Game Changers: Tami Halton Pardee

Tami Pardee, CEO and founder of Halton Pardee and Partners, talks with REAL Trends editor-in-chief, Tracey Velt about her time in the real estate industry and being named the number four team in transaction volume in the 2017 REAL Trends The Thousand.

Listen or read the full podcast interview below.

Tracey Velt

Today we’re talking to Tami Pardee, CEO and founder of Halton Pardee and Partners with offices in Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Culver City, and Palm Desert, California. Welcome Tami.

Tracey Velt

Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. And congratulations on being named the number three team in transaction volume in the 2018 REAL Trends The Thousand.

Tami Pardee

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Tracey Velt

Like most successful real estate professionals you had to start somewhere, so tell me a little bit about how you got into real estate.

Tami Pardee

Well, I started in television production. When I had my first child I didn’t want to work the hours that I was working. I had gone back and gotten my masters in business… Actually when I was in television production, I would flip houses on the side, and I was actually really disappointed in the service I got from the real estate agents I was using. I just felt that there had to be a better way to do it. So when I started I had had my first child, I had gotten in the business, and I really kind of modeled my business and the way I did it after actually the television production model instead of the regular real estate model.

Tracey Velt

And tell me a little bit about that. What is that business model?

Tami Pardee

Well, I’m a different type of a company where I’m a salary-based company, so my agents are salaried agents as opposed to independent contractors. It’s like running a production where you have an executive producer, a producer, a coordinator. We run it the same way. So our listing agent is the executive producer, they’ve got a manager which is their producer, and then they’ve got coordinators, which are their showing agents. So we have little teams within a team, so it works really well actually.

Tracey Velt

Great! And what year did you start, and about how many people do you have on your team now?

Tami Pardee

There’s 90 of us in total at the company, and we started 12 years ago.

Tracey Velt

Okay, great! So obviously there are a lot of changes in the industry, markets and technology changed quickly. What have you found to be the most challenging part of running such a productive real estate career?

Tami Pardee

I think it’s all about the people. It’s all about the people that you have around you because they’re the people that are representing you on a daily basis. And so what we need to do is we really make sure that our people are happy, because happy employees mean that they’re going to make our clients happy. So I hire right. That’s the big thing is we spend a lot of time looking for the right people, looking for the right fit. We have a survey called The Culture Index we use to make sure that culturally the people are a good fit, because we want them to be happy and them to be striving in our company, because if they’re happy they’re going to do really well. So that’s probably been the biggest challenge, and something that we spend the most amount of time on.

Tracey Velt

Okay, great. We’re going to shift gears a little bit and talk about your life outside of real estate. Tell me a little bit about your hobbies and passions. What do you like to do in your free time?

Tami Pardee

Well, I have four kids, so I like to play with them. So I love to adventure. We’re going to Yellowstone. We’re going river rafting this summer, and then house boating, and just having fun and making sure that you play. I work hard and I play hard for sure. Every morning I get up, I take a walk by myself to the beach and I meditate. I get up about 5:30, and I really think that it’s important to have your own time, and to center yourself on a daily basis before you start your day. I don’t even look at technology or anything until 9:00 AM, ever. I also think it’s important for me to spend really good time with my kids and to raise them correctly, and really talk to them, and listen to them, and spend time with them. So, that’s something that is really important to me. I don’t have a lot of extracurricular activities except for things with them at this time, but I’m sure I will someday.

Tracey Velt

Definitely. And how old are your children?

Tami Pardee

I have a 13-year-old, a 10-year-old, both girls, and then I have 6-year-old twin boys.

Tracey Velt

I know you’re active in your community and have a philanthropic campaign called The Life Changer program. Tell me a little bit about it. What is it? How does it impact the community?

Tami Pardee

I think that actually is something that I was literally born to do. It’s funny how you start in a business and then all of a sudden 12 years later you find yourself in something that you just were made to do. Our motto or mission statement really as a company and as my personal mission statement, is to be a down-to-earth life change warrior who inspires hope, courage, and purpose by motivating those I touch to show up and star in the life that they love. And that’s what we do. I mean we don’t even call ourselves real estate agents, we call ourselves life changers, because we go in in the business side and we go in and change people’s lives through real estate. So we took that through to a philanthropic state.

Where I live in Venice there’s a lot of homelessness here. A lot of homelessness, probably one of the largest homeless populations actually in the country. I got really involved in the homeless, and what I realize is I have given a lot of money to homeless, but I’ve just given money. And not seeing the results of what happens with that always bothered me. And I was like, well am I really changing people’s lives? I’ve done a lot of spiritual work, and a lot of work over the last 17 years of my life, and what I realized is a lot of people don’t have purpose… Purpose, passion, and connection are really what people need to thrive in the world. And I have done things throughout my company called … We do life boards with purpose statements throughout our company, and everybody in our company on a yearly basis does them.

So what we decided to do was take what we do as a company into the homeless shelters. So right now I’m working with Harvest Home. There’s 10 women there. They’re pregnant homeless women. We have a five-week session that we do with them, and the first one being their lifelines. We go through their lifelines, and they’re pretty intense, and we also reveal our lifelines. It’s very, very raw. It’s like everyone’s kind of basically standing naked in front of each other, saying this is actually what happened and this is where we’re at. And I think everyone has a different story to tell, which is great.

So the first one we went into two weeks ago, the women there I thought they wouldn’t even say hello to us. Right? Said my name and they wouldn’t say hello. And then we just had our second series where we went over their lifelines, and they literally like open-armed, were giving us hugs, letting us hold their babies, and saying this is changing my life. So what we do with it, is we go in, we listen to what their life story is, we put together a plan, like a go plan, and then we go ahead and do a life board with goals on them, and then we as a company basically grant one of the wishes to get where they want to be.

I’m on the board of Santa Monica College, and Santa Monica College is partnering with us on this program. Any of these homeless pregnant women that want to go to college, they’re funding them, they’re giving them a guardian, and they’re admitting them without … They don’t even have to have their high school diploma. So one of them wants to be a nurse, so there’s a nursing program in Santa Monica College, so they’re admitting her into that and getting her through that. And then we’re funding part of her housing and part of her childcare to help her change her life in the right direction. It’s literally going in and figuring out what they want to do, funding what they want to do, and getting to where they want to be.

And it’s like sitting in that room with these 10 women, I couldn’t ask for a more … being more humbled and grateful to be sitting with them. So, that’s what I’m doing. And it’s working, and it’s amazing. And then ultimately we’re going to take it out to our clients too, because our clients always wonder on our Life Change Warrior program, they’re like, “We want to do that program. We want to …” It’s really strategically planning your life is what I’ve always done, and so we’re taking that to people that need it. A lot of moms I know that stopped working when they had kids, which is the hardest thing to do is be a stay-at-home mom, we’re working with a lot moms on that too, doing that Life Change Warrior program with them, saying what do you want to do now? It’s been amazing. Actually it’s been really well received by not only the charity world, but also the real world. So it’s a movement. It’s cool.

Tracey Velt

That’s wonderful. And you mentioned a retreat that changed your life. Tell me a little bit about that. What was life-changing about it? What did you learn?

Tami Pardee

The Hoffman Process was life-changing. It was a week away, no phone, no one knew who you were, no one knows your name. It really changed my life because I think that from zero to 12-years-old is where you get all your patterns, and you align with your parents in order to get their love, right? And sometimes it’s bad what you learn, and sometimes it’s good. But a lot of times it’s really not who you are until you go through life. Kind of what I did was I went through life armored up. So I went through life really, before I did the work I actually went through life kind of like really a tough woman. I would her … I mean now I call her the wounded female, but instead of being a woman in business and being inclusive and soft and loving, I was more like armored up. So after I did the Hoffman Process, it really taught me who I really am inside as a person, and it just took off the armor. It was amazing. It was a lot of work actually, a lot of emotional work, but it really, really helped get me to where I am now.

And the thing is, is in business you can get so far on a fear-based business, but you can only get so far. So last year, it was a pretty stagnant year in my business, I went up 5 or 6%, and this year we’re already up 30% from where we were last year. So coming from a love-based, you can actually … people all want to be around you. Now it’s so funny, everyone that’s coming into my business and wants to work for me, I can’t hire all of them. But they’re amazing people that are coming in because they want to be in a love-based, really loved, respected, work/family type of business. So it’s been a big shift for me, and for my business, and for the people around me. It’s been great.

Tracey Velt

Wow, that’s incredible! So tell me, what motivates you every day, and has that motivation changed?

Tami Pardee

I mean honestly what motivates me is literally if I can go and help someone change their life in a positive way, that’s what motivates me. I don’t care who it is. Like by saying hi, I mean it’s as simple as saying … I go on a morning walk, saying hi to the homeless person that nobody says hi to. Nobody says hi to these people. It’s like horrible. Just be open and kind and loving. My motto the last year with my friends was peace and big love, and just being kind to people, and it’s interesting as I’m showing my girls that and my boys that.

And like we went out the other night. My daughter had a horrible day at school in the mean girls … You know how that goes in, you know 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th grade. And I said, “Let’s change our environment. Let’s just go out, and let’s go down to 3rd Street, and let’s just be nice, and kind, and dance, and listen to music, and just change how we feel.” So she was in the worst mood. She was crying because this little girl was so mean to her. We got in the car, we put on her favorite music. We started dancing. Well, in the car we dance. Then we parked the car, and then I was like, “Let’s do a little … Let’s go shopping. Let’s go get …” I taught her, I’m like, “retail therapy. Girls always like that.” We did that.

Then we ended up at this dinner, and I’m like, “Let’s just be so nice to everyone, and smile, and figure it out.” And then all of a sudden she started smiling and laughing, and all of a sudden the manager of the restaurant came up and said, “You guys are so happy. We’re so glad you’re here.” They had these amazing shirts that said like Honest Truth, and one said Shine On. And we were like, “Well we’d love your shirts.” And I said, “Do you sell them?” And he goes, “Oh. We don’t sell them. They’re just for our waitresses and waiters.” And he goes, “But which one’s your favorite?” And we were both like, “Shine On.” And so he came back and he brought us one. And he’s like, “I’ve never given one of these away, but you guys were so kind and nice.” It was such a great lesson. because it’s like changing how you feel, and then shining on in the life. What happens is people just want to be around you. They’re attracted and they want to give to you. It’s amazing. So, that’s what I like to do.

Tracey Velt

Yeah. Attitude is so powerful. Definitely. So I know with the REAL Trend’s Gathering of Eagles you were on a panel, and you were talking about innovation, particularly technology, but just systems in general in that it can be overwhelming. But you’re not overwhelmed with it because you just try to focus on the little things like try to find one thing that you can do better each day. So tell me about that mantra and how it kind of plays into the culture of your team?

Tami Pardee

Right. Well I think what … I mean it’s actually the culture of everything, because I think that when people go, oh my gosh. We have to do this huge system, everyone gets overwhelmed and then there’s no wins because they don’t end up doing it, and then they feel a big loss. So what we do is every single thing we’re like, “Oh. We can implement that little …” Like we’ll do a little marketing system, like our technology, for instance our marketing report. We’ll do little tweaks to it and we’ll go, “Oh. You know what? This is a little process that we should try out.” So we’ll try little tech things, but we’re not going to go implement a huge new system or do a huge overhaul in a day, because when you do it daily, little practices daily, it actually adds up to something huge at the end of the year, right? But there are also wins along the way for all of your people. And I think that’s really important.

So for instance, just like we use … Well any of them actually, anything we do technology wise. We met with SnapChat the other day, for instance, and meeting with them and just like little wins like, “Okay. You guys are your IPO. What do you guys want to be doing? What kind of team do you want together?” I meet with them. I do things. I have a tech team that does little things every day, and it just adds up at the end of the year. I think everyone is so, gets so nervous that they’re going to be eaten alive by the tech, that they don’t make just baby steps, and baby steps are okay to do because at the end, they add to a giant step. You just don’t realize it while you’re doing it.

Tracey Velt

Yeah, that’s true. The little steps can lead to something big, and it could also lead to an aha moment. So what was yours? What was the moment when you … It could be a personal, it could be a business kind of moment when you realized, “Wow. I need to change the person I am. I need to change the business I have.” Whatever it is. Your aha moment.

Tami Pardee

I’ve had so many to be honest with you. I think my first aha moment was my first year when I sold $33 million, and I didn’t realize I even sold that much, and they have this big gala and they announced it. And I was like, “Oh God.” And I was rookie of the year and I was like, “Oh. I’m actually really good at this.” And so that was an aha moment.

About two years ago when I really shifted who I was as a person, I got bit by a dog in the eye, and that was an aha moment. That was like a wake-up call literally. It was like God telling me that I had to open my eyes. And I had four people at the time that … Well I had kind of a coup that wanted to leave the company and go start their own company the same day that the dog bit me. And when that happened I was like, “Okay. I need to shift who I am.” And I actually let those people go, although it was funny because they didn’t want to go when they actually, I had said you need to leave, although they were trying to get everyone together to start their own business, and then I realized I needed to change their leader for sure, that the way I was leading, I was a fear-based leader and not a love-based leader. And that was a big moment.

And so then I started just doing a lot of work on myself. And when you start doing work on yourself, and you are really open and raw throughout your company about it, they start opening up too. So it’s been like a full shift in the entire company, and in every person, and that’s been like amazing actually, because you have to be the change you want to see in the world. You also have to be … I’m really open with my people on the change, and I’m not hiding, like I’m not really … Maybe it’d be better if I was embarrassed, but I’m not. I’m like, I’m not perfect and I tell them what my faults are. I’m like, “This is my fault. And I’m working on this, and I’m doing this.” And when they hear that you’re open and honest with them, first of all they’re forgiving, and they also start looking at themselves, and they also start going, “What work are we doing?”

We did a 28-day grateful challenge, and it was so cool because everyone did it, and I said “How do you guys feel about it?” afterwards. And I didn’t make them do it, but 99% of them completed it. And they all felt amazing. They were like, “This is good.” And they kept going with the practice, so those views start changing. The people around you start changing with positivity because they see the light, and they are like, “I want some of that. I want to feel that light.” So I think that’s been pretty cool actually as a person who has a company, and as a mom.

Tracey Velt

Yeah. It’s very hard to open yourself up, and it sounds like you’re doing some really great things, and you’re quite an inspiration. So this year, if you could accomplish just one thing, personal or professional, what would it be?

Tami Pardee

You know, I really want, this Life Change Warrior, I wanted get these girls into a home, that’s probably my biggest thing, my 10 girls at Harvest Home. So this is the first time I’ve done with homeless girls, so that’s really, really what I’m looking forward to. I also with my kids, just getting really close to them is biggest thing, and spending time planning trips with all of them. We’re doing a bucket list with each of them, little bucket lists this year, so that’s been great. And I’d say with myself, my company really this year we want to reach just in business $850 million, and we’re on track to do that. And then next year, $1 billion so that would be something.

Tracey Velt

Aw, fun, yeah. Oh that’s great. So we’re going to end with something fun. The question is, three things you can’t live without and you can’t mention your phone, family, or friends.

Tami Pardee

That’s easy. My minivan for sure. My meditations from Hoffman, and I mean it’s not that easy. Oh, and my bunny. I have this bunny that is like a stuffed animal that I love who reminds me of being a kid all the time, so he comes with me everywhere. And I never have to sleep alone.

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After earning her bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Central Florida, Tracey set out in the real world at Florida Realtors in 1994 as a communication assistant, working her way up to editor in chief of Florida Realtor magazine. In 2004, she left the association to start her freelance writing and editing business. One of her first clients was REAL Trends, and she started working for the organization in 2005. In 2014, Tracey was promoted to editor in chief of publications for REAL Trends. She handles the writing and editing of all REAL Trends publications and marketing materials, including LORE Magazine, the REAL Trends newsletter and the blog. She is also the primary podcast interviewer where she conducts interviews with top real estate industry leaders and affiliated industry leaders. Tracey is married with two children.

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