined a boutique consulting firm where I helped launch a new service offering, focused on big data analytics. After a year, I took some time off and doubled down on my personal obsession with being a connector by joining Innovaccer, a seed-stage data analytics startup, as their VP of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships. After their successful pivot into healthcare analytics, I left to co-found my own startup, Zyudly Labs.”

What were some important lessons you learned working at your first startup, Innovaccer, and how have you applied those lessons to Zyudly?

“The biggest takeaway from working at the first startup was the importance of hustle, specifically as it relates to sales. As Mark Cuban says, “Sales cures all.” Very, very true especially at early-stage startups. Doing whatever it takes – be it mass emailing conference speakers asking for a meeting or setting up cold call campaigns to get that first meeting – every little bit counts, especially in the early days.”

You just completed your second stint at 500 Startups (a global venture capital seed fund) last month. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience and your biggest takeaway?

“What gets measured gets improved. At 500, we were hammered every week on our OMTM (One Metric That Matters). For us, it was the number of new sales’ leads generated. Find your OMTM, in life and/or business, and do everything possible to accurately track and boost that metric. You’ll genuinely be surprised by the results.”

Do you see yourself staying in the startup world or diversifying/trying something else?

“I think startups offer a nice conduit for people with an innate entrepreneurial mindset. I’ve learned that giving back to my community gives me great satisfaction as well. Other areas like non-profit boards and social impact organizations are great to apply that mindset to as well. Chances are I’ll stay in or around the startup world for the foreseeable future, so I can leverage my experiences and help impact the lives of other entrepreneurs.”

What is your best advice for people looking to join a startup?

“Just do it! And hang on tight, it’s quite the ride! I think life is all about learning (and particularly learning from mistakes), and if you aren’t learning every day you are dying. Startups offer the best way to learn a lot of different things in an abbreviated timeframe. That’s what makes them so fun! A year ago, I had no knowledge of cybersecurity, didn’t know a thing about business accounting, and barely knew what went into setting up payroll & benefits. I can’t say I’m an expert in any of those three now, but I know enough to get by – which for 90% of things in the world, is all you need.”

How about for those interested in starting their own company?

“A lot of folks get intimidated by the idea of starting a “company.” I know I did. What exactly does it mean to start a company these days when we have the gig economy in full swing allowing everyone to hustle? I’d encourage folks to redefine the notion of “starting a company” to “working on my own terms.” That may mean starting a side-consulting practice, freelancing, coaching, anything that allows you to sell something directly. Immense satisfaction will follow, guaranteed. Don’t be fooled into thinking that starting a company = raising VC money or creating the next unicorn. Starting a “lifestyle business” can be great as well!”

What’s one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in your career and what did you learn?

“Embracing the oh-so-millennial quarter life crisis, I took about 5 months off to “figure out life and work on living well” in early 2014. I travelled to Peru, India, and did a cross-country road trip with a buddy. I had no concrete plans and sadly, no goals. Those 5 months were fun but not as impactful as they could have been. I wanted to launch a business but didn’t know for what. If I had to do it over again, I’d map out my short and long-term goals – it doesn’t matter if the goals aren’t fulfilled, just the idea of working towards them will make that time much more impactful.”

As many entrepreneurs know, startup life can be really demanding and discouraging at times. What keeps you motivated and excited about your work?

“You have to truly believe you are on to something big, world-improving. Otherwise, you’ll quickly lose motivation after one too many late nights and early mornings.”

What professional organizations/groups are you involved in & around the Bay Area?

“I serve on the board of the Young Professionals of San Francisco heading up partnerships and sponsorships. I’m also on the Leadership Council of the Bay Area Chapter of the American India Foundation. These groups have been great for building out networks and helping folks get connected.”

Has anyone inspired or mentored you throughout your career?

“I’ve been very fortunate to have several mentors throughout my career, some formal, most informal. To say they have been instrumental to my growth would be a huge understatement. I firmly believe great mentors have the ability to take you from good to great in your career. Mentors come in all forms, many of mine come from history and philosophy, including Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Lincoln.”

How do you plan to keep rising in your career?

“By helping others first and foremost.”

One last thing, what are your favorite things to do for fun?

“Cook! And once my ankle heals up, get back on the road cycle & play tennis. Until then, I’ve been reading a bunch – I try and do a book a week. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the huge influence that books have had over my career. Here are some of my favorites:”

If you’re interested in connecting with Suhas, reach out to him on LinkedIn or meet him in person at the next YPOSF event.

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How to Find and Do What You Love

We all want it.

Most of us have been chasing it since we started working.

Some are lucky and have already found it – and some never will.

It’s the feeling of finding and doing what you love.

For me, I know exactly what it feels like and also what it doesn’t feel like. And what I’ve learned is that you can’t fake happiness forever in a job that’s not ‘The One.’ Much like realizing someone’s not right for you, you have to be honest with yourself at some point and move on.

You might ask, ‘How do you find and do what you love?’ It’s simple really, it’s a feeling.

Think about a few things you love doing and make a priority whenever you have free time. It could be reading, writing, gardening, volunteering, playing sports, cooking, exercising, crafting…the list goes on.

Now think about what it feels like when you do these things. That’s what it will feel like when you’re doing something you love for a living – seriously.

Now you know what I’m talking about – you get in that groove, time flies and you don’t want to stop working until you’re absolutely exhausted. It requires a lot of time and effort to reach your goals, but the difference is you don’t feel like it’s something you have to do; it feels like something you want to do.

I recently worked on a project that made me feel this way. It was a big wake up call because I remembered what it felt like to do something I love – a feeling I haven’t felt in a while.

If you’re like most of us who are trying to find a fulfilling job that doesn’t feel like work, don’t settle. Measure feelings about your work against how you feel when you’re doing something you love and see if it matches up. This will help you discover a career you truly love.

How did you know when you were doing what you love?

Rising Pro

The Seven Year Career Itch

I’m about to turn 29, which means two things;

1. My 20s are almost over

2. I’ve been in the workforce for almost seven years.

As I near the first decade of my career, I’ve got an itch. I’m starting to ask myself, ‘Have I done enough in my career so far?’ and ‘Will I be able to do more?’

It’s easy to minimize your work and accomplishments when you still feel like a young(er), less seasoned professional. I constantly feel like there’s so much more to learn and do in my career, and whatever I’ve done, it’s not enough.

This way of thinking can throw you into a negative tailspin really fast.

So, when I start feeling this way, I stop myself. Then I take a few minutes to look back and reflect on what I’ve accomplished so far in my career, either jotting down a list or reciting it in my head.

This is a great exercise to show yourself what you’ve achieved in a relatively short amount of time. It also helps you grasp what you can accomplish over a career and lifetime.

For instance, in 7 years, I have:

  • Gone from making $9.50 an hour to six figures a year
  • Traveled all over the world for work
  • Established and grown the Rising Pro blog
  • Uprooted my life, moving from Chico, Calif., to San Francisco to advance my career (and fulfill a childhood dream)
  • Worked at four companies, including Llano Seco Rancho, EXL, MSLGROUP and Salesforce
  • Served on three boards, previously The Boys & Girls Clubs and PRSA-SF, and currently YPOSF
  • Planned and executed two Dreamforce events at Salesforce

The point of this list isn’t to gloat, it’s to build yourself up by showing evidence that you’re enough and that you’re going to continue doing great things if you keep going.

Once you make a list, thoughts like ‘I haven’t done enough’ or ‘There’s so much more to do’ turn into ‘I’ve accomplished a lot in my career so far’ and ‘I have the capacity to achieve my goals.’

The next time you’re feeling intimidated, discouraged or overwhelmed, I encourage you to simply stop, look back and reflect. It will boost your confidence and energy to keep moving toward your goals. If you’re just getting started in your career, or have a short list, start jotting down some goals to accomplish in the next 3-5 years and then get busy. In fact, I’m going to share mine with you now to keep me honest:

5 Year Goals

  • Become a respected manager & leader
  • Start a business or organization
  • Help people advance in their careers for a living
  • Write a book and get it published
  • Serve on another board
  • Learn a new language/technical skill, like coding or web design
  • Take a sabbatical
  • Live and work somewhere outside the U.S.
  • Take time away from work to start a family of my own

I challenge you all to stop and reflect on your accomplishments constantly and to always keep rising no matter your age or stage in life.

Challenge: Compose a list of your main career accomplishments so far, as well as your goals for the next five years. Share below! 

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5 Ways to Get Your Digital Self In Shape for 2017

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been seeing A LOT of stories about New Years’ resolutions. Resolutions to eat better, exercise more and even meditate on the regular. Your physical and mental well-being are great areas to refocus on at the start of a new year, but what about getting your digital self into shape?

When’s the last time you took a long, hard look at your online presence?

It’s so easy to create profiles, online docs, websites and other digital assets and let them sit for years and years without doing much to keep them current.

But if you’re trying to get hired, attract new clients or promote your services, you better believe your digital footprint is going to influence how people perceive you and your work.

Not sure where to start? Here are 5 ways to get your digital self into shape for the new year so it’s as fit as you.

  1. Google Yourself: This is a great starting point to see what your name is tied to online. Typically, it will be things like social media profiles, news stories, published work or your website/blog. If you don’t see anything until the second page or nothing at all, you have problem. It’s time to make a bigger digital footprint by creating profiles and regularly posting content to keep you at the top of the search. If you’re coming up on the first page but you don’t like what you see, use it as motivation to clean up your online presence.

2. Renovate Your Resume: If you’re a job seeker using job search sites Indeed or Monster, make sure your resume on file is up to date. If potential employers are looking at an outdated resume, they might pass it over because they don’t see a skill or qualification you actually have. If you have your resume posted on your personal website, check it every six months to make sure nothing is missing from the last time you posted it.

3. Update Your LinkedIn: A lot of people have a LinkedIn profile, but many of them fail to update it regularly. It’s so easy to forget to log a promotion, job change, new skill, accomplishment or certification. Then before you know it, you find yourself with a very out of date online resume that doesn’t show off how amazing you really are. Don’t let it slip, keep your professional profiles updated so you look appealing and accomplished to current/future employers, clients and coworkers. Pro tip: When you update your resume, make it a standard practice to update your LinkedIn profile at the same time!

4. Clean Up Your Social Media: Our social media platforms are usually what come up the most when employers or clients Google our names, so make sure they don’t find something inappropriate. If you’re worried about what other people are tagging you in on Facebook, go into your settings and change your tagging preferences so you can approve every post before it’s shared on your profile. As for posting about political or controversial topics, do so at your own risk. I’m all for freedom of speech, but always ask yourself, ‘Would I want my employer or clients to see this?’ If the answer is no, think twice about sharing strong opinions on social.

5. Keep Your Website Fresh: From having a blog myself, I know how much work goes into creating a website in the first place. After it’s complete, it’s easy to set it and forget it, but you need to force yourself to keep it fresh. I waited 5 years before updating the layout for Rising Pro! As a result, it started to look outdated, especially to new readers. If you have a website or blog, aim to make improvements and updates on a yearly basis to keep it current.

Don’t be like Ling

How do you plan to get your digital self into shape for the new year? 

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Rising PROfile: Rich Casale Retires

One week ago today, Rich Casale (my dad) retired from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service after 43 years.

I think I can speak for many young pros when I say that 40+ years at one place is hard to imagine. I’ve only been in the workforce for a little over six years and I’m already on my 4th job.

I’ve always admired my dad for his dedication to his work and passion for helping and inspiring others. I’ve even heard people call him ‘The Legend.’ After attending his retirement party last week and meeting some of the people he’s worked with, it’s clear he’s leaving a legacy in his wake.

Although I typically profile pros who are in the first half of their careers, I thought this pivotal career moment, one we all experience at some point, was the perfect opportunity to capture his candid advice and honor his amazing work.

What is the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)?

“The NRCS has been around for 80+ years and is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the world. We provide free (non-regulatory) technical and financial assistance to private landowners. Essentially, we are “helping people help the land.”

My dad sharing his thanks and insights at his retirement party.

Tell me about your role at the NRCS. When did you start, what was your first job and how has it evolved from there? 

“I actually started working with the NRCS in our Santa Barbara office back in 1974 after receiving a B.S. in Natural Resources from Humboldt State University. Back then we were called the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). I transferred to the Salinas office in 1975, which served both Monterey and Santa Cruz County at the time.

During those early years, I was working with the pioneers of our agency who started their careers in the 1930s.

In 1978, the struggling Redwood and Pajaro Resource Conservation Districts (RCD) of Santa Cruz County reorganized their boundaries to form the RCD of Santa Cruz County.  The new RCD opened an office in Soquel and by 1979 it also became a NRCS office, serving only Santa Cruz County.

I applied and was offered the District Conservationist position for the new NRCS office, which I held until last Tuesday, my final day with NRCS.”

What does it feel like to walk out the door after 43 years on the job?

“I just walked out of the door a week ago, so I’m not sure what it feels like yet. Looking back on my career, I can honestly say my job defined me. Although it’s not a popular thing to admit, in my case, it’s mostly true. And I’m okay with it because I loved what I got to do every single day. Perhaps one of the things I loved doing most was giving young people a chance to get work experience as an Earth Team volunteer. I was also fortunate to work for an agency that can take a lead role in helping people and communities following natural disasters.”

What have been your biggest accomplishments over your career? 

“1. Being a co-founder of the international Certified Professional Erosion and Sediment Control Program in 1981. Today, more than 5,000 professionals have become certified in 13 countries around the world.
2. Pioneering volunteerism in USDA by signing up the first three volunteers in 1981. To date, more than 400,000 Earth Team volunteers have contributed 15+ million hours to the conservation effort across America.
3. Assisting the struggling RCD of the 1970s to reorganize their territories and form the county-wide RCD of Santa Cruz County that has become a conservation force on the national scale with a multi-million dollar budget.

4. Assisting thousands of landowners on their private properties with disaster recovery following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, as well as Bay Area and Southern California fires, storms and flood emergencies since 1978.”

Our family celebrating with my dad.

What are your thoughts on mentors?

“Mentors are an absolute necessity, formal or informal. We all need someone we admire, look up to and learn from. Mentors can also provided much needed support and encouragement.”

How will you keep rising in your career — what’s next?

“I’ll return to NRCS as an Earth Team volunteer to help train my successor. I also remain open to invitations to speak, mentoring young people starting off their careers and continuing my work with agricultural organizations and community efforts. Also, as owners of Port of Travel, my wife and I will continue to plan and lead group travel adventures and educational tours around the globe.”

Looking back over your long, successful career, what’s your best advice to Rising Pros?
“1. Find your passion and do something that you love. Also, look at the whole job: benefits, advancement opportunities, flexibility, job security, etc. Don’t just do it for the money!
2. Get an “edge” that sets yourself apart from other job seekers.
3. Join and become active in professional societies.
4. Become certified, registered and/or licensed in a specialized field.
5. Volunteer to gain experience in areas you’re looking to expand your learning. Remember that any work experience, paid or unpaid, is better than no experience.
6. When interviewing, come prepared and present a professional image, but also be personable. Many employers look for chemistry/team fit first. They can teach you what you don’t know.
7. It’s ALL about connections. Knowing someone who knows someone is how many people get jobs.
8. Google yourself to make sure you have a professional online presence. Clean up your social media sites if necessary.
9. Find a job that allows you to enjoy all 7 days of the week, so you’re not just living for the weekend.
10. It’s not about how little you can do to get by in this life, it’s about how much you can do to make a difference.”


Connect with Rich on LinkedIn, or if you’re interested in having him as a speaker or mentor, you can email him here.

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Top 5 Rising Pro Posts of 2016

It’s that time again – when I share my top Rising Pro posts for the year.

I slowed down a little with the amount of posts I wrote in 2016 but I still managed to talk to some amazing rising professionals, share stories about my work at Salesforce and dish out some real-time career advice.

This is my last post of 2016 so I wanted to use it to share your favorite reads. Yet again, the Rising PROfiles were everyone’s favorite. I hear you and I’ll keep profiling interesting young professionals in 2017. In fact, if you know someone who would make a good profile (even if it’s you), e-mail me. I’d love to hear their story.

Without further adieu, below are the top five posts of 2016, in order of popularity:

  1. Rising PROfile: Jen Dewalt Writes Her Own Code
  2. Rising Profile: Albert Cheng Switches to Startup
  3. Three Thoughts from Joe Garvey
  4. Rising PROfile: Cady Marsh Gets Social
  5. 3 Lessons From My First Year at Salesforce

What was your favorite Rising Pro post of 2016?

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Why You Should Scare Yourself More

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I need to scare myself more often.

I had a grand plan at the start of 2016 to get out of my comfort zone and try things that scare me to become a more well-rounded professional and person.

I chose two areas in particular:

  1. Public Speaking: Taking every opportunity I could to speak in public. Whether it be a full-blown presentation at Dress for Success San Francisco, sharing my Salesforce experience with a group of new hires, or introducing speakers at Young Professionals of San Francisco (YPOSF) events. After a year of speaking to large groups at least one a month, I became more comfortable at the front of a room and it wasn’t scary anymore.
  2. Getting More Technical: Tackling my fear of owning a more technical role on my team, like managing live demonstrations at Salesforce events. This entails learning and speaking in technical terms, managing the execution of demos and creating best practice documentation. The first time I did it on my own, it was a disaster. By my eighth show, I could do it in my sleep.

In both instances, I started out feeling insecure and scared, but also determined to succeed. Now as I type this today, I can honestly say I feel confident and accomplished in both areas.

Now comes the hard part; finding new things that scare me.

That alone is scary because it’s hard to step away from the things you feel confident doing and focus your energy on learning something new. But if you don’t, you’ll probably never find out what you’re really made of.

Looking back, this was my one big mistake.

I didn’t find new fears once the old ones stopped being scary. I got use to the feeling of coasting by and not really working too hard to succeed. As a result, I stunted my growth.

If I would have pushed myself just a little bit harder this year, I’d be a lot further along. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come a long way, but there are always more fears to face, lessons to learn and opportunities to grow.

My message is this; don’t get too comfortable doing any one thing. Continue to do what you’re good at, but also constantly be on the hunt for things that scare you and help you become even better.

In the words of Nasty Gal Founder Sophia Amoruso, “Life is Short. Don’t be Lazy.”

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Rising PROfile: Yulia Mitchell Knows How to Sell San Francisco

Zephyr Realtor Yulia Mitchell is a go-getter, which is essential if you’re a major player in the San Francisco real estate market. yulia_mitchell_bw

Yulia visited San Francisco for the first time in 2011. Less than two hours after arriving, she knew it was the place to be. Three days later, she and her husband signed a lease and moved across the country from Florida to make SF their new home.

I met Yulia around this time last year when she helped me and my fiancé find our first home in SF.

The entire home buying process was both eye-opening and overwhelming, especially in such a competitive market. Thankfully, we had Yulia to guide us through the entire process and do all the heavy-lifting and negotiating, so we ended up getting our dream home at the right price.

Looking back, we still wonder how anyone can navigate the current real estate market without a good realtor. We learned so much from Yulia and had such a great experience that it made me think about this profession and how to be successful in such a non-stop, high-pressure and constantly changing environment.

So I thought I’d get the inside scoop and ask Yulia about what it takes to make it in real estate, current trends and how she plans to keep rising in her career.

What’s it like being a realtor in San Francisco? 

“I believe it feels similar to being an entrepreneur:

  • You must be disciplined. You work as much as you want to make. There is no supervisor forcing you to get out of the bed and come to the office.
  • Financially there is no ceiling, but there is no floor either. We do not have a salary and are 100% commission, so it requires financial planning.
  • It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. Your friends can turn into your clients and vice versa. You are always a realtor. At the dentist office, at the gym, at your friend’s baby shower, you name it.
  • Your business doesn’t stop at 5 pm; you are on 24/7. I am busy when my clients are free, so it’s normal for me to meet them at 7 pm or 8 pm in my office and weekends are the busiest.
  • Location location location! San Francisco is a great and wonderful city, but it comes with an ultra competitive environment.”

How did you get into real estate?

“I started my career in the real estate industry in 2011. Initially I was a broker’s assistant, but I felt I could do more in this industry. So I got licensed and joined PathMark Realty, a small boutique firm in Burlingame, as an agent. I gained valuable knowledge that allowed me to get a better understanding of the entire process. A few successful deals later, I got invited to join the #1 real estate company in the city, Zephyr Real Estate.” 

What are some of the current real estate market trends in SF?

“The SF real estate market is unique and an outlier when compared to housing across the U.S. We’ve experienced phenomenal growth these last few years and now the market is stabilizing and getting ready for the holiday season. From the end of November until the middle of January, the market tends to slow down. For some, it spells opportunity – if you don’t want to deal with aggressive bidding wars this could be the right time to start looking.

Another major trend in the city is all the new developments. I’m getting more and more requests to see new constructions. I am currently working on a new database of all the active projects and their current available inventories. I want my clients to be able to compare them and get quick and accurate information of all the features, floor plans and pricing. Therefore, I’m constantly touring different developments to establish relationships and collect more data.”

What’s your best advice for people looking to buy a new home right now?  

“Call me! But seriously, get a good agent. Purchasing in the Bay Area could be tricky. Besides short marketing periods and overbids, the city alone has 96 unique neighborhoods and your agent should be knowledgeable enough to guide you through them. It’s a multi-step process and a good realtor will help you discover what’s important for you and will clarify those values. After that, it will be clear and take a lot of stress out of the process in helping to make an important decision.”

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

“Being a realtor is like riding a bike; the moment you stop pedaling, you fall. You have to find and maintain the right balance between your existing clientele and searching for new potential business prospects.”

What is the best part of your job?

“That rewarding feeling when you help someone achieve their goals. I connect with my clients through their experience, especially with first-time homebuyers. It’s the most important financial decision of their lives and you have an opportunity to help them achieve their dreams (no pressure). When you succeeded and your clients become repeat clients because of their experience, this is truly gratifying and validates the hard work I do for my clients. I love my job!”

Are you involved in any professional organizations/groups around the Bay Area?

“Tons! That’s another fun part of my job. I am a member of the National, California and San Francisco Associations of Realtors. A few of my friends and I also run our own networking group, Wealth Entrepreneurs’ Network (WEN). We meet once a month to connect with like-minded professionals across multiple industries.”

Has anyone inspired or mentored you throughout your career?

“I have the opportunity to meet and learn from exceptional agents all the time. This is another benefit of being a part of the Zephyr team. Agents here are very supportive and I truly appreciate the ethics and professional solidarity we have in our office. If I have any questions or need to get some advice, I can always rely on my colleagues.”

What advice can you give to other Rising Professionals interested in getting into real estate?

“Call me! If you set your mind on becoming a realtor, you need to be aware of this sobering statistic: 90% quit during the first 3 years. I always remind my newer colleagues that the first year is the toughest, so you have to power through it. By the end of year 3, you will know for sure if it’s the right thing for you. Remember; no floor, but no ceiling either!”

How do you plan to keep rising in your career?

“Work hard and stay consistent – I’m always out there and working to improve my knowledge, especially in a dynamic market like the Bay Area. I have some independent and co-marketing campaigns running and I am out almost every weekend hosting an open house. Most importantly, I work to keep relationships with my past clients. I am never too busy for a referral.”

What do you like to do for fun?

“I’m a foodie, so living in San Francisco is like heaven! I love going out to eat as much as I love to cook. I also use every opportunity to travel and continually familiarize myself with all the amazing things Northern California has to offer.”

If you’re interested in more advice on breaking into real estate or need a great agent to find your next home in the Bay Area, connect with Yulia on LinkedIn, Facebooke-mail or call her at 415-385-3712.