On a recent visit to the Bowes Real Estate, Real Living offices, Harley Rouda, President of Real Living and his wife, Kaira Rouda, met with the team and talked shop about real estate on both the local and national levels. Both have had a hand in the success of the company (one of the country's largest real-estate franchise operations) and we caught up with Kaira to learn more about her eclectic background.
Here is a brief summary from her bio:
- Award-winning entrepreneur
- Bestselling author (REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs
- Founder of numerous companies, including Real You
- Brand creator of Real Living Real Estate, the nation's first women-focused real estate brand
This brings us to her latest endeavor, HERE, HOME, HOPE, a novel published in May of 2011 and winner of a 2011 Indie Excellence Award for fiction. Add to this being a member of NAWBO, the International Women's Forum, the Women President's Organization, eWomen Networking, the Women's Council of Realtors, American Marketing Association, the Google Real Estate Advisory Board, a WebAward Judge for the Web Marketing Association, all the while raising four children and you have a very, very, busy person.
Don't know how she does it? We asked Kaira a few questions and she graciously provided us some insight into how one can excel both personally and professionally, and with style.
1. You've been busy! Following a long list of accomplishments and accreditations, you have written a novel that is near and dear to your heart. Tell us what sparked the idea for Here Home Hope.
Since 3rd grade (when I lived in Lincoln, MA, actually!) I've known I wanted to write books, to have a career as a novelist. Our teacher had us write a letter to a person who was in the career you wanted to have so I wrote to Robert McCloskey - author of Make Way For Ducklings, my favorite book, and he wrote back! That said, it's been a few years since 3rd grade and I've had a great career as a journalist and a marketer, as well as in real estate. All along, I've continued to write and I've kept the dream alive. This is my first novel, but hopefully, not my last!
The idea for Here Home Hope arrived as I sat in my dentist's chair, actually - and that's the opening scene in my book. I've also, throughout the course of my career, and especially since the publication of my business book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, had the opportunity to meet and speak to - and hopefully inspire - a wide variety of women. What we all share is the innate ability to put others' first. Sometimes, to the detriment of our own needs. The notion of a midlife crisis for women is important to discuss. I'd say women go through transitions, not so much a set crisis, and that's a major theme in the book, too. That, and the healing power of friends.
2. How much of the book is pulled from events in your own life?
All novels are a reflection of the novelist's particular experiences and perspective on life. You draw on that for your craft - but it's not autobiographical at all. If it was, it'd be a memoir!
3. While growing up you lived in different parts of the country because of your father's work (a professor). How did those experiences shape who you are today?
I'm comfortable with change - in fact, I welcome it. I think that's one of the legacies of moving frequently as a child. I also think you learn to adapt and absorb a new setting, which is ultimately quite helpful in business and writing. Without exception, every real estate market is unique, just as every real estate agent and broker is unique. Being able to relate to and respond to the needs of people working in diverse marketplaces, spread across the country is to me the best part of a well-run franchise.
4. One place you resided was in the Boston area. Do you have any memories about growing up around 'Hahvahd Yahd?'
While my dad was busy being a marketing professor at Harvard, I mostly hung out in Lincoln. I remember walking to Walden Pond. We ice skated there in the winter, swam in the summer. We had a very long driveway that would be plowed straight down toward the house - making a great sledding run off the back. I got lost in the woods behind my house the day we moved in (arriving from Austin, Texas) so I've always had a fear of forests, unfortunately. I was also there for the Freedom Train and all the celebrations of 1976 - really fun!
5. As someone who was listed as a top 10 real estate newsmaker of the year, and one of the top 50 most influential women in real estate - how are women shaping and redefining the real estate market?
Real estate was one of the few careers women could enter and make as much as or more than men. I love that about our industry. Women make or influence 91 percent of all home buying decisions. Single women are the second largest group of homebuyers after married couples. We not only have shaped and defined the industry (except for at the broker/owner level where we lag behind, sadly), we will long into the future. Real Living was the first brand created to acknowledge the power of the women consumers in real estate, as well as the dominance of women in the sales force. It's exciting.
6. In addition to writing, social media, marketing, and PR, you developed the Real Living brand - where do you want to see it five years from now?
Since Real Living launched in 2002, my answer to that question has been and remains: Global Dominance. J Others have more realistic metrics, I'm sure.
7. Of all of your accomplishments to date which are you most proud of? Which was the hardest to achieve?
My four kids are the light of my life. I couldn't be more proud of them.
8. If you could give aspiring entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be? What's the best piece of advice you have received?
Do it now. And be sure that the business you create is a reflection of the Real You. As for the best advice I've received? I'm not sure.
9. What do you like most about living in Malibu? What do you miss most about Columbus?
I love living by the ocean. It speaks to me, and Malibu is simply gorgeous. What I miss most about Columbus is my friends, but fortunately, I get to visit quite often!
10. Inquiring fans want to know - when should we expect a follow-up to Here Home Hope?
My next novel is in the works and hopefully will be out next summer! Stay tuned!
Kaira's book is available online, via Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and at a bookstore near you.