In celebration of International Women’s Day, we sat down with our Chief Strategy Officer, Nicole Rideout Hartwick, to discuss the challenges, benefits, and surprises that come with being a woman in real estate. From juggling work-life balance to breaking down barriers, Nicole is no stranger to the ups and downs that women in the industry face. As a result, Nicole places great importance on empowering female employees to engage in leadership roles—part of the reason why today, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty’s leadership team is distinctly woman-forward.
Read on to discover how Nicole strategizes, prioritizes, and maximizes her potential as a female leader in the industry, and how our talented team of women support one another each day.
As a woman and leader in real estate, what are some unique challenges you’ve faced? How have they shaped your leadership style?
Finding your unique voice and building your strong foundation of who you are both personally and professionally is something I am working on every day. This is particularly challenging when you want to be liked and are eager to do well by everyone. As time goes by, it really does prove true that earning respect is more important than being liked. This realization has shaped me as a leader because I think people are more confident in your direction when they know that you have your back, that you will not waver from your core ethics, and that you are there to make the best decisions for everyone – not always to just do what will please people in the moment. Leaders have to make hard decisions, but those decisions facilitate growth.
As a woman, what barriers have you ever experienced in your career? How did you handle these, and how has your strategy changed as you’ve moved up the ladder?
There will always be people who underestimate you or don't respect you. My job is not to prove anything to them or try to change that. I feel when you get caught up in that, you are letting them affect you. I feel that when you achieve clarity about who you are as a leader and where you want to take your organization, you care more about your people and realize your actions every day impact them. As a result, you stop paying attention to those you can't change.
What lessons have you learned in balancing your career with motherhood?
This is a big one and it lends itself to the last few questions and answers. It’s been one of the biggest challenges for me in motherhood. My work felt like my baby and when I had an actual baby, I had to make choices. It has made me much more efficient at prioritizing. It has made me waste a lot less energy on things I can't change, like the aforementioned negative opinions. It has made me truly have to decide who I am and what I stand for, and just wake up and drive at that every day. I also became a lot more compassionate for people and what is going on in their life. It made me less focused on myself which has been good for me. I still tear up leaving almost every morning, but becoming a mother has made me more balanced. I drive at what the big goal is and what is most important. I don't get as caught up in small things – I don't have time.
On your weekly podcast, Real Tea, you’ve interviewed a number of accomplished women from Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty’s leadership team. In fact, GSIR’s leadership team is nearly 75% women. What are some insights you’ve gained from working with this incredible team of women? How have they influenced the company’s direction?
I think first and foremost we are honest with each other and eager to learn from one another. I learn something every time I talk to one of our staff, and I think that is where our collaborative culture really thrives. I’ve had so much fun showcasing our brilliant team to the masses. My goal is that we are no longer the best kept secret! We run deep with talent and I’m amazed by it every day. I’m so proud to be on this team and to have helped build it throughout the last decade.
What is one piece of advice you would give to women looking to break into the industry?
Relationships are everything, and being consistent in who you are and how you do business builds your foundation. Seek out people who are smarter than you. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen, soak it all in, and surround yourself with a team that will have candor and help you grow. Real estate is a fast paced and exciting industry. Your reputation will follow you, so if you concentrate on maintaining an honest and hard working work ethic, success will find you. Don’t try to please everyone!
Nicole Rideout Hartwick is the Chief Strategy Officer at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty. Catch up with Nicole on her weekly podcast, Real Tea, now streaming on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify Podcasts.