Women Leaders Of Real Estate: Rina DiRisio On The 5 Things You Need To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry

An Interview With Jason Hartman

Jason Hartman
Authority Magazine
Published in
18 min readMay 25


Embrace Change: The real estate market is always changing, and you should always be future focused and be willing to adapt to these changes to succeed. For example, the rise of online real estate platforms has changed the way people buy and sell properties. Agents who embrace these platforms and use them to their advantage are more likely to thrive in the industry. Re-evaluate every year what worked and what didn’t work.

As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rina Dirisio.

Committed to innovating the way real estate is sold and bought, Rina’s vision of the real estate landscape has always been more holistic than opportunistic and focused on the customer journey. She has been committed to creating a culture of purpose — and the purpose being, making the client the star of the story, not the realtor. Interested in fashion, art, design and raised in an environment where exceeding expectations was the expectation, Rina has unified her principles of professionalism and excellence into a masterful practice of only achieving the best for her clients. In fact, her personal motto is one word — believe, meaning believe in being and doing the best. Rina’s got a unique take on real estate, and you’ll find it refreshing. Anything but a traditional realtor, Rina brings her experienced, results focused approach to every project, along with her signature style and super honest intel about your property and don’t let the non-traditional realtor bio fool you, Rina’s been doing this for 30 years, ranks amongst the best in class in Canada and has $30 Billion of real estate sales under her belt. Her product knowledge is top notch, her negotiations exemplary and her results outstanding.

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

In 1989, I began my career in real estate. The journey started with my boyfriend, now my husband, who was already selling real estate while we were both attending the University of Toronto. During my time at university, I worked part-time at various fashion boutiques, including Madame Angelo’s ladies boutique store, Signor Angelo’s men’s boutique store, and a ladies shoe store. I enjoyed the fashion industry, meeting new people, and performing to the best of my abilities to win sales. I was even awarded the Best Part-Time Employee of the Year for achieving the highest sales at both boutiques.

My boyfriend, who saw how hard I worked, suggested that I try real estate and dedicate my time for a better return. I was always up for a challenge, so I took the real estate course while at university and became a licensed agent four months before graduation. I started part-time for few months and became full-time after graduation.

One of my fondest memories was when I got my driver’s license, which gave me the freedom to explore. I loved driving around neighborhoods with my used green Grand Torino car, which had sunken seats that barely allowed me to see over the dashboard. I would dream about living in those beautiful homes and wonder what life was like behind those doors. I knew that if I worked hard enough, anything was possible. These drives inspired me, and I became even more driven to do better.

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?

A funny story was about ten years into my career, when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I was pretty determined not to let my clients or colleagues know about my pregnancy. I was super focused on growth and expansion and didn’t want my personal life to impact my career or future business. So, I kept my pregnancy under wraps for as long as possible. As a leader my job is to sell properties and make sure my clients are happy. But what happens when you’re also growing a tiny human inside of you? Well keeping my pregnancy, a secret was a top priority.

Instead of shopping for new clothes at maternity stores, I bought larger-sized suits and kept the belly hidden. When meeting with clients or at the office, I carried a large pile of files to discreetly cover my growing bump. I worked every day, dressed professionally and in heels, until the day before delivery.

Luckily, I was overdue, and my delivery date was scheduled, which made it easy to plan. During my 24 hours waiting in a hospital bed, I even continued making some business calls, determined to take care of everything before the baby arrived.

Finally, when I delivered my baby on a Friday, a group message went out to my office to finally share the news and let everyone know. It was quite a shock to many people, as they had no idea, I was pregnant. But the surprises didn’t end there.

One of my colleagues received a call from the hospital linen department asking if they knew anyone who lost their phone. It turned out the last number dialed on the phone belonged to me, and the phone had been found in the sheets. Of course, my colleague knew it had to be me since I was the only one who would be crazy enough to have her phone so close by during delivery.

Looking back on it now, I can laugh about the whole ordeal. It’s a funny story to tell, and it just goes to show how determined I was to keep the pregnancy a secret. But I also know that being a mother and a successful businesswoman is possible, and I’m proud to have balanced both.

After giving birth, I was discharged from the hospital the following day, and on Sunday night, I was already out presenting an offer for work. By Monday, I was back at work, ready to take on the day. To some, this may seem like an impossible feat, but for me, it was a demonstration of dedication and perseverance.

As a working mother, I knew that I needed to be an overachiever to keep all aspects of my life in check. Despite the sacrifices and downfalls that came with the success, I continued to strive forward, ensuring that I remained a leader in the industry.

However, I also learned that delegation was key to managing responsibilities successfully. By delegating tasks whenever possible, I was able to avoid internal suffering and stress, and instead, focus on what mattered most: my family and career.

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

I am constantly working on new projects and ideas to stay ahead of the curve in today’s rapidly changing business landscape. To achieve this, I spend a lot of time thinking about the future of our business and emerging cultures in our area. My primary goal is to deliver more knowledge, more value, and to elevate the consumer experience to a whole new level.

To accomplish this, I am exploring the potential of automating more of our business processes and implementing systems like Uber’s concierge service. I am also considering ways to enhance the overall customer experience; from the moment they enter a home to the after-sale process. My aim is to provide a unique “wow” factor that will leave a lasting impression on consumers long after the transaction is complete.

One of the biggest challenges I face is ensuring that every idea I come up with has real value and is not just a passing fad. To address this, I constantly ask myself “so what” and scrutinize every idea to ensure that it has real merit. This approach is essential to pushing the envelope and trying new things to stay ahead of the competition. Moreover, keeping customers informed at every step of the way is crucial to alleviating the stress of uncertainty. When customers are kept informed, they feel safe and well-cared for throughout the entire experience. The goal is to provide service that saves time and makes the customer experience awesome.

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

At the end of the day, what sets my team apart is our unwavering commitment to our clients. We understand that real estate is not just a transaction, but a life-changing event, and we are honored to be a part of that journey with our clients. By putting their needs first, we have built a business that is grounded in integrity, honesty, and a genuine desire to make a positive impact on the lives of those we serve. This means being present with our clients every step of the way, whether it’s making the beds when they are rushed and unable to prepare for a showing, picking up after a pet accident, or even helping with their children. We have even gone so far as to find a mover for a client when their original mover failed to show up on moving day.

Success is a journey that is shaped by the people we surround ourselves with. I am grateful for the unwavering support of my family, the guidance of my mentors, and the positive energy of my colleagues. Without them, I would not be where I am today.

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?

First and foremost, I must give credit to my husband, who has been instrumental in giving me the courage to enter the real estate business. His wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry proved invaluable when I was starting out. Despite running a brokerage, himself, he was always there to support me and take care of our daughter during the long hours I spent at work. His mantra has always been to tell the truth and do what’s right for your clients.

My father, who passed away after my first year in real estate, gave me the fear I needed to succeed. His passing made me realize that if I was going to survive on my own, I had to figure it out. That fear became my fuel.

I am also grateful for my original broker manager, Sherry Chris, who was always thinking outside the box and bringing new ideas to improve our business. She was constantly seeking out new speakers and educational opportunities for us, which helped us stay ahead of the curve. The positive energy that comes from being around such individuals is infectious and has been essential in lifting me up.

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?

The imbalance of women in senior positions could be attributed to a lack of desire for those positions, or a choice influenced by other areas of her life that she may be involved in, such as family life that may have some challenges. However, the decision to pursue a leadership position is ultimately a personal one, and it should not be based on gender. The real estate industry is seeing an influx of women who may not be fully dedicated to the business as a career and entering part-time, so the numbers show a different outcome. They may view it as a flexible option that allows them to balance other priorities, such as raising a family or pursuing other interests. In contrast, more men may be entering the industry as a full-time career, with real estate as their sole focus.

In the end, success in the real estate industry depends on performance and dedication, regardless of gender. Women who are assertive, tough, and willing to put in the hard work can excel in this field and achieve endless possibilities. It is up to everyone to decide how far they want to take their career and be okay with the potential sacrifices in other areas of life.

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

To support greater gender balance aspiring real estate professionals entering the business should focus on skills and knowledge. Learn your craft. Let fear challenge you and not weaken you, focus on strengthening your power. Decide you will be the best and nothing else, learn to let things go, be thankful, focus on serving, and bringing value and knowledge to your clients. The balance will follow.

Real estate companies should have mandatory courses on assertiveness training, relationships and collaboration building as the workplace is a place that individuals go to find their identity and connection to the world.

Society could start to focus on teaching girls at a younger age how to build strong assertiveness skill sets for future success or even an improv class on thinking on your feet and practicing how to always get a yes answer, learn how to deal with objection or rejection. This is a business based on performance and talent; gender should not be an excuse.

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

The biggest challenge faced by female executives is the sense of guilt they experience when leaving their children at home, which is more prevalent among women compared to men who may not feel the same level of guilt. Women who prioritize their career over their family may struggle more emotionally. Women are often viewed as being more caring, empathetic, and nurturing, which can be seen as a disadvantage in male-dominated fields. Additionally, women may be less aggressive in asking for money or the sale.

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

The prospect of growth truly excites me, as it gives me the opportunity to dress up, feel amazing, and become empowered to learn new things every day. There’s a rush that comes with sales — the challenge, the win — that feels like a drug. The more I sell, the more I crave, and the more I strive to improve. Stagnation is simply not an option; if you’re not moving forward and progressing, you risk getting stuck in place.

The business world has undergone significant changes in recent times, and it’s exciting to see the growth across different markets and countries. In the past, businesses were constrained by their geographical location, but now with the advancement of technology and the ease of accessing information, there are no borders.

This new era of collaboration with more agents and the freedom to share information with others has expanded the market reach of businesses. With this approach, the gatekeepers of information are no longer limiting business growth, but rather expanding it.

Additionally, the increase in conferences and networking events has made it easier for businesses to connect with others and learn new skills to improve their craft. The growing number of podcasts hosted by agents, leaders, and businesses has further aided in building connections, fostering growth and spreading awareness of best practices.

The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will undoubtedly play a significant role in the future of business. Virtual worlds, in particular, are an area where AI could improve our ability to sell real estate. Although geography has always been a critical factor in determining the value of real estate, AI-powered virtual worlds could change that by offering status and human connection, leading to higher valuations.

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?

In the industry, a few concerns would be with social media. Rather than getting caught up in the misperception of social media, successful agents should focus on establishing their database and working diligently to serve their clients. The display of movie star images that don’t deliver value to clients is not great. The more we do this the more disconnected we become to our clients. The notion of likes and clicks is not the true story. It can be quite lonely for agents when this does not translate into real people reaching out who want to have a conversation with you and want your assistance. Show them you are a true genuine professional who can be counted on in a time of need.

With the increasing diversity of cultures, language barriers, and varying customs, it can sometimes be challenging to connect with clients effectively. Providing more courses and training on understanding different cultures can help bridge the gap and create a more inclusive industry. Learning about cultural nuances can help real estate agents tailor their services to clients’ specific needs and preferences, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. Moreover, when agents collaborate and share knowledge, it fosters a sense of community and helps break down the divide between agents and clients. By working together to understand cultural differences, real estate agents can create an environment that is more efficient, effective, and welcoming for everyone. Ultimately, this collaboration can help drive growth and success in the industry.

Final is lack of professionalism and dress code policy that is prevalent in the industry. It’s essential to mandate a better manners and dress code policy that elevates the profession’s image as a serious business profession. Agents should be as professional as possible when interacting with clients and agents to establish a sense of trust and credibility. The casual dress code often adopted sometimes translates into delivering a casual service that does not meet clients’ expectations. Also the old selling tactics talks are not professional when used. Therefore, it’s crucial to up our game to create a more lasting impression and build stronger relationships with clients. This could lead to better customer satisfaction, retention, and even attract more talent to the industry.

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

I think educating agents on their community and product knowledge would be instrumental in elevating the profession. It’s not enough to have a license but focus should be on knowing everything there is to know about living in a community, services offered and not relying on online searches but hitting the pavement and exploring. Mandatory courses on finances and running a profitable business would help agents manage their finances.

More companies should have full time agents and not part time agents and if agents wanted to be part-time, they should be required to be supported by a full-time agent on all transactions.

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?

If you’re a leader looking to help your team thrive, there are a few key pieces of advice to keep in mind. First and foremost, don’t dwell on mistakes or failures — instead, learn from them and focus on improvement. Let go of your ego and recognize that team players will come and go; each departure is opportunity for growth and learning. Encourage others to succeed and be grateful for the lessons learned along the way. Remember that in business, there will be wins and losses. Don’t be afraid of falls and failures; use them as motivation to become stronger and to step outside of your comfort zone. Take risks, say what needs to be said, and always dress for success. It’s okay to maintain a private life and keep some mystery when it comes to clients. Continuing education is critical for success; make time to take courses and network with others in your industry. Spend at least one day each month connecting with other agents and attending events to expand your knowledge and bring new ideas back to your team and clients.

Five non intuitive things to know to succeed:

  • Be willing to walk Away: As a real estate agent, it is important to know when to walk away from a sale that may not be in your client’s best interest. For example, let’s say you represent a family who loves a particular home but you know the layout or location is not the best for resale but they love it, be willing to tell them the truth instead of telling them to buy, it may be better to walk away from the sale and help them find a different property that does not have such an issue.
  • Know your market & tell the truth. It’s important to listen to your client’s needs but equally important to pay attention to the market trends and what is selling. For example, a client may insist on listing their home at a higher-than-market value. You know it’s too high but afraid to tell them the truth. By doing so, the home may sit on the market for an extended period, causing the price to drop even lower than the seller’s original asking price. In this case, a good agent would educate the client on the market trends and suggest a more realistic listing price.
  • Build and Maintain Relationships: Real estate is a relationship-driven business. Agents who build strong relationships with their clients and partners are more likely to succeed in the industry. For example, keep in touch with your clients, be present with them, listen to them, deliver the unexpected. For example, sending a personalized note to thank them for the opportunity, handwritten Christmas cards, or call them on their birthday or call them just to check in on them and this will help build trust and loyalty. If clients decide not to work with you just keep in touch you never know how your path will cross again. I have had many returning clients who decided to go in a different direction and then come back.
  • Embrace Change: The real estate market is always changing, and you should always be future focused and be willing to adapt to these changes to succeed. For example, the rise of online real estate platforms has changed the way people buy and sell properties. Agents who embrace these platforms and use them to their advantage are more likely to thrive in the industry. Re-evaluate every year what worked and what didn’t work.
  • Be vulnerable — As a leader your drive to succeed keeps you away from looking at your weaknesses. For example, ask your colleagues or team members what they think your weakness is you or ask them how they perceive you. This will enlighten you to see your faults and do something about them. Invite the openness to uncover how you can be better and what keeps you from moving forward.

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. :-)

In today’s fast-paced world, starting a career in real estate is more accessible than ever before. With the rise of real estate prices and attraction for many individuals to enter the business they are attracted to the idea of running their own business and being their own boss. However, as enticing as it may seem, many fail to consider the true cost of doing business.

From creating a budget to understanding the value of their time, there are many hidden costs associated with being a real estate agent. Unfortunately, many agents do not receive adequate education or training in these areas, leaving them struggling to make their businesses profitable.

To combat this issue, I would advocate for mandatory education in business management for aspiring realtors. By equipping realtors with the necessary skills and knowledge, they will be better prepared to navigate the challenges of running a successful business.

Not only will this education help realtors better understand the true cost of doing business, but it will also help them develop effective strategies for managing their finances, time, and resources. As a result, they will be better equipped to make informed decisions that can help them stay afloat even during challenging times.

In conclusion, while real estate may be an attractive option for those seeking financial freedom and independence, it’s important to consider the true cost of doing business. By advocating for mandatory education in business management, we can help aspiring realtors succeed and thrive in the competitive world of business.

Finally, always strive to be present and connected with your clients. Building strong relationships is the foundation of a successful business, and it’s important to prioritize these connections above all else.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me online at Rina.ca, @rinadirisioteam on Instagram and Rina DiRisio on all other platforms.

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!

About The Interviewer: Jason Hartman is the Founder and CEO of Empowered Investor. Jason has been involved in several thousand real estate transactions and has owned income properties in 11 states and 17 cities. Empowered Investor helps people achieve The American Dream of financial freedom by purchasing income property in prudent markets nationwide. Jason’s Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ is a comprehensive system providing real estate investors with education, research, resources and technology to deal with all areas of their income property investment needs. Through Jason’s podcasts, educational events, referrals, mentoring and software to track your investments, investors can easily locate, finance and purchase properties in these exceptional markets with confidence and peace of mind.

Starting with very little, Jason, while still in college at the age of 19, embarked on a career in real estate. While brokering properties for clients, he was investing in his own portfolio along the way. Through creativity, persistence and hard work, he earned a number of prestigious industry awards and became a young multi-millionaire. Jason purchased a California real estate brokerage firm that was later acquired by Coldwell Banker. He combined his dedication and business talents to become a successful entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and media personality. Over the years he developed his Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ where his innovative firm educates and assists investors in acquiring prudent investments nationwide for their portfolio. Jason’s sought after educational events, speaking engagements, and his popular “Creating Wealth Podcast” inspire and empower hundreds of thousands of people in 189 countries worldwide.

While running his successful real estate and media businesses, Jason also believes that giving back to the community plays an important role in building strong personal relationships. He established The Jason Hartman Foundation in 2005 to provide financial literacy education to young adults providing the all-important real world skills not taught in school which are the key to the financial stability and success of future generations. We’re in a global monetary crisis caused by decades of misguided policies and the cycle of financial dependence has to be broken, literacy and self-reliance are a good start. Visit JasonHartman.com for free materials and resources.