Photo of Ashley, Jordan, and their son Nixon.

Overcoming Personal Adversity While Building a Real Estate Career

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Kyle Malnati

By Kyle Malnati

Real estate is a tough business; not for the faint at heart. Many of us work 60 to 70 hour weeks without any assurance that the deals we are working on will actually produce results. As an entrepreneur, you constantly wrestle with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

I have enjoyed hosting a real estate podcast for more than four years. The purpose of the Calibrate Real Estate podcast is to encourage, empower, and educate real estate professionals. Interviews are a wonderful medium to tap into the mindset of a successful real estate professional and learn from their incredible story. I have found that best practices are often born out of hardship. Each interview is a reminder that there is often turmoil behind every trophy.

My life changed when I was recognized on the cover of REALTOR® Magazine as a 30 Under 30 in 2012. However, my life really changed the year prior.

For almost two decades, stories in the 30 Under 30 issue are about rising young stars in the real estate industry that have demonstrated skill, success, creativity, and leadership at a young age. I work in Denver, and the title of magazine 30 Under 30 profile was “Rocky Mountain Highs and Lows.” Ironically, I was highlighted for a low-light. Our family grew in 2011 with the arrival twins, which made my wife Courtney and I parents of three children under the age of 16-months. Then, just two months later, we experienced hardship when my 24-year-old brother unexpectedly passed away from a heart defect. All the while, I was leaving my mentor to start an unproven franchise.

Since then, I’ve intentionally leveraged the 30 Under 30 segment of the Young Professionals Network to connect in person, over the phone, and online with REALTORS® who have amazing stories of triumph and defeat. I’d like to introduce you to one such person.

Photo of Ashley, Jordan, and their son Nixon.

Ashley, Jordan, and their son Nixon.

Ashley Dietch-Schaefer is a fellow 30 Under 30 whom I interviewed during a recent episode of my podcast. When she was starting out in the business, Ashley’s boyfriend (now husband) was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare pediatric bone cancer. Most patients who have this type of cancer are children; Jordan was 24 years old. Upon hearing this news, Ashley said, “you feel helpless; you’re never prepared. When you’re 24, you have different priorities than battling cancer.”

Due to the rarity of the cancer, Jordan and Ashley had to travel two hours across Michigan from Grand Rapids to Ann Arbor for week-long chemotherapy treatments every other week for nine months. Jordan lost hair, lost weight, and went through major depression struggles. Ashley blogged about the entire experience.

During our interview, Ashley reflected on the fact that they had to grow up fast: “You really approach each day…one day at a time.” While hopeful, she wrestled with the reality of not knowing if Jordan was going to survive. Ashley was grateful that the real estate industry afforded her the ability to take full weeks off of work, and her clients were understanding. She realized that she could “make time” the way she needed and doesn’t think that she lost clients or commissions from the experience.

Today, Ashley continues to ask herself, “How does my job relate to this experience? While there are setbacks, failures, and things that could deter you, I chose to succeed despite the setbacks.”

Work is hard enough, but what happens when you go through something hard, personally? People throughout the industry were willing to step up and help her. She learned that she could continue to run her business despite this hardship.

After I reflecting on my interview with Ashley, lessons can be drawn by both her experience and my own:

1. Be extremely transparent with your clients.

2. Ask others for help. This can be hard for confident, go-getters!

3. Look for the lessons. You really learn a lot about yourself, especially what’s most important.

4. Pray

I am happy to report that Ashley and Jordan are are married with a young child, Nixon, and Jordan just had his five-year cancer-free checkup. After working in other firms for seven years, Ashley decided it was time to open her own a week before Nixon was born! Hello Homes GR embodies what Ashley believes in for life and work: passion, culture, honesty, transparency, unwavering ethics, attention to detail and, of course, fun!

During our interview Ashley said, “I know that real estate is the career for me because I have been able to go through something like this and still have a successful career on the other end. I am actually grateful for that experience; I learned so much.”

Kyle Malnati is the CEO and founder of Calibrate Real Estate, a Denver-based commercial real estate company specializing in apartment building brokerage services and investment sales. In 2017, Malnati won the Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award and was featured on the cover of REALTOR® Magazine as a 30 Under 30 in 2012. Malnati has been consistently awarded by the Denver Metro Commercial Association of REALTORS® as a top 10 “Heavy Hitter” since 2007.

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