- Nicole Rideout from Gibson Sotheby's International Realty in Boston is one of the recent graduates of Realogy's Ascend leadership program from 2016.
- Rideout is working to bring other talented women with her up the brokerage leadership.
- One of the initiatives she has brought into the company is a formal onboarding program for new agents.
Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty’s director Nicole Rideout remembers one all-nighter she pulled with a pot of coffee. She was working on a project for her company, owned by her father, Larry Rideout, and her godfather, Paul McGann, in January last year.
She spent the night analyzing expenses and production and trying to “find” a few hundred thousand dollars through generating more production.
She didn’t resent the experience.
“I’ve always been the fast-paced, high-energy person in the family,” said Rideout, the third of four girls.
A better way
She got there eventually — but when her father, a former Realogy SVP, saw her the next day, he told her: “There’s a way to do these things that would take you a lot less time and effort.”
Corporate recommended her a few weeks later for Realogy’s Ascend: The Executive Leadership Experience, and to her surprise, she was accepted. She spent all last year learning how to do things a better way.
“What was cool is that I kind of got to that point on logic, and then was able to learn through Ascend a much more efficient way to execute.
“We developed our case study over the course of the 46 weeks by identifying things we could improve or capitalize on within our organizations. We did it out all of the financial data, and after analyzing and developing my plan of execution, I realized I found the exact amount I had been looking for the previous year — and now I had a comprehensive plan and goals to attain it.”
Rideout, newly promoted to director of business development at the Boston-based firm — which had a $1.4 billion sales volume last year with 200 agents, 25 employees and 8 offices — said: “Ascend has boosted my confidence beyond where I believe it would have been in 5 to 10 years from now.”
The 26-year-old, who studied business in college and got her real estate license at 20, is not expecting to be running the company, which her father bought in 2006, anytime soon.
But as she puts it, the investment the company has made in her is a good indication of “showing how long we feel we will be in this market.”
Younger women in the industry need role models
Rideout was the youngest woman on the Ascend course, and as such, she says she felt a need to prove herself a lot more than others — but that everyone showed “equal respect for one another.” She thinks this speaks volumes for the future of the industry.
She thinks she will keep in touch with everyone on the course — some graduates coming from tiny operations in the Midwest and some from massive operations with thousands of agents in other parts of the country. A number were from family companies.
“We all seemed to have so much on common, though on a different scale,” she said.
Rideout counts herself lucky to have had good senior women role models in her market since starting at the family firm.
Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty’s director of productivity, Colleen Barry, is someone who has mentored her since the age of 18, playing a key role in her development and the company’s culture.
While the senior women she sees in her market tend to be agents rather than those in corporate management, the women agents set a great example for young women coming in to the industry, she said.
“I do think, based on my experience, on a corporate/management level, that there are not as many women as we may like to see — but I do think this is changing,” she added.
Rideout, who was previously director of relocation at GSIR, sees herself having a responsibility to bring other women with her as she rises up the brokerage.
“I report to Colleen Barry on a lot of our major projects, and I find myself trying to mirror the way she has been with me all along in my mentoring relationships.
“I feel I’ve impacted a number of younger women already because I take an interest and invest early in people, and it’s very easy for me to identify with women and help them grow.”
She thinks to empower those around you, you must push them out of their comfort zone and lead by example. And it seems to be working.
“I have a handful of very heartfelt notes in my top right hand drawer of my desk, all from different women that I’ve mentored in some capacity professionally, and I hope to continue filling it,” she said.
She is hoping to see many more female leaders develop within the industry in management and thinks one common workplace misconception is that if someone learns how to do your job, you become obsolete.
“I work hard to make sure all the women I work with on our team realize that by empowering others, you make your own opportunities endless.”
Know yourself before you can lead
To the millennial agents starting in the greater Boston business, Rideout thinks it is good to show that Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty has plans for the future by promoting people like her.
She works with a number of millennials in the firm who have a good range of creativity and energy and said she sees huge opportunities for growth over the next 10 years in her firm, with a youthful management team.
Rideout has surprised her father with how much input she has had from Mike Good, the founder of the Ascend leadership course and chairman emeritus of Sotheby’s, whom she chats with regularly.
Good is a fan.
“Nicole brought strong natural leadership talents, enthusiasm and passion to Ascend. She grew significantly during the 46 weeks of Ascend, especially in her understanding of self and her increased knowledge and skills in successfully leading others,” he said.
“A lasting impact on her effectiveness as a leader will be that she became much more contemplative and resourceful in her ability to define and name important priorities as well as in designing impactful strategies which she can confidently communicate with her team,” he added.
Rideout, who describes herself as a risk-taker, said she learned you can’t expect people to follow you as a leader if you don’t know yourself well.
“I’d always been a natural leader; I was president of my high school class but never appreciated the science of it. I never thought of it as a skill.”
Rideout said she learned about situational leadership on the Ascend course.
“This is the concept of leading people in different ways. You can’t manage everybody or work with everybody in the same way. It’s about knowing yourself, being self-aware,” she said.
Six-week onboarding process
As well as producing the firm’s 2017 business plan, one of the initiatives Rideout is immediately applying from the course is an agent onboarding process at her firm.
She interviewed new agents, asking them about the process and their needs, created a new system and established a transition team including administrators, to help agents on their journey.
As a millennial herself she knows the way they like to be treated. They like regular touch contact and to know what the big picture is. Never say: “Just do this,” but: “This is why we do this,” she said.
Over the last year, she also learned a lot about talent attraction, being selective and knowing how to identify people who suit your culture when recruiting.
“Culture is something that differentiates us in our marketplace. It’s unparalleled here, I know that, but as we are growing — how do we define our culture for the client? They have to know what our story is, what the values are.”
Rideout likes to think there is a family vibe at the firm, but she wants to define this as the company grows.
It’s a passion, not a job
With good contacts at Realogy after the course, would she ever think of going into management at Realogy?
Rideout is quick to say she wouldn’t not consider it, but as far as now goes, her sights are set on what can be achieved at GSIR.
“I see us growing a lot, geographically expanding a lot more, ” she said.
“This is my passion; this isn’t just a job,” she adds.