Coldwell Banker Bain is proud to share its platform to recognize AAPI Heritage Month (May), which honors the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history and are instrumental in its future success. Within our own organization, Tina Nguyen of Mercer Island Upside Properties is an integral part of its success; her team recently won Best Team Award by Seattle Agent Magazine. As a first-generation American born to Vietnamese immigrants, Tina shares her story and how her heritage and work experience helps serve her client base.
Tina's mother is the second oldest of nine siblings. She, her three younger brothers, and two older sisters left Vietnam in phases in the early 1980s, intent on immigrating to the United States. Her mom and two sisters had a long journey that took them first through Malaysia, then the Philippines for six months waiting on approval to go on to Seattle. They arrived by plane in 1984 and Tina was born a few years later.
"My mother is the strongest and hardest-working person I know, and she never faltered. She had a home-based daycare for 20 years," Tina says. "She's taught me so much about discipline, integrity, and treating clients like family. She's been an entrepreneur her whole life and I look up to her in every way."
The industrious nature must be genetic, because Tina has cultivated a rewarding career in real estate following a career in medical interpretation. Her work foundations began with childcare and the restaurant industry.
"I enjoy working with people and in teams while also being very independent," Tina says. "I worked in the restaurant industry for eight years, where I helped my customers and assisted my team's customers in the front of the house and the staff in the back of the house; there's always something to do."
Tina also opened and ran a licensed childcare facility for over three years where she and her business partner aligned their goals and divided the daily workload to scale it into a thriving business.
"When all team members know their parts in the business and can produce, that's when you're able to make new goals and see how well you can do," Tina says. "Working with children taught me to keep things fun and be prepared for the unexpected, because anything can happen.
Tina became a Certified Medical Interpreter after graduating from the University of Washington. She notes she's always gravitated towards jobs where she can work with others and be of service. Her clients included medically distressed immigrants, and she says they were always grateful for her help. She assisted her community with their regular appointments, surgeries, therapy sessions, and more.
Working as a medical interpreter, Tina said she could quickly adapt to different medical teams and effectively communicate the patients' needs. This field also afforded her practice in delivering sensitive information to minimize confusion. "The professionalism and work ethic that doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and staff provided to patients and me was an excellent experience to learn from and later implement in my business," Tina says.
With her attention now fully focused real estate, Tina has built a clientele of which approximately 30% are Vietnamese. Tina's own professionalism, clear communication, and attention to detail are why past clients regularly request her. Working with families and exceeding their expectations has been a critical driver of her success as an entrepreneur. Having 80% of business come from client referrals showcase that her client's satisfaction comes first.
Tina networks with her community via social media, by keeping in touch with her Vietnamese contemporaries in the real estate industry, and by attending community events and holiday celebrations. When she has extra time, you'll find her catching up on news in Vietnam or watching Shark Tank Vietnam to keep a pulse on the country's emerging businesses and entrepreneurs.
Keeping established relationships is also important to Tina. For that, she taps a CRM and she also self-tracks. She keeps a list of current and previous clients on her phone, stays in touch, and maintains an excel sheet – updated monthly complete with birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones (recognized with cards or small gifts).
She's been in the shoes of a new realtor and offers these tips to help those just starting out:
Tina's words to live by tell you she doesn't mind a challenge or hard work. Her go-to quotes are: "Mind over matter," "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity," and "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together."
We're grateful to recognize the life experiences Tina brings to her career, her clients and her award-winning team. During AAPI Heritage Month and every day, we thank Tina for being a part of what makes Coldwell Banker Bain so dynamic.
Cyrus Fiene's accomplishments as a REALTOR® belie his seven years as a broker. Entering the field of real estate at age 21 can be daunting, and for Cyrus, he chose a path to success by networking largely on his own and getting to know prospective clients by working other brokers' open houses. Today, he leads a team where he mentors other agents, helping them fast-track their careers through the best practices he refined.
Recently selected as one of Coldwell Banker International's top 30 Agents Under 30 for the second time, before starting his team, Cyrus ranked in the Top 1% of Coldwell Banker Worldwide. Since founding Cyrus Fiene Team, in its first year in the "team size 3 or less" category, it has achieved top 4% internationally at Coldwell Banker, selling over $60 Million in Sales in 2021 (among more than 100,000 agents). He characterizes his client relationships to be built on trust, integrity, and his "relentless effort to get the job done."
Raised in Edmonds and an alumnus of Seattle University in Capitol Hill, Cyrus grew up and worked all over the Puget Sound, from Redmond to downtown Seattle. His knowledge of Seattle's neighborhoods gave him a near encyclopedic fluency to pair listings with his clients' unique lifestyles and needs. But he almost missed his calling in real estate.
Fresh from college graduation, Cyrus started to work at a marketing firm. Six months into it, he realized it wasn't for him. He recalled that his mother, who was a part-time real estate agent, always remarked that he'd do well working in the industry. A year after her passing from cancer and following a three-week, soul-searching super cruise courtesy of his father, Cyrus told himself he'd try it for a year. If it was successful, he'd continue; if not, he'd keep searching.
Cyrus joined CB Bain right away, impressed by how much it focused on education. He admits he is not one to work under the 'fake it 'til you make it' mentality: "I really need to know what I'm talking about; when I know my craft very well, I can be confident about it," he said. Cyrus immersed himself in education and classes, as well as mentoring under John Deely who was managing broker at the time (now Coldwell Banker Bain's EVP of Operations).
Cyrus recalls commuting to the South Lake Union office from Edmonds his first four years – and how he made it to the office every single day. By being in the office and hearing the chatter of the successful agents, he learned a lot about client behavior and agent gems of the trade. "For me, being physically present was the only way to go – I firmly believe that – in real estate – things must be done in person. Feeling the space, taking in the neighborhood, talking to the neighbors. It is home, it isn't something you can genuinely experience virtually."
As a young agent, Cyrus chose to build his network by covering open houses for other brokers in his office. No one in his personal network could yet afford to buy a house, so by becoming an expert in his field during the first few years, he'd be ready when his own network was in a position to buy. It wasn't the easiest path, but for Cyrus, it was one he found rewarding.
During COVID's initial shutdown, when the world stood still, Cyrus called all the brokers he respected and asked them about their teams and how to launch one. He used the time to analyze his business needs and formed his own team, starting with a transaction coordinator. Today, his four-person team is all brokers: Tarice, Thomas and Monica. "I helped Monica and Thomas get their first houses; I was their broker!" he mused.
The main benefits to his team of brokers are Cyrus's training, guidance, and his insights—especially after approaching this field without a team, initially. Having access to the contacts he's acquired over the years and to be able to align with his stellar reputation are also huge bonuses.
Some of Cyrus' key points for new brokers are:
Additionally, if you're an established broker and so busy that you don't have the capacity to serve everyone who seeks out your help, chances are you're losing out on business - consider starting a team. Just know that once you have a team the work doesn't get easier.
"People have this impression that starting your own team saves you time. That simply is not the case. As a team leader, I must sustain my own business while also helping my teammates grow their own. As a solo agent for six years, to me, it is 100% worth it and motivating for me to have the buzz of a team, the support of one another, and people to celebrate wins with," Cyrus says.
Take a moment to hear what his own clients say about Cyrus in this short video here.
Follow Cyrus on Instagram at @cyrusfiene_seattlerealtor.
Meet Hannah Dubnye, Coldwell Banker Bain's tenacious Vancouver and Camas, Wash.-based REALTOR®, striving to provide the most seamless experience to her clients through technology and social media. In her business, Dubyne Realty Group of Coldwell Banker Bain, her goal is to combine "thoughtful, personal service with social media and online presence."
Professionalism, poise, and a detailed work ethic aren't just words to Hannah. She wasted no time achieving her career goals: During high school she managed a restaurant and in just three years, she graduated college with a degree in finance, all while working multiple jobs. After interning for several different businesses, she determined she could best apply her entrepreneurial edge and social media acumen to a career in residential real estate. Assessing her options, Hannah headed to Vancouver, an area she researched through multiple social media platforms.
"I felt the Vancouver/Camas market had been underserved, given the lack of active social media," she said. "I built Instagram and Facebook pages as places I could introduce myself and tell well-crafted stories about listings."
She found telling authentic stories through video has enabled her to engage with almost 2,000 people. She humbly admits her first videos weren't her best, but through trial and error, she found the right rhythm.
Hannah enjoys providing value for clients by creating useful stories on video. She targets relocation clients by engaging and speaking to them as they comment or follow her Instagram stories. She narrates and puts herself in the buyer's shoes.
"People want a visual, but they also want someone to walk them through a property," she added.
Hannah's Social Media Strategy:
Hannah believes that the actual number of followers isn't as important as quality of the people who are interested in selling or purchasing a home. Her social accounts, which are relatively new and still growing, enjoy solid engagement and interaction. Clearly her strategy is working, as she has achieved her initial goal of representing buyers and sellers of at least a dozen listings in nine short months.
Curious to see Hannah's work in action? Check out her accounts on Instagram and Facebook. She also maintains a "Weekend Happenings with Hannah" email campaign and uses an email capture feature on her website to build that email recipient list.
Being a REALTOR® inherently commands engagement and communication; social media is just one more tool in the toolbox. If you're hoping to make your listings more accessible, to offer interactive conversations (answering questions online for the benefit of other potential buyers or sellers to also learn), attract new clientele, and share what's great about your community, consider these valuable channels.
Imagine spending 30 years in the music business in Los Angeles, having fame and a self-built fortune, and then starting over after basically losing it all. Known to many in the 1980s as the keyboardist for rock band The Call, one couldn't listen to the radio or watch MTV in its early heyday without catching Jim Goodwin and his bandmates in the rotation. After decades in rock and roll, the high pressure music business in L.A., and the fast pace came with a cost. Jim's path into real estate was essentially a winding road that brought him right back to his family roots.
Several major health scares gave Jim a wake-up call that meant changes were needed, and he took command. Setting and achieving goals both personally and professionally are how Jim has overcome obstacles. He hit the reset button on his life and re-centered himself with a fresh mindset and healthy habits.
A friend of his mentioned Jim should consider the real estate business. Jim's uncle and cousin had once owned the most popular real estate brokerage in Sisters. His Uncle Dave Goodwin, who owned Sisters Real Estate until its 2003 closure, was beloved and respected by all within the county. Jim knew that if he took on real estate in Sisters, he would need to follow in some big footsteps to maintain his family's same high standards. The Goodwin name meant something.
After moving to Oregon in 2009, Jim pursued the Goodwin real estate legacy. Jim's Uncle Dave is his inspiration, and he aspires to achieve that same level of integrity, honesty, and genuine love to help people find their homes in Central Oregon. Fast forward to 2022, and Jim's as endearing as his uncles in Sisters, only he happens to be a fixture of Coldwell Banker Reed Bros Realty.
Consider the nation's housing market over the last 13 years: A burst housing and lending bubble after an economic downturn, followed by unprecedented foreclosures, then a housing grab, and then relative stability with escalating home values. Then along came COVID, which has made inventory in the $500,000 range—prime for first-time homebuyers (and second home range)—scarce. If first-time buyers aren't prepared with their financials when inventory becomes available, opportunities can be quickly lost.
Jim cares that his clients are educated and engaged about the challenges they are going to face in this new economy. Right up front he tells them it's going to be tough, but to think of this as an exciting challenging that will be rewarding when things come together. So, he takes the time to educate and prepare them so that when it's time to make it happen, they are ready to strike a deal. "To me, the reward is the feeling you get when you're appreciated by your clients; the work takes time, but the reward is that much sweeter," he says.
To be his best as a REALTOR®, Jim stays positive and nurtures his energy to best serve his clients. He accomplishes this through nutrition and exercise. He eats no sugar, takes in only very low carbs, drinks no alcohol, and he exercises every night. These good habits have not only taken 40 pounds off his frame over the last couple of years, this clean living gets his "brain clicking." He says this clarity of mind keeps him on his game so that he can do his best client work. "This is a service business, not a sales business," Jim says.
Goodwin's Good Living Tips:
Jim is married to a nurse, and they appreciate every day and what they have together. He also is part of an equestrian trail group that takes a 5-day annual trip. Out of Hollywood and back to happier trails, Jim urges others to be their own best personal advocate. "Don't wait," he says. "Take control of your health now and live your best life."
December tends to bring out the spirit of giving in all of us. And while it's nice to give around the holidays, brokers might also consider building year-round giving into their business plans. Coldwell Banker Bain's Jen Cameron lives by this example. She has worked giving back into her business strategy and gives a portion of her commission to local charities. The mom of a daughter on the autism spectrum, Jen has accepted help from others over the years, and she vowed that when she could, she would give back. Now, she's doing it in a BIG way with a Donor Advised Fund.
With more than 22 years of real estate experience in both the greater Seattle area and NYC markets, Jen Cameron has established herself as one of the top brokers in luxury real estate. She serves as Vice President of Global Luxury for Coldwell Banker Bain's 34+ offices across Washington and Oregon and fuses her real estate experience with intuition and ingenuity to make the impossible possible. An ambassador of positivity, she's a giver of good vibes with a built-in belief system: "In order to do well, we must first do good."
Jen is married to Scott Cameron and they have a blended family: Scott has three adult children and Jen has two grown children, one of whom, daughter Jordan, is on the autism spectrum. Jen and Scott are very active within the autism community, the special needs community and in supporting Augie's Quest for Cure ALS. Each year, they host a golf tournament here in the Pacific Northwest in support of raising funds to find a cure for ALS through Augie's Quest called the CURE ALS Golf Classic.
Jen consistently gives back a portion of her commission to local charities. Some nonprofits she's supported include Lambert House, championing LGBTQ causes; KCSARC which helps victims of sexual assault and abuse-related trauma; Autism Speaks – Augie's Quest; Rescue Freedom, rescuing women and children from human trafficking; and Northwest Harvest, to fight local food insecurity. Jen says there's always a need that is placed in front of you, and when this happens you need to pay attention. "The need came to you, because you have the ability to give," she says.
Looking ahead in 2022, Jen is focused on the Alyssa Brunette Adult Life Center at Seattle Children's, positively affecting children on the autism spectrum (where her daughter receives services), by lending support to Seattle Festival of Trees Seattle Gala. Her daughter also produces art shows to raise funds for Autism, underscoring a family legacy of giving. The Camerons will continue their support for Augie's Quest for ALS; Jen's father-in-law (her husband Scott's father) passed away from ALS. "Once you meet the ALS community, you can never turn your back on them," she says. "They need your voice and time is NOT on their side."
For Augie's Quest every dollar contributed goes toward research. She said clients have seen the causes she has championed and one even donated $1,000 to the ALS campaign. She's also seen a broker ripple effect: A portion of Jen's commission goes to a charity of choice, and another broker said they would also donate with ALL transactions. This is an impactful challenge that other brokers can embrace with their teams.
This year, Jen was able to open and donate a significant amount to a Donor Advised Fund for giving, which will continue to grow in 2022 and beyond for more charitable giving. The fund is like a charitable investment account, solely to support charitable organizations that personally matter. Cash, securities or other assets contributed are also usually eligible to an immediate tax deduction. In turn, funds can be invested for tax-free growth and you can recommend grants to virtually any IRS-qualified public charity. It's something other brokers can do with their investment advisors to "set it and forget it" for sustaining donations.
Giving back and helping others have always been part of Jen's DNA. She feels that she is reciprocating on the past generosity and support of others, especially having a daughter in need. "If you have it to give, you have to give it," she says. In terms of a giving strategy, if you don't have a cause dear to your heart, Jen suggests looking at current events, i.e., how the pandemic presented a very real, global problem of human trafficking and labor exploitation.
"It doesn't matter how much you have to give; you give what you can because it makes a difference," Jen says. "If it gets you outside of yourself, not focused on your own angst, or what you don't have, you'll begin to feel gratitude for what you DO have."
Tips for any broker to start to give back year-round:
In late September 2020, Coldwell Banker Bain donated $26,700 to Northwest Response, a partnership of the American Red Cross and KING5 TV for the nonprofit's Wildfire Relief Fund, supporting residents impacted by wildfires in Washington and Oregon. CB Bain collected donations from its brokers and employees, with the company matching all donations.
Julie Kent, corporate relations officer of Red Cross Northwest, recently reached out to CEO Mike Grady to express her gratitude, once again:
"I will always remember the email I received from KING 5 saying that Coldwell Banker-BAIN had raised funds with their employees for the Washington Wildfires," Kent shared recently in an email. "To meet with you and receive those checks from your incredibly giving employees and to see the match you and your partner had offered, it was overwhelming to see such generosity."
Kent shared an update and extended her organization's gratitude to everyone at Coldwell Banker Bain for helping those in need. Thanks to many compassionate supporters, the Red Cross has raised $48.9 million, including the value of critical donated goods and services, for those affected by the daunting wildfires in California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. With some funds remaining, the Red Cross will continue to provide services for long-term recovery in the impacted communities. Take a closer look at the Red Cross's 1 Year Update here.
Here's a snapshot of those 2020 Western Wildfires relief impacts, by the numbers:
Mike Grady remembers feeling compelled to make a difference in the wake of so much devastation: "It evokes emotion, remembering how we all pulled together to make something great happen," Grady said. "It's just what we do, but far more than that, it's who we are; everyone who participated should draw great satisfaction in knowing the difference we can make together."
Thank you again to all of our generous brokers and employees!
Eric Gouge of CBB Sittauer Gouge Group in Edmonds never imagined as a young man he'd be following his mother into a real estate career, but that's exactly where he landed. After serving two deployments in the United States Marine Corps, he applied many of the character-building principles he learned during active duty to thrive in his second-act career as a broker.
As a young man, Eric unabashedly admits he did not aspire to be in real estate. While growing up, he associated the business with the chores he had to do for his mom Jean Sittauer's real estate business. He was often tasked with mowing lawns, dump runs, and general clean-up for her listings.
At 17, Eric wanted to join the USMC, and because of his age, his mom and dad had to sign an authorization for him to enlist. Two deployments later, first through the South Pacific (Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Kuwait, all over South Pacific) and a second to Iraq in 2007 at just 20 years old running reconnaissance missions, Eric learned quickly about responsibility and accountability.
Through his Marine Corps duty, Eric was an infantryman, in a scout sniper team, and served as a point man to lead patrols. He and fellow Marines would hide in buildings and watch people for four to five days on end, impressive when you consider these were young twenty-somethings shouldering big responsibilities.
"The characteristic I learned most in the Marine Corps and applies to real estate was the ability to stay calm, cool and collected," Eric says. "On my very first combat patrol in Iraq with my sniper team, we needed to know the town during the day before we could move around and perform reconnaissance missions at night."
He recalled leading a patrol in 2007 near the Euphrates when the dirt shot up and a crack of a bullet was heard. His team was under attack. His training took over and despite the adrenaline, he and his group stayed calm. They took cover, waiting out the danger. "We all stood up and continued our patrol for another four hours as if nothing had even happened, kicking soccer balls with kids, waving at people and saying 'hello' along our patrol and quickly laughed it off," he said.
In 2008, during one of the most trying times in real estate in decades, Jean was still a top producer when she convinced Eric to get his real estate license. He started as her assistant, worked his way up, and today he and his wife, Jaimie, a residential broker also part of the Sittauer Gouge Group, are building on that legacy in hopes of carrying the business into future generations.
In real estate, personal character matters, Eric says. "Keeping those emotions in check and doing my job to the best of my ability without are so important," he says. "This is especially true in real estate, when it comes to dealing with negotiations, agents of all types, and clients; we are doing a disservice to our clients when we let our emotions take over and cloud our judgment. Staying calm and collecting your thoughts is one of the keys to being a successful real estate agent."
Eric also puts tougher days at work quickly in perspective by saying to himself, "This can't be as bad as that time I was fighting in a war!"
Other gems Eric has carried over from being a service member to his real estate work share parallel themes of honor, courage and commitment:
As part of one of the most trusted real estate teams in Edmonds, with multiple awards to its credit, this family has cracked the code to working together seamlessly. In addition to listing and selling homes, Eric also specializes in helping fellow veterans with the home buying process. When he's not working with clients, you'll find Eric enjoying time with his wife, Jaimie, and their children: Six-year-old son Jackson--born on the 4th of July, four-year-old daughter Siena and newborn son, Raymond.
Todd Shively, Principal Managing Broker at Coldwell Banker Bain's Capitol Hill office and its West Seattle satellite, embodies transformational leadership. When Todd took the helm in January 2020, he infused the office with creativity, energy, true team spirit, and his eye for collaborative design. Todd's ability to engage his team and galvanize a sense of family shines as a model to uplift any business environment.
Selling real estate has been Todd's full-time career since 2002; but houses and the idea of what makes a home have been a lifelong passion. As a young boy in southern Idaho, he used to spend hours exploring new homes being built nearby, read real estate advertising magazines front to back, and study architectural renderings in books for hours (translation: house nerd)!
One spring day in 2002, Todd had an unexpected moment where he thought, "Whatever happened to that dream of real estate?" That July, he quit his job, acquired his real estate license, and walked into his new office at Coldwell Banker Bain on Lake Union. The time since has been a whirlwind of growth, adaptation, market forces, challenges, and successes. July 2022 will mark Todd's 20th year at Coldwell Banker Bain.
Established in the late 80's, Capitol Hill became the company's third major office. The area is also one of Seattle's oldest, largest and most diverse neighborhoods: A magnet for students, urban professionals, artists, and families. When Todd took over as PMB of Capitol Hill in January 2020, he became a unifying leader to make the office a collaborative hub with a defined identity. When looking at the key elements of what retains a team, Todd knew he had the ability to directly affect one important retention component: culture.
In his first week, just as a pandemic quietly began to percolate, he gave a presentation to share his leadership style and to foster a place where everyone would feel safe, respected, and heard. His presentation included five guiding principles for positive outcomes through intentional behaviors:
He had no idea at that moment how critical his inclusive voice and cohesive efforts would become to shine as a beacon in uncertain times.
Next, Todd set about refreshing the space with new paint, furnishings, and replacing cubicles with comfy chairs and tables; audibly resetting the mood by playing in Motown or upbeat music in the background; and brushing the office with a modern sensibility (even offering an all-gender bathroom) that attracted people and instilled sense of workplace pride.
"To me, the esthetic experience reflects the office's personality," Todd said, adding staff partners were moved out of offices and into public spaces to better build relationships. With service elements focused toward the brokers, interaction and teamwork soared. Weekly meetings afforded time for partners to get to know each other. Everyone in his office was given the agency to be decision-makers and to offer input on major decisions.
Todd has always been quick to spring for wine and pizza, but fun also happened early on when the staff participated in a "Dry January" together organizing various alcohol-free events throughout the month. Extending that spirit, the Capitol Hill office WHY became: To support and elevate one another so that its community can thrive. They even created buttons for the 2021 company-wide event with this mantra: "Support. Elevate. Thrive."
The team launched its own private Facebook page for brokers and partners to stay in communication. Timed with the onset of the pandemic, the group found it to be a lifeline. During the pandemic, Todd engaged in regular weekly memo-writing with formal health and safety protocols for open houses and other pandemic real estate do's and don'ts. His tough positions on safety may not have been the easiest or most popular, but the clear communication worked.
The office also started an Impact NOW Fund during the shutdown that resulted in a $10,000 kitty, which offered no-question-asked stipends to any brokers in need of help with rent, a car payment, or utilities.
When Capitol Hill hit the national media spotlight during the tumultuous BLM protests, the office did not close, but embraced BLM and its tough conversations. It printed, displayed, and distributed BLM posters and raised $33,000 for Byrd Barr Place to support families in the neighboring Central District. A Black Lives Matter Facebook page was started for important conversations; Black Lives in real estate continues to be relevant.
Today, 60 engaged, team-oriented brokers share the thriving Capitol Hill office. Additionally, Todd and team are building out a new 6,000 sq. ft. flagship office in the Pike/Pine corridor to open Q1 2022. Todd's example demonstrates how one person's energy, creativity and generosity can create a thriving workplace with a connected and purposeful team. Bravo!