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When Alexia Umansky was a little girl her dad, high-profile Los Angeles agent Mauricio Umansky, took her along to a listing.
“We went to this one house and there was this giant door,” Alexia recalled Tuesday morning. “And he told me a giant lived in this house. I really thought a giant lived there.”
“It was a giant — it was Wilt Chamberlain’s house,” the elder Umansky interjected, referring to Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, the 7-foot-1 former center for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The exchange between father and daughter happened on stage during a session of Inman Luxury Connect dubbed “All in the Family.” The conversation focused on the benefits and challenges of working in real estate with family — which the Umanskys know a bit about; both Alexia and Mauricio explained that numerous family members work at The Agency, the luxury-oriented Los Angeles brokerage that the elder Umansky founded a decade ago. And this arrangement gives them a unique ability to help each other in their careers, and lives.
During the conversation Tuesday morning, Mauricio mentioned that one of the benefits of working with family is that it’s simply an enjoyable experience.
“It’s a lot of fun working with family,” he said. “You can’t trust anybody more than your own family.”
For Alexia, who is 25 and earned her real estate license two years ago, she also gets easy access to a seasoned pro who can give her guidance and advice.
“My go to is to call my dad,” Alexia said. “He really helps me every step of the way.”
Alexia went on to say that she has long wanted to go into real estate. That’s in part because her father began his career around the time she was born and she consequently grew up going to listings and open houses on weekends. It was a way for her to spend time with her busy father and along the way she grew to love the work.
“It was part of my life for as long as I can remember,” she recalled.
As Alexia grew up and went to college, she considered other potential career options.
“I didn’t want people to think I had this career just handed to me,” she said. “That did scare me and push me to think about a different direction.”
In the end, however, Alexia decided to follow her father into the business she had known all her life.
Though Alexia expressed happiness that she ultimately joined the family firm, there have been learning moments. She recalled, for instance, that her family culture is relatively “free flowing” and not especially structured. That’s great for a family, but eventually it meant she was actually having difficulty getting time to run questions by her dad. Then she talked to a cousin, who also works at The Agency.
“He said, ‘stop acting like his daughter and start acting like his employee,'” Alexia recalled.
The moment was a breakthrough, and prompted Alexia to eventually schedule professional time with her dad via his secretary. And she eventually realized that previously she didn’t “expect special treatment, but I was expecting special treatment.”
The experience also swings both ways. Mauricio said that being close to Alexia meant he was at risk of taking the relationship for granted. But he realized he needed to stop doing that when Alexia came into his office one day and “basically said, ‘listen I need you to start paying attention to me.'”
“She said, ‘otherwise I cannot be a part of this team and I’m literally going to go to another team,'” Mauricio recalled.
In some families, such a moment might have created a fracture. But among the Umanskys, the moment highlighted the ability of family to both help each other and to be unusually open. And in the end, the experience impressed Mauricio.
“I was very proud of her,” he said, “for doing that.”