From sales to CEO.

I didn’t have an ordinary career in real estate. I was working as a sales agent in the family business, which was a path I was set to be on for many years – until the sudden passing of my father. After fighting to be put on as CEO, with no prior leadership experience, I soon found myself in an entirely new role than the one I had spent decades carving out.
The shift from prospecting, running listing presentations, handling negotiations, and selling properties, to leading a team while keeping the business afloat was no easy feat. Any owner knows the challenge of balancing working on the business vs. in it. As a key sales agent, I had to continue bringing money in the door while fulfilling CEO responsibilities.
Five years into balancing both roles, I’ve learned there are pivotal similarities between sales and leadership.
5 lessons in 5 years
1.   Sales taught me what clients really need. I didn’t step into a real estate director role from another industry. I started at the bottom and developed my own sales style which has built on long-term relationships.
2.  I had an established network. People already knew who I was when I took over as CEO. I knew what my clients, team and community needed – and when I didn’t know, I could ask. Because I was a salesperson, a homeowner, and a community member myself, I knew the pain points and saw the potential for change.
3.  I knew how to generate cashflow. When I took over the business, it was in financial disarray – we had six weeks of cash until we’d have to close. Because my primary role was a sales agent, I had the skills to increase our cashflow. If I didn’t have that experience Nitschke probably wouldn’t exist today. I can also better support our sales team because I continue to sell myself.
4.  It made me humble. Because I couldn’t draw on previous leadership or management experience, I had to lean into my vulnerability. I was forced to drop all ego and ask for help. The journey wasn’t about me. It was about the business and everyone who wanted it to succeed. This has helped define a strong culture, a resilient team, and a collective confidence that we maintain today.  
5.  It inspired a culture of performance. In sales, I was used to KPIs, quarterly milestones and setting goals. Yet most traditional CEOs don’t think to gamify performance and make it fun.
No matter where you come from, you can draw from your own unique experiences, in work and life, to lead with authenticity.
To learn more about my journey to CEO, pre-order my book Leading Out of Loss.