Lifestyle Kuel Life Contributor: Dolly Hertz
I’m disappointed in myself. That’s how it feels on a down day, when I compare myself to peers who started on a career path, stuck with it, and advanced to the highest levels of proficiency, renown and financial success.
Worse yet is the occasional resentment that still crops up when I realize that many were launched in their careers by parents or family who had connections that got them right onto the editor’s desk at Vogue or the trading floor on Wall Street.
My Fellow Classmates:
“For all the marching and women’s libbing we did in the 70s, there wasn’t really a framework or a precedent that allowed me to consider something like law school or finance.”
My women classmates at Middlebury got married the day after graduation and that was that. Few went to work. Some went on to get their MRS in grad school. For all the marching and women’s libbing we did in the 70s, there wasn’t really a framework or a precedent that allowed me to consider something like law school or finance.
I thought I was planning strategically by getting my elementary school teaching credentials as an undergrad so I could graduate with a dual degree in English Lit and Education
Losing Jobs To Men:
As it turned it out, nothing was easy. An eager and diligent student, I returned to NY after graduation to discover there was a dearth of teaching opportunities for women, as the slots were earmarked for men who wanted to avoid the draft. And they got the jobs, my job, despite not a lick of training. (I am absolutely grateful for every young man whose life was saved by not going to Vietnam.)
I went to work at Bergdorf Goodman, selling dresses, then on to the buying office in short order but for this pseudo-hippie in her bell bottom jeans, it was not a good fit. (Which is crazy, since I now love fashion!) On to book publishing as an editorial assistant, which at least enabled me to do a little writing, but mostly typing, typing, typing.
A Break For Me:
“During this time, I was supporting myself with a night job at a famous bar on Third Avenue”
I finally got a break with the Bank Street School and later the Lenox School. Six fabulous years working with kids and families I became attached to.
But as I saw my peers earning quadruple my salary, I, too, wanted to strive for financial improvement and thought, naively, that a copywriting job in advertising would welcome me. They loved my ideas and my ads, but they showed me the door. Others with family connections were jumping ahead.
During this time, I was supporting myself with a night job at a famous bar on Third Avenue, which is a saga unto itself. Kept hitting the morning interviews on a couple hours sleep till finally, nothing. Then a secretarial slot in a direct mail company, culminating after six months in an elevation to sales. The first female salesperson in the company. My title was salesman. (As an aside, simply because it sounds so inconceivable today, when I started to show during my pregnancy, I was asked not to call on clients.)
Fast forward a decade to opening Hertz Marketing, my own creative agency, based in my home. I was finally able to see my daughter while she was awake and participate in her after school life. Seventeen successful years later, in 2011, direct mail was suddenly over. As were many of my magazine clients who succumbed to print obsolescence.
“Little by little, deal by deal, I can say that I now feel confident and capable”
What to do, what to do, not so young anymore, what to do? Something completely reckless, a field I knew nothing about, real estate, not in my own backyard, but in NYC, where I hadn’t lived in decades and where I knew no one.
That was nine years ago. Started clawing my way up with no mentorship, just trial and error. Little by little, deal by deal, I can say that I now feel confident and capable of handling any customer and any transaction I am fortunate enough to be offered.
Many of my peers have been in this business for 30-plus years and, while they may have a bigger book than I, I continue to persevere and build. I still have the dream and still believe I am going places in this business. And it’s happening, in large part thanks to a shift in attitude.
Changing My Perspective:
I stopped focusing on my revenue and have become singly focused on my clients’ and customers’ needs. The business is like a gigantic, stimulating jig saw puzzle for me to solve: understanding the buyer or seller, locating that one ideal apartment or ideal purchaser and maximizing the financial gain for the party I represent.
No shortcuts or lies or poaching clients. Simply building trust and cementing relationships.
So, on a good day, like today, while I acknowledge that my trajectory has been jagged, I continue to work my way up. I’m enthusiastic and optimistic about the possibilities in work and in life. And for today, I am not disappointed in myself, not even a little.
About the Author:
Dolly Hertz is a real estate broker in NYC, an empty-nester, a mom and a grandma. She is a single woman of a certain age, trying to live her best life humbly and authentically. Her greatest pleasure is to be of service wherever possible. You can follow Dolly on Instagram; connect with her on LinkedIn and check-out her real estate website Engel & Volkers