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Don't be the smartest person in the room; being different is a Superpower

NAREIM LatinX Real Estate Roundtable meeting 

Key takeaways

May 10, 2024

How do you find career happiness? Often, it’s by not being the smartest person in the room and surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you are.

As more than 40 NAREIM members and friends gathered in NYC for the LatinX Real Estate Roundtable this week, industry leaders shared their lessons learned as they progressed to the senior ranks and C-suite: Including the fact they were the happiest in their career when they were 3rd or 4thsmartest person in a small room.

As one leader explained: “I was always happiest when I was the third or fourth smartest person in a four or five-person room. I want to be around smart people, because it’s the people around you that make you happy.”

To fit in or not?

During the Roundtable, members discussed the current state of the market, careers, mentoring and networking – and how and whether to try to “fit in” as an ethnically-diverse and multi-lingual person in US corporations.

As members and attendees described the challenges they had faced from racial stereotypes, offensive jokes and language barriers, one leader said there was a superpower in being different. Recounting the different personality types of their mentors, the leader urged people not to try to “assimilate” to a prevailing culture if it was different from their true self.

Differences can be a superpower, the leader said. The key was to ensure a shared vision, shared principals and similar values. “ ” they said.

Other key takeaways from the roundtable included:

  • Careers only look eloquent in retrospect. You don’t need a plan for every part of your career. Careers are often messy in the moment, but it balances over time.

  • Informal mentors can be more impactful to your career than formal mentors, because informal mentors choose you. The best mentoring relationships are organic.

  • Be authentic and comfortable in who you are. But know you also need fortitude to be different.

  • Leadership is about having the best interests of your team at heart – and that means knowing they won’t work for you forever, but you help develop your team as leaders themselves so they can go and run their own platform. “It’s a coaching tree.”

  • The biggest impact you can have on the industry can be as simple as choosing your team. Create the environment you want to see in the industry, and your team will spread that even further when they progress and build their own teams and platforms.

  • Give time to train the next generation. “We have to take the time to teach people what we have learned. It’s important to take that time and give back what we have received.”

To access the attendee list, email IvyLee Rosario:

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