All About Emotional Intelligence with Valerie M. Sargent, Inc

Host: Ronn Ruiz and Martin Canchola

Guest: Valerie M. Sargent of Valerie M. Sargent, Inc.

Martin: Welcome to The Multifamily Podcast with Ronn and Martin. In today’s episode we are bringing someone very special onto the show today. Not only has she helped coach me in becoming a better public speaker for the multifamily industry, she has also worked with the entire apartment SEO team, teaching us all about emotional intelligence, otherwise known as EQ or EI, and has worked with many of our team members as a team strategist and coach. She’s a renowned national speaker for the multifamily industry, emotional intelligence strategist, EQ, executive consultant, life changer and mental health advocate. It is my pleasure to introduce the one and only Valerie M Sargent, founder of Valerie M. Sergeant Incorporated. Welcome to The Multifamily Podcast.

Valerie: Thank you so much. It’s so good to be here with you both. And I’m gonna give a shout out to Yvette Pool, I also act as president for Yvette pool and Associates. And everything I do is under Valerie M Sargent Inc, including my work with her. But I just want to do that since I work with her a lot in our industry.

Ronn: That is amazing. Well, I personally love the title Life Changer, because that’s exactly what you’ve been for us and for me. So, Valerie, thanks so much for joining us today. Obviously, it was so grateful to have you as a true expert on emotional intelligence training, I really look forward to diving into this topic. Obviously, as you know, it is very near and dear to my heart. And I just want to say how much I love and appreciate you. And I can’t even count how many years we’ve known each other. But what I count are each interaction that is just, it just continues to compound into this greatness for both of us, I believe. And the fact that that greatness in our relationship and your training that we’re going to get into have impacted myself, my company and our team members is just again, so near and dear to my heart. So welcome, welcome.

Valerie: Well, thank you so much. You know, it’s funny, I was talking to my mom this morning, Ronn, and I was talking about our friendship because I was telling her we were going to be doing this podcast and it’s just kind of like we’ve grown up in the industry together. And I’ve really developed, and I said it’s so nice that our industry is multifamily. Because that’s truly how I feel is, you know, there are some friendships and partnerships, that it just feels so close and so natural. And it’s always been, I think, for both of us a joy when we partner together. And then in expanding and working with your team and being able to work more closely with Martin, and all of your team members. It’s just been truly a special partnership that I’ve had with your company. And it’s great to be here with you both today. 

Ronn: And you’re part of the family. 

Valerie: That’s right. Thank you.

Martin: So thankful to have you. So, before we dive into what you did for apartment SEO around EQ training and coaching, let’s first discuss the basics and how you got into this specialized field. First off, what is emotional intelligence? And why is it so important to learn and to be aware of?

Valerie: Well, it’s incredibly important to be aware of it because it impacts everything that we do. And through the years with my involvement and teaching and training and coaching on this topic, I have my own definition. And for me, emotional intelligence is being able to discern what’s happening within ourselves. And using those layers of knowledge that we have to better manage our emotions more effectively, so that we can have better and more productive connections with others, which ultimately results in us leading calmer and more satisfying lives. I think that’s where we all like to end up is in a calm place, where we’re feeling satisfied with our relationships and our work environment, making sure everybody’s feeling healthy and happy going to work and just that our life is more peaceful. And I think that emotional intelligence does that for people.

Ronn: That’s amazing. But you know, it’s funny is that as we’re getting through ready for this topic, and you know, a question I have for you that I don’t remember if I’ve ever asked but what first interested you in learning about emotional intelligence? And what was actually the, I know the second half I didn’t ask is, what was the process in getting certified to conduct EQ training?

Valerie: Well, actually, what first interested me, I went to at the time it was the American Society of training and development. Now it’s ATD is the organization, but they had their big training conference. And I just left the corporate world, and I was going for knowledge and inspiration and see what was happening out there in the training world. And I went to a session on emotional intelligence. I was like emotional intelligence, saying I wonder what this is. And it was what Daniel Goleman who wrote the original book, Emotional Intelligence and who is phenomenal, and I sat in that audience with my jaw open, because I’m like, why do we not know about this? And I was thinking, oh, my gosh, the multifamily industry especially needs this, because it’s all about people and people are all about emotions. And you think about people living at home and things coming up, they’re going to have so many emotions around things that are happening in their home and things that aren’t getting fixed. And, you know, they have bad circumstances that happen in their lives. And there are a lot of emotions that come up, and people have to be able to handle that when they walk into the office. And also, you put two people in a room together, and there’s automatically dysfunction on similar roles sometimes. So, I was just fascinated by the topic, and wanted to learn more. And so, you also asked about my certification Ronn?

Ronn: Yeah, like the process? Like was it a long process? Was it, obviously it’s fairly process.

Valerie: Yeah. So, after that, I started studying more and learning more about it. And I was just becoming so passionate about it. And but I wanted to have the right I guess, to speak about it, I wanted to be able to learn more about it in a deeper capacity. And I partnered with talent smart and became a talent smart certified trainer. And in those days, they allowed that with people that weren’t working within a company. Now, they only certify a trainer within a company. So, I’m kind of a unicorn, and there aren’t very many of me out there that are able to go into any company. And I have specific requirements that I have to fulfill with them in order to do that. But I went through just a four-day certification program with them and continue to, you know, be in touch with them after that process, by giving you the right to utilize their training materials. And as you’ve experienced, there are amazing appraisals that are part of that process, that actually help people determine where they stand with emotional intelligence. And there’s a score associated with that. And people really learn what areas they need to grow in, in order to help build that skill, because it is a skill. 

Ronn: Absolutely.

Martin: Now, the emotional intelligence book, now who wrote that again?

Valerie: Emotional intelligence book by that title alone, was actually written by Daniel Goleman, that man that I was telling you about. But this book right here, intelligence 2.0 that you see here, was written by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, you see this autographed copy that I have here, because they are the ones that actually have the training that I’ve had. So, they are part of talent smart and actually wrote this book. And so, this book is one that I read before I got certified. And that’s how I found out about this company to do the certification, because it’s just such a great tool, and an easy read. And it’s something that we utilize when we actually do the appraisals and everything. It helps describe everything in detail different strategies that people can use, in order to perhaps have better self-management skills and conduct themselves more professionally. So, it’s a great book. 

Martin: Yes, actually that’s, I was checking my bookshelf right now too just to make sure I have my copy, I might even have two copies here.

Ronn: Mine is right behind me. 

Martin: So, we definitely need to dig back into that. I know, it’s probably something you want to you know, check in to read the book at least once a year to kind of just kind of see where you’re at and kind of recalibrate everything, right?

Valerie: That’s a great refresher, for sure. 

Martin: So cool. So, let’s dive into maybe some of the four foundations of emotional intelligence that you teach. And why is emotional intelligence so important in leadership?

Valerie: Okay, wonderful. Well, the four components that they talk about within emotional intelligence 2.0, and what I am certified to teach, the first is self-awareness. And it’s really just being able to notice within yourself, when you’re starting to have a reaction with someone or something’s going on, maybe you noticed something physical, and your vision has been triggered by something. So, self-awareness is first, self-management is next. So being able to handle those emotions as they bubbled to the surface and know when you might be in a danger zone, if you’re getting ready to overreact to something. And then there are the social competencies. So, there is social awareness where you are actually paying attention to what’s going on with other people and really realizing when someone is having a reaction than themselves and maybe you might need to change your behavior a little bit. What you do with all of that is relationship management. That’s the fourth foundation of emotional intelligence. And it’s actually being able to have the teamwork, have good communication. It’s what you do with everything else. And it’s important in leadership because a good leader is able to exercise all four competencies. And you aren’t necessarily strong in each of those. But when you go through the appraisal process, and you figure out, because the appraisal will also score you in those four areas as well, and it will let you know where you’re strongest. So, if maybe you’re really a people person, you have really good relationship management skills, but maybe your self-awareness skills are low. And so, you don’t pay attention to what’s happening within you as much as you pay attention to what’s going on with other people and trying to manage those relationships. You can kind of work on strengthening that self-awareness. So, it’s important for leaders, I think, in creating a safe space for their employees, making people feel like they can go and talk to their leader. And you’re also able to incorporate strategies that allow you to have a team work together more cohesively. And it’s just very powerful.

Ronn: Absolutely, yeah. Speaking of powerful, let’s kind of change a little bit, I want to share some personal anecdotes about history with Valerie, around EQ training and executive coaching also. So not only did we benefit from the actual training that she’s been talking about, but we took it one step further, and said, how about working with our senior leadership and actually middle management as well. They were on their way to become senior leaders as well. And ultimately, it is one of the probably, in our 10-year history, it is probably one of the best decisions that I made once we were a company. So obviously, the first decision being to start the company. You know, that would have helped, right? That helps to get us here, but it was around year five. Again, we’re 10 years old, so halfway through. And so, it’s funny, because what we’re about to do with you next, and we’ll share with the audience soon, is so timely, right? But we decided to obviously, well, let’s backtrack. So, when I started the company, and literally jumped, like you left corporate America, jumped off my earth, stopped working for a company, leaving a lot of security behind, a guaranteed paycheck for sure. All the above and just started this company, I knew for a fact that it would be the most challenging time of my entire life because it was unknown. It was uncharted territory, it was no pain, no path, right? I had some friends that I had seen and I’m like if they’re doing it, like maybe I can do it type thing too. And so, I knew for a fact that I was going to be, probably have outside of body experiences that I wasn’t prepared for, just in my stress management, right, let alone EQ and all the above. I had already heard of EQ. But when Valerie and I were talking about it, and I think it was relatively, you were newer in the certification process and starting, I was like I need this, I need you for my life. So, I took it up myself the first year. And we did it with another company and it was so exciting, right? Our friends at Jay Williams. So, she too believes in all of that for her leaders. And so that was kind of like the stepping stone to recognize it. I remember quickly thinking, oh my God, this is powerful for me, and I just couldn’t wait to share it with others, right. So, I did. But when it came down to us growing the company, again then five years later, we’re midway through to what is today ApartmentSEO, our team was growing, it was 2018, that was one of our big, big, big years for growth in headcount as well as in revenue. So, a lot of stress has come with that, right, a lot of growth, a lot of exposure, we needed to be the best of the best, competition was strong, you know, and needed to show up every day, the best. And to your point about the collaboration that was huge. And so, what I realized is I’m like, we all just need to come to work every day and just be 110% every day, you know, to account for that, you know, 99% days or whatever there is out there. And so, Valerie was so gracious with your time, we set up a company retreat, which we always had annually. And we jumped in, and she did the training for everyone. And what I’m here to share is the impacts that we had immediately, like that day, like within the breaks of you know, the 15 minute bathroom breaks, people’s lives were, like their aha moments, were just like, oh my God, some were excited because they were like, oh, yeah, I scored high on that assessment, right, in so and so and whenever, some were kind of like quieter than normal, like I think I got some work to do. You know, and everybody was converters almost like, you know, what’s your FICO score? What’s your credit score? It’s like, you know, what it is in your emotional intelligence. Again, it was a very public open like the walls came down, like I don’t know, it was just, witness it was amazing. And since then, Valerie, as you know, and for those in the audience that don’t know, I preach this story to a lot of leaders. A lot of my contemporaries, a lot of our clients, right, even referred you to even some of our big clients like the top five of the industry. And you’ve done some work with them as well. So, your impact goes way beyond us. But that is how we started and I just, I have so much more to talk about that and I can go into it later on. But that was the change, the game changer for us. And that’s where you’re the life changer. 

Valerie: But it’s so funny, Ronn, I remember the night after the first training that we did, because we’ve done a few for your team.

Ronn: We have, year after year. Yeah. 

Valerie: And then I remember we broke it into to half, that first training and then somebody had said to me that evening, I think you just saved my relationship.

Ronn: Yeah. Yeah, it totally.

Valerie: So, it does, it’s a skill that helps you professionally, but also helps you in your personal life.

Ronn: Oh my God. I’m gonna, I’ll talk about that later.

Martin: It’s soft skills, people skills, I mean, that emotional intelligence, it’ll get you through a lot of different situations, right, good or bad.

Valerie: It certainly will. 

Martin: So, I’m sure the audience is definitely interested to hear more about, you know, how you worked with apartment SEO, when we hit our five-year mark. And, you know, how did you actually work with our team in around EQ, training and coaching? Could you give our audience a little insight there?

Valerie: Yeah, absolutely. I know when you guys hit your five-year mark, so that was 2018. Right. And so, I’ve been a certified trainer for five years at that point, because I got certified in 2013. And for your purposes, you were really exploring like, okay, first five years is done, you know, what does it look like going forward? And so, when we did our agreement for coaching, part of it was I was your designated performance and culture team strategist, because you were really working on pulling that company culture together and strategize. 

Ronn: Redefining it, yeah.

Valerie: Yeah. Cuz, I remember we sat down we had been looking at, okay, are your company’s mission, vision and values still  where you want to be going forward? It worked for when you started your company, is it still what’s intact? Is it what your employees are embracing? And so, we revisited that and really looked at that and assessed where your company culture was, and where you wanted it to be, if there were any performance issues that needed to be focused on. And really, we were looking for any different alignment gaps that there might have been that you wanted to get, you know, full buy in from the leadership team on how things were going to look going forward. And then we identified, you know, what the training needs were, and who the people were that you wanted me to work with, specifically. And it was that executive team and the middle managers that we really focused on. We had 16 people that I coached with two times a month, so every other week was our schedule, and really just enforcing everything that you wanted with regard to the company. One of the things I love that we did together, I believe that this is what makes it work well is in the beginning, Ronn and I sat down with each different employee to set the goals for each different employee. And so that’s what made it really meaningful, is we did that at the beginning and at the end, to ensure that we’re staying on track and then we had kind of a little check in the middle as well. So, it’s very powerful because you’re involved in the process as a leader and I think it lets people know what your expectations were for them, which is great. What you wanted to see out of a coaching relationship with me, you know, from their performance. And then we at the end check back in okay, where are we started with this, where we ended is here, you know, and then how do you both feel about that? Where do you need to grow in the future? All of that, so it’s really rewarding to watch your team members take that growth journey. I’m getting goosebumps right now because, like it is literally that break for me. It makes me get a little teary eyed honestly, because you had some people that made some amazing progress. Look at these gooses on these. I was so oh my gosh, like I’m literally, I’m teary eyed here because I was so touched with how vulnerable people are and knowing that I hold them in a very safe space when we work together, that how much they allow me to, to see into them, to determine root causes for triggers and things like that. Like it really does help to fully understand where your emotions come from when you were having a response to things and your team was very generous in their honesty, and in their sharing, that allowed us to work more deeply. Some people say working with me is like working with a counselor or a therapist, sometimes, but part of that is we really want to understand what drives people and what helps them to make the progress that they need. So, thank you for allowing that, first of all, because it’s a gift to me, as a coach, to be able to watch that transition in people, it’s incredibly powerful and meaningful.

Ronn: No for sure, thank you. And again, you know, anybody can, this is a credit to you, because anybody can take a course. I mean, with all due respect a certified course, right? But it is the work in which you’ve done and the empathy that you bring, like you said, the safe place, safe space that you foster, and you set the table that way, right? You even in coaching with me, you said, Ronn, there are certain things that I can share, and there are certain things that I will not share. And we have that understanding as well. And I much like in a typical HR environment, you just, it is what it is, right. So, there is some, you know, considerations that every company needs to come together with. But not, there’s no compromise at all, the compromise is to not do it, in my opinion. You know, and for those that are listening, hopefully there’s a lot of takeaways, hopefully there’s a lot of like leaders that typically follow our podcast, are taking notes, because this is something that you need to do in your organization, regardless of how big you are, whether you’re small or large, you know, the larger you are, the scarier it is if you don’t embrace emotional intelligence, or at least acknowledge it. You know, we’re going to talk a little bit about mental health hereafter. But that topic is so alive and well. But I still believe that in corporate America, we don’t know what to do with it. We don’t know how to address it. We don’t know if it’s taboo to even bring it up. We don’t know. You know what I mean? Like, you know, when it’s front row center in our face hits the fan, then you’re addressing things and what kind of footwork did you do as a corporation, did you do as a leader, and did they do as an employee to help walk that. Like it’s so raw, and we’re gonna, you’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to make mistakes if we don’t put our people, truly put our people first. That was a reason why when I went through it and I realized the impact of it for me, and just to see it through a different lens, that we did it for our people. And yes, the little backstory is, the reason why we did it for executives, senior team is because I think I mentioned this, but I wanted to go deeper, is we were growing leaps and bounds. And what I’m here to tell every leader and anybody in management is you have your vision for what you want, and you set for the company, or your division, if you’re a middle manager, and you have a division that you’re running, right. And you have goals and dreams. You wake up every day and hopefully every day you’re so inspired to show up at work every day. And just like do greatness, right and lead with greatness, sadly, that gets diluted. Oftentimes, the bigger the goals are, the bigger the team is, you know, and if you are you even compromised in your own, you know, EQ world that can really make or break a company. I sat here in my desk, and I said five years in now what? Like we did this, we grew, we’re growing so fast, it was scary good, scary, because I’m like, bring it on. But what does that mean for my vision? How am I translating that to my executive or senior team? And then how is that translating, then to my middle management that is affecting my culture? At the time, we had had a couple of you know, glass door type reviews that I wasn’t proud of, that that wasn’t, it was only one version of that narrative of a scenario going on, you know, at you know, because there’s always two sides to every story. But there were some things that I saw consistently that I’m like, I don’t like that’s not, those that know Ronn Ruiz and the culture that I bring, you know, that I started with and who I am as a person that is not us. And we refuse to have that as ours, as the narrative. And so that’s why we did this and honestly about the impact you had wasn’t necessarily just on and this is the thing, another takeaway I want people to take note of, it’s not just about the company and the company’s goals. You through your work, and I would like to be part of that by way of making the decision to hire you in the executive coaching. You’ve impacted people’s lives, not their work, not apartment SEO. I mean, I don’t want to discount that you didn’t impact us. To this day, people talk about those teachings. And to this day, people would tell me even outside of our, when the three of us were on the recap meetings, how much you have helped them just get out of their own way in life. So that way they can show up 100% as a person, a functioning person. I mean, people I’ve talked about again, no joke, joking aside, saving marriages, showing up differently in their household, their kids look at them differently for those that had kids. You know, they’ve managed through fear, manage through lives you know, in whatever way they knew how, whatever their teachings were a product of their environment, whatever it is. You help them in their personal lives, and they show up a better person. And that’s the message that I preached to leaders when I talk to my contemporaries, and even our clients, but that’s something if any takeaway from this podcast is written down, take that one away. We all could have a better day in life in general, we’re going to talk a lot about the pandemic, but just in the last three years, we’ve seriously needed to press a reset, we had to press reset, let’s say, right, and really identify. There was a lot of things that came out of that pandemic, good, bad and indifferent. And I think that we need to really look at this again, you know, mental health in particular was a very big element. I think sometimes, you know, we had that quietness to, during the pandemic, at least I did that quietness in the pandemic, because there was no distraction, to really think like, do I like Ronn Ruiz? Do I like where I’m headed in life? Do I like, you know what I mean? Am I indifferent, you know, all of those things. So, I think if anything, maybe people did take inventory, hopefully they did, and are ready to do some work. And as you know, you and I are about to do some more work together for the company in the team. And I’m really excited about that. Because I think even if you work with the exact same 16 people, you are going to meet 16 different people to some extent. And so, I will say to that, again, write these down leaders, is this is an ongoing effort. This is a trainer, you know, I don’t, I have two gym memberships, I don’t go, if I sign up with a trainer, I will go religiously every day, every three, you know, three days a week, or whatever the case is, it’s the same thing. So, thank you for the impact you’ve had on our team.

Valerie: Oh, thank you for making me cry again. That was wonderful to hear, you know that I think part of what drives me is being able to make a difference. That’s a big part of my life. And so that was really very wonderful to hear that change is ongoing, and that people credit our work together. So, thank you for that. And as we were preparing for our podcast, I actually pulled up the EQ executive coaching review that I did for you at the end of the coaching, because I know we talked about, like what are some of the benefits that people received. And I wanted to be able to speak to that a little bit. And so, these are from their words during our final interviews that we had with them, but being more patient, breakthrough with another employee. So, maybe they expanded a relationship that they needed to work on, they’re more self-aware, it exposed blind spots. I had a coach one time that told me well, a blind spot by definition is a blind spot, you wouldn’t know that. Even the coach needs a coach sometimes. And the importance of empathy and relationships, framing the positive and tough conversations, seeing other points of view, how best to communicate with someone. So, they really wanted to target a particular relationship. And so ,they’re working on communicating with that person. Identifying and recognizing triggers, so that maybe they didn’t feel so reactive. How to handle emotions appropriately, being more mindful of actions and tone, competence and management style, and then releasing responsibility to other people, instead of trying to do everything yourself. Sometimes it’s hard to delegate. So, being able to do that successfully. All of those were things that your team told us that the were there big takeaways or things that they really appreciated about our coaching work together. And it is very meaningful to watch the process from this standpoint, and to see where you start with someone. And then where you end up at the end of that coaching period. And so, I welcome and look forward to meeting with those 16 same new people.

Ronn: Yeah, and then some right, because we’re growing again.

Valerie: Yeah. And so, thank you for every opportunity to work with you and your team. I love it every time.

Ronn: And in and around that we have the annual you know, all hands-on training as well, for the EQ training for everybody. So that was obviously like a nice refresher. So, everybody in the entire company was impacted by it, right, whether they had the executive coaching or just that, you know, training and guidance throughout the year. 

Valerie: Yeah, absolutely.

Martin: So, Valerie, how does emotional intelligence training help pull teams together and build more synergy within the company from your perspective?

Valerie: Well, I think a lot of the benefits that I mentioned, you see definitely that it helps with communication. And because people communicate differently, they interact differently, they think differently, there can be a lot of misunderstandings, and some people are more sensitive to things than others. So, some person might not think that their delivery would have impacted people. And maybe it did. So really, the communication piece of it, I think, is one of the most important parts and it allows for more teamwork to happen. And you’ll see people have a stronger sense of empathy towards other people with the way that they’re viewing a situation versus how you see it. And I think that those are all really strong things that happened as a result of learning about emotional intelligence. And really, it’s about exploring yourself and learning about yourself. Because sometimes you don’t even realize things about yourself, how you respond to things, how people perceive you. And it allows me actually, as the third party, you know, removed, if there is a situation, I can work with both different team members, or if there are multiple, on how it’s handled. Like I can handle the situation from different directions that a leader typically isn’t able to do, because I’m hearing both sides of it in a very safe place. And they know that their jobs is not at risk, because they’re telling me their exact perspective of what happened. And so, I’m able to say, well, did you try this? Have you considered this? What about this? And then also say, did you, how was your tone when you delivered that? You know, well, how was the message received? And to really make them think about delivery and things like that. So, it helps to be able to come at it from two different angles.

Martin: Yeah, be the rational mediator.

Ronn: You should coin that. No, you have, you touched on a great point that I didn’t elaborate on it. And that’s exactly yeah, like the perspective that you bring from looking at, you know, your optics have like two sides whereas typically you only hear as a company, you only hear one side, and you know, one side you know, so it’s basically like a 360. And again, because you have that safe place, even at the best of the best companies and our leadership, and our safest place, they may not because of fear of like, I can’t be that honest with my company, you know, and it’s like, no, you need to for your own goodness, you know.

Valerie: Right. And in cases we had instances where I asked permission, I’m like, oh, do you mind if I bring another layer of leadership in here and let’s work through this. And that’s when I would maybe engage you or HR or something in order to help us get to a better place. And but I you know, I always did that with permission, and then you get a different perspective too, because then I’m getting the leadership perspective and what they’re seeing. And so again, another optic, so you’ve got all of these different views. And ultimately, one of the things that somebody was saying was that even difficult conversations became easier. And so, I think that the work that I did with your team and also the training that you had with Randy. Yeah, so that they were able to have more difficult conversations that sometimes we have to have in order to really move forward. And people don’t feel comfortable sometimes in those conversations. And my goal was that if somebody needed to have that conversation, is to give them the tools to do that. 

Ronn: Yeah, exactly.

Valerie: So, I brought, I have a question for you actually. Now, that we’re thinking about doing some new work together. After the pandemic, specifically because I know you made some changes to your office and the ways that you operated your business. Where does apartment SEO stand with emotional intelligence now going into your 10-year anniversary? Like how has that impacted your business model and where are we starting from our journey together?

Ronn: Right. Well, obviously, as I mentioned earlier about the pandemic, I think everybody just you know, all of our worlds got rocked. Not only just in the way in which we do business today, most industries ours in particular, but what we all went through, you know, some people had some emotional, you know, challenges by way of like even losing loved ones and it was just, you know, it was crazy, not having that synergy, that connection. We left March 13, 2020, from the office in downtown Long Beach and we’ve never gone back. We still have an office. We’re in at least, we have our accounting teams that go daily to grab checks, but that’s pretty much it. We went crazy into zoom. Made sure that, obviously like we all did, made sure that we had, at that we did way too much in the beginning, but we did like daily check ins, daily meetings, like all hands-on deck, happy hours, we did everything just to try to stay connected and we still do. We obviously had to go to backtrack to make sure that we respected people’s time and truly need to work in addition to, you know, have that synergy and connection. But and we’ve done everything in our power to just maintain, you know, our annual traditions such as our you know, Thanksgiving, holiday events, kick annual, kickoffs, every first quarter, annual retreats virtually, all virtual. And so, what transpired to your question, I think that it is time for us to get back to it. I mean, we, you and I worked, we worked together prior to the pandemic. The pandemic kind of created a hiatus that we were looking at anyway. Still do, again the annual EQ training with the whole team, and then we didn’t. And now that we were talking about it, I’m thinking why don’t we do this virtually, for the teams during that heat of the pandemic, right. When we needed to even, I mean, you know, there were some people that told me they’re like, my dog doesn’t even like me because I’m home all day. You know, their personal relationships could have been way more effective than even just their working relationships. So, we should have definitely done it but hindsight being 2020. Obviously into the year 10, Martin knows, particularly as well as the rest of the company that I am literally at that point about like okay, so here we are first year, I’m sorry, first decade. Now, what is the next decade look like, right? So, we’re really challenging ourselves internally, as a company by way of me pushing the envelope and saying, what is it you know, and because technology is happening fast because the world is virtual, especially in our world of digital marketing, because we aren’t having that synergy in, the creative juices flowing all together in a creative digital marketing agency. We really need to continue to redefine, like our interactions, our connections, and our technology and all of the above, you know, so not just like on our soft skills, but also our hard skills, and our technology and everything that’s going to take us into the future. So, definitely more demand on the company and that’s kind of where we were at year five, where you know, we created a very scrappy, self-funded bootstrap self-funded company startup, growing into, you know, a bigger entity, expanding across the country, expanding our footprint when it comes to employees across the country. And we’ve done that since then, obviously, a little slow down during the pandemic, but we are back to that same velocity. And that’s why you and I are talking just, you know, to restart this and to make sure that our leadership team have that support and that we understand each other, that what I’m asking is not out of the ordinary. It’s definitely, you know, the way that we’re going to maintain a thriving agency, and we’re also going to be satisfied in our personal life. So, I’m really excited about it. You know, 10 years in, you know, some of the, we have great 10 years. So again, a lot of the people that went in through it five years ago are still here, majority actually, not everybody that is on the list. And of course, we have newbies for the all-hands training, but the executive training I’m saying and the senior team, and even middle management who have since, you know, some of which got promoted. I’m excited for them to embrace this training with you and see their true impact and their potential come forward.

Valerie: That’s wonderful. 

Martin: The great diverse men have been, you know, people on the team and it’s just you know, this emotional intelligence really will, does go a long way. And so, you know, whether it’s leaders learning, the executive team, you know, that’s just gonna trickle down. And it will make a bigger impact for the whole company, just making it a better place to work, a better place to be and more efficient just for our clients as well and just delivering that top-tier experience that, you know, we’re all about. So.

Ronn: For sure.

Martin: I appreciate it all. 

Valerie: Even just to watch your relationship grow with the two of you, you know, I think both of you grew closer through that process as well. It’s really nice. 

Ronn: Absolutely.

Martin: Yeah, just taking time because we get so busy, right? There’s so much stuff going on, and it’s easy to lose track of time and just you know, you got to make time to connect and reconnect, especially when your business partners too. So, we’ve got to have that communication, that open communication, the raw talks, and he’s kinda you know, put it out there.

Ronn: Like a marriage. 

Martin: Yep. We knew what we were getting into when that went down. So, this is a perfect segue into this. So how do you use emotional intelligence in your everyday life? And what are some tips for our audience to do the same?

Valerie: Gosh, you know, I mean, it definitely comes in handy when emotions come to the surface. So as the two of you know, I recently moved which I didn’t want to move, and my landlord had passed away, so it was kind of forced upon me. And that was emotional. I’ve been there for several years. I love that place so much. And, you know, just, I think for me, understanding that emotions are also a tool that our body uses to process the emotions that are, like the emotions that come up physically, things like that. That’s a processing tool for what’s happening inside, it’s a response. And so, when I was sad, guess what? I cried. When I was happy in the middle of that I laughed and you know there, I understood the roller coaster and what was happening, and I more gracefully served those waves. And I think for people to incorporate that into their own lives. It’s just really learning to understand your emotions and why they’re happening and even if there’s a deeper trigger, you know, for me loss is hard. I lost my dad when I was 14. So, anytime I lose a situation or a person, it impacts me in a different way. And so, being aware of that helps me to manage that more effectively. And so, just being able to understand yourself more effectively is really important. And you know, you see people out there who have no self-management skills. It’s just like, oh, I can’t believe you just said that or what are you doing? So, I bring that a little bit. It’s being able to know also how you manage things when they come up and it’s not always perfect. Know that too. Know that I have moments where my response is not perfect, and I still try my best and that’s all you can do every day is just try your best. Try your best to get in the next day and pay attention to other people and try to manage those relationships. Make sure, you know my whole thing is I, especially in social media and things like that. So many people just are not positive, and I just want people to be kind to one another and do bring positive things forward. We don’t need to bring all the negative, just stop. Nobody needs to see that, nobody wants to see it, like I think that we need to get back to that time where we just enjoyed each other.

Martin: Push them negative back. I like that. 

Ronn: You touched on something that I think is the difference here, is when you try and you know we don’t always get it right. But the fact that we know we didn’t get it right, I think is the difference. The fact that we know oh, that could have landed differently, or my delivery could have been different, or you know, my experience there or what I’m presenting to the other person right and then we.

Valerie: We do not know that Ronn, even in that, self-correcting in a moment and just say oh, I think landed wrong, even for me I’m sorry for the way that I said that. What I meant was, and then correcting in that moment. We can sometimes even catch that, or we go to them after the fact is that oh my gosh, I was thinking about that tonight and it’s a little weird to my ear. Are we okay?

Ronn: Exactly. Yeah. Now just the acknowledgement goes a long way. So, shifting gears, but very relative. Obviously, we’ve been talking a lot about emotional intelligence, which is a favorite topic. But I want to know your interest in how it correlates to what, again, I mentioned earlier the topic of mental health.

Valerie: Absolutely. For me, the two are kind of married to each other because when you think about it, if somebody is having things going on in their life, they’re sad, that can lead to depression. That’s a mental health issue. So, the ways in which they handle those emotions, the self-management skills required for that. That’s emotional intelligence. So if you don’t have those skills for self-management, and this doesn’t discount the fact that sometimes there are chemical things that play in our brain, that don’t allow things to happen perfectly when we’re having some of these mental health challenges, but being able to have the skills, to have the awareness and to exercise, some self-management can help keep you from spiraling. And so, I just saw even in a lot of the coaching work that I would do, like how closely tied the two things were. It’s like they were married in a way, and we all went through the pandemic and that exposed a lot of cracks in mental health. And thank goodness because now that the stigma is going away, and people are feeling like they can come forward and say I need help or that they are having a challenge and they may need resources. And so, I really just saw that happening a lot through the pandemic, and it just became more and more important, and I started watching more media and reading more about mental health and it really helps my interests grow.

Martin: Let’s dig into how these two worlds actually intertwine between your interest with emotional intelligence and being an advocate for mental health. Can you give our audience a little insight there?

Valerie: Yeah, you know why actually the National Apartment Association also was bringing forward a lot of focus on mental health. They had a subcommittee that was developed, and it’s really like a way to start talking about mental health within the multifamily industry specifically and they actually, were planning to train a group of people on mental health first aid skills. Well, I went through that training and became a Mental Health First Aider and that’s something that allows you to recognize when things are happening with other people, so that you can assess the situation. You can provide resources; you can be there to respond in some way, your job is not to fix a mental health situation. You’re not a doctor, but it’s being able to respond to a crisis in a caring way. And I went through that training and became a Mental Health First Aider and when they had the opportunity for people to actually get certified as a mental health first aid instructor, I thought that was something that was very complimentary to my emotional intelligence work and I wanted to be able to help people know how to deal more effectively, in these times of crises when people are, you know, having residents come into the office and they’re being challenged by those situations and those residents are having mental health challenges. How do you respond to that? How do you respond to it with your team, if your team is having these challenges? So, I became one of 13 inaugural Mental Health First Aid Instructors in response to that.

Martin: Amazing.

Ronn: So, how can our, I mean I don’t want to just take you and you know, keep you selfishly to ourselves, right. So, how can our audience connect with you Valerie? To learn more about your emotional intelligence training and the coaching you offer, and including the mental health instructor?

Valerie: Absolutely, probably the easiest way is through my website, which is So, V A L E R I E, M as in magnificent, Sargent as in S A R G E N And you can also find me, same title, Valerie M Sargent, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter, you know, all of those are good ways to connect with me. And in that main website shows all the different components that I do, the different work I do with the Yvette Poole associates, some of my consulting work that I do ongoing, and yeah, a little bit about everything about me.

Martin: Yeah, and it’s easy for people, like they can just go to the website, set up a time, do you do like an initial consultation, what is that process gonna look like?

Valerie: Email, there’s a place to shoot me an email through there and then we can kind of go back and forth once I find out what they need and you know, some people need a speaking engagement. Others may want coaching, they may want a training session. So, I like to find out what their needs are first, and then we schedule an exploratory call.

Martin: Perfect. Well, I’ll make sure to share a link to all the different resources and links that you have. We’ll put it in the podcast show notes, and make sure everyone has you know, a link so they can go check you out. 

Valerie: That sounds great. 

Martin: Right there and sign up. So again, Valerie, thank you so much for joining Ronn and I on The Multifamily Podcast. We really look forward to working with you more and hope, you know, our audience got some golden nuggets to take away into their own personal and professional lives around emotional intelligence. So, remember everyone, take time to subscribe to The Multifamily Podcast at And don’t forget to check out to get your free marketing analysis and reputation report card. Let our team take your communities to the next level. Until next time, bye everyone.

Ronn: Bye.

Martin: Bye Ronn.