Tampa will be publishing monthly features on the women of the Tampa WIN chapter, their accomplishments and any tips or advice for other women in the commercial real estate field.
Lauren Coup is a Director for the Tampa Office Brokerage Team.
Michelle & Nicole: How did you make your first dollar?
Lauren: I was a lifeguard from 8th grade through sophomore year of high school. So I basically spent my summers saying, “walk, don’t run!” It was awesome, because I also did private swimming lessons with the little kiddies. My senior year, I did a co-op program where I could work part-time and go to school part-time. I worked in the tuxedo business, renting tuxedos to gentleman, and I loved it. The men I fitted were all in good moods because they were either going to prom or getting married. I did that in New Jersey for a while and then I moved down to Tampa and worked at Sacino’s on Kennedy during summer breaks from college. I always thought I would own a chain of tuxedo stores when I grew up. The business seemed to make a lot of sense to me, you rent the tuxedo one time and you have basically made your money back.
M&N: So you moved from New Jersey to Tampa for college…where did you go to school?
L: University of Tampa. I played tennis there.
M&N: Did you get a scholarship?
L: No, actually, I walked on. I played my last three years there.
M&N: What made you pick University of Tampa?
L: I wanted a small school in Florida. I was tired of New Jersey, tired of being cold, and I felt like it was my best option.
M&N: What did you major in?
M&N: What made you pick that?
L: It was the absolute last day that I could declare a major and I knew that I wanted to do business. Business just always interested me, and I thought to myself that if I major in marketing at least I am specialized in something, rather than just having a broad business degree. I feel that anything you do in business goes back to marketing.
M&N: Now that you’ve be in the business world for a while, what was the most important class you took in college?
L: Marketing 101. It taught me why people buy, how they buy and when they buy. I just loved the psychology of it all and found it really interesting. I still have that in the back of my head today with the leasing that I do.
M&N: While you were in school, did you have any internships?
L: I didn’t. Tennis took up a lot of my time and I was also the Vice President of my sorority. I never thought I would be in a sorority but being at such a small school, 99% of the population was in one, so you almost needed to join.
M&N: How did you get to Cushman & Wakefield?
L: I always wanted to work because school was not my thing. I really had to work hard at school. Out of college, I went to a job fair at Raymond James Stadium. I got offered a job and took it and the job was selling pre-arrangements for funerals. I didn’t care because it was a job and was just so excited to begin working. I was cold calling and the phone would just ring, I would talk to a person, hang up, and it would dial again. I figured if I could cold call, this I can cold call anything!
After that I worked for a web-hosting company sitting at the front as the owner’s assistant, doing a little bit of everything. I did that for a few months and then I moved into their purchasing department. We built the servers in-house so I did all the purchasing for all the hardware, negotiated the memory, mother boards, etc. I was there for about three years when they were bought out, and one by one they started letting our team go.
I then logged on to Monster.com, having no idea what commercial real estate was, and found a job being a leasing and property manager. I always knew that I loved real estate, didn’t want to do residential but didn’t know much about commercial. I interviewed and got the job with Arcis Investments. I was on-site at Belcher Commons, a 100,000 square feet, single-story property in Clearwater. The owner of the property was also on-site with me and basically taught me the business. All I did was 1,000, maybe 2,000 square foot leases all day long. I didn’t know any of the brokers, so I became known as the doughnut lady. I would bring a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts once a month and tape my flyer on top of it and drop it off at all the brokerage firms. That gave me the opportunity to meet the brokerage community, and they wanted to talk to me because I had doughnuts.
After I leased up the property I went to Advantis were I met Paula Buffa. The Managing Director at Advantis wanted to partner me up with Paula, and Paula had recently had a bad experience with a junior broker and wanted nothing to do with another one. So she got me, not wanting me, not knowing me…and now my kids call her Grammie! It’s really cool because the company was a sinking ship and I left about a year before she did. She went to Grubb. I went to Avison Young. Then we reunited here at Cushman & Wakefield two years ago.
M&N: How did you transition to Cushman & Wakefield?
L: I had a large client and represented 1.5 million square feet with them. The portfolio was really well leased and I knew they were starting to sell it off. Tim Rivers from the Asset Services team reached out to me while I was also talking to another firm at the time. I just knew after seeing all the resources that Cushman & Wakefield had, I thought, ‘who am I kidding,’ how am going to win anything being at a smaller firm not having the platforms that Cushman & Wakefield has. I made a move without a single square foot of property. This risk was the best thing I could have ever taken. I am currently working with Mercedes Angell and Paula Buffa on close to 2 million square feet of office space.
M&N: Is there anything that you’ve done where you said to yourself, “wow, I can’t believe I just did that.”
L: Besides having children… Something I just did, which was really out of my comfort zone, is that I spoke at the Westshore Alliance annual development meeting. That’s not really something I enjoy doing. I hate public speaking and it was the last class I took in college. I’m definitely improving on it. I’m fine at a client meeting when there’s a couple of us, but this was 300 to 400 people. I’m not a fan of all eyes on Lauren, which makes this interview so funny to me.
M&N: What work-life balances do you face daily as a working mom?
L: I don’t feel like being a woman in real estate is as much of a challenge as being a mom. My husband is a teacher and it’s a lot harder for him to take time off, while I have a lot more flexibility. With that being said, to have a conference call on days when the kids are home sick I am just praying they stay quiet. It’s more me putting the pressure on myself than my clients — they all have children and they are all understanding. I’m the one who wants to make sure that they understand that I am giving them 110% and never want them to think “Oh she’s at home with her kids again today, she can’t be as responsive.” I think it’s me putting the additional pressure on myself.
M&N: How do you balance work and time with your family?
L: I work really well off a list. I have electronic post-it notes on my computer and at night I make a list of things that have to get done the next day in order of priority. It’s so easy for the day to get away from you, with all the calls and tours you have to do. I find that if I leave at the end of the day and that list is complete, I am much more present with my children when I get home, instead of having the extra stuff in the back of mind and I am just waiting for them to go to bed so I can get it done. The more organized I am the better off I am.
About the Interviewers:
Michelle McMurray is the industrial research analyst for the Tampa Bay markets, as well as the co-author of the Millennial on Millennial (blog). You can follow Michelle on Twitter @michellemccre.
Nicole Grzywacz is the Florida Communications Lead, co-leading the state of Florida’s Marketing efforts with Nick Campbell. She is lover of memes, track changes in Microsoft Word and #hashtags. You can follow Nicole on Twitter @Cubolak403.