I came across Josie Stern’s face years ago; her real estate signs popped up in my neighbourhood and now she’s well known in central Toronto and Hillcrest Village.
Josie started her professional career in an entry-level position at Sanyo Canada. Her dedication and sharp mind saw her promoted to the role of Director, Information Systems at Sanyo; the first woman executive at the company.
In 1989, she left Sanyo to pursue her true passion: real estate. Starting a new career in a downward-spiralling market was no easy task, but it didn’t faze her one bit. Her work ethic and tenacious nature kicked in and she set out to implement all the skills she had learned in the business world. Josie’s belief that persistence, hard work and a positive attitude would prevail helped her thrive during this recessionary period.
Josie’s results-oriented approach was recognized by the Toronto Star when they featured her as “a personality that influences a neighbourhood” and “a real estate agent with a mission.”
Josie is a clear example of a Woman Who Rocks. I was incredibly impressed with her answers on creativity and where she uses it in her job, and I am loving the songs on her playlist!
Name: Josie Stern
Occupation: Sales Representative
What is art?
A form of expression that evokes a feeling in others whether it be through a painting, a sculpture, a song, a book etc.
Who is your favorite artist and why?
Andy Warhol because he revolutionized the art world by glorifying everyday things into pop art to allow people to see more beauty in their world.
Finish this sentence “Creativity is…
The act of transforming your ideas and imagination and making them come to life”.
When did you first discover creativity?
As a little girl I used to like to sew and I used to sew my own clothes or clothes for my dolls.
Where do you use creativity in your job?
I use creativity every day in the way we promote our properties for sale so that they capture the attention of the viewer. Whether it be through a description, an advertisement or a teaser contest, etc.
How do you think we should be teaching children about creativity?
I think children should be encouraged to be themselves and to explore their ideas without judgement from others.
How have you grown creativity in your business?
The internet has provided so many opportunities to be more creative through photography, marketing ideas, blogging to express ideas and provide value, video, social media interaction with our client base etc.
What are one – three books that have greatly influenced your professional life?
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” because people interact well and/or generally do business with people they like. So whether it be in your personal life or in your professional life, you want people to like you. Furthermore you need to make them feel important in order for them to be open to your way of thinking. This is critical for success in business whether in sales, whether you manage people and even in your personal relationships. If, as a likable person, you can communicate an idea or a thought effectively and convince people to see things from your point of view then you will deal more successfully with objections which will increase your business, you will have happier clients, happier staff, happier relationships etc.
Another book that influenced me early on is Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead. Integrity, which is one of the pivotal themes of this book, is something I live by in my business and personal life. I am always true to my values and I never follow the crowd. I am very confident in who I am and very comfortable in my own skin therefore I do not compromise my values for any reason.
Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?
As a matter of fact I do have a favorite failure if you can call it that. When I was a tween (about 11 years old) I used to sell Avon Beauty Products. I was very good at sales but most of my sales came from one client. She was the mother of a friend of mine. One day this client got her license to sell Avon herself and I lost a huge portion of my business. I learned then to NOT count on one sole individual for the majority of my business but to expand just in case I lose a client. A great lesson to learn so early on. I actually wrote a blog that expresses this as a lesson https://josiestern.com/most-popular-blogs/2014/09/principles-successful-agent/
How has a failure or apparent failure, set you up for later success?
When I started selling real estate I made a conscious effort to not count on friends and family for my business but to instead pave my own way and generate leads through hard work instead of from friends and family.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
I started to meditate, exercise more and eat healthier. In my business life I have delegated more responsibilities and it has allowed my business to grow and give me more personal time.
If you were not in your current occupation what would you be doing?
I think I would love to be a children’s therapist. I love to help people, I’m a good listener and I think I am wise. I would start with children because the early years are what shape the person you will become. The struggles that people go through in their youth affect them their whole lives so working through them is so important for a person’s wellbeing.
What would you tell your 1st day of business self?
I would tell myself to work hard, not to take anything for granted and to go above and beyond in anything that you do.
Why did you choose this field?
I wanted to have freedom with my time, to earn as much money as my hard work produced and I love meeting people.
How have you pivoted your business due to Covid-19?
Covid-19 brought the needs of our community to the forefront. We knew early on that our local businesses and charities would need us so we stepped up our marketing to promote them and tried to fill the gaps of need as much as we could. We ran ongoing contests to promote local businesses, we sponsored events for charities, and spearheaded promotions of local businesses/charities.
The most critical thing for our clients (which has remained the same as pre-Covid) was to continue to show empathy for them, to put ourselves in their shoes and to continue to do what is in their best interest and to be especially cautious with our trusted advice during turbulent times. Overall, Covid-19 has allowed us to create stronger partnerships with our community and our clients.
How do you feel women are treated in your industry?
The real estate industry is actually one that has allowed women to flourish. Maybe, because buying or selling a home usually comes with deep emotion and because women are perceived to be nurturing, people feel comfortable that a woman can do this job as well as a man since the emotional component is an integral part of this type of transaction..
Are there any quotes you often live your life by?
“Always do the right thing” and “Be kind”
What podcasts are you currently listening to?
“The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure and The Search for Mastery by Sara Lewis.”
What is a quality you are currently working on to be better at?
Patience. I tend to be impatient when there are no results.
Who is the last person you spoke to about your fears?
Probably my husband or my daughter. They are my best friends and know me better than anyone.
What is the last gift you gave someone?
For my daughter’s 21st, I gave her an 18 K gold love ring. I wanted her to have something she will have forever.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone who was kind, always did the right thing and lived my life with integrity.
What do you find an admirable quality in other women?
I like women who help other women succeed. This takes lots of confidence and selflessness to do.
Name 3 songs on your playlist?
- Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
- Me and Mrs Jones by Billy Paul
- The Thrill is Gone by B.B. King
How do you drink your coffee/tea?
Coffee – black with two sugars.
What is on your night stand?
A book “Where the Crawdads Sing”, Swell bottle with water, ipad, cell phone, earbuds.
If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
Dog. Who doesn’t love their dog to pieces and wouldn’t do anything for their dog? If you’re a dog owner – no one. That’s who I want to be. Lol.
Famous person dead or alive in history you’d like to have dinner with?
Golda Meir because she was a pioneer in setting the stage for opportunities for women, she was strong, wise and committed to her beliefs.
How would you solve problems if you were from Mars?
I would put together many task forces made up of wise women, who are compassionate and who could sift through extraneous stuff, and get right to the point without all the bureaucracy that stifles progress.
Finish this sentence “Women are…”
Important to the survival of humanity on so many levels.
We were extremely grateful for the opportunity to have interviewed the wonderful Josie Stern. I hope you were inspired by this Woman Who Rocks!