Without Apology: Broker's 7 Launch Tips For Successful Women In Business
It was yet another encounter of sexual harassment that gave Michelle Dewoskin the motivation to start her own company and helped her launch a new career.
Dewoskin, managing broker and owner of Michelle Dewoskin Properties, LLC, in Chicago, says her career as a real estate broker since 2009, involved a “lot of apologizing” and a fair amount of sexism.
A single parent of two children, the third-generation realtor says dealing with developers and working for other brokers, often involved enduring sexist comments and not infrequent sexual harassment. One day, she says she knew she was finally done and could go off on her own to start a successful business. She just had to make the first step.
“I am going off on my own, and I have done this long enough,” Dewoskin says.
This is what Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead, asserts is the transformational shift in claiming the “power to” achieve a goal, rather than understanding power in the paradigm of someone’s “power over” someone.
While the real estate industry in this country has been historically considered as inclusive to women, roles such as developers and managing brokers has been not as swift at reaching parity.
“Historically, women have been involved in real estate almost since its inception in 1794 and its establishment as a legitimate business in the 1840s. In real estate’s early days, women filled office and clerical roles, but by the 1880s, women were already moving into the roles of agents and brokers, though at a relatively slow rate,” according to the National Association of Realtors.
“Nationwide, women brokers dominate the residential real estate market, but have yet to make a major entrance into the more lucrative commercial market, according to NAR.
With more than six years as a broker, Dewoskin says she felt she could learn enough to find a niche as a developer and investor so she didn’t have to compete with someone in the same office. She knew she could find a way to stand out and also to help others become successful women in business.
“Why can’t I do this for myself?” she says she asked.
Almost two years into investing and developing working with crowd funders, Dewoskin says, “It’s a relief not having to apologize to a bank or to a boss for having the goals I have and wanting to do things the way I want to do them. That is enormous.”
Dewoskin’s conviction to jump in aligns with the 9 Leadership Power Tools created by Feldt. “Carpe the Chaos,” is Power Tool #5. “Change creates chaos. Today’s changing gender roles and economic turbulence may feel chaotic and confusing. But chaos also means boundaries become more fluid. That’s when people are open to new ways of thinking, to innovation, and to new roles for women. Carpe the chaos, for in chaos is opportunity,” Feldt says.
And yes, opportunities are there, you just need to find them and seize them.
National Association of Women in Real Estate Business Founder and CEO Desiree Patno states, “There are opportunities for women and women-owned businesses that aren’t being utilized to their full potential. In addition, there are too few C-suite women in our industry seated at the table and available for mentorship.”
While still new to the business, Dewoskin is doing her part to share information, network and mentor others who want to do as she did. While many may think of Barbara Corcoran,the real estate mogul on “Shark Tank” worth $80 million, as a sole source of great advice in this industry, Dewoskin also has plenty of wisdom to share on becoming successful women in business.
Here are 7 lucky tips from Dewoskin on starting off on your own venture. (It doesn’t need to be in real estate or investing.)
Realize you don’t have to stick with something. Do not do things out of desperation. You can use your life to try something better.
We’re all afraid. But go in the direction that makes you least afraid. Reach out to networking groups, small business associations and start by asking questions without putting too much pressure on yourself.
Give back. Offer mentorship and advice to women you meet, work with and who seek your advice.
Take a step. There is the reality of race, gender and age inequities, but you can still can take control of your life and not let the challenges be numbing. Push through them.
Everyone started somewhere. See your own strengths and weaknesses and ask for help.
Continue learning. You don’t have to feel desperate or dependent on others.
The value of the work is about the work. It has nothing to do with how old you are, if you have children or not, what you look like or what you’re wearing. It’s about what you’re producing.
On a final note, Dewoskin says, as someone who is investing and developing properties, she adds, “Build it and they will come.”
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com