Building High Performance Teams in Multifamily w/ Jennifer Staciokas, Executive Managing Director, Property Management at Western Wealth Capital

Speakers: Ronn and Martin

Guest: Jennifer Staciokas

Martin: All right, so we’re back. Welcome back to the multifamily podcast with Ronn and Martin. Today’s interview is going to be quite a treat for our audience. We have with us the one and only Jennifer Staciokas, Executive Managing Director of Western Wealth Capital. Now she’s an industry recognized Property Management Professional guest speaker at national conferences, advisory board member for multiple companies and brands. She also really understands what it takes to build high performance teams, and specializes in training and business development. She has also multilingual, fluently speaking German and French as well. Jennifer, welcome to the multifamily podcast.

Jennifer: Thanks for having me. Great to see you, Ronn and Martin.

Ronn: Yeah, we’re super excited to have you, this was, you were definitely one of the on the top of the list to make sure that the industry got to hear from the one and only Jay stack. I remember when we were looking to do this, how long we’ve known each other. And I started aging myself to thinking wow, it’s been a long time. You know, back when I was in my, I think pop car days was one of the first time that I had connected with you, I think at the time you’re at Lincoln, and making some big things happen there. And then obviously, you moved on to bigger and better things, which is amazing. Still love your Lincoln family, I’m sure. But to kick off this podcast, I’d love for the audience to get to know you a little bit more about your professional background, maybe some noteworthy companies that kind of already hinted there, that you’ve represented in the past, and what you did for them.

Jennifer: Absolutely. So, like many people in the industry, I kind of fell into it. I was going back to graduate school, and the apartment community that I lived in, was riding the elevator up to my apartment, and there was a flyer that said looking for fun and enthusiastic people that want to save money on their rent. And I thought wow, this sounds perfect, sign me up. So, went down to the leasing office, applied for the position and got hired on the spot. And thought it was just going to be a temporary thing. Well, I got my graduate degree for about a year and a half. And then as many of us got sucked into the industry and 23 years later, haven’t left. I started my career in leasing. And it was in the Washington DC area for Lincoln property company, and then became a manager, worked into a training role, took on marketing, and then moved into a national roll with Lincoln and moved to Dallas for that position. And then decided after 15 years that I was ready to spread my wings and joined Pinnacle and Pinnacle was at a really unique point in their evolution or their history, because they had been a long-standing brand. They had so many senior and long-term employees. But one of the areas that they really hadn’t built out in their platform was training and marketing. 

And so, they recruited me to come on board, and really build out those platforms for their organization. And I then took on revenue management, which I had also overseen at Lincoln, and then had the unique experience of help launch, helping to launch three different brands at Pinnacle. So, we launched a New York city specific brand, which was Pinnacle city living, we launched a Canadian company that was doing purpose-built rentals called Rhapsody. And then we also launched a student housing brand, which was Pinnacle campus living. So really unique and fun experience to build a platform as well as build out a team, which I know we’re going to talk about today. And then I got the unique opportunity, I got a random message from a recruiter, looking for somebody that was it was a Vancouver, British Columbia based company. But all of their properties were in the United States and they had a small home base here in Phoenix. And so, they were looking to bring management in house and looking for somebody to be the leader of that and build the company from scratch. And I wasn’t looking at the time, but it was one of those opportunities that I thought if I don’t pursue this, I’m going to kick myself a couple years down the line and say what if, so I jumped all in and then that’s when COVID hits. So, I joined Western in March of 2020, was building a management company during COVID. And here we are, two and a half years later. So, it’s been a fun ride and multifamily has certainly provided me a lot of opportunity in my career, that I never thought was even possible.

Ronn: That’s a great story. And yeah, you’ve impacted so many lives along the way as well, which we’ll get into that I’m sure in the future.

Martin: Yes, definitely seen many multifamily professionals being drawn in with that reduced friend and you know, getting them in and then they never leave.

Ronn: That was me.

Martin: So, we know how important it is to have a strong training department, making sure all new team members who joined the team are trained properly based on the company standards, when you were in charge of training, what were some big wins and challenges you face when trying to get your team in sync?

Jennifer: Absolutely. So great question. So, training has always had my heart. As I mentioned, when I came off site, I worked on site for about a year. And the first job I took in the corporate role was in training. And so, training is always had my heart in this industry, I think the thing that’s really critical when you think about training is that everybody learns differently. And it’s so important to have a variety of different resources for all employees to be able to learn in the way that suits them best. And I think our industry, in many industries, didn’t really embrace this, for the longest time, it was, everything had to be in person, and it had to be an all-day training. And a lot of people don’t learn really well in that environment. So, I think over time, we were able to follow some best practices of companies outside of the industry, and really look at what works best for our industry, and create different mediums for employees to be able to engage with. Another key part of training that I always like to reinforce is that everyone’s a trainer. So even though you may work in the training department, you’re not solely responsible for the training of the entire company, every single employee has to take responsibility for training themselves, training their employees, and really creating that environment of get to do training, instead of have to do training. 

Martin: I really like the everyday, yeah, everyone is a trainer. That’s pretty powerful.

Ronn: Yeah, definitely. And that gives them that ownership right that everybody should have in their daily life. And probably the attaboys, too, because when you’re mentoring somebody, you get to see their progress and growth too. And you’re like, hey, I had a little hand in that.

Jennifer: Well, it’s funny you say that, because today I was logging into LinkedIn. And I noticed that an employee that worked for me at Pinnacle, he started his own company. And he just announced today that another employee that he worked with, that I had hired at Pinnacle, is now working for him. And it was like this proud mama moment, when I saw this announcement that it’s like, okay, they’ve created, they may have moved on, but they’ve moved on to something bigger and better. And they’ve formed and built those relationships together, that they’re going to create their own dream team moving forward. So, it’s definitely amazing when you see the people that you’ve hired and that you’ve worked with, and that they just continue to exceed and excel, and then they bring other people along with them too.

Ronn: Again, speaking of the opportunities that multifamily brings, right? There there’s, I mean, we’re one of you know, a product of that as well, starting a company, so you know, kudos to them for jumping off their Earth, they’re safe Earth, as I say, going into the entrepreneurship. 

Jennifer: That is right. 

Ronn: But obviously starts with building with high performance, right? So, I know that I definitely believe in building high performance teams, I know you have had many and still do. One of the books that I love is, the canoe theory that we used many years ago and one of our annual retreats. And it’s basically about how businesses and teamwork, you know, together, it’s like paddling a canoe, have you, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, but highly recommend it. And then obviously, I’m speaking to the canoe here, like running a digital marketing agency, we are held, you guys help hold us accountable every day to our performance, of course, right? It’s no longer just the relationship. It’s like, what have you done for me lately? That’s what, I sing that song all the time daily, to ensure obviously, that we’re bringing new qualified traffic through your door on a daily basis. So, what I want you to share with the audience, if you don’t mind is how do you, what strategies have helped you build high performance teams?

Jennifer: So, I think the thing that really resonates most with me is having diversity in the team. And that’s diversity and every single aspect that you can think of, there’s nothing worse than having a team of people that just say yes to you, as the leader. You want people to have diversity of thought, that have diversity of ideas, and that they feel safe and open to share those ideas to make the team better. So that is what I think is really critical in building high performance teams, we actually utilize that Western wealth, the tool, the DISC assessment, if you’re familiar with that, doesn’t mean it’s the end all be all. But there’s many different tools that you can use, we just choose to use DISC. And we put together having all of our hiring managers, all of our property managers take the DISC. And then within those supervisors, looking at their profile, and it was really interesting when my profile came back, I have nine direct reports, we were all over the map. So, I have a D and I, an SNC and then I have people that are a little bit of each. And so, it really spoke to me that, okay, what I’m saying is really important is actually coming through in the actions and I’m actually hiring a team that has that diversity. And then the other thing I think, for high performing team teams, one of the critical things that I found is spending the time upfront. So many times, when you’re looking to hire somebody, it’s people are trying to rush and just put somebody in the seat. But I found the more time you spend upfront, getting to know the person, and I always tell candidates, I’m going to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of the position and the company, because they don’t want there to be any surprises when you join and say, well, you didn’t tell me that the delinquency was enormous, or you didn’t tell me that it was a really challenging resident profile. I want the person to make the decision by understanding everything that they’re going to walk into on day one.

Ronn: That’s huge, definitely start setting the expectation upfront, right? 

Jennifer: Yeah. 

Ronn: That’s awesome.

Martin: I remember, for apartment SEO, when Ronn and I were first starting the company, those early startup days, were probably some of the most memorable moments for us, just doing everything. So Bootstrap, starting small and watching our team grow, like year over year, what was it like building Western wealth communities from the ground up? Can you share what life was like them?

Jennifer: Yeah, gosh, it was an absolute blur, absolute blur. What I would say it’s, you know, we had a really short timeframe. So, the original business plan was that we were going to have, a significantly longer amount of time to get the company up and running. COVID put a wrench in all of that. So, what we thought may have been 90 days to really lay the groundwork and set up the infrastructure for the company, turned into 28 days, to be able to onboard the first 10 properties. So, what that means is we had to set up everything, be it our instance of our property management software, make sure we can actually have a successful payroll and get people paid, get them on boarded and through the system, negotiating every single contract of those items that we had to have right out of the gate. So, it was a ton of work. And my COVID experience, which I’m sure we’ll talk about later was probably a little bit different from others, where I don’t think I really slept for a good six months, just like you guys did when you were getting started up. But over the last little over two years, we’ve on boarded 62 properties, that equates to over 15,000 units. And that was a mix of bringing existing owned assets in house for management, as well as we were a really aggressive buyer during COVID. So, there was a lot of new acquisitions that required us to do due diligence and get the entire process set up to bring those properties on board. So, we built the entire tech stack from scratch. And the thing I think that’s really important in a startup environment is, and especially because I have a lot of relationships in the business, everybody wanted to be first and with us. And I really had to prioritize what are the things that I have to have within 20 days to have a functioning property? What are the things that I would like to have? And then, what are those things that are kind of aspirational or wish list items that we can get to at a later point, and just setting expectations with the partnerships that I had built over the years, that it may not be the time now but have some patience and let us digest everything that we’ve got and then we can come back and evaluate at a later time?

Ronn: Yeah, I remember those days, and you were very gracious and very forthright, you know, coming up with what you had needed upfront, and those hopefully respected you and said, okay, we gotta just let her do her thing and build the company. And I mean, that was a time literally where you were doing onboarding these properties, like in multiple states as well, right? When not much travel was going on. And you know, your resources, I’m sure were limited. Many of your vendor partner or even just partners were trying to figure out their new normal too during COVID. Like who’s on first, who’s on second?

Jennifer: That’s right. And I think, you know, you just brought up a really great point, that it’s so important in our business. And I think our business is a little different, or industries a little different than others, but it’s so focused on relationships. And I’ve always had the mentality that if you pay it forward, eventually you’re going to need somebody to help you. And I was able to cash in on a lot of the things that I had done prior in my career, that I had paid forward, that I was able to ask for favors, and people literally bent over backwards to make things happen. You know, I remember calling a couple of partners saying, okay, I need to get the setup and they said, okay, that will take about 60 days or 90 days. And I said actually we have; it was less than 28. At that point I’m like, we have about 14 days to make that happen. And I didn’t have one person tell me no, they worked the extra hours, they bent over backwards to ensure that Western wealth was going to be a success. And so, it is a really tremendous industry of people that have each other’s backs and want to help each other because they know if they help now that I will definitely repay the favor tenfold?

Ronn: Well, you’ve already done it tenfold before that. So that’s where they’re like, okay, now it’s our turn to, you know, pay it backwards, I guess, or forward. That’s awesome. Speaking of paying, as an avid multifamily investor myself, I’m always interested in hearing and learning about new investment philosophies and strategies. What is Western wells value creation system? 

Jennifer: Absolutely. So, it’s a great question. And this is something that really drew me to Western wealth is, you know, 100% of our portfolio, and our business plan is value add. So, I always say we buy the ugliest property on the block. And we transition and transform neighborhoods by, you know, the, the work that we do, but our differentiator is creating value day one. So, there’s, you know, our business plan is not unique, there’s a ton of people out there doing value add and doing value add really well. However, we build value day one. And what I mean by that is, sometimes before the money even goes hard, we’re changing the signage, you know, we’ve got our signage company there, the minute the money hits, we’re demoing the model, we’re doing our exterior paint, we’re immediately making changes. So, when residents come into the office, and want to know what Western wealth is all about, they can see that we’re making immediate change and making an impact. And that also means that we start creating value on day one. So, so many times when you think about companies that are doing value add, they’re selling a dream, a dream of what’s going to be, we’re actually selling a promise that they can see from the beginning. And then they’re okay with when they do get their renewal and the price increases, or when they see that we’re doing these renovated units, and we’re doing a significant upcharge for those apartments. They understand the value behind it, and they’re willing to pay because they want to be part of that.

Ronn: That’s definitely huge. Did you create that value creation system or was it a combined effort?

Jennifer: No, that was actually existing. So Western wealth capital has been around for about eight years, so five and a half, six years prior to bringing management in house, and they use third party providers, but they really dictated the value creation system and it’s what we call our well program. And that was something that ownership really felt was going to be the differentiator between Western wealth and their competitors.

Martin: You’re making an impact for the investors and the community. So, for everyone, everyone is winning in that environment. So, how’s Western wealth communities using technology today? And what advice do you have to those still scared to embrace technology now, given our world having gone through a complete digital transformation?

Jennifer: Absolutely. So, I always say, you know, even though we talked about Western health communities as being a property management company, we’re not just a property management company, we’re also a staffing agency, because a lot of what we deal with is people. And then the other thing I say is, we’re a technology company. So, we wanted to come in, and we had that unique opportunity to build our tech stack. And really figure out you know, what was going to work for our organization for our resident demographic, and also for our employees. Some advice I would give is that, you have to find the balance between technology and the human touch. And I’ve certainly been guilty of this in my former life, where you do get phone calls all the time, and you hear about this amazing technology that’s coming to market, and you want to try everything. So, you end up chasing the shiny new penny, I’ve definitely learned over my career, that the thing that, if anybody’s heard me speak before, you probably heard me say this, that the tech that you’re going to implement, it needs to solve a real problem that you’re facing at your property or at your company. And if it doesn’t, then you need to move on and you can keep it in a file for a later time. But really just rolling out technology for the sake of rolling out technology is just spinning your wheels and it’s not doing anybody any favors, you’re creating resentment with your onsite teams, because it’s one more thing they have to learn or manage. And if you’re not creating value, or solving a problem, you’re not really using your investors and your owner’s money wisely.

Ronn: That’s amazing. I think that you and I had spoken about this many years ago, many moons ago about just even on the partner side of things like being that efficient partner, where it’s not work to work with us, right? And I think that that was such a value add for us to hear as well. Because oftentimes, you build you know, processes and software and all of the above technology and think that it’s the end all be all solution and it still isn’t quite there yet. So, you know, for vendor partners out there listening, you know, make sure that it truly does solve your client’s problems and solves their worries. So that way you have a long-term relationship.

Jennifer: And I think too, you know, another thing that I have read, gosh, several years ago it was the night before was giving a presentation at the OB tech conference and I read this quote on LinkedIn and it talked about, basically, if you’re going to add something new, if it’s to your life, to your tech stack, whatever it is, you have to make room and give something else up. And I know that’s really hard for some of us. But you can’t keep adding, adding, adding, because number one, the cost adds up. But also, the time and the energy that you’re putting towards things, you just, there’s not enough time in the day to be able to, so if you are going to add new technology, what is something that you can subtract or get rid of to make room, to free up room for that to happen?

Ronn: Well, the other thing is that you, yeah, that’s very valuable. Thank you for sharing that. Because what I’ve learned too, is, then that’s just much more you have to maintain and are you truly best of breed at that point, if you’re really just like trying to be the end all be all.

Jennifer: That’s true.

Ronn: You know. So, it’s like, know what you got to, where you can manage and do it very well. So, I know we talked, I talked a little bit about the people, and I’m really interested to hear this. But in your website, obviously, you mentioned being a people first property management company, how do you define that?

Jennifer: Absolutely. So, people first to me means, every decision that we make, needs to be focused on people. And so people can be a couple of different audiences. It’s obviously number one, our employees, but it’s also our residents, our supplier partners, our investors. And so, every decision that we make, has to be in the positive benefit of the people that we serve. One thing that was really important when we were building the company is that, we put our money where our mouth was. So, we said, we’re a people first company, but what does that mean? So that means we need to have the best person in the right seat. And in order to do that, you have to make an investment. And I was very fortunate that the owners of Western wealth, were willing and able to make that investment. My first hire pretty much was a director of recruiting, getting her on board, because I knew, you know, looking at 15,000 units, 62 properties during a pandemic, that’s hundreds and hundreds of employees, especially with some turnover on top of that. I mean, it’s hundreds and hundreds of employees that need to be hired in a pretty short amount of time. And as you’re a growing company, if you’re asking your operators to focus on transitioning properties, plus focus on attracting talent, and bringing them on board, you’re asking too much of people, when we made a huge investment, our recruiting team is now three people strong. And they really are the first line of defense, they set the tone for everybody that joins our organization, because they’re the first touch point to hear about the company, and they really share and live and breathe our culture.

Martin: I think it’s pretty, pretty consistent for a lot of big management companies to have a big recruitment department, or would you say that’s usually lacking in some regard?

Jennifer: I think it’s lacking in some regards. I’m hopeful that maybe with COVID, that has changed things. But I think that’s still an under resourced component of property management, which is pretty sad. But I like to say that the recruiting team, they’re my secret weapon, right? They make things happen and they understand that time is of the essence. And the quicker you can get in front of candidates and offer positions to the right person, the more successful you’re going to be.

Martin: That’s powerful. So, you were featured on multifamily leadership YouTube channel on their topic on you are the capital video, you spoke about overcoming fears by learning and asking lots of questions. And your key advice was always to be learning. With that in mind, what does human capital mean to you, seeing how big of an impact it has on today’s companies to be truly successful?

Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely human capital, to me is that people aren’t your most valued asset in a property management company, we could not, there is no need for a property management company if you don’t have the onsite people day in and day out, interacting with the residents, with your potential residents taking care of and entering their homes, and really building that community. So, you must invest in their knowledge and skills. And you have to ensure that their attitude is in alignment with your company’s values. That to me is really what human capital is. I’m a firm believer that you can train skills and knowledge, but you can’t train somebody’s attitude. And I have found that over COVID and over time, we kind of had this reset, right? Where people were staying home and they weren’t having that interaction as much as they had in the past. And that hiring managers were saying I want somebody that’s ready to rock and roll, on day one. I don’t want to train. Unfortunately, that really doesn’t work and some of the best employees are the ones that come from the outside, and they don’t have any bad habits in our industry. And I asked at some of our manager meetings, you know, by a show of hands, how many of you had experience when you started in the multifamily industry, none of them raise their hand but somebody gave them a chance in this industry. And so, we need to pay that forward, and put the time and energy in the investment into employees or into people to become the type of employees that you want. 

Martin: Beautiful.

Ronn: Yeah, that’s definitely huge. I love that. So, I know, you spoke earlier that you didn’t get much sleep during COVID. I didn’t either by the way, because we were, I used it as my COVID my downtime. So, we started working on like our own tech stack and just 20 million things. And of course, thinking like, wait, are we gonna have the money for this? Like, are people gonna pay their bills when they’re working from a home? But my biggest question for you is like, how did you find your Zen during the crazy days, and still find a way to thrive and grow the company during those times?

Jennifer: Absolutely. So even though I didn’t have a whole lot of time, and I had a pretty unique experience, when I saw a lot of my friends watching or binging on Netflix, I didn’t have time to do any of that. But I did still make time for yoga and meditation. And I’ve been doing yoga for, gosh, about 10 years and meditation for a couple years shy of that and I will say it’s absolutely changed my life. And certainly, during the craziness of COVID, and the stress of building a company from scratch, during that time, it was able to ground me and keep me focused, and I think keep me healthy too. 

Ronn: That’s awesome. And, you know, I mean, the Jay stack that I know has always burned the candle on both ends. And you know, you’re, you know, you’re very much resource for our industry, you’ve always been growing companies. So, I’m sure the yoga and meditation has really been your key player there. I gotta get some notes from you, because I need to show the hell out.

Martin: Yeah, helps us stress, blood pressure and all that good stuff and moving around. So, do you have any advice for multifamily companies trying to hire in today’s age, and how you keep good talent around for the long term?

Jennifer: Absolutely. So going back, you know, investing in the recruiting team, like we talked about, the investment is definitely worth it. And just understanding too, that we have to act fast, like we talked about a little bit before, that candidates are getting approached and getting offered positions. And the one who gets there quicker with the best offer is the one who’s going to win. So just making sure that you’re offering positions to the right people to sit in the right seat. But that you can’t really, you can’t act slowly, you have to act fast on that. And then for keeping people and good talent around for the long term, I think it just, it goes back to showing genuine appreciation for your employees, letting them know that you are completely, you know, committed to them, and making sure that you have their buy in for what the company is trying to do, what their departments trying to do. And just again, showing genuine appreciation. Some of the things, one of my signature things that I do is I handwrite cards, so many people, the only thing you get in the mail is junk. Maybe I just got a jury summons of not that long ago, you know, normally the mail that you get is stuff that you don’t want to receive. And when you get a nice surprise and something that’s handwritten, I think that goes a long way. Yes, people are, are motivated by money, but people are motivated to stay around based on a culture and a feeling of genuine appreciation. And it’s not just a card where you sign your name, you’re writing something meaningful to that person and how they touched your life, and the impact or the value that they created for your organization. So, they understand the why of what they’re doing and how it’s important to the company.

Ronn: It’s funny, I just thought this morning because I have a couple of well, many rockstars that work for us, but some people that are just really stepping outside of their lanes and just really make an impact. And so, this morning, I was like I need to write them a thank you letter, like thank you card, like you know, I’ve done it before on our Christmas holiday events and you know, put money in there like a parent would know, but I gotta get back to that because I agree with that. Like it’s you know, we don’t really get, we don’t look forward to the mail typically. So, you kind of talked about culture, what tips do you have to help improve workplace culture in a company for those that needs to get a little earful?

Jennifer: Yeah, I think it’s, you know, culture is grassroots. It’s grassroots in my opinion. So, it’s not the leader of the company saying this is what our culture is. It’s what you live and breathe every day. My job I see as a leader is creating an environment that can allow for the type of culture that, you know, I’m looking to have at this company, it’s allowing it to flourish. But I think what’s most important from a culture perspective is that there’s strong communication, that there’s absolute transparency. So, if somebody’s feeling uneasy about something that’s going on, if they know that they can go to different people in the organization, ask the question, and know that they’re going to get a transparent answer, that goes a long way. I also think with culture, your words, and your actions have to align. So, if you’re saying one thing, if I’m saying one thing, and then doing something completely different, and that’s not going to sit well with employees, so I really have to walk the talk. And then I think it’s most important to that you celebrate, not just the big wins, but you have to celebrate the small wins. And, you know, there’s always things to learn from, and there’s ways that we can debrief and talk about what we can do better. But we also have to celebrate all the things that went right, and really acknowledged the people that put the hard work in to make that happen.

Martin: So true. We just had a recent beach day, that was actually a very, very fun, impactful day, I think with the team and you know, getting together and you need those moments to just, you know, spend time and maybe unplug outside of work and in, you know, have ways to just connect and get to know each other a little better.

Ronn: Especially after two plus years, you know, a long time to be in touch and feel and talk.

Martin: Yeah, we had a whole day of paddleboarding and kayaking, and man, it was just a fun, fun, crazy day. 

Jennifer: It’s amazing. 

Martin: So, Jen, do you believe in the power of manifestation? And if so, how do you use this in your professional and personal life?

Jennifer: I absolutely do. So, I think I mentioned earlier about yoga and meditation. But specifically with meditation, I might do it twice a day. So, when I wake up in the morning, I do a meditation. And then before I go to bed at night, I do want as well. And it’s kind of to reset the brain to set you know, set myself up for a productive day in the morning and then to wind down the day at night. And then also through yoga as well as meditation, there’s something where you where you set intentions. And I think that’s really manifesting, you know, what it is that you want to bring into your life, where you want to cut out of your life. And I am a firm believer that the positive thinking that you do and the goal setting or the intentions that you have for yourself, really can be manifested. If you put enough time and energy and hard work behind it. It absolutely can happen.

Martin: How long are these daily meditations that you do in the morning and later in the afternoon?

Jennifer: So, my typical is I do 10 minutes in the morning and then at night I do 45 minutes.

Martin: Okay. And that’s, I mean, I know there’s different ways to do meditation, right? I mean, you have like the different ways you could sit. I mean, even just laying down and just being in a quiet place. I mean, I guess there’s so many different forms of meditation. Would you say that’s correct?

Jennifer: Absolutely. I mean, even I was just reading a book, and they were talking about, you know, meditation can even be brushing your teeth, if you’re actively thinking about what you’re doing, that is meditating. And there’s, you know, I actually do mostly guided meditations that allows me to stay focused, my brain does get a little crazy, if I’m trying to do it in silence. So, I find that the guided meditations allow me to focus on something and stay in tune. But meditation can be your morning run and if you just are thinking about that run, or thinking about the birds chirping or, you know, listening to the rain hit the roof. Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting on the floor, cross legged with your eyes closed for 10 or 15 minutes in utter silence. I think that’s a misnomer of what it is.

Ronn: Yeah, appreciate you sharing about the guidance. Because you know, so often, whenever I try it, too, I do it just in silence. And that alone just kind of helps to reset me and my crazy mind, that’s just never stopping but I like the guided advice. I’m going to look into that, to keep me focused, because then all of a sudden, I’m like, okay, did it a squirrel and then I’m like thinking about too much for tomorrow. Yeah, you got to be focused and accomplish it. So, I have a really good question that I cannot wait to hear the answer to. What’s one lesson you would like to pass on to the next generation of multifamily professionals? I guess we’re kind of getting to that older generation.

Jennifer: I know, it’s kind of sad. But what used to be the young people and now we’re not any member. 

Martin: Remember.

Jennifer: Yeah, remember that? My advice would be that you don’t want to lose the human touch. So, what we talked about earlier today is really focusing on relationships, and then what? Make multifamily such a unique industry. When I talk to my friends outside of the industry, and talk about how close I am with some of my competitors, and I know that goes on your side of the business too. It blows people away that we can be such close friends and we can be in direct competition. But I think that’s the beauty of our industry is that you Scott Wilder, who I worked for at Lincoln, he always said to me, Jennifer, there’s enough business to go around and it’s the absolute truth, right? When we were competing against, at that time I was with Lincoln, we were competing against Grey star, and Pinnacle and all of these other companies, and there is enough business to go around, you can’t take it all. And so, we have to help each other out where we can.

Ronn: Yeah, I appreciate that advice, too, especially for our supplier partners, because we too have felt that, you know, coming, the new kids on the block, and, you know, having to, I mean, we had our personal reputation, but we had to build our company reputation. And I’ve always, Martin knows this. I’ve always said that, when we’ve felt the strong, strong competition and I always make a joke of it. So clearly, I’ve never missed a meal and I haven’t skipped a mortgage, so we’re fine.

Martin: What is it like being a woman leader in the multifamily industry?

Jennifer: Oh, that’s a good question. So, I would say it’s not always been easy. I feel like women oftentimes have to work a little bit harder, maybe than some of our male counterparts. That’s a broad generalization but I do feel that that has sometimes been the case. However, I have been extremely fortunate in my career to work for some really amazing men, that have empowered me, supported me, pushed me out of my comfort zone, and honestly been my sponsor, when I needed somebody to help push my career forward. And so, I’ve had great examples, when I was with Lincoln, I worked for a man named John, as well as Scott and Fred, they were some of my biggest supporters. Then when I went to pinnacle, I worked for Larry, and then Rick as well, again, some of my largest supporters, always understanding the value that I would bring and trying to get me at the table or get me in the right rooms to have that exposure. And then joining Western wealth, actually our CEO is a woman, which is fantastic. And she’s been a huge cheerleader and an advocate. But then I also had a gentleman named John here as well, that pushed me and wanted me to succeed and never felt threatened by somebody else in the room. So, I’ve been extremely fortunate. I know, many other women have not been as fortunate as I have been, to work for so many supportive male figures.

Ronn: So, what advice would you give them?

Jennifer: That I think trying to level set, right, and also understanding who your tribe is. So maybe you’re not getting the support from your direct supervisor but understand who are your trusted confidants? And how can you create relationships outside of that direct supervisor role to push you forward? Something you know, really early on in my career is, I think to make a name and a brand for yourself, I started speaking at events, and the more and more you become an expert, people look to you for that. And you may actually be able to change the mindset of the person that you’re really struggling with, when they see the value that you’re providing to the industry and when others are talking about you. They start to look like the person that maybe doesn’t know what they’re doing, if they’re not buying in and pushing you forward.

Ronn: Yeah, that’s huge. Early on, we were, obviously I had been the industry professional. And Martin was coming into the industry, and I wanted to make sure that he too, got the that front row center and be a speaker, so that so our industry would know, okay, this is Ronn’s co-founder, he’s, you know, smarter than Ronn, so let’s just listen to him instead of Ronn. But I think yeah, to your point, you definitely have to put yourself out there and find your, I liked that you said find your tribe. That’s great advice for the women. And it doesn’t always mean because I hear obviously, I have a lot of friends in the industry and you know, you do feel when you’re not supported, right? And I only hope that I’m not on the other side of that, where my employees feel the same way. So, but for them, they could still find their tribe outside their organization, as you mentioned, and it doesn’t mean that they work for bad people, it just could be that they’re just not there yet. So, make yourself known, you know, get out there. 

Martin: And it can be a little nerve racking, right? So, if you’re not an avid speaker, if it’s something new to you, you get out of your comfort zone and really been able to push that out. And you know, not having that impostor syndrome, and really knowing that you know what you’re talking about. And once you do get out there on stage, or you start doing little sessions, or maybe a little workshop to start off, it’s really just about, you know, submitting your pitches, and just putting your name out there and taking the chance and you know, you never know you might get selected and that’ll be your opportunity.

Jennifer: That’s right. 

Ronn: That’s it. So not only are you an amazing woman leader in multifamily, but you recently won, executive of the Year. I’d like to know if you could share a little bit about that story with our audience today. 

Jennifer: Oh, absolutely. It was what I would say is really the highlight of my career so far. It was kind of the culmination of the last two and a half years of building the company from scratch as a team And then for us to be recognized for that was truly amazing. I really was shocked; I didn’t think I was going to win it. So, when they called my name, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have any notes prepared, because I honestly had told myself that I wasn’t going to win. So, it was a really cool experience. And I am a firm believer that really the Executive of the Year award, is the Property Management Company of the Year award. You don’t win Executive of the Year, if you don’t have an amazing team and an amazing company behind you, that did a lot of that work. So, to me, it was just like our company one and it was such a proud moment, because we knew all the hard work we had put in, was recognized. So, it was really cool.

Martin: Wow. Now we know you’re a world traveler, and probably have many great stories to tell. But if you could only share one of your world experiences with us and how it changed your perspective on life. Which one experience would that be?

Jennifer: Sure, I’m going to lump two of them into one, because they’re similar experiences. But when I was in undergrad, and then when I was also in graduate school, I studied abroad, so I lived overseas, I lived in France for a year, and then I lived in England for a summer during graduate school. And anytime I get an opportunity to speak to a young person that’s in high school, or maybe just starting out in college, I highly recommend that they study abroad. And it doesn’t mean that you have to be a foreign language student, I was a French major. But you don’t have to be, my brother actually studied abroad in England and was an accounting major. So, to me, you just, you get so many life experiences really quickly, because it teaches you responsibility. It teaches you budgeting, and it really teaches you an appreciation for other cultures and other people. So, to me that both of those experiences were life changing, because it just opens your eyes to a whole another way of living. And an appreciation for when you do come home, what you have back home in the United States as well.

Ronn: That’s a good point to also start young. So that way the balance of your life could be those, you know, a combination of all those combined experiences that make you so much more worldly. And, again, have the gratitude in your life. I think that’s huge. Because there are times where we travel the world and come back, we’re like God, this is the best place to live. But yet, we’re always traveling everywhere else. We’re so blessed. So, you mentioned earlier about reading, obviously meditating as well. I’d love to know, if you have a new audio book recommendation, or what’s your favorite book in 2022 that has made a positive impact?

Jennifer: Yes. So, I will share, I’m going to share three things. So, the first one is, I am a big believer in the daily stoic. It is something I read every day. It’s just one page for the date, the month and the day of the year and I reread the book every year. And I often find that the passage for the day comes at just the right time, for the year that you’re seeing it. So that to me has been a really positive impact on my life. And then a book I read at the start of the year is courage is calling. It’s by the same author as daily stoic. He’s written a bunch of different books that I highly recommend. I have his newest book on my desk right now to read. But I did just finish a book, just this week called Becoming Superwoman. And it’s not Superwoman. Like one word, it’s two words. And so, you know, for women in business, who try and take all of it on and feel this sense of burnout and always trying to give, give, give, it’s a 12-step process that really kind of grounds you and get your priorities in place on, you don’t have to be superwoman, like a superhero but you can be a super, you know, space woman. And that doesn’t mean that you have to do at all, it’s just doing what’s really important to you.

Ronn: Thank you. I was writing them notes down.

Martin: Yeah, I took down, I can’t wait to check out the daily stoic, that’s for sure. 

Ronn: And I know I like the dailies too, because it’s like it’s digestible, right? Yeah. And to your point, sometimes very relatable. You’re like, wait, who’s watching? Who’s listening?

Jennifer: And then next year, that date, you know, that passage may not have any relevance to you, but it’s so good to reread it because, and then I’ll go back and look things up, too. If I’m struggling with something or if there’s a message I want to send to my team. I’ll go back and look up a passage, oh I remember reading that in March, and then find the passage to share.

Ronn: And share the wealth, love it. Thanks for that.

Martin: Man, we’ve had a lot of good topics, a lot of good conversation, Jennifer, it was so great taking time to connect with you today. We wish you well in your future endeavors and wishing nothing but success for Western wealth communities. We look forward watching you take the company to new heights and thank you again for your time today.

Ronn: I just want to say thank you so much, you are always the consummate professional, when I think of you honestly, one word comes to mind and that is just gracious like you’re so gracious with your time, lending your talents to our industry and you jumping on and agreeing to being one of our special guests. We’re so excited. So, thank you again.

Jennifer: Thank you, it’s a true honor. Have a great day you guys.

Martin: So, till next time everyone, you can find us and subscribe at and get your free marketing analysis at Let us help take your communities to new heights on the digital front. So till next time, bye everyone. 

Ronn: Bye guys. 

Martin: Bye Ronn.