Commercial Real Estate

CRE Opinion: Combing Through the Tangles of Motherhood and A Career in Commercial Real Estate

When you’re juggling a career and a family—some days it can feel like you are the only one.

FowdenCeleste_CBREThere’s nothing quite like having to tell a client that you’ll have to call them back when they need to speak to you about something important. The thing we try to avoid most with clients is having them feel that we are too busy for an assignment or that we are “big-timing” them for another deal or another client.

Oh wait, there is something worse. Wait for it…

There’s that time when you have to call a client back because your 2-year-old decided to smear their dirty diaper all over themselves and the brand new furniture and wanted to show you their artwork.

Or the time that you were on a conference call while getting lice combed out of your hair—not once, but twice in the last year—and you think you’re on mute when the hair lady says, “Found a bug!” loud enough for everyone on the call to hear. That’s always a fun one…and now they call me “Celice.”

These things happen a lot when you’re juggling a career and a family—and some days it feels like they only happen to me.

But I have learned over the years that we all have our own versions of lice and that our lines between personal time and business have become so blurred that I can’t really tell the difference most days.

In order to survive I surround myself with colleagues and clients who don’t mind a child screaming in the background on occasion (well, more occasions than I care to count) and the unbelievable stories of endless sicknesses, crazy sitters, and the things these children say, and do that I’m too embarrassed to write and hope I will laugh about in 20 years. They know that I am not perfect and will definitely rely on them to cover for me and keep me on task, just as I hope they know they can rely on me for the same. I try to remember to say thank you out loud because every part of me knows that I am thankful every day for these people and I say it in my head all day, everyday.

When I was younger in the business, I remember working with a woman who had children at home and can remember thinking that it didn’t look easy, but she always managed to command a room and be so smooth for any business meeting.

I was blind to what a day really looked like for her, starting in the wee hours of the morning to get her family out the door and then coming home to juggle kids’ activities, scrambling to find a backup sitter when hers cancelled with no notice, helping with homework, cooking dinner, volunteering with the school auction, taking a late conference call, and then finally falling asleep well past a reasonable hour.

She definitely had no time to unwind in a favorite chair after work with a cold beer or glass of wine before tending to the household. Or for a cup of coffee and reading a paper in the morning while everyone else got ready. Forget about a workout.

But she was highly successful in her career and it was amazing to watch people gravitate to her and trust her completely, which led to serious results in our business. Her energy was contagious and she was incredibly efficient with her time, not to mention she had the most amazing laugh.

On the business front, we are in an industry that is built on trust, relationships, experience, and market knowledge—along with a little luck. As the millennials would say, #shenailedit.

What I missed back then, but can see now, is that all of the crazy made her stronger and better at what she did in the real estate world and at home. There is no such thing as “balance,” but if you find something that you are passionate about and surround yourself with those equally as passionate, you will lift each other up.

Remember that everyone has something going on besides the deal at hand and don’t take it personally if they blow up on the call…their head just might be itching with lice.

And it’s okay to laugh; if you don’t, you might cry.

Celeste Fowden is a Senior Vice President with CBRE’s office investor leasing team in Dallas.

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