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Hello and welcome to The Thoughtful Realtor podcast. I'm Connie Chung.
I'm Cliff Tsang.
And I'm Kenny Gong. And we are the founders and partners of Willowmar Real Estate.
This is the real estate podcast where we get real personal.
Every episode, we sit down for insights, stories, and conversations about all things in the real estate market today, running a real estate team in California, and finding our way as leaders and business partners.
And today, we've got an exciting episode for you. We're not doing one, but three episodes of AMA: Ask Me Anything. And the twist here is that each partner will be in the hot seat.
We weren't kidding when we said we get real personal. We compiled a list of questions from listeners and each other to get to the good stuff.
Alright, who's going to be in the hot seat first?
I'm going to vote for Connie. Connie, you're up.
It’s supposed to be you, Kenny, but alright.
Alright. Let's start with the first question, Connie, if you weren't with Willowmar right now, what would you be doing?
Ooh. If I weren't with Willowmar and was living in the ideal world, I would be—
Wait a minute, your ideal world isn’t Willowmar? Really?
Well, I mean not the ideal world but maybe just, yes, definitely dreamland. One thing I always envision is just being a surfer living by the beach in my old beach house. But practically speaking, I think I would be running some sort of other business. Yeah, I think that entrepreneurial bug is always in me, and I probably can't get rid of it. I feel like I would run an event production company or a cafe—that's still something I think about. But yeah, I think it would be some sort of other business.
An events company.
I was going to say maybe you could partner with Mee-Sun because Mee-Sun has always talked about running a cafe at some point.
Another reason to move over here. We will talk more about that after this episode.
What kind of events do you think you would be putting on?
I like the idea of bringing people together and especially makers and other business owners. I remember, Sunday Suppers was the thing back in San Francisco that originated in New York. So something of that concept, just creating a really beautiful experience with a really cool venue and bringing really great people together to interact and just have a cohesive, welcoming, fun, and chic experience—with good food. There's always good food.
Hmm. I think it's great. I can see that: gathering people.
Gathering, matchmaking people—oh! Actually maybe I'd be a matchmaker in another world, too. Actually, that is something I sometimes think about.
Wow, billionaire matchmaker.
Millionaire matchmaker, Patti Stanger. Yup. Big fan.
I think that would be a really awesome business. A matchmaking—
A millennial matchmaker.
Oh, does that exist around here? I feel like that's a thing in Korea, right? That's like a professional service?
Folks listening, if you think you'd be interested in millennial matchmaking, let us know.
Yes, yes! Okay, so Connie, always, always, always, your positivity really shines through in everything that you do, and so I'm wondering: how do you stay optimistic in challenging situations?
It's so innate in me that I can't think of not being optimistic. It's just my natural default, and it could also be a protective mechanism because I think it protects from the inner layers of what I may really be feeling. But, I think I always just naturally think things are better than they could be, so that makes me really grounded in gratitude and just being grateful for what is. And that there's always a solution for the most case. So yeah, but I think it's just very natural. It's also how I draw energy: from being very positive.
That is so lovely to hear. Would you say that that is a characteristic that you've always had or was it as you got older, it became more apparent.
No, I think I've always been a chipper, happy-go-lucky kind of person. I definitely was reserved growing up, so maybe more of my positivity has come out with confidence. I do think coming more from an abundance mindset allows me to be more positive and less insecure because I do know when I'm not as positive, I think it stems from anxiety and insecurity and scarcity mentality—that things are not going to go well or I'm not going to succeed—or doubt myself. But I think leaning into “Everything's going to be okay. Trust in that gut intuition and it will work itself out.”
Yeah, even in challenging situations, I feel like that's when it matters most: how you decide to approach a situation, right? When you're faced with a challenge, how do you show up for yourself, right? Do you show up with optimism for yourself? Because I think that also determines how you show up for other people, and I find that in challenging situations, it's true that if you show up with optimism, then it encourages optimism in other people.
That there's so much more of a problem-solving collaboration.
Oh, totally. That's definitely the people pleaser in me coming out too because knowing when I share that love and energy and excitement and enthusiasm with them, I hope that they will love me in return.
That's the positive side of people pleasing.
I love that.
Yeah, I've definitely felt that working with you, with Willowmar. I mentioned earlier that that's what Kenny described, that positivity radiates other positivity and in moments where I could take the road of being a stressful person to deal with, your chipper, pleasant messages and upbeat messages always lift me up. So, it raises everyone's energy level—positivity.
And you know what's also really interesting is how optimism can be so subtle. And I know this from Connie, it's like the strategic use of an exclamation mark.
Oh I felt like you were going to go there.
Right? Yeah, it can be very impactful and used at the right time, especially because so much of what we do is communication, right? And so written form, the strategic use of an exclamation mark, I think Connie is really masterful at. And also, though, like the intonation of voice. So even in verbal communication, the way that something is delivered communicates enthusiasm, communicates positivity, optimism, and thus an openness and invitation for collaboration.
And I will say going back to the exclamation point, sometimes you meet someone where they use too many exclamation marks, and then when you meet them in person, it feels like a mismatch. So then you feel like maybe their written communication was inauthentic. But with you, it is a full match. So then when I see an exclamation mark on Slack or an email or anything, it radiates that positive—it’s genuine. No, really! I know it sounds so silly to be talking about exclamation marks or so, but it really impacts other people, I think.
And it feels like Connie's actually talking to you, right? It's very matched.
That's really nice to hear. And it's so funny to hear, too, because I've had conversations with different team members and even thoughts in my head, I'm like, “Oh, why are they not using an exclamation mark? Are they upset?” And then actually, I've had to chat with one of our teammates because they were asking for some feedback on their use of exclamation marks, and I gave some suggestions on sparsing it out because sometimes when it's too much, it doesn't feel as genuine. And also, for the context, it may not warrant that much excitement, especially in the context of some real estate matters.
The craft of an exclamation mark, yes, or exclamation point.
Alright, next question. As a working mom and someone who is constantly tending to different people's needs, what does your system operations and calendaring look like? AKA how do you prioritize your time? How do you get it all done? What is the secret sauce behind the scenes?
Not all ever done. That's first and foremost, and I've come to accept that. I still remember having coffee with Joe Gebbia, the CEO of AirBnB, and he had a Post-It note that said “80 percent equals done,” and I still think of that to this day. And I don't even get 80 percent done a lot of times but just the thought of—it doesn't all need to get done. In terms of calendaring and operating time, it's an ever-evolving thing. And for me, it changes with the seasons of where I'm at with work, with life, with the kiddos. Like for one period of time, it was that I was getting such little sleep and so exhausted and cranky that it was okay to understand that some things were just going to fall by the wayside.
That meant I had to really prioritize what needed to get done first. Now, I'm in a phase where I have a much more consistent sleep schedule so I can put back into things that I have put by the wayside, one of them being working out and—Cliff, you brought up and suggested The ONE Thing book which—for folks, highly recommend in terms of just grasping the concept of yes, our time is so limited, so what is that one thing that's going to make everything else easier or just not necessary?
And for me, because I know all of my day is spent towards kids, clients, and other people that's like, what's the one thing for myself that I can do that will make myself happier and in turn, everyone else will be happier. And that's working out. So, I've prioritized that first thing in the morning to try to work out at least during the weekday. So, logistically, once dropping off the kiddos, you know, doing that morning routine, trying to squeeze in a workout class or a Peloton run.
But actually, I like signing up for something because then I'm held accountable to it. Just like our meetings with clients; I will show up to whatever's booked on my calendar. Other things like, “Oh, hey, I should work on my own social media” for my own social media’s sake is so easy to put to the wayside because there's no formal commitment, but signing up for a Barry's Bootcamp, which Kenny and I did on Monday. It was so fun doing SoulCycle with our friend and client Lisa, so just signing up for the class because then I'm committed to someone else.
What's that new gym that you signed up for?
Oh, and then F45 in Alhambra. Yeah. And it's been fun because I've been trying out different workout regimens because I like to change it up. And some have promos, some work out different body areas or cardio, good mix of cardio, stretching, all that, but trying to get into that routine so that hopefully I can incorporate something new.
So, it's kind of like working out, work, and then being focused and present for kids when they do come home. But of course, with the nature of our job, it's not uncommon that, for example, just this morning I had got out of the workout class and then we had just negotiated a price adjustment on a client. And so messaging—because our client was about to sign—messaging the escrow officer to update the documents while sending out something for DocuSign because it was early hours and just communicating with the team and it all flows.
So, with our line of work, knowing that not everything is linear and there's going to be chops in between—and I've really come to embrace that—but to prioritize taking care of me, family, and knowing that the work will always get taken care of because there's that accountability.
Any tips on how to remain present in front of your kids?
Oh, that's a good one. And so this takes me back to early on when I was a realtor, I'd have meals with Brian, and you know that ping, or just looking at my phone and be “Oh, I need to hold on one second.” And it got to a point so much that he had to ask, “Hey, can we silence our phones and put it away for dinner?”
So I try to adopt that same mentality of just keeping my phone on silent when I want to be present with family or even with going out for a meal with friends or being in a client setting. Yeah, treating the family all as I would clients. When we're talking with clients, always, they have our full attention, and it's giving family and friends that same respect.
And of course, knowing that it's not always perfect and sometimes, you having that phone on knowing when we might expect a call. Or something is a little more time sensitive. So our job allows for a lot of—not leniency, but just exceptions.
Yeah, it's also amazing to think about: if you take care of yourself in the morning that really has the ripple effect in how you're able to have capacity for other people.
Oh yeah, that's why I find myself being more conscious of eating healthier too, like the ripple effects of the habits and the energy. And plus, I know if I hold off for the evening, my whole mind during the whole day is like, “Oh no, I have to work out.” Like, “Oh, maybe not today. Oh yeah. It will be okay if we skip today and it just won't happen.”
And, in The ONE Thing book, they talk about the diminishing …
The willpower. Yes. You have the most willpower at the beginning of the day, which makes sense to do the hardest thing at the beginning of the day. And actually for me, as much as I love working out, it is the hardest mentally to show up to a place to work out. So, that is half the battle.
It's a good one, I have a question about travel. So, because you have traveled so much around the world throughout your entire life, especially your young adulthood, from couch surfing in Europe and maybe even in other places as well, to staying in villas in—well, of course in Thailand, which we just came back from earlier this year—I'm curious to know how your sense of travel, how your relationship to travel has evolved over the years.
Oh, it's still one of my favorite things to do. Yeah, to answer the question back, if I weren't at Willowmar, I could see myself living abroad, working abroad … that would be really cool.
Ooh, I think Spain. And Barcelona, I just love it. So many things, the beach, the city, the bohemian lifestyle, the food, the siestas.
Oh the siestas.
But yeah, I think my love and passion for travel is still so strong. And when I think about saving money, a lot of it is like food, you know, in my home, but also travel—to travel nicely too. I think my travel has evolved where Brian, for example, does not want to couch surf with me.
And I, to this day, probably will not, you know, may not couch surf on my own either, in some contexts. But I think just really appreciating nice accommodations—I think there was that one meme or video you showed me about, like traveling in your twenties versus traveling in your thirties. There's something nice about hotels that I've come to really re-appreciate.
And yeah, just traveling a little more comfortably in terms of really nice accommodations. In terms of experiences, I still love doing the local things; so, going to the coffee shops, walking around, going to the markets, flea markets, outdoor markets, farmer’s markets, kind of that stuff.
What is it about travel, that—can you dig in deeper into why travel kind of scratches—what's the itch that it's scratching?
I think a few things. One, it gets me out of my day-to-day comfort zone of routine that sometimes can get monotonous, and it just changes things up, it spices things up. And, there's that wonder and awe of discovering something totally new and immersing in a whole new culture and a way of life and a language and food that just satiates this curiosity I have in me to just constantly learn. I think, it's always being that learner, and then just the people, as I find that when I travel, I'm much more outgoing in terms of meeting other people.
Oh, meeting other people, like approaching strangers.
In some ways. But actually, it depends. When I'm on my own. Yes, sometimes when I'm with people, then I just cling to my groups.
Ah, so there's a power in doing solo travel.
Yeah, taking risk. And just that, maybe it's the romantic in me, but you know, just the wonder of what can happen when you go to an airport and just—exploring, going to a cafe, reading a book. All that.
It is very romantic.
Yeah. On that note, so what is the one thing you can't travel without?
That's a really good one. And I feel like over the years you've had—even if it doesn't happen every single time—you've had so many wonderful, self-reflective moments in your journals during your travels over the years. So, even if it doesn't happen every time you have access to that if you bring your journal.
Yeah. Do you still have older journals, too?
You’ve retained them? Oh, wow. Do you ever get a chance to look back at them, or is it …
I think I did once, and I cringed because reading what I write, it's kind of like these podcasts. I don't like listening to my own voice. I don't really like reading my own writing either because I get embarrassed.
Because the style or the thoughts feel outdated or different?
Probably the style of writing. And sometimes the thoughts might be immature.
Yeah, that's the wonderful thing about journaling. It's about the process of journaling, not necessarily the fact that you are journaling,
Yeah, that's true. Plus, I can't really read my writing these days. So I probably could not even decipher what I wrote. But yeah, the process.
So, I'm going to go with one last question, which is: what is your ideal weekend—Sunday—look like these days?
These days, we've gotten into kind of a nice Sunday routine where Mia has an art class in the morning, and it's in South Pasadena. And there's a really cute coffee shop called Two Kids that's not too far, so we'll drop Mia off and then we'll go get coffee with Mateo. And it's nice because we get this quality time with Mateo where—I feel like as a second kid and myself, being a second kid, you were kind of like kicked to the corner and you don't get that much alone time—so it's a really nice time for us to just have our attention on him. And I just love a good coffee shop and waiting in line for a coffee, something nice about that on a slow Sunday. And then lately, it's been so nice. We'll oftentimes go to a park or go out, but I actually just love being at home, especially when the light comes through. And we're just all at home, sitting on the couch, playing. Maybe sometimes, there's a TV on, but it's just like being home and settled.
There's been something really nice about that and not feeling the need to make the most and go out and do things because that has always been my default, but it's more just like being.
Sounds like you have arrived in your mid-thirties.
Oh my goodness.
And I've been seeing a lot of pictures of—is the pool all done? And you guys have been enjoying that? That seems …
That, yeah, that would be really added to the nice Sundays, just lounging by the pool, especially in this heat.
That's pretty nice
Alright, so we have a list of questions. Two options for you Connie, and I think you're supposed to pick one or the other. This or that.
Okay, let's do it.
Number one. Coffee or bubble tea, boba?
Of course, boba because it's going to have caffeine in it. Oh, but yeah, those are my two favorite things: I love coffee shops and boba.
But you didn't say boba shops.
Yeah, but because the question is not shops I will say bubble tea because it still has the milk tea, the caffeine, and the indulgence of the milk in it.
So, you need bubble tea. You need boba at a beautiful, gorgeous cafe. That's the ideal. Okay. Summer or winter.
Wow. Oh yeah.
What about sweet or salty?
Hmm. Texting or FaceTime?
Okay. Book or movie?
Book. Oh yeah. Okay. Yeah, book.
I fall asleep during movies.
And yeah, it seems like such a commitment these days.
Oh yeah, that also. Is that also a sign that we're in our mid-thirties, I can't stay up for a movie? Pizza or pasta?
That's hard. That's really hard.
Early bird or night owl?
Rainy day or sunny day?
Oh, what about this one? Okay, Netflix or YouTube?
Oh, that's hard.
That's hard. YouTube. If I think hard about it, lately I've been out of shows, so I'm like, “What do I watch?” And I feel like I can be a little more conscious in terms of what I'm selecting to watch on YouTube. And there's this one Japanese vlogger that I just enjoy watching.
Oh, who is it?
Nao, spelled N-A-O, and it's just like a really beautiful, inspiring vlog of her life, of just the simplicity of making coffee in the morning or cleaning her house and organizing. It's just beautifully shot. So, what I'll do sometimes, I'll just watch it to start my day because it inspires me to live the life so beautifully that she does.
We recently paid for YouTube Premium, which is such a luxury, I know, but it is pretty fantastic to not have ads anymore.
Yeah, and on your phone, when you minimize that or it'll actually minimize the screen so you could actually still watch something while doing something else.
Oh my god.
That's terrible and wonderful.
And you can share with your whole family too.
Oh, so you want to share that?
Yeah, I was going to say! Indoor or outdoor?
That's a tough one, but yeah.
Would you prefer travel by car or plane?
Plane. I get carsick pretty easily.
Oh, okay. Fiction or nonfiction books.
Oh, you guys have both turned me on to nonfiction books. I feel like I've been reading a lot more nonfiction recently. I just read Viola Davis's memoir and it's so good. Finding Me. Yeah, but I traditionally like fiction. I'm in a nonfiction phase actually with the book right now. I'm reading short essays, and I think they're mainly nonfiction.
I do admire how often you're reading and how often you have a book with you.
It is really nice to see.
The public library. I'm a big fan. If I don't have books to read …
It's really nice, yeah.
It's so nice to have books. And my problem now is I have too many books and I'm like, “How do I get to prioritize?” But yeah, I also try to read before I go to bed as a way to decompress.
Yeah, that's …
And fall asleep.
Cake or ice cream?
Ice cream. Definitely.
Oh, ice cream.
Thank you, Kenny. Kenny actually just got me a bunch of ice cream for my birthday.
Music or podcasts?
Oh, music. Even though I enjoy podcasts, I just love music. Although I probably listen to podcasts more than I do listen to music.
Is that strange? Is that also a mid-thirties thing? I don't know.
That's true. I don't even know who to listen to these days. Although, I did just book some Carly Rae Jepsen concert tickets this morning.
Oh! Very fun. That'll be really nice.
And then the last one: shopping online or in store?
That's so hard.
So funny because I've been wanting to go to Nordstrom to get something. And then I'm like, “Why didn't I just order it online?” And I was like, “No, but I also need to return something.”
So, if it weren't for having to return something, it would be an online purchase.
But can't you return online these days? No, maybe not.
No, you can, but …
You can mail it in, yeah.
I enjoy an in-person experience, but I definitely just shop online more for the convenience.
What are your go-to online stores?
I love Nordstrom for their return policy and what they carry. Although lately, I try not to shop too much online, but I've been buying a lot of stuff from Amazon recently. I know it's …
It's so bad.
Yeah, I'm conscious of it too. I'm like, “Oh, I should not be constantly supporting Amazon.” But, yeah, where else do I shop? And then, just like one off, I got some sneakers from Freda Salvador. Yeah, it was a little splurge for myself. But, I try not to shop too much, in general.
I love it. I love it. Well, how about if we end there, and I have just loved all of these juicy questions that you answered. And just really, really appreciate all of that vulnerability.
And that's the end of this episode.
That was so fun!
So, if you like content like this or have more burning questions, we'd love to hear from you. You can find us at Willomar.com or on Instagram at @willomar__.
And if you haven't already, please hit that subscribe button and leave us a review. We read each one of your reviews and appreciate when you share the love. So, until next time …
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