Real estate powerhouse Teresa Mack is crushing it. She is the co-founder of Pacific Playa Realty, an 80+ agent urban luxury boutique brokerage in Los Angeles, where she is a Top Producer.
A supportive team player and inspiring leader, who has built a massive network of high-value clientele, she is a self-motivated, hardworking, and honest, problem-solver who finds creative solutions while remaining human-focused amid complex issues.
With an invincible spirit in business, Mack has pivoted and made strides in four different industries—Accounting, law, hospitality, and currently real estate.
I spoke with the busy wife and mom of three about why and how her pivots are successful, the silver lining and challenges amidst the pandemic, tips for women wanting to change their careers, and the importance to go with your passion.
Q. You started out as an accounting major in college. What made you want to be in accounting?
A. As a second-year student at CSU Northridge, I learned about business as a major; the department was “impacted”—a fancy way of saying full and not admitting anybody else—and they were not adding any students to the program. I was a frustrated Political Science major. Having the mindset of, it’s not if I can do it but how I can do it, I started talking to every professor, counselor, or dean about being a business major. I was repeatedly told that the department was impacted however, I continued my quest and became more determined to be a business major than ever.
CSU Northridge had an award-winning accounting department; however, I didn’t know what “accounting” was. My father and mother had well trained me to be an engineer or a lawyer, two fields that in the late 80s guaranteed a good job. However, I kept asking the same question, “how can I get into the business school?” Like a parrot that eventually gets a treat, I finally came upon a faculty advisor who said that he had a friend in the business department that had been trying to start a Minority Business Program.
Q. Why did you go into law and what made you leave?
A. After my dad’s untimely death, without a trust, my siblings and I had no choice but to settle his estate in probate court or the courts of hell as I lovingly refer to them. I didn’t want anyone else to unwittingly end up in probate court, and if they did, I wanted to be the kind and trusted professional who could help them navigate the process. So, I went to law school and became an attorney.
I left law and went into real estate because I had three young children and I wanted to see them grow up. I wanted to go to Career Night and not have to take a call in the hallway, and wanted to drop in their class during the day if needed without needing permission from anyone to leave the office; I wanted a nanny out of convenience, not a necessity.
Q. Was it hard to transition into different industries?
A. Not really because besides being an attorney, I was an entrepreneur who owned and ran two national restaurant franchise locations in L.A., so I was already working in two different industries.
Q. What challenges did you face during the pandemic?
A. The most significant challenges during the pandemic were: (1) communicating evolving standards of safety, contractual modifications, and acceptable marketing practices in conformity with Federal, state, and local laws and orders; (2) keeping the culture of our close-knit company intact, ensuring our agents felt connected and secure that their leadership and broker were available for assistance; (3) creating accountability for our staff while working virtually and managing work at home challenges; (4) securing and maintaining our market share position despite the shutdown of open house activities.
Q. The fluctuations within the real estate market were temperamental in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic that caused many sellers to pull off their listings. How did you pivot?
A. Two days before the statewide shutdown, we held an “all hands-on deck” leadership meeting and planned a strategy for transferring our daily coaching and accountability program, our training, and our agent services to a virtual environment; we assess technology and ensured everyone had portable technology, adequate wi-fi access, and resources necessary to do their job.
We shut the office down; contacted all agents with daily updates and repeat information on what they were and could not do. We made “check-in” calls to every agent and inquired about their family, their health, their children, and their plan to stay safe.
After the initial shutdown, we continued with daily coaching via a group chat on Facebook Messenger and a live call-in broadcast on Facebook where approximately 30% of our agents speak and connect daily using MPower Live Coaching and Accountability.
MPower allowed our agents to stay connected every day for 30 minutes; we post daily practice rounds on a private Facebook group that allows them to keep learning a short new skill. Our training was via Zoom and recorded for easy review virtually.
We hosted holiday drive-by parties for the agents and solicited our vendors to stock a “goody” bag that our staff delivered to each agent that drove by the office at an appointed time – agents were so happy to see a familiar face after months and months of lockdown, some cried many blew kisses and lots laughed.
That extra effort by our vendors, staff, and leadership kept our agents close and emphasized that we cared about them beyond the business of real estate.
Q. What was the silver lining amidst the pandemic?
We transferred all our meetings and training to a virtual platform that delivers information 24/7 and attendance at meetings is up by 15%. Our agents have learned to interview prospective clients virtually using a variety of tools like Zoom, Facetime, Messenger, and WhatsApp.
They also have perfected telephone prospecting, which is a very efficient way of reaching a larger number of identified prospects, and the conversion rate to clients is much higher. Our agents are closer than ever, we have more participation in MPower Live, and training and a virtual platform accommodate “chatting” online during classes and meetings which wasn’t possible before.
Q. What advice would you give women struggling in business post-pandemic?
A. Be creative in how you reach your goals. Don’t wait out the return to “normal” or try to “do things the way you used to.” This is the time to innovate and, in some cases, reimagine your business and yourself.
Force yourself out of your comfort zone, embrace technology, and yes, social media. Talk to other women who are facing challenges and share ideas and winning tactics. I often collaborate with women who are succeeding in an area of business that I could do better in, and I ask them to share their tactics, practices, and resources with me and at least five friends. Find your tribe of womenpreneurs and grow together.
Q. What advice would you give women who want to change careers?
(1) Truthfully, assess your strengths and your weaknesses
(2) Limit your weaknesses by hiring or partnering with people who have the skills you do not have (Hire slow; fire fast – be a master at attracting talent)
(3) Choose something practical (if you need it to pay your bills make sure that it can) and something you are passionate about (everything gets old or uncomfortable one day in the future – just like people business gets old and ugly and it is love /passion that keeps it fresh
(4) Craft a business plan (3-5 years old) include a capital requirement section so you know if you’ll need to inject capital to start and finish.
Q. Why is it important to go with your passion?
A. All jobs, businesses, and activities get old. Passion is what keeps you consistent when the rubber hits the road and things get challenging.
A self-proclaimed “glass half full” woman with an “it may hurt but it won’t kill me” attitude, Teresa Mack does it all with grace and confidence.
You may reach Teresa at www.teresamack.com
Photo Credit: Gerbel Sampson Photography