donna palm real estate


Dreaming Bigger

Homeless for a short time in her 20s, Donna Palm found the courage to redesign her life and thrive.

Independent, driven, proud, tough—those are all words that describe Donna Palm, broker associate of RE/MAX Alliance Group in Venice, Fla. You might say they define her the way those same qualities assured her success.

Like many people, Palm didn’t start her real estate career out of a desire to sell homes. It came out of a realization that she needed to redesign her life. “When I was in my 20s, I was living in Chicago and was homeless. I worked seven days a week at four jobs, sometimes 20-hour days,” says Palm, who lived with her 100-pound Doberman in her Datsun until she could earn enough money for first and last rent on an apartment. “I was living in my boyfriend’s apartment. We broke up, he moved and I refused to move back in with my parents,” she laughs. “I made friends with the supers in an apartment building and they would let me sneak in to use the showers and sometimes sleep on the floor of a vacant unit.”

That early two-month homeless experience, she says, “made me tenacious in life. Failure is a part of success.” In 1987, she became a union electrician until 2002. “I was an industrial electrician (the first female in her union) and a heavy equipment operator. But I was a single mom, divorced and feeling like a failure. So I took some training courses in Chicago, and I learned some things that blew me away,” she says. That year, she redesigned her life, followed her dreams and moved to Florida. “That was my aha moment. I got my power and passion back and was able to change my life,” she says.

Looking for a flexible job as a means to take care of her kids, Palm choose to earn her real estate license. “Up north, I was a real estate investor, so it was a natural move for me,” she says. Within three years, she became a broker and opened two RE/MAX offices, which she sold in 2008. She continues to work for one office as a broker associate. To break into the market, she asked her broker to introduce her to as many people as possible. “I put on my RE/MAX name tag and shirt and got out of the house,” she says. “I got so many customers in drug stores, grocery stores, even sitting in happy hours.” She also credits her success to her competitive drive. “I’m a killer Monopoly player,” she laughs. “No one will play with me!”

Now, says Palm, she’s living the life about which she always dreamed. “Can you imagine? I’m driving a Maserati now,” she says. In addition to her position as a broker associate, she loves baseball and is a huge fan of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago Cubs. “I love getting out on the water in my boat. It centers me.” And, when she’s back in Illinois, she enjoys hiking through the woods.

“If I had a mission statement, it would be, ‘In my dreams, I want to be a breath of fresh air and inspire others,’” she says.

In her words

Motivation: I like solving problems. It’s not about the money for me; I love a challenge.

Three Things You Can’t Live Without (excluding family and friends): Farm-to-table, fresh food, a great red Cabernet and my dog, Casey, a Maltese mix.

Bucket List: I want to figure out how to travel to amazing places in style and get paid for it! I’m 51. My kids are grown, and I’m financially stable. I want to learn how to have more fun. Being naturally driven is a blessing and a curse as I find myself too often skipping the fun stuff.

Inspiration: I am inspired by anyone who has a rags-to-riches story, anyone who went through a struggle and came out on top.

Dream Bigger; Live Better

Do not apologize for dreaming big and living well—you deserve to win! Tired of your current situation? Do you wish that things would change? Then read “Dream Bigger, Live Better—Second Edition,” by Donna Palm.

Never one to sit still for too long, Palm has become the master of redesigning her life. She believes that “You only live once, so you have to cram it all in while you can.” She now shares with others ways to reinvent themselves and redesign their lives using a method she calls “blueprinting” in tribute to her many years as a union electrician. Designing your life is no different than designing a building; it’s all in the planning, she says.

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