Brie’s Path to Professional and Personal Prosperity

Brie started her real estate journey in 2011, when she shifted from her corporate career to build a formidable portfolio of nearly 100 units. Under her leadership, her firm has facilitated property transactions worth $130 million. She also co-founded The Midwest Real Estate Networking Summit, a unique event that focuses on valuable interactions and learning opportunities for real estate professionals.

This interview will give you a glimpse of how she struck a balance moving from a 60+ work week in her own business, to a 25–30 hour work week fitting time in to look after her business, family, and mostly herself. Its a story we all need to learn from.

Here is what Brie Schmidt, Owner of Second City Real Estate had to say.

I used to work in advertising sales travelling all over the country working 50–60 hours a week. I loved my job and had aspirations of climbing the corporate latter and spending my career as an executive. When I was in the mid-career level my father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and passed away shortly after. He died the day before he was set to retire and instead of throwing him a retirement party we had his wake.

He had always talked about all the things he would do when he retired and all the places he would see and never got to do any of it. As I was nearing my 30’s I thought about working the next 30+ years of my life with 10-hour work days and my measly two-week vacation and pondered if that is the life I really wanted. I always had a passion for real estate and had been a licensed agent since I was 21, though I had not utilized it.

I decided to start buying investment properties with the goal of paying them off while still working and in 20 years being able to leave my job and live off the rental income so I could travel and retire early. I ended up discovering my passion and within a couple of years I acquired 30 rental properties and left corporate to run the business full time.

Since then, I started a real estate brokerage firm, a conference for real estate investors, and a coaching business for agents teaching them how to work with investors.

When did you make a conscious effort balance your time between your entrepreneurial endeavours with life?

I was on my second date with my now husband when he scolded me for being on my phone too much. He had taken time out of his day to spend time with me and I was answering emails and taking phone calls all hours of the day. I was a few years into my entrepreneurial life with multiple start-ups and working 50–60 hours a week again.

I did an audit of my time, every day I wrote down what tasks I did and how long it took me to do them. At the end of the week, I reflected on how I spent my week and looked for ways to be more efficient. I outsourced things I did not enjoy doing like marketing and found software to streamline things I enjoy doing like accounting. For months I did this every week and found ways to reduce my hours so that I was working on my business doing revenue generating activities, and not working in my business.

I started to follow the “getting things done” method of organization and still use it 7+ years later. I learned to prioritized my day into time blocks where I turn off my phone and close my email so I can focus on the task at hand. It taught me to break up my larger tasks into manageable ones so that I don’t procrastinate.

I write everything down so I don’t waste my mental energy trying to remember to do something. I decline in person meetings and invitations to “grab coffee and chat”. I try to spend most of my time on revenue generating activities and outsource things I don’t like to do or am not good at.

Now that you have gone from a 60 hour work week to a 25–30 work week, what activities have you been able to fit into your life?

I was fortunate enough to start this process before having children. Now I have two preschoolers that I am able to spend quality time with. I wake up before everyone and do a power hour first thing in the morning. I utilize the “getting things done” to-do list to knock out all my small tasks and plan out my time blocks for the day.

The kids get up and get ready and go to school for 4 hours a day and this is when I schedule my calls and work. I am able to complete most of what I need to get done while they are at school. We pick them up at noon and have lunch as a family and then take a nap (me too!). Most afternoons we have off to go do activities together like the pool or playground.

We travel about two months a year and just got back from a two-week trip to Europe. By implementing systems and processes I have taken off for 6 weeks before to travel. The reason I did all this in the first place was to be able to enjoy my life now and not wait till I retired to go see all the things I wanted to see. That is even more important now that I have children to share it with.

I dream of being able to step away completely and live abroad when they are a bit older. Being able to expose them to the world and other cultures would be my ultimate dream.

Can you provide a word of wisdom or encouragement for fellow entrepreneurs trying to balance their work and personal lives?

The most valuable lesson I learned is that as a business owner I am not supposed to be good at everything. I can’t be CEO, human resources, finance, marketing, and the sales team. When you work in your business you have to be all those things. When you work on your business you can spend your time doing what you do best, running the business. When you don’t have a boss, you set the rules. I don’t have a clock to punch so if I want to work 5am-12pm that is what I do.

You can start with small steps and small changes. It took me almost 18 months to streamline my work week and cut my hours in half. It took a lot of self-reflection and trial and error to find what worked for me and my lifestyle. I listen to podcasts while driving to get ideas on how to grow my business and work more competently. Then once my kids are home work turns off and I only respond to time sensitive issues, the rest can wait till the next work day.

Drawing inspiration from Brie’s journey, remember that balancing a successful career with a rich personal life is achievable. Let her story motivate you to carve out time for both your professional ambitions and your loved ones, ensuring a fulfilling and rounded life experience.

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