Defying Expectations

Words: Shelby O'Neill|Photography: Brian Fitzsimmons|Published: Apr. 1 2019

Few professions carry the cache of financial certainty that physicians enjoy, so it’s no surprise that some of Kara Pierce’s friends and family were baffled when she left medical school to pursue a career in real estate. But Pierce, who is a Keller Williams agent in the Central PA East market center, has proven the naysayers wrong time and again in the past three years. Pierce has served on the Associate Leadership Council, earned a spot on the 2017 National Association of REALTORS® 30 Under 30 list, and ranked No. 1 in her market center in closed units, closed volume and listings taken.

“People told me I was crazy to leave medi­cine.”

“It shows that regard­less of what odds are against you – and I’d say the odds were pretty against me because of my age and that I didn’t have a business background – let your inner voice drown out the outer voices. You can be whatever you want, whoever you want, at whatever age or abilities or situations you have.”

Pierce was attending Penn State College of Medicine when medical issues forced her to take a break from school. As her loans piled up, Pierce pursued a real estate license in the fall of 2014 to help pay down some of that debt and provide for her family, which includes two young children.

“It was a really hard decision to leave medicine along with the loans that come with it,” she says. “We’re talking $125,000. So I just jumped right in. For maybe the first three months, I had nothing. I went to work every day, listened to what other agents were doing, and tried to help people and give them value. It was pure muscle. I just grinded and worked super hard.”

Home at Keller Williams

By spring, that work paid off as Pierce reached No. 2 in her small brokerage. She soon began looking at other companies and learned about Keller Williams. Her local team leader took her to Mega Camp (the company’s second-largest training event) and the rest is history.

“As soon as I came to Mega Camp and heard Keller Williams’ vision for the future and technology, I said, ‘Yep, this is the company for me,’” she recalls.

“I feel like the key to success is education and personal progress, and it’s one of the reasons Keller Williams is definitely the best. The company’s technology road map is very promising and they are committed to enabling us through technology like Kelle and Command.”

When she hit a plateau in growing her business, she looked to Mastery Coaching, Family Reunion, Dianna Kokoszka’s Power-Up videos, and The Millionaire Real Estate Agent to take her further.

“I reached that plateau where my personal skills and talents couldn’t take me any further,” she says. “That’s when I had this stroke of humility: I can’t do this with my brain alone. I must rely on others.”

Proving the Naysayers Wrong

That wisdom led her to close 59 transactions in 2017 for $15,137,484 in volume and $385,349 in GCI. In 2018, she reached 98 transactions at nearly $19 million in volume for $553,489 in GCI. Her success flies in the face of expectations, from those who doubted her decision to abandon medicine to the broader societal expectations for young women, mothers, and minorities.

“When I jumped into real estate, people would tell me I would never succeed in Central Pennsylvania as a young a Asian woman and new mother,” Pierce says. “Those comments fueled me to say, ‘Actually, I can do it, and I’ll show you.’ You just turn a supposed negative into a positive.”

Success in Motherhood

Some still view being a mother as a limitation in the professional sphere, but Pierce has turned it into a strength by making women – and mothers, in particular – her target market.

“I realized that if I hyperlocalize and hyperfocus on mothers, I can spend time with my children while still lead generating.”

“Real estate is a social business, so it’s actually a perfect arena to have both your business and your children because every time you go to a playgroup or organize an event for moms and kids, you’re networking. I sign my kids up for everything. They go to music classes, soccer and swimming, and we interact with so many people.”

Naturally, real estate comes up as a conversation topic, and her Facebook profile also makes it clear she has a passion for her work. From there, Pierce works to build relationships with and support these women, and as a result, she gains their business.

“I just love to spoil my clients,” she says. “That’s my lead generation strategy. We like to attack it from strategic gifts, touches, letters, and events, but also haphazardly, like, ‘I haven’t spoken to you for a while. Let’s go get pedicures or go to dinner.’ My success has come from keeping it relaxed and casual.”

For Pierce, this means creating playgroups and hosting barbecues and bounce house get-togethers, but for other agents, keeping things personal and social might look different.

“It’s a beautiful industry because you can tailor your lead generation activities to the season of life you’re in and whatever brings you joy. Mothers are my passion.”

The Big Why Behind it All

While Pierce has made a successful farm out of following her passion, on a deeper level, she’s also spurred on by a very powerful big why.

“I didn’t grow up in a very healthy family culture,” she says. “Because of that background, I was refined in the tools to handle very emotional situations. In real estate, you have really good experiences, but then you have difficult situations. As I progressed in real estate, I found it was successful for me because of my personality, because I felt like I was personally equipped to navigate those situations.”

Her big why has made growing her business a very personal mission.

“My big goal is not letting my trials be in vain.”

“If I’m going to have a happy ending, it needs to be a way for me to touch as many people as I can. I need to show people that no matter what cards life has dealt them or what situation they’re in right now, nothing can conquer the human will. You only need one person to believe in you – and that one person can be you.”

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