Whether it is a mother, a significant other, or a good friend, most of our lives have been touched in a significant way by a woman who cared for us, challenged us, and inspired us. We strive to acknowledge, build equity for, and celebrate the women in our lives on a daily basis, but March 8 is an extra special time.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Outfront team connected with four trailblazing women across Keller Williams to learn more about their journey, drive, and inspiration. Here, they share their experiences.
Kymber Menkiti, Regional Director at Maryland and D.C. Region
In 2008, Kymber Menkiti decided to transition to real estate after an early career in education. In the span of five years, she focused on creating a strong hyperlocal business while growing her own family by becoming a mother to three boys. Today, Menkiti leads more than 4,000 Keller Williams associates in the Maryland and D.C. Region through their business growth while serving as the president of Keller Williams Capital Properties. While she makes leadership look incredibly easy, Menkiti didn’t always feel prepared to take on this role.
“I didn’t believe I was ready professionally or personally to make the move,” she says. “I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who believed in me beyond what I was able to see and encouraged me to make the jump. I am now wholly committed to being that push for others, especially for the women who are talented well beyond what they may see in front of them.” For her own part, Menkiti draws strength from women such as her own mother. “She was a leader of leaders and lived out a commitment to raising up other women in leadership as an educator,” she says. In the real estate world, she credits the 5 Dolls Mastermind Group, a close-knit group of top agents – all women – for challenging her to think bigger and take more risks. “And, most importantly, learn to say no so that I can say YES to the most important things in my life.”
Rumana Jabeen, Agent at Rumana Jabeen & Associates
When she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area alongside her husband, a university professor, Rumana Jabeen realized the pair were going to need a higher income. “Real estate had always interested me, so I studied for my license. I did not know anybody as I was new to the area, but in my first year, my salary was comparable to my husband’s, and continued to rise as I found my footing.” Jabeen started her business through door knocking and fliers, seeking out additional opportunities by asking other agents to let her host open houses on the weekends. Since then, her hard work has paid off. Jabeen is a member of Gary’s Top 100 Solo Agents mastermind group, as well as the recipient of a Top Individual Agent in the KW Northern California & Hawaii region award for 2019.
Even a decorated agent like Jabeen experiences hardships. When COVID struck, her pipeline went dry and she had no listings and buyers. “That was a very stressful and eye-opening experience,” she recalls. By making care calls and engaging in important conversations, she was able to power through. “Every day seems to bring its own challenges to resolve,” Jabeen says. “Keep a positive attitude and we can thrive despite any issues that arise.”
What does it take besides positivity? A drive to “aspire higher” – which happens to be Jabeen’s motto, inspired by her late mother. “Even though she grew up in Bangladesh, where women do not have any power, she taught me and my sister to be independent and think for ourselves,” she says. “We can do anything and can achieve anything we desire.”
Karen Dadonn, Agent at Karen Dadonn Team (KW Spain)
Last month, Karen Dadonn of KW Spain celebrated her fourth anniversary with Keller Williams, and with the real estate industry as a whole. “I was thrilled by starting a new professional adventure,” she remembers. “I love connecting with people, I speak five languages fluently, I have a background in public relations and an MBA in marketing, so it was kind of obvious that I couldn’t do anything else but real estate – a dream come true,” Dadonn says. She dove headfirst into the industry, and fondly remembers the adrenaline rush and pride that came with the new venture. Now the rainmaker of the number one team in volume and GCI for KW Spain, Dadonn leads her five-woman team with the same goal she had for herself: “(…) to break my natural ceiling and challenge myself to become the best professional version of myself, and help my team members do the same.”
Looking at Dadonn’s achievements, it’s important to mention that she had spent the previous 15 years in a completely different role: being the CEO of her family and the mother of two now-teenage girls. “I was 41 years old when we landed in south Spain and starting a career at that age wasn’t obvious,” Dadonn says. “No one ever called me back, not even to invite me for an interview.” Because entrepreneurship had always been a part of her, Dadonn was able to just listen to her heart and start her own business.
In carving out her own space within the industry, Dadonn follows the teachings of two special women. The first one, her mother, taught Dadonn that consistency and effort are key to achieving something in life. “Beautiful, kind, committed, smart, courageous and a hard worker, my mom always did everything to offer me and my sister the best education and the best life possible,” she says. The second woman, Dadonn’s former philosophy teacher, has left an imprint on her way of thinking. “I can’t remember her name, but I still have in mind each and every one of the classes she taught us,” Dadonn says. “My philosophy notebooks have been, through the years, the first things going into my moving containers. Still today, I like to go back to them and read them.”
Marcia Bent, Team Leader at KW Jamaica
Marcia Bent has a background in marketing and information technology. Yet, after an interview with the market center’s operating principal, she landed the role of team leader with zero real estate experience. “My first two years, I was laser-focused on learning the models and systems of Keller Williams Realty, learning my role, learning about the industry, and how to understand the needs of agents,” Bent shares. Her efforts are bringing in tremendous success. Her team has become the largest brokerage on the island by agent count, and they have won the award of “Highest Percentage Increase in Agent Growth – Small Region” three years in a row, from 2017 to 2020.
Seeing where Bent is now, it is difficult to imagine that she has encountered people that have minimized her role because of her then-lack of knowledge and experience in the real estate industry. “I have now overcome that, and I am being seen as a valuable resource that helps the team grow and be profitable,” Bent shares. In moving forward, Bent follows the teachings of two influential women – Barbara Corcoran of “Shark Tank” fame, and Oprah Winfrey. To Bent, Corcoran became one of the most notable females in the real estate industry by maintaining her quirky and confident personality. “I embraced the idea of removing my limiting beliefs and being confident in my strengths because of her,” she says. As for Winfrey, she inspires Bent to focus on finding her voice while caring for others. “She inspired me to focus on becoming a better listener and finding ways to add value to others every day,” she says.
Who inspires YOU to be your best self and take control of your life and career? Is it a family member? Is it a fellow colleague or member of leadership? Let us know in the comments section.