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Women Leaders Of Real Estate: Janna Cantero-Pena On The 5 Things You Need To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry

An Interview With Jason Hartman

As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Janna Cantero-Pena.

Meet Janna Cantero-Pena, Real Estate and Business Entrepreneur with over 15-year track record as a top producer in her field who managed to home flip and invest her way into financial freedom by the age of 30.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?

Funny thing, it was a fortunate stroke of serendipity. I was 19 years young, working sales in the computer department at Best Buy for Business. I ended up selling a complete office package with all the bells and whistles to a business client. At the end, he paused, looked at his bill and said, “You are going to work for me selling houses”! I had no idea what he meant. I didn’t even own a house of my own yet, it was not even legal for me to buy a drink. It turned out he was a higher up for the national builder KB Homes, and I just sold him a package for one of his offices in Tampa. Here I was a college student working at Best Buy preparing to go to Law School. Real Estate had never even crossed my mind once. I never imagined the future course of my destiny was going to change so drastically, and I was also about to become one of the top and youngest sales reps in the company at KB Homes making more money than I had ever seen in my life.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I have stories for days, but this one always makes me chuckle. I remember showing my first buildable lot. At 19, I had such a baby face. Everyone loved to tell me I could be their daughter or grand kid. I would get super nervous to make a mistake in front of my older clients while showing, so I was super anal about perfecting my presentations to potential customers. I would literally practice in the mirror. Back then, I would also love to wear 5-inch heels hoping it would make me taller and look older. So, one day I went to show my client their Lot options in those lovely heels not realizing the rain had softened the dirt to almost like a clay quicksand. I started pulling the measuring tape across the lot as they watched from the sidewalk, and suddenly, my right heel popped through a soft spot and before I knew it, I was completely submerged in a hole that was there for plumbing ruff and my right leg up to my hip was stuck in it. I had to be pulled out by the client and the red clay drenched my black pants and I was all wet and a hot mess. We all laughed until our stomach hurt though, it really broke the ice for us, and they still bought the lot that evening. So much for trying to be perfect!

I learned people really do appreciate authenticity, if you are transparent, you will go far in business. But after that whole ordeal, I also learned to always be prepared for the unthinkable to occur when showing homes.

Since then, I have been thrown up on, I have been in houses where they all got a stomach bug after lunch needing toilet paper, I have cut my foot walking in the yard, I have gotten bitten by ants and stung by bees. In my trunk, I now have a sparkle kit, change of clothes, shoes, umbrella, wipes, toilet paper, snacks, benadryl, band-aids, towels etc… You name it, I got it. You never know what adventure you will embark on with your clients…I promise, if you stay ready, you never have to get ready.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, I am working on several ventures. You know the saying, “when you get to where you’re going, turn around and help her too. For there was a time not long ago when she was you”.

First and foremost, I’m building my own real estate team Synergy Home Group-Pineywoods Realty. My goal is to instill the past 15 years of my knowledge, success, and experience in this industry and create the next generation of rising stars. The goal is to give them the resources, and blueprint to the business I never had, and hopefully, bypass some of the mistakes and pitfalls along the way with my guidance and support.

Secondly, I’m huge in empowering women in business, so I have a special project I’m working on called, Spiritual InvestHER. This is the commencement of a community of Women with God at the forefront of their lives who care about building generational wealth for their family. They want to learn how to invest, purchase assets, and create passive income. The climate has shifted. Women more than ever care about the financial legacy they will leave behind. We are stepping out of the shadows and saying, “WE CAN TOO”! My husband is extremely supportive of my stance on this, and I believe more and more women are adopting that mindset within their relationships.

I’m here to support other women by funding select businesses and introducing investment opportunities exclusively to this community. We have already begun 1 venture. She is a single mom who dreamed of starting a food truck, catering, and meal prep business. So, we did just that. In less than 30 days, we had her up and running in her very first truck. Very excited to see what the future holds for this group of inspiring women and boss moms!

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

To be honest, I think it’s because I’m authentic. My intentions are pure, and I live in gratitude. I’m approachable, dependable, and highly respected in this industry. I care, listen, pray over, and go above and beyond for my clients and colleagues.

My clients are making the largest investment of their lives and I become that extended part of their family during the process that they need to be able to trust with their eyes closed, and they know with me they can do just that. My intention is to always lead them to financial victory paving the way for generational wealth.

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?

You are correct. I would have to say God is #1 and who I lean heavily into and the deciding factor in all I do. Next, my supportive parents who worked 2–3 jobs to provide the best education and foundation they could for me to have a chance at the American dream. They instilled values and a strong work ethic into me very young and that has paid off 10-fold in my ability to be successful at whatever I put my mind to.

There is another special person who comes to mind who really helped me take my career to the next level. It always takes a special soul to reach out their hand to lift you up when you have nothing to offer in return. For me, that was Patrick. He believed in me and my skills wholeheartedly. I will never forget what he did for me. About 10 years ago, if my memory serves me correctly, my student loans came due when I was working on a property conversion he managed, and I was living on site to make it easier to be accessible, as it is a huge undertaking converting a property. My student loan payment was literally a rent payment. I told him there is no way I could pay both and continue working on the project. We renegotiated my compensation package, and he made sure I was able to do both. This 1 action would help me build the bridge to financial independence.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?

I honestly believe Real Estate or being a “Realtor”, used to be a career choice for flexibility for women. It was the industry that allowed you to control your time, many that I knew would do it part-time and still be able to pick up their kids from school. But, as I mentioned before, the climate is changing. Women today want to be the CEO/MOM. They want to open their own brokerages. They want financial freedom. Now more than ever there are more resources to learn just how to do it. I think the internet and social media has changed everything. The women of today are no longer the women of yesterday. We want it all. We want our own assets, stocks, and businesses before marriage. We are building our own tables and chairs now.

What 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?

I think if society can stop shaming working boss moms that is a start. What I mean by that is allowing women to step into these rolls and be allowed to have nanny’s, chefs, and even cleaners who take care of the home without being labeled a bad mom or wife. I do not believe men are shamed for working long hours in the office, picking up take-out or missing out on their kid’s recital or basketball game because of work, and women shouldn’t be either.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I believe this piggy backs off my previous answer. The pressure for women to have to show up and juggle everything from excelling at work, kids, house, dinner, and husband is one of the major challenges women will face that their male counterparts will not.

Women were not born to be the backbone to men or the household, they were born to be the rib. If you decided to marry a boss woman, you have to prepare to be supportive and relieve some of those expected gender roles the woman was branded with at birth. Men can learn to cook and clean too, so that when their wife gets home from a 13-hour day, they do not then have to spend another 3–4 hours in the kitchen. This type of pressure and expectation leads to burnout, depression, and divorce.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?

What excites me most is the freedom, the income potential is limitless, and there are so many avenues within the industry to prosper from for everyone. Anyone can own real estate and setup their financial future if they make it a priority.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

My biggest concern is people who enter the industry under qualified, with the wrong intentions, wrong mindset, and who take advantage of others, and who do not work ethically or morally. There is a lot of that, that goes on unfortunately.

I do suggest increasing the age, the schooling criteria to include on the job experience/hours needed to be licensed and operating. You are advising people about their financial future and should have the aptitude to do so. I came in young but was lucky I was trained by the best in the business via KB university, but the majority do not receive this type of training when they enter.

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?

Listen then Lead! Do not micro-manage your teams!

Leadership is not about being the Boss. Leadership is about being the resource, the light to show them the way. You should talk to, never at your people. People want to be treated with respect and appreciated for their work. Do that, and they will work 10x harder under your leadership.

Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

To succeed in Real Estate, you must understand this is a people’s business.

1. People/Relationships- Ask yourself, do I like people? Can I handle people in their natural habitat? Can you adapt to multiple personalities, anxieties, fear, or ego? Without taking it personal. Do I enjoy networking and building long term relationships? The saying goes, “it is not what you know; it is who you know”. You really need to dig deep and understand your personality type for longevity in this business.

2.Rejection- Can you deal with rejection or people saying no to you constantly? Do you have tough skin to handle being hung up on, or a door slammed in your face? You deal with a lot of rejection to get deals, and make deals happen.

3. Money Management- Can you manage $1,000? Because if you can’t manage $1,000 you won’t be able to manage $100,000. In this business, you will make the most money you probably have ever seen in a lump sum. But if you do not understand money, how to manage it, save it, invest it, and plan for taxes you can ruin yourself financially. Becoming financially literate should be a prerequisite to beginning your career. Make sure you have a good CPA on speed dial.

4. Accessibility/Hustle- Can you handle being in a climate where people need you yesterday. I was at the supermarket grocery shopping yesterday and got a call that I had to drop everything for, even the apples, to get a client situated for a showing at the last minute. Your hustle, drive, and accessibility must be top notch to be highly successful as an agent.

5. Empathy/Honesty- Do you operate with a moral compass? You must feel, understand, and advise your clients from a place of honesty, not just to make a sale or commission. I won’t sell a house to someone; I wouldn’t sell my mother. You will not last long if you treat people like a sale. People before profit always.

Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I believe, I have begun that movement now with Spiritual InvestHER. I hope I can touch and inspire the lives of many! Anyone reading this who wants to hop on that train please feel free to contact me.

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram: @askrealtorjanna, @synergyhomegrp

Facebook: Janna Cantero Realtor

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!

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