|Monday, 16 September 2013 21:06|
HEIDI STADLER"The road is made by walking..." It’s a hot and bright summer afternoon in Mallorca. Stepping into First Mallorca’s head office in Costa d’en Blanes makes you appreciate even more the soothing environment that embraces you the moment you enter. Natural light, open spaces with clean lines, plants and artistic details, soft music in the background… The first thought that comes to my mind is that it must be a great place to work from.
It’s First Mallorca, not only a high ranking brand known for stability and dependability, but also an entrepreneurial role model that is a great source of inspiration. In the competitive real estate market, where reputation is key along with dedication to service and establishing trust over time, FM is second to none. Founded by Austrian born Heidi Stadler and UK born Robert Maunder in 1995, over the past decade the company has played a leading role, keeping pace with the shifting tides, market trends and law changes.
"The road is made by walking", is ms Heid Stadler’s spontaneous answer to my question as to the reason for the success of their company. "Not that we were drawn to real estate as a profession, but with our extensive experience in the travel industry, real estate was some kind of a natural ‘next step. Also, we both worked for a large tour operator and travelled a lot, we wanted to settle down and start a family". Mallorca suited their soul. Both partners learned the business from the bottom up and carved out an enviable niche in the property market in Mallorca.
“I got my start in the business by purchasing our own house, I was also very lucky to have a notary as my friend who was also teaching at the University. He used to tell me if that if I wanted to be his student I’d better be a darn good student. I came to like the business a lot. I enjoyed it every time someone called to offer a property, each time it was like entering a new world; it was exciting getting to know new people, understanding them and what they were looking for and the recognition we got from our clients. That was my preparation time; getting to know lawyers, notaries and the different steps involved into the purchase of a property.
Then of course we had to prepare the product, get the first house in the books and then the second one. It was more difficult to get the first properties and project the brand when you aren’t quite a brand yet. We also made mistakes. Initially we thought the island was small but after a few months we found out that it was impossible to cover it all so we started focusing on the area of Costa d’en Blanes the area where we lived. That was a very good decision because we came to understand the local ‘ins and the outs’ and that made it possible to build and maintain a close relationship with our clients. As a matter of facts, all our first sales have also become our neighbours. Moreover, it gave us the chance to realize what we were doing right and what we were doing wrong. Only the discipline we did not have to learn; of that we had plenty".
From their home, to their garage, to the beautiful premises in Costa d’en Blanes, the company made a rapid growth, opened 4 more offices at ‘strategic’ locations and hired staff from around the globe that allowed them to do business in multiple languages. All that plus a team of 40 employees to orchestrate, is Heidi Stadler a manager, a leader or both?
"First and foremost I am human being and as a human being I am not perfect. I‘d like to learn a lot to get better I’d like to be able to bring my thoughts and ideas across more effectively. I am afraid I may fall short on the leadership skills as one of a leader’s qualities is being able to connect with your teams on a level where they can understand your vision. I am aware that I am not always able to do that because I think too fast. Also I may sometimes have too high expectations because I have that sickness of perfectionism. Yes; now at my age I have come to believe that it is a sickness that never allows you to relax. When you strive for perfection you keep going and going only to find out that you‘ll never be done. Funny that… I bought two hamsters recently and while watching them spinning in their wheel I realized to my dismay that I am just like them! I can go on and on and on…On the other hand, I am a very simple and outspoken person and people never have to wonder what I mean or where they stand with me.
Am I a manager? Well… when you start a company the way Robert and I did…but let me speak for myself as Robert has his own story. I am the typical person who likes to do things well. If you start your business with this attitude you need more people to keep doing things well. Yet, suddenly you realize that you may employ 10 people but you are still working as before, when you were alone…that gives one food for thought… And that there is a chip that must be changed in order to become a good manager or you’ll remain the best employee of your company forever. Personally, I see many things I’d like to change to grow into that ideal manager role but it’s very difficult, because the workload is often so overwhelming that you can’t even see things. For many years I have been the first to come and the last to go. When I wonder why I am still so much involved with the business I know something is wrong and I have to work on it. I have to learn to delegate and put people in jobs that can and will make them happy. I have been observing myself and I am aware that I need to change my attitude so I can be able to do the job of a manager at 100%.
Right now I am at 60% as I have already made many changes. But there is still a 40% room for improvement".
And if the “road is made by walking”, as Ms Stadler quoted at the beginning of our interview, halfway into our conversation I can’t help considering that “the road to success is, also, always under construction". And, paved with challenges.
A company in constant expansion, a multicultural team to blend and inspire, her own personal and professional growth to foster… one thing is for sure, the path of least resistance is not Heidi Stadler’s path.
What are Heidi’s major challenges?
One of the biggest challenges is being able to look at what you do from different angles and to be open to criticism and other people’s opinions. I am a Taurus which means I can be stubborn, and my energy does not invite someone to just come up to me and talk. However, I am very happy to consider different opinions and to listen if someone comes with a good point or shows me things from a different perspective. At the same time, that is also the fun of having your own business: you can change direction, try new things and experience yourself in different situations.
Another challenge is to continue to be able to do new things, creating harmony within the workplace and an environment where people can be authentic and can grow in what they are doing.
I have tried many different ways to do it. Ultimately it works just like in a family: you have to live what you preach. It is my responsibility to set the example. If I want harmony in my team I have to show them I love to come to work every day. A happy team is a reflection of a happy manager. Growth is challenge, and I want to keep growing as a human being and in my professional role. I am an analytical person, and I observe myself so that I can learn from it. I read books, take courses; I look at people for who they are instead of the role they play. And I have learned to listen, but that is something that came with the age I guess. It was not like that 10 years ago. Back then if someone called me, I’d start rambling and then, when I’d go off the phone, I’d wonder what they called me for.
Also, I have a simple mantra I repeat to myself every morning: “Watch what you think, watch what you say, don t judge”.
Where do ideas come from in your organization?
The whole idea of having our own business, the vision, the name and the whole strategy, that was Robert’s. I was more like the executer, the one running around doing things. Now all the new ideas come from us both.
Where do you see the real estate market five years from now in Mallorca?
I am extremely positive about the future of the island as an ideal place to live and invest for a lot of people. I think the real estate crisis touched the bottom last year, and from now on it can only get better. A growing number of investors are looking for opportunities in the range of 2.000.000 euro and are choosing to invest in Mallorca. Not only that, currently, there is such a variety of opportunities for just anyone who has come to appreciate the lifestyle here. From stunning properties in Son Vida to beautiful apartments in top-notch locations for a great price. For example, the brand new complex overlooking Puerto Portals that we are currently promoting.
And if we all continue to contribute in maintaining the quality of life high and protecting the environment, Mallorca will only grow stronger and become more attractive. To me personally, this is by far the best destination in Europe,
Why else would have I chosen to live here?
Enza Valiante Valentini
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