We’re back with the final installment of Life before Real Estate. From a professional dancer to business owners and philanthropists, this group of talented agents proves that sometimes, where you’ve been is just as important as where you’re going.
Mauricio Umansky: Before founding The Agency and representing some of the world’s most coveted real estate, Mauricio owned a successful clothing company called 90265 (named after the Malibu zip code). Having come from a family in the manufacturing business, Mauricio mastered the art of negotiation before becoming one of the top-producing agents in the country. “My father’s company was phenomenal, and he taught me the value of a penny and how to negotiate small numbers. Negotiating in the apparel industry honed a lot of the skills I brought to my career in real estate,” he says. Mauricio also took a less traditional approach in his own business that proved to be a game changer in real estate: “When I sold clothing, it was very difficult in those days to sell to the big department stores. If you didn’t have a vendor number you couldn’t even get in the door, but I had a salesperson who taught me that in order to get things done, you have to start at the top and work your way down. So that’s what I did. I went to the big department store and got myself an appointment with the CEO, and the CEO liked our stuff, and I had a vendor number three weeks later.”
Paul Lester: A founding partner at The Agency, Paul attributes much of his success in real estate to the incredible work ethic he honed during his career as a dancer. “Focus, drive, determination, passion and consistency, coupled with training and hard work, were integral to my success as a dancer,” he says. “In a profession where one in one thousand make it to the top, the focus on everyday training with a consistent work ethic became paramount. My reward for all of that was the experience of performing among a group of highly successful and talented peers, all of whom were inspirational talents in their own right, and sharing it with the world. Working and touring with world renowned choreographers and companies, such as Twyla Tharp, taught me that nothing but 150% would do each day. If you didn’t have it then, you didn’t show up. To me dancing was always the most truthful of arts; you either had the expertise and performance skills or you didn’t… there was no faking it, no favors given to succeed. Your only reward was your own push and drive to be the best you can be. This is how I approach real estate.”
Loran Arvizu: Prior to her career in real estate, Loran was a luxury salon and medical spa owner for 25 years, and still works as an independent hair stylist on Palm Desert’s El Paseo and in Beverly Hills. “The transition to real estate came naturally to me, as building connections and trust in clients is first and foremost,” says Loran. “Specializing in providing luxury services also translates to how I handle the needs of clients with high expectations. I pay attention to detail and, after owning and operating eight salons with more than 70 employees, I am calm and level-headed during any storm.”
David Kelmenson: Before transitioning to real estate, David founded a private training business in 1992 called Critical Mass. The exclusive, one-on-one fitness studio in Brentwood was a revolutionary concept during a time when there were virtually no luxury fitness options in L.A. He and his business partner also founded and ran an affiliated company which designed and outfitted personal gyms in high-end homes and mobile gyms for actors to utilize while on location. “My background in fitness translated seamlessly to my real estate business,” says David. “It’s all about customer care for high-net-worth clients, and this type of clientele converted over to real estate. Additionally, I’ve always run my own business, which requires a consistent and regimented work ethic.”
Azy Farahmand: An active member of the Beverly Hills community, Azy currently serves on the El Rodeo PTA Executive Board, a role she has enjoyed since 2006. Azy was PTA President of El Rodeo from 2009-2011, sat on the Beverly Hills Education Foundation from 2005-2011 and was PTSA President of Beverly Hills High School from 2014-2015. “Running the PTA was like running a business,” she explains. “You have board members working under you and are raising funds and budgeting for all the services provided for your clients—the students. This experience gave me a great understanding of what it would take to run my own real estate business.”
Courtney Lingle: Before joining The Agency, Courtney co-founded the nonprofit SouthBayCares.com. With close to 1,400 members in just over a year, the organization advocates for social, environmental and constitutional rights through civic action. This month, the organization will be spearheading a fundraiser to benefit Santa Barbara and will have six buses going to the 2nd Annual Women’s March LA. A third-generation beach cities native, Courtney’s community involvement has proven invaluable in real estate, garnering her an extensive network and insatiable work ethic that directly benefits her clients.