I was told as I was getting started that real estate is a “people business.” For me, that means getting out of my comfort zone! I never would have guessed that my introverted self would be making cold calls (gasp!) and voluntarily seeking out networking opportunities. As someone who generally avoids the spotlight, this is all new — and not nearly as bad as I feared!
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anne Laurenzi, a real estate investor and owner of Take Flight Home Buyers in Northwest Florida and author of the Roller Coaster Real Estate blog. She lives in Milton, FL with her husband and business partner, Mike Laurenzi.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in Brooklyn, NY and did most of my elementary years on Long Island. We moved to Gulf Breeze, FL when I was nine, where I exchanged snow-filled winters for beautiful white sand beaches. Everything about the transition was quite a change for me and took some time to adjust, which, if I’m being truthful, I don’t think I ever fully did! As soon as I graduated from Gulf Breeze High School in 1995, I moved back up North for college and I go back and visit every chance I can.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Oh, I am a sucker for a good quote! I have many that I love, but I’ll choose the one that immediately comes to mind: students may forget what you taught them, but they will never forget how you made them feel. I don’t know who the original author is and there are a lot on variations of this quote. I was a brand new teacher when I first heard this and it really resonated with me. Of course, this concept applies to everyone we encounter in our daily lives. It’s all about listening to and treating people with kindness — something the world definitely needs more of these days.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. This is a popular book on business and life that really gave me a paradigm shift in my approach to money. As someone who met so many of the traditional expectations — go to school, get good grades, get a good job — but, still knew there was a “better way,” it was foundational in my decision to pursue the path of being a business owner. I first read it 20 years ago and have revisited it a couple of more times since then. I have also given copies to some students I have mentored over the years — I feel it should be required reading!
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
Before the pandemic, I was in my 12th year of teaching science. Teaching was never an original career goal of mine, but once I started I knew it was for me. I enjoyed the relationships that I built with my students over the course of a school year, some of which are still intact today. And teaching afforded me a captive audience to which I could talk to all day about my favorite subject: science! That being said, I did try to leave the classroom a few times, teaching online and then going back to graduate school. Even though I enjoyed teaching, I still had the desire to pursue graduate work studying global climate change, so I took a break from teaching to do this in 2009–2011. I really enjoyed being back in school as a student myself and was afforded opportunities to visit the Peruvian Andes and the Galapagos Islands as part of my research and studies. But ultimately, I missed being in the classroom and returned after obtaining my Master’s degree.
During the 2019–2020 school year, I was fortunate enough to land a “Teacher on Special Assignment” position at the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station. This afforded me the opportunity to work with students in the field. I had taught student groups in Costa Rica and the Bahamas early in my teaching career and I really appreciated what nature does for students. Learning about nature in nature really brings their textbooks to life and they leave those experiences with more than I could ever offer them in a classroom. I am still working with a group of high school students at the Station on a NOAA-funded water quality research project this year.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
In June 2020, at the close of the school year, I began working with my husband, Mike, in real estate investing. So my pivot from teaching to real estate was pretty dramatic! Mike is a helicopter pilot who started investing in 2017 as a hobby during his off-time from his real job. With me on-board full-time now, Take Flight Home Buyers was born, and we are building our real estate portfolio and business faster than we ever could have before.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
It wasn’t so much as an “aha moment” than a slow burn. Before the pandemic, my main career focus has always been in science education. However, I was also an educator who was well on her way to burning out. I’d been considering this crazy idea my husband had of a career change for the past couple of years. As much as I loved teaching, the lack of resources, support, and pay incentive combined with ever-increasing demands was really weighing heavily on me and definitely lowering my quality of life. The school closures and other challenges educators face as a result of the pandemic helped me solidify my decision to leave education.
How are things going with this new initiative?
As the title of our blog Roller Coaster Real Estate indicates, it has its ups and downs! Transitioning from the security of a W-2 job and a regular paycheck to starting your own business is not for the faint of heart. There are days where you are on top of the world and days that are downright overwhelming, which makes you question your abilities and has a big impact on your confidence. Overall, it has been a very positive experience and I love working with my favorite person as my business partner toward achieving the goals we set together.
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?
Indirectly, that would be Joshua Dorkin. He is the founder of an online real estate community called Bigger Pockets. I have learned an incredible amount about real estate investing and, equally as important, have been inspired by the stories I have heard through the podcast and forums about normal, everyday people changing their lives in this business.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
While not a particularly interesting story, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that some of the elements I love most about teaching are transferable to this new venture. My main concern with changing careers was that I would miss the relationships I would build with my students and coworkers in a school setting. Thinking about real estate investing doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies like the “aha moments” in teaching. However, I have found that I still can feel like I am making a difference in people’s lives in real estate. We have had a few instances recently where we really helped people find solutions to their stressful real estate problems and it was very rewarding — the warm fuzzies do exist in this business! People are people and have the need to be treated with respect, genuinely listened to, and cared about, no matter the profession.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to answer this in the form of 5 things I didn’t know I would BECOME in this business:
- A “people person”: I was told as I was getting started that real estate is a “people business.” For me, that means getting out of my comfort zone! I never would have guessed that my introverted self would be making cold calls (gasp!) and voluntarily seeking out networking opportunities. As someone who generally avoids the spotlight, this is all new — and not nearly as bad as I feared!
- A master marketer: Marketing to find great deals from motivated sellers is the lifeblood of a real estate investing business. Setting yourself apart from the competition by finding your “niche” in the market is critical.
- A psychologist: People who seek out our services are usually in a stressful predicament, and understanding all of the different emotions and motivations involved in their actions helps us to help them achieve their desired outcome. There is a lot to learn about human behavior in this business — especially during negotiations.
- An internet pro: There is much more to an online presence these days than great website. We have been focusing on creating a social media presence across multiple platforms, which takes a lot of effort. Also, deciding to blog about this venture and post it online for the entire world to see was something I never thought I would do.
- A constant creator: Well, what does that even mean, right? Since starting this business, my creativity has been stretched in ways it has never been stretched before. Coming up with original content in terms of marketing, social media posts, and blogging about our journey has been a challenge that I had not even remotely considered when first becoming a real estate investor. It’s hard, but it has also forced me to grow.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
Getting outside has always been an important strategy for me. Taking a few minutes to get some fresh air and unplug are more important now than ever. Taking my three dogs for a walk is also a great way to relieve stress, and they certainly enjoy the extra exercise as well.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I think the giving of our time to other people without an expectation of a return is a critical element to any truly influential movement, either on an individual or grand scale. I would inspire people to focus on empowering others through donations of their time and energy. Everyone has something to offer, and a lot of good can be done in a powerful and transformative way if we combine our efforts and work together more as a society.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Katherine Johnson, NASA scientist of “Hidden Figures” fame. Her success story of making it in not only a male-dominated field but also as an African-American woman is truly inspirational.
How can our readers follow you online?
Take Flight Home Buyers is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We also have a blog that can be found at rollercoasterrealestate.com.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank you for the invitation to share my story. I hope it helps someone who is considering a major career change to take that next step. If I can do it, anyone can!
About The Interviewer: Karina Michel Feld is the Owner and Executive Producer of Tallulah Films. Karina has 20+ years of experience in TV, film, and print and is a respected member of The Producers Guild of America. The mission of Tallulah Films is to bring together directors, entrepreneurs, film investors, and screenwriters to produce award-winning TV and film projects. Tallulah Films continues to be drawn towards films that are meaningful, influential, and uplifting. Karina is also Co-Owner and CFO of Fresh Patch LLC (as seen on ABC’s “Shark Tank”).