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Lauren Haw, seen on Aug. 14, 2018, is the CEO of the Toronto-based, full-service brokerage Zoocasa.Mark Blinch/Globe and Mail

Lauren Haw, 33, is the CEO and broker of record at the full-service brokerage Zoocasa, one of Canada’s top online real estate search sites, based in Toronto.

One cursed blessing is everyone’s in love with real estate. Everything we do has a pretty good megaphone. It also means if you go to a dinner party, you can’t hide. If you’re at the park, you never get to turn off. Everybody has an opinion of what’s going on in the market and they want to hear yours.

I got my real estate licence in 2012. If you’re good – intelligent, give amazing advice and work in a client’s best interests – it’s 24/7. You need to dive in and study, not the craft of sales, but where asset values are going and give people the right advice; almost a mix of being their therapist, financial adviser and negotiator. It’s almost horrifically exhausting, you’re doing deals at midnight on Sundays. You get the highs of working with a family, finding the next best step for them at the expense of your personal life.

I have a 19-month-old and a 2-month-old. Breastfeeding takes a lot of time. I have to plan my days and schedule around closing my door so people don’t get the pump baseline in the background of phone calls.

I never wanted to be a front-line agent forever. Not selling any more, there are many aspects I miss. I try to find the best agents to know clients are in good hands. That sounds gratuitous, but it’s true. Transactions can put the interests of agents and clients at odds so it’s even more important you’re hiring and training people who have a strong moral sense.

Everybody has the lemonade stand, other pursuits; I wanted to be financially independent. I was raised in Scarborough, got my first job at 14 to have spending money and save for things which seemed important then. I worked long hours as a lifeguard and swim instructor at a private pool, then at 15, a city [of Toronto] pool, in the union.

Early on, I saw differences in employee interaction and motivation through two strikes. Two months one summer, I didn’t get to work – my only pre-university savings opportunity. If your motivation is that you can’t get fired, those are different motivations.

At 18, I went to Queen’s University for commerce, first year signing up for College Pro Painters. It was an amazing experience. They know if you do [certain things] you’ll have good results; I did, morning, noon and night. It was absolutely the best business training because I learned the buck stopped with me. By the year’s end, I was much more interested in running a company. I loved working with my team, hiring, training and helping people grow. I’d hired a roster of painters depending on me – if I couldn’t produce jobs, they wouldn’t save for tuition. That responsibility motivated me to continue growing teams and building companies.

We acquired Zoocasa’s URL in 2015, rebuilding the website to scale out our raison d’être to a larger audience built first with users in mind. They’re educated, care about school zones for kids, but affordability’s a big issue. Instead of going to different websites, they can filter by zone and homes providing income from a separate suite that families, quite frankly, need to afford a home.

The sharing economy opened opportunities for homes to be seen more as assets. A portion is investment, but for the large majority, a large portion is utility.

There’s an expectation information is free and data should be readily available, but it takes a background team filtering, coming up with interesting facets and ways of presenting information and trends. People joke that when you’re around a Starbucks, prices rise; we took that on to see if we could prove it. The market’s moving to open source, however, it’s important we consider privacy. We have to be careful we’re providing information to consumers that’s distilled, adds value and doesn’t create lightning rods for anger.

Done is better than perfect. Get it out there. Start now. Test your ideas and thinking against as many people who will listen. Everybody who’s been successful in business will tell you execution matters. You can have all the ideas in the world, but you have to get it done.

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