I talk to people everywhere because everywhere is an opportunity for learning and a new relationship. I was at a wedding Memorial Day weekend and found myself seated next to Tiffany Alexy. We got to talking and I realized pretty quickly that I liked this new person I was meeting. She was personable, but clearly sharp in many facets of the real estate business. There are many women real estate brokers. But I don’t encounter many women real estate investors or property managers. Tiffany is all of three. I was impressed. Told her, I’d like to connect, gave her my card, and learn more about the work she does. There was an email in my inbox the next morning. Wow. Even more impressed with that follow up. Less than two weeks later, we had lunch and we sat there eating local bbq talking about the ways we’ve loved supporting local business and her endeavors as a business woman.
This is story #24 in the Women & the Ways We Work blog series, featuring Tiffany Alexy. Tiffany is from the Cary, North Carolina. She got a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Sociology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before getting a Master’s in Global Innovation Management at North Carolina State University. Not only is she savvy with real estate and her innovative educational experiences, but she’s taking life by the horns in many ways. Her story might push you to push some boundaries too.
- What did you want to be when you “grew up” and how has that evolved?
I had so many ideas. I wanted to be a vet, a social worker, and a linguist for the CIA. Somehow, I ended up in real estate. It was interesting, because when I was young I always pictured “future me” as this really successful person in a business suit, but I hated it. I didn’t want to turn into some greedy business person who didn’t care about the world and just cared about their own profits. Thankfully I’ve learned through school and some internships that the two are not mutually exclusive, despite what many will have you believe. You don’t have to be an asshole to be a good business person. You CAN actually use business as a means for pushing the world forward. When that clicked, I started pursuing business and entrepreneurship and haven’t looked back.
- What do you do in your “day job” and why have you chosen that?
I’m a real estate broker and real estate investor. To be honest, it kind of just fell in my lap, as I never imagined myself as a Realtor. After a few corporate gigs (which didn’t last very long – my record is 4 months), I realized I despised working for other people, regardless of how awesome the boss was, and thankfully I’ve had a few great ones. I’m terrible at sitting at a desk 8 hours a day. It makes me absolutely miserable. I knew I could always pick up odd jobs if I needed to pay my bills so that’s what helped me make the leap into real estate.
- How did you get into what you do now?
I grew up in the real estate industry; my mom was a mortgage broker and a real estate broker shortly after that. When I went to college, the plan was for her to buy a property and rent it to me as her tenant, and then repeat the process with my brother who is 4 years younger. However we didn’t get into the same schools. A few years later when I graduated, the idea had still stuck with me, and I’d decided to go to grad school. I’d been accepted to a few different programs at the same school, so I decided to look for an investment property near the school. I bought the first one I saw — never do that! But it worked out for me because I rented 3 bedrooms to other students and lived in one. Six years later, I still own it, as well as a few others. After I bought that property and saw firsthand how real estate could increase wealth — I was living for free and my tenants were paying my mortgage, I decided to get my real estate license.
- What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love that every single day is different. Every family is different, every transaction is different, and every agent I work with on the opposite site of the table is different. That’s both a blessing and a curse. It can make work really fun and challenging, but it can also be difficult since many times you don’t know what to expect. But I love that I learn something new every day.
- How happy have you been with your choices?
Very happy. I’m clearly very bullish on real estate. If done right, real estate investing has a snowball effect. If you diligently reinvest your profits into more cash flowing investments, you will be sitting on a real estate empire and sooner than you think.
- You’re so sharp. What are your best sources for learning?
I do a lot of networking. You can learn so much from just one-on-one coffee with someone. I also have gone to a lot of conferences. Most people go to conferences for the topics, but those are secondary. It’s really meeting other like-minded individuals at these conferences that should be the goal.
Because I’ve made so many contacts through all of those experiences, it means that I can offer more value to new people I meet and that has also given me a lot more opportunities. It’s all about your network.
- What has your experience been like, being a woman in real estate?
Being a woman in a man’s world (business) has certainly come with its challenges. Real estate has a proportionately larger amount of women in the profession, but when you start getting into the investing side of the equation, that’s when men dominate. I am just as involved in investing as real estate, so it’s been fascinating to observe the differences between how the two genders interact.
I’ve gotten a lot of support from others; I think that’s the greatest advantage. There are a lot of people out there who are supportive of women in the workforce, but also women being leaders as well. Networking with other entrepreneurs and business owners has really helped me “find my tribe.” I’ve found that most entrepreneurs are incredibly helpful. It’s a great ecosystem.
At the same time, the investment world can be seen as a “man’s club.” I can’t tell you how many investing events I’ve been to where I’ve been the only woman. Cue the “mansplaining.” They assume that since I’m young and a woman, I naturally don’t understand what I’m doing. Imagine their surprise when they find out yes, I definitely know what a mutual fund is, and that I have my Series 7, 63, and 65 financial certifications in addition to my real estate license. I have stories of groups that declare themselves “inclusive,” yet when I try to join I get rejected, when I meet or exceed all of the qualifications. So I bought a car — a Tesla. That has actually changed the way many people approach me, which is absolutely ridiculous. But hey, if that’s what it takes, I can play that game too.
The greatest motivator for me has been other women who are succeeding — out of necessity, and also out of ambition to make things better for themselves and/or their families. I love networking and meeting with other women who are taking life by the horns because with most of them there’s this “we’re in this together mentality.” When I see others succeeding, it totally inspires me to keep going and to do more.
- Damn girl. What is something else interesting about you?
I love music — live music made by artists who are real and raw and genuine people. There’s this secret movement of underground music that you can tap into in the form of house concerts. They are the greatest thing, ever. You get to be up close and personal with the artist and their music, and the best part is getting to know them as a person. It makes their music that much more meaningful.
I’ve hosted house concerts for the past 5 years. I don’t know if it’s something I will do every year, but it’s certainly something I will be involved in for the rest of my life. There’s just something so magical about being in a friend’s living room with another friend on the piano, surrounded by candle light. It’s magic.
- That’s super cool. Who do you admire?
Kate Middleton. If you don’t know who that is, she’s the current Duchess of Cambridge because she married Prince William of England. She could be the Queen of England one day.
She’s just a regular girl who became a royal by marriage. What I love about her is that even though she now lives in the public eye, she hasn’t lost her realness. She is often photographed recycling dresses and shoes (ie wearing them more than once). Obviously it’s about practicality, as she could obviously afford to wear something new every day and not even blink an eye. But just because she can, doesn’t mean she will. She hasn’t let all the success and attention get to her head.
- I’m really in awe of Kate too. I actually fawn over the royals, but thought it might be hard to marry one across the pond. We gotta pave our own way! What fuels your direction?
Honestly, it is about the future. I’ve always been great at delayed gratification and making certain sacrifices now, knowing that it meant I could live 10X better in the future. That led me to living super frugally throughout the first half of my twenties when everyone else was partying every weekend. I always lived in my investment properties, so I didn’t have any housing expenses. I’ve always had more than one job and saved everything I made. I don’t know why I was so extreme about it, but I am glad now. I think part of it was knowing the type of lifestyle I eventually wanted and the desire to be financially independent. It was never really about buying expensive things, but wanting to never be tied down to a job where I had to rely on a paycheck for income.
Have a real estate interest or need? Check out Alexy Realty Group’s website and Instagram. Connect with Tiffany personally by friending her on Facebook, following her on Instagram, and connecting with her on LinkedIn.
Thanks for reading Tiffany’s story. Share in the comments how it impacted you or share it on social media. Check out next week’s weekly post on Women & the Ways We Work. Missed the others? Take a look at my blog to read the others. Know someone you think should be featured? Can I help you or your organization with a storytelling project? Contact me and let’s chat.
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