The instant Andrea Huseman walks into a room, heads turn. People straighten up a bit. There’s just something about her – her charisma lights up a room, and no wonder. She was named CityBusiness’ “2004 Woman of the Year,” and has developed over $135,000,000 of commercial transactions for New Orleans power-house Corporate Realty. Andrea has served as a Corporate Realty representative since 1990, and worked with major clients, including AT&T, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Hewlett Packard, Chevron, State Farm, and even Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, (to name a few).
She is a Past President of the Louisiana/ Mississippi CCIM Chapter, the Provost Council at Tulane University, the Newcomb College Alumni Association, and the Louisiana Chapter of CREW (Commercial Real Estate for Women Network). She currently sits on the Governance ULI Advisory Board and is a Woman’s Professional Council Board member. Plus, she has three children and has been married to the love of her life for 25 years.
But let’s not be jealous, let’s be inspired instead.
I had the luck to sit down with Ms. Huseman (she let me call her Andrea) and ask her about her success philosophy. Here is what she so graciously shared:
1. The glass is overflowing / Obstacles are opportunities
“Where there’s life there’s hope.”
Rather than let her dyslexia (she was diagnosed in the 10th grade) hold her back, she used it to serve as a springboard to greater achievement. She learned that she can defy all odds and that labels are meaningless.
She has maintained this enthusiasm for life, willing herself to push forward, even when the cards seem stacked against her. In her very first real-estate job, she signed contract on a Friday, and was over the moon. Then she walked into work on Monday to find she was going to be let go, due to inter-office strife (Real Estate is notorious for drama). She offered to work for free, just to learn the ropes. A less positive person might have given up. Not Andrea Huseman.
2. Forge Ahead / Plowing
Look back but don’t dwell.
“Plowing” is a visual metaphor that came to Andrea in the turbulent months following Katrina. She saw herself tending a plow, forging rows of soil to plant with the seeds of new life. Every now and then, she would take a quick look back, but didn’t stay attached to the work she had done (and the way that things “used to be”). For Andrea, staying in action is a top priority. “Be light, let it go, let it flow,” is her motto.
3. Feel the Fear & Do it Anyway / Take Chances
Andrea grew up believing that she was supposed to be a teacher, not a corporate leader. The night before she made the jump to real estate, she was sobbing from the fear of failure. She preferred to have no regrets rather than to play it safe.
4. Know what you want and ask for it
Before heading into a meeting, Andrea asks herself: “What am I trying to achieve in this meeting?” She develops a specific list of objectives to keep the conversation focused and to advance her agenda.
This has proved a successful strategy. In her first month of business, in a down economy, she signed four big deals. Her predecessors had been unsuccessful in closing those same contracts. Maybe they would have been luckier if they had been better prepared.
5. Go with Your Gut / Trust is Essential
Andrea was shopping in New York City when a bell went off in her head – New Orleans had as yet unexplored Commercial Real Estate Opportunities like the ones she saw being developed in New York. She had been working as a paralegal, but based on her instincts, she got her commercial license and went into real estate.
She has continued to trust her instincts and listen to her gut, from decisions about which prospective clients she’ll give a chance, to whether or not the time is right to make personal investments. “Don’t jump in until you have a strong message” – if there is no message, there is no action. When the time is right, Andrea doesn’t hesitate.