- As a real estate agent or Realtor, mentorship should be an important part of your learning process.
- Never stop learning and being inspired by books and music. Every piece of knowledge gained only makes your business better.
- Be passionate about what you're doing; if your heart isn't in real estate, it might not be for you.
If you love marketing — especially social media marketing — you may know Claudine Ellis.
This Virginia Realtor and head “dream girl” at the Dream Girls of Real Estate team is part mogul, part pop star and entirely original.
With a master’s degree from Harvard and an impressively long list of accomplishments, Ellis is known for her Facebook Live videos, her glam image and her idyllic family photo shoots.
Her image is her brand, and she is her own best advertisement.
As a Top 100 Virginia Realtor, Ellis helps homebuyers and sellers everyday and records it all on social media. Watching her Facebook feed is like watching a local version of House Hunters, with all of the drama and suspense it entails.
I sat down with Ellis for a rollicking conversation, and I must say she is funny as can be, reflective and positively enlightening.
Christy: All right. So the first question — if you could go on a reality show, which would you choose and why?
Claudine: I wouldn’t choose any reality show. My reality show would be named Dream Girls. It [would] be exclusively about me.
What is the one thing in your purse that you can’t live without?
I don’t have a purse. But I can’t live without money.
Do you really not carry a purse?
I’m a Realtor. We don’t have purses.
I mean, I have one, but it’s really a junk bag. It’s like a big old bag where I throw everything in. You could put a house, a baby — anything — in that bag.
Describe your leadership style.
I kind of rock to the beat of my own kind of drum. I try to do things [so] people can follow their own thing.
I like to lead by example, even with my friends and family. They should grow up knowing that, “Hey, she did good. She didn’t curse. She didn’t drink. She didn’t smoke, and I’m not going to do that,” right?
I want people to think for themselves, and that’s where I’m having a problem; people don’t think. It’s terrible.
What was the most important thing you learned at Harvard?
Oh wow, that’s a hard one because they teach so much. Harvard was an absolutely incredible experience, and there’s so much to learn.
I enjoyed that we were like little celebrities, which gave us the opportunity to meet so many people in this intimate setting. I met Nelson Mandela; I could hang out with Cornel West. I mean, those were incredible opportunities.
One thing I learned was that these were normal people. Even though you’re meeting all these people that might have done great things in their career and their lives, everybody thinks they don’t belong there. They’re all like, “Oh my gosh, she’s better than me,” [or] “Oh my gosh, she’s a writer” — but we’re all pretty much the same. All struggling in secrecy.
I went to school with Tatiana Ali, and Will Smith was at the school at the time.
For the most part, [we are all] just regular people.
What advice would you give to a Realtor just starting out?
Know your craft. Read every day. I’m an experienced agent, and I’m up at four [in the morning] reading every day for about an hour.
I literally read about everything to stay on top of [the industry]; as of right now, I can tell everybody I meet that I know everything about real estate, because — guess what? — I do. And what I don’t know, I will find out.
I don’t think every agent should leave a three-week class, run out there and sell a house to somebody — because if you talk to agents with little to no mentorship, the mistakes they make cost a lot of money.
If you are new and you have no mentorship, [you could] make some horrible mistakes with your client’s largest investment. It’s like going to a brain surgeon who didn’t do a residency.
Would you? I know I wouldn’t.
You know, some people are great singers. I’m not a good singer, but I know if I work really hard and get auto-tuned and get a good publisher, I could probably get my stuff distributed and make some money. And I think I can sing because I really have a great shower voice.
But, I don’t sing because my passion is real estate. So I’d say don’t do it if it’s not your passion. Don’t do it. Don’t waste your time. Do what’s your passion or nothing at all.
So what is your favorite book?
One of my favorite books is Rich Dad Poor Dad, but I wrote my own book, so I should say my own book. I like Rich Dad Poor Dad because that’s where I got my ideas about investing.
I learned you don’t make money selling real estate — you make money owning it. So, I then wrote a book called Removing the Fear of Investing in Real Estate.
But there’s a book that I read over and over, and it’s called Leap. That book is probably the best book I’ve ever read.
Everything I do revolves around the future, money, financing, housing, and insurance policies. This book tells you about what you need to have in your life to be financially settled.
I need to have my money moving.
If I give you four oranges now, 20 years from now how many oranges will you have? Well, you will not have anything but rotten oranges.
If you had a dollar now and you left it on the table, 10 years from now what would you have? That dollar is not going to be worth anything if you don’t do something with it.
Putting it in the bank doesn’t give you a high enough return on investment, so I kind of learned that you have to have your money moving. You have to have your money in motion.
Okay, now this is a big one because I love your style and I love your image. What is your favorite lipstick? And I would like the brand and the color if you know it.
It’s by Kat Von D. Let me see if I can find that color. I know the company, but I don’t know the actual name.
I’ll tell you why I like it — it never comes off, and I mean literally. I can’t get it off at all. You have to grease it off.
The color is — oh, Lord, this is small. I can’t even see it, but it is red. You can’t see the color. I think I’ve worn the name off, but it’s red by Kat Von D. I bought it while I was in Dubai.
Now, I know that you like to share your jams with us on [Facebook Live]. What is your favorite song to jam to in the car?
It has to be some rap music. I’ve been falling in love with Drake’s “Fake Love.” But there’s a song that – I think P. Diddy is the one that sings it…
I like anything hip-hop old school. “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” I think is the name of the song with P. Diddy. That’s one of my favorite ones. [It says], “No matter what people do or say, they can’t break my swag, nobody can take my pride, can’t nobody hold me down.”
Okay, and this is the last one. When someone asks “how was your day?” what do you base your answer on? What makes a good day and what makes a bad day?
No matter what I’m going through, you’ll never know what kind of day I’m having. It’s always going to be great. And no one ever asks me how my day is, just so you know.
If they’re going to ask me how my day is — and they don’t know me — they really don’t care how my day is. When someone says, “Hey Claudine, how are you doing? How’s it going?”
I never ever let people see me sweat. The people who are close to me, they see; they don’t have to ask me. The people who care — they need to know what’s going on.
The rest of the world never knows what’s going on; all they know is I’m smiling all day long. I’m doing great. Just like the song, nothing is going to break my swag, nothing is going to hold me down.
I can’t let things take away my positive energy because I like to keep it positive. So, whenever something happens, I remember that day is a premium for what we do — the premium is you can have stressful days, but the reward is great.
You can’t let things mess with you. Everybody goes through something.
Who wants to be complaining about life? There’s always something to complain about, but we’ve got to thank God for what we have.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook or Twitter.