Alison Bernstein: “Every business is about people, not the product”

Every business is about people, not the product. At the end of the day it is about people you work with, what they do and the people that use your service or product. PEOPLE…

I had the pleasure to interview Alison Bernstein of The Suburban Jungle, Inc. The Suburban Jungle’s award winning ideas in the world of residential real estate has had triple digit growth yearly and continues to expand nationally.


Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?

I was finishing up Columbia Business School, expecting my first child and going through the thoughts of whether we wanted to raise our family in the city. As we continued with the process, I came across a huge market inefficiency. I found that the residential real estate marketplace, on the buyer side did not provide truly objective advice or guidance as it pertains to the lifestyle factors, options and inevitable changes associated with such an important life decision. I therefore seized the opportunity to create a unique piece to the real estate puzzle.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I hired a complete buffoon to run our tech department. He made a job of wasting time, and ultimately became the laughing stock of the team due to his lack of intelligence and complete inefficiency. Learning to find the right team and perfecting the hiring process are key to success, and can certainly be considered a learning curve. We obviously course corrected very quickly on that one…

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our approach to the real estate world is what is most “stand out” about us. We took the real estate out of it, and created an incredible client driven process. The real estate world is filled with “salespeople”. People hate being sold. they need to be advised.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am involved in various charities spanning a multitude of causes including MS research, healthcare, cancer research, education, and more. Each of our kids is passionate about their various charities and tries to give back as much as possible. At Suburban Jungle, we encourage employees to share their passions and support their causes as well. The way I view it, is that it should be part of the day to day. Suburban Jungle also supports local charities in the hundreds of local towns we cover. We also love supporting causes that are near and dear to our clients’ hearts.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

ALWAYS…otherwise a company cannot continue to move forward! We JUST launched URBAN JUNGLE ! Our innovative CITY counterpart for those families opting to stay in the CITY! We are in the process of launching a new APP, as well as a new and innovative addition to our technology component! We just launched a bunch of new cities as well! Our newest being DC, DALLAS and LA!

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Believe in them, and empower them. Don’t babysit. I don’t believe it is necessary to put in too much in face time. It is about finding driven self-starters that don’t have to be told what to do and when to do it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My 4 kids and husband have been so supportive, and I owe them a huge thanks for not giving me that dreaded mom guilt. It really goes a long way and has enabled me to take the company to where it is today.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before Became CEO” and why?

1. Your business plan is meant to change …. DAILY. Business changes every day… you need to adapt

2. There is never a day off. I keep my laptop with me at all times …

3. Every business is about people, not the product. At the end of the day it is about people you work with, what they do and the people that use your service or product. PEOPLE…

4. It is imperative to learn from others — you need to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you…

5. Success is measured by daily accomplishments, not simply by milestones.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

It’s not about always winning, it is about losing less …

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)

This is a very tough question — as there are so many people I would love to speak and learn from. I make it a habit of reading about daily routines and ideas of various business leaders — to understand how they pivot their business models, organize their days, and even optimize their inboxes. If I had to pick just one, I guess it would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg- or the notorious RBG. I love that at the age of 85+ she is still working hard to change the world — and doesn’t want to stop. I love that at the age of when most people would be looking and excited to retire, she was just getting started on the Supreme Court. I can’t imagine ever retiring, and have a million things going all at once — and she is a great reminder that the drive and passion never have to be age appropriate.