“You spend so much of your time working that it's important to examine the culture of your environment. Try to plant yourself in places that will encourage you to grow and around other colleagues who push you.”
MARCH 23, 2020 | BY COLE ZAHARRIS & LEIGH MARSHALL
Stormie brings an analytical and quantitative lens to her core real estate markets on the Westside of Los Angeles. Stormie Leoni is one of Los Angeles’s leading real estate agents, having completed more than $100M in transactions. Stormie is in the top 5% of agents in Los Angeles and is a key member of the Compass team. Working in a high-profile environment, often with private clientele, has poised Stormie to handle each transaction with discretion, and expert negotiation tactics. She performs extensive proprietary research on these markets to understand value and potential upside of properties she represents. A real estate investor herself, Stormie draws upon long-term investment strategies to guide her clients through sales with their specific financial goals in mind. Stormie is known as a strong, and loyal advocate for her clients, and grounds her working relationships in trust and transparency.
Did you always know that you wanted to work in Real Estate? If not, how did you come to that conclusion?
Absolutely not. When I moved to LA I was an entertainment assistant for a literary manager and thought I would do the whole entertainment thing. A friend who had been doing real estate piqued my interest and I decided to get licensed thinking it would be a part-time job - let me squash the idea of a part-time real estate career. This is a commission industry, so if you’re not working you’re not paying your bills! In fact, even if you are working around the clock you’re not guaranteed a paycheck until a transaction is completely closed. After looking behind the curtain what I encountered was a dynamic, hyper-competitive industry that married qualitative and quantitative analysis, design and function, and people.
What did you major/minor in? How did you decide your course of study?
I graduated with a major in Sociology and minors in Religion and Visual & Media Studies. I’m extremely drawn to people and what makes us tick, what inspires us.
Are there any specific classes/professors that you recommend all students take?
I am a huge fan of seminar courses, they are hugely valuable in developing your own point of view, polishing public speaking skills, and learning how to have a dialogue with peers who disagree with you. Learn how to communicate confidently and in your own style and that will benefit you no matter what field you pursue. Some of the most interesting classes I took were Religion seminars, my favorite being a class called “God, Freedom, and Evil.” In it we had to write a paper using the Bible to object to torture. We turned in the paper, and the professor Greg Lee said “Great. Now go back and use the Bible to defend the use of torture.” That class really asked you to challenge your worldview and to live in complexity rather than objectivity. I was also a participant in the SOL program (Service Opportunities in Leadership)with Prof. Alma Blount. Another amazing seminar program! Take seminars!
Can you briefly touch on how you transitioned from Halton Pardee + Partners to working at Compass?
Transitioning from a firm that operated as a group to a brokerage where I would be a principal and an owner of my own business was intimidating at first. I had been approached with an exciting opportunity, but I felt a sense of fear - was I ready? Though I felt the transition was the right move it was easy for me to try to over-plan the process to the point where there was always one more “box” to check before I would leave. I look back now and think: “I wasted so much time in fear, I could have spent that time just grinding courageously building my business.” The transition was a huge life lesson. None of the things I worried would go wrong have happened. I have grown, and am happier providing my clients with service that is reflective of my own personal values. Admittedly, being a business owner comes with new challenges - balancing the books, deciding how to reinvest ...etc. but I'm so proud of the business I'm building.
What advice would you give current BOW members who are trying to navigate their future career path?
First, breathe. One wrong turn won’t sink the ship.
Second, you spend so much of your time working that it's important to examine the culture of your work environment. Are you energized by the environment or depleted? Try to plant yourself in places that will encourage you to grow and around other colleagues who push you.
Third, if you're thinking of working for yourself, or starting your own business, don’t waste time lamenting that it will be hard. It will be hard, that’s ok. You know what else is hard? Staying in a situation that isn’t right for you anymore, or is impeding your growth.
Finally, as I’m the first generation in my family to go to college, I feel a huge personal necessity to succeed for my family who sacrificed so much for me to go to the best schools, and have amazing experiences as a student. My husband and I both already financially help other older family members. I want women who are in the same position to know, #1 you are not alone (I think it’s something we don’t talk about but it’s reality for a lot of us and there's no shame in it), and #2 it’s ok to prioritize your own happiness and ambition. If you are thriving in your career you will find a way to make it all work no matter who needs what from you. What will serve no one is you staying in a role or industry that makes you miserable because of a family obligation. I wish someone had told me that when I was graduating!
Can you give an example of an obstacle that you have faced and had to overcome in regard to your career?
Ultimately I’m a fiduciary and an advisor to clients, but I’m not the one making the final decision. It was hard for me to learn that you have to be more than one person to your client throughout the life of a transaction. At moments you have to be a friend or a therapist but one thing you should never do is just be a “yes-woman.” As a fiduciary, you have to develop a strategy to challenge your clients in a way that brings them closer to you as a trusted advisor, even when you’re telling them something they don’t want to hear. It’s a dance, it’s extremely human and it comes back to being empathetic and knowledgeable. Knowledge is power.
What are your favorite things to do in Los Angeles?
I am obsessed with riding my bike! It sounds ridiculous but I learned to ride a bike as a 25-year-old. It taught me that if I can push myself to learn something new as a grown-up I can do anything. No problem a beach path bike ride won’t ease.