A picture of Velda Simpson with a path leadin to the top of a hill in the background

Carving Your Path in Property Management

Episode 49

Velda Simpson joins us to talk about the many different aspects that a property management career affords people. There are many avenues to choose from, and Velda shares how she helps new ones in the industry find the perfect path for them.

Host(s): Jonathan Saar from Market Me Social and Mark Howell from Howl Creative Concepts

Our Special Guest: Velda Simpson from RealPro Realty Group

Velda is passionate about helping property owners identify solutions to improve their operations resulting in both increased cash flow and excellent customer service and value.  Within the industry and at her firm, RealPro Realty, she is known as a problem solver with proven results whether it is property management or addressing customer concerns.  Velda is a people person and has a very solid track record of providing excellent customer service to clients.

Show Highlights

With over 25 years of industry experience, Velda knows how to help people find the right path in their property management careers. It all starts with asking the right questions, having an open mind, and understanding that there is so much more to a property management career than meets the eye.

Key Questions/Topics Covered

Focused leadership that acts as a guide

Having a great mentor shaped my career. They believed in me and encouraged me when I didn’t believe in myself. I try to do the same for my students. I like to encourage and empower my students to make this career choice and be their coach throughout the process.

Common questions you get from new students

I find that new students really do not understand the scope of the property management industry. The common misconception of: “Oh, we show units and collect the rent and that’s it”, is generally what I find. I try to open their minds to understand that not only are there so many different paths to choose from, there are also other types of properties that add to the depths of our industry. Anything with four walls and a roof can be managed.

Career crossover

You would think that my classroom is full of millennials, but it really isn’t. I have people of all ages. I have life-learners, retirees, and people who are looking for a career change. Many other careers have similar foundations, making it an easy transition. Regardless of how old or young, I am there to help them find a path that suits them best.

Fortitude to make a decision

Encouragement is huge! I want to inspire my students and let them know that they can do almost anything they can imagine. I love to ask them questions to find out what they like— what they love. This will help me understand which career direction suits them best, and then I can genuinely help them follow their dreams and get to the next level.

Helping people on their path is close to my heart. This industry has given me so much, and I am privileged to be able to give back.

What one actionable tip could you share that has served you well as an educator?

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” 

Nelson Mandela

Jonathan (00:15): Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 49 of the Juvohub podcast. We have a distinguished guest coming to the show today. We look forward to introducing her in just a moment and hearing about her career in property management, why she loves teaching about leadership, how she's demonstrated effective leadership and some practical tips for all of us who are working to provide leadership, not only for ourselves, but for our teams. So Mark Howell from Howl Creative Concepts, how are you? My friend?

Mark (00:44): I am great. Thanks for having me very excited about this conversation. Thank you for being here.

Jonathan (00:49): Yeah, absolutely. So Velda Simpson is in the house. What's happening? How are you?

Velda (00:57): I'm wonderful. How are you doing?

Jonathan (00:59): Doing good. Thank you so much for being on the show. We're so grateful to have you. And so let's talk to our audience about who you are. So, what are you doing now? Give us the, kind of like the short version of your career and property management and you know, what the journey looks like.

Velda (01:18): Actually I'm working as a managing broker for Real Pro Realty, which I'm super excited about it. I kind of was birthed seven years ago. But I'm actually excited about refocusing. And I know we talked about that a lot before this, about focusing. So I'm excited about focusing on my goals and careers as far as property management. So Real Pro Realty is everything that I've done for the last 25 years or so. So it encompass property management, encompass commercial sales and leasing a little everything multifamily. So I'm excited about it. And like I said, I've been doing this for about 25 years, started out as a leasing consultant and just kind of evolved into being a managing broker here. Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Jonathan (02:00): Nice to have you. I remember I know it's been years since, since we met, but it was at the Institute of Real Estate Management at a function of some sort. And I know our chapter deeply appreciates your contributions and the role that you have led in helping other students coming into the industry and helping our chapter with, with various topics that you've been teaching. So we wanted to focus a bit more today just on, on leadership. Cause I know that's what you've been teaching a lot more of recently, what, as you look back on your career and take the us from the perspective of all right, so we got younger ones who are listening, coming outta college, listening to the show. And even us we've been in the industry for a while. We always love these tips. Like what has helped you, you know, keep yourself focused and be your own leader in order to continue along this path in property management? Long question. But I hope that-

Velda (03:09): That is a long question, but I think just great mentor mentors having a great mentor that really helped shape my career. I started out like I said, property management and just having someone believe in me, even when I did not necessarily believed in myself and said, "Hey, you can do it Veda". Like, wow, I can. And after, while you start, it's like riding a bicycle, you start saying, yes, I can, I can, I can. And eventually guess what you do on marathons. Right? So it's a, it is a great feeling. Been really rewarding for me. As far as a teaching career, I actually moved into teaching probably in 2015. I got introduced to it at, over at Kennesaw state, continuing education teaching a property management course. One of the things, when you say style that I like I'm more of a coach. I have a coaching style. So I like to encourage and inspire young students of mine to get into property management. So it can be a career of choice. So I actually like that I definitely love to encourage 'em to empower them so they can find their way. So it gives me joy to see that, you know, just that light in them, just kind of say, you know what, this is what something I can do. I can be great at this.

Jonathan (04:17): That's awesome. That's awesome. And so you know, like what kind of feedback, like when you, what are some typical questions that you see that come from someone who's new to the industry? They walk into one of your classes for the first time and like, what's the sense and feeling about young people coming into our industry. Now I know that wasn't one of the original questions that I had down for you, but it kinda just came to my mind like this.

Velda (04:47): A lot of times I think that when the students come, they really don't know what property management is. You know, you may think is your rent lady that takes rent. And you know, if you try to explain to your grandmother, you're like mama, what do you do? You know, your grandparent mother asked you, what do you do for them to make it simple? So they'll understand. So, you know, "Hey grandma, I'm the one that collects the rent." If the land, you know, the landlord or the manager in the office, it kind of helps them. So a lot of times they don't really understand how deep property management is like the levels of things that you can do if you, whether it be leasing. Whether it be, you know, you could, of course you can go into assistant management, you can manage so many types of properties.

Velda (05:27): If you look at your window now, even if you're at home, you see single family homes, right? There's a property manager that handles that, right? So I kinda opened their mind to explore more than just what they came in, thinking that, "Hey, I'm getting ready to be a leasing consultant on sitting on a property of a 200 unit or 300 unit apartment complex all day", which some people may find boring, but it's so many things you can do. You can do asset management. If you like numbers, you can get into asset management. You can get into inspections. You can do so much with property management and I've just through the years have evolved. And I guess I'm kind of a person that likes to you know, I admit I get bored too. So I think that's why I reinvent myself over and over again. So I've done multifamily done tax credit, which is a wonderful thing. And then I've got into commercial, which I've been in the last 18 years. I've done commercial. So it's a little different industrial medical space. So it's so much more than what you just think. When you think about property management that you can do anything with four walls and a roof.

Mark (06:32): You know, I have to tell you, I think it's so interesting for the longest time, even before I got into the business, I guess I had that mentality too, that I didn't really know what people did in a leasing office. I just remembered when I got my first apartment that I thought, well, the guy that showed me around was just really cool. And it looked like all he did was just sit in the office and have fun and tell jokes. And so I love that. What you're saying is, you know, when you can really educate anyone, I almost said young people, but it's not just young people that are getting into this industry, right? We're of all ages. You can start. What I love about this industry is you can start at any time in your life and your career and turn it into something that you want it to truly be.

Mark (07:12): So it's not just, I hate the phrase, someone said this just last week, I'm just a leasing consultant. I was like, ah, don't say that, your being a leasing consultant is the most valuable, most important thing that this company, that this industry needs, you know, without them, we wouldn't have a way to make this money that we, that this multi-billion dollar industry feeds on. Right. And so but what I love, what you just said is that there is so, so much more that they could do if they really want it. And I don't know about that if you're like me, but I always see people. If they've been in the industry for longer than six months, you're in it, you're gonna find your way around. You know, whether you go on the vendor side or you move up the ladder, but you know, pretty much after six months, whether you're gonna stay or whether you're gonna go. So

Velda (08:08): You either like it, or you love it. Or just say, this is not for me.

Mark (08:12): That's right.

Velda (08:13): Generally are it's involved. And so it's funny how you said you started, I started just because I need a place to stay. I was in college and I said, Hey, Hmm, leasing consultant. Hmm. A place to stay at a discounted rate. I need to, I can do that. I can do that.

Mark (08:28): Sure. isn't it funny how I think a lot of us fall into this or fell into this industry because of a need or just a random need. And then look at us today, you know, all these 20 odd years later where our careers have gone. So I definitely think that's a misconception that, you know, this industry is filled full of opportunity. It's all what you make of it.

Velda (08:52): And I think that's why I started teaching. To be honest, Mark its because I wanted people to understand this is a rewarding career. Like we fell into it, but I transitioned into teaching because I wanted people to understand that you can make a great living, a wonderful living. We have tons and tons of brochures. We're trying to educate people like, "Hey, this is a, this is a win-". This is a win-win chicken. What it say win-win, I don't know. I'm bad with terrible-

Mark (09:20): It's winner winner chicken dinner.

Velda (09:22): Yes. This is a winner winner chicken dinner. It really is. And I think that more and more my students, they come back. I be so excited when they come back and they tell me like, "Hey, you know, I didn't like property management, but guess what? I'm now selling homes." And I said, "Well, it's still in the same real estate world." So they're still finding their niche. So it is just, it really feels good to hear the stories that people come back and hear you.

Jonathan (09:46): I love that. You said something earlier, both of you that, you know, you don't have to be in your twenties coming outta college in order to be in property management. And I thought that was just an, an excellent statement on both your part. We've had other guests in the show, Velda that have talked about, you know, other industries that people were in retail or in hospitality, and have come over to the industry and have just been fantastic because they have a certain personality type or certain skillset that is an easy crossover. Have you seen the same thing? Has that been kind of your experience where others who were maybe in another industry then you've talked to 'em or they've seen some, or met someone and they've come over to the property management side?

Velda (10:42): For sure. It is a lot what I call 'em life learner life learners. So oddly enough, I know when we started teaching, you think that it's like a lot of millennials or in our classrooms, but it's that it's actually not, it's a mix. So you have people that have retired, interested in real estate, trying to figure out, find out like sometime you, when you go to, when you start, oh, you are in college and you may decide you wanna be a doctor or lawyer, and you do things because you're trying to make money and you may not be necessary, what you find that you enjoy, but it was good for you doing that period of time. So a lot of times people are finding their purpose and finding their way to reconnect and find something to do that's worthwhile. So I actually have found like a lot of what I would say, mature adults.

Velda (11:28): I don't know what else to call us, but mature adults have really have embraced it. And they can, they give more than just say good management or good customer service. I think we instill so many things in people's lives because we intertwining their lives. We spend a lot of times with people, families. So if you have a 500 unit, a multifamily community, they're part of your community, you know, so much about your resonance, their kids. And when they come back,I can be at the grocery store and somebody will say, "Hey, are you the, you know, you remember uni?" And I'm like, "no, I don't", but they, you know, , they'll come up to me and they'll tell me like, "Hey, you know, you instill just little things in their lives." And they'll just small, young like 16, 17 or 12 year old kids. So you'll be surprised how being a property manager, how we touch so many people lives.

Jonathan (12:18): Right. Mm-hmm, so true. I, you know, you just said something that made me think of another visual. I'm that visual guy, I get all these pictures in my head when our guests say certain things, Mark says some things. So we use the expression, this conversation too, where it's going is fantastic. Cause now we're here, we're on a career path. And when I think of a path, a path is just, you know, typically it's just, this it's a path. That's what it is. It's going in a direction of some sort. But when you think of property management and everything that both of you have stated, it's like the path has got all of these, you know, trails that are going off of it. And there's just, you know, for our audience and for what all of us have experienced too. And I think we're living proof of it right here.

Jonathan (13:03): The three of us on this podcast. It's like, where were we? 10 years ago? Where were we? 15 years ago? Where were we? Five years ago? And where are we today? And it's like that path was not just this one direction by any stretch of the imagination. It's like we saw what was in front of us and it's like, oh, you know what? That, looks, I want to take, I wanna go, right. And, and that's where I want to go and kind of see it you know, from that perspective. So it's very, very cool to hear that from both of you. So bringing it back around a little bit. Velda to, I guess the fortitude, you know, you've taught a lot of classes a lot, like you said, a lot of different backgrounds.

Jonathan (13:55): What have you been saying? Or what's been kind of included in some of your classes that you teach that provide that, that fortitude that give them the courage to know, even in-. Cause they may hear other things about the industry too. Our industry is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. We're all trying to do our best to keep it growing and keep it successful. So is there anything in particular that you use as your teaching classes to help people make that decision? Like then when they walk outta that classroom, they're like, yep.

Velda (14:35): That's what I wonder. I think a lot of times people know or have a general sense of what they want to do in life. I think for me, encouragement is huge. Like just to inspire some young professionals to realize that you can do almost anything, anything that you, if you can do anything you can imagine. Right? So for me, I love to inspire and I love to find and ask questions about what it is that you like. So not everybody is a people person. And I know they may say, oh, to be a property manager, you have to be a people person. You don't necessarily have to be a people person to be a property manager, to be a leasing consultant. You do have to be more customer oriented to be in their face and say, Hey, this is a great space.

Velda (15:26): Show the space and show more of your personality, but you can do again and when you ask the right questions and the questions may be, what do you like to do? What do you spend time doing? What do you enjoy doing? Whether it be encouragement or do you like the numbers again I mentioned, or do you like just inspections or if you're going out, looking at properties and just handling all the different types of inspections that we have to do, which is part of it. I think Mark mentioned that vendor I've had several colleagues that have went over to the vendor side. So they've done property management for say 20 years, and then they evolved into being a supplier. So whether it be trash service or landscape service. So, again, it is all about evolving. So you can do so much, you just ask the right questions.

Velda (16:14): And I think a lot of times people don't know what to ask. And so I think I'm an open book. So if you have a question or there's no questions, a dumb question, right? So I've always had an open door policy. So if it's something you wanna know, ask, and I'll be more forthcoming with whatever information I have. And if I don't know it, I will actually try to find that for you and connect you with the right person, because we are a family, as large as property management is, and it's huge, but it's only one Velda Simpson, right? It's only one Mark Howell. And if I talk about it long enough, even if you don't know my name, which Velda is unique, if you describe me, someone's like, yeah, it gotta be right. So I try to tell people to be the best that you can be because it is a small industry and we all are family.

Velda (17:01): And believe me, I think that's what makes me love property management so much because we are a family and every organization I've been in, whether it be our, or just the Atlanta commercial board realtors, it's all about helping someone go to the next level. So that's why anything that's encouraging and helping someone achieve their dreams, going to the next level. That's all, that's who I am. I love to pour into people the best and pull out the best out of them and giving my best. And that's what makes me who I am.

Mark (17:37): Ah, that's so amazing. And it's, it's hard to make a comment after that. I mean, that was so beautifully said. And I was listening to you and I was imagining all of these, like Jonathan, you said pathways or trails off of the path. And I like too, you know, use visuals in my mind as I'm listening to conversation. And it's funny to me that you're so right. You get to decide whether or not you wanna stay on this particular path or if you wanna go road and go down a trail, like, what I love about it is you get to make your own path. It's not pre chosen for you. It's wherever you want to go. And you can change that direction. You can change that path at any time, but it is exactly what you said. It's having the people that you know, that you are surrounding yourself with people, people that inspire you that want the best for you.

Mark (18:32): And you'll know when you're around those people and when you are not. And so I always encourage people that if you don't feel like you're working for an organization or around people that are supportive of your paths or your ideas, then maybe it is time to look for other trails to go on and find your people what I call it. You know, because along that way, somewhere you start gathering what I call your people, you know? And that's what I've loved about being in this industry for 24 years is I have gathered so many people that they are family to me still to this day because I found those people that inspired me, that motivated me, that helped me grow. And that is exactly what I wanna give back to someone or others, because that's what makes this world go round, right? Is I wanna do it for someone else too.

Velda (19:26): I wanna do it for someone else. That's so true.

Jonathan (19:28): That's beautiful. Yeah. It's like, we're getting into all kinds of landscape metaphors here, You know paths and finding things in the forest and-

Velda (19:39): Finding our people. I know I love that it takes a village, it takes a village and property management is a village. It really is.

Jonathan (19:45): Absolutely absolutely. Well Velda, man. It has been an extreme pleasure to have you on the show today. Thank you so much. Just a couple questions we always ask our guests as we wrap up the show, do you have, you know, maybe a guess in maybe in your leadership classes or personally, do you have like a typical quote or a saying or anything like that you has resonated with you recently or that you use often for yourself or for your students?

Velda (20:17): You know, I think one thing that probably stands out is a Nelson Mandela quote, and I love it because of fear. A lot of people come up to me and they say, Velda, you just do anything. You just be doing it. I'm like, yeah, I'm afraid. I'm petrified, but I do it anyway. Right. I am terrified, but I look like it's seamless. Right. but I'm petrified. But so one of the quotes I learned is that courage was not the absent of fear, but the trump over it. So it's not that I don't have the fear. Right? So I learned, this is what he says. And I love this. I've learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the trump over it and a brave man is not what he does not feel afraid, but that he conquers what? He conquers fear. And fear paralyzes us. So, I mean, that is the, probably the worst, the thing that keeps us from doing that great thing.

Jonathan (21:17): Right. That's right. That is fantastic. Absolutely. Fantastic. I don't think we've heard that before in the show. Anything close.

Mark (21:23): That's great. Yeah. Such great advice. Love that quote. .

Jonathan (21:27): Yeah. Beautiful. Beautiful. Thank you so much Velda. So how can people connect with you, tell people about your company. Can people connect with you on social, make sure that they have all those paths to you?

Velda (21:40): Yes. All those paths. I know we learned about trails, but Velda Simpson at IG is Velda A Simpson, Twitter, Facebook. Build at Real Pro Realty.com is my email. And you can always call me. LinkedIn Velda Simpson. Number 4 0 4 2 3 4 3 0 2 3. Thank you. .

Jonathan (22:02): Awesome. Awesome. Wonderful. We'll make sure we have all those links in the show notes so people can reach out to you and connect with you. So thank, thank you for, thank you for being an example in our industry, being a mentor and leader for so many. And thank you for being on the show today. Mark. How can people connect with you? My friend?

Mark (22:18): Yes. Thank you. It's Mark oh, sorry. It's HowlCreative Concepts, but it's Mark at Howl, which is spelled a little differently. H O W L Creative Concepts.com. I'm on Linkedin Facebook, all those social sites, but yes. Please reach out. If you have any questions, if you have a topic that you are passionate about, that you wanna bring on our show, let us know. We'd love to hear from you.

Jonathan (22:40): Absolutely. Yeah. And I think we've covered our objectives for the class today. Mark, you know, today we wanted to learn about leadership and finding your path. And we went and found some trails as the whole thing. So we went much further than we thought. So objectives have been accomplished and class is dismissed. Thank you, everyone. We'll see you in our next show.

Velda (23:00): Thank you again.

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