Investopedia defines networking as a ‘process that fosters the exchange of information and ideas among individuals or groups that share common interests. Networking may fall into one of two categories: social or business.’ In addition to being a process, I believe networking is also an art. There are people who never manage to learn networking and others who simply are masters at it. Sheena Burton Saydam is an expert networker. A quick glance at her activity on social and professional media and in the community will show you that Sheena is an entrepreneur who is intentional, excited, determined and aggressive about expanding her business while changing the lives of many.
I met Han, Sheena’s husband, a couple years ago in DC at a networking event. Together, they run Saydam Properties Group, a very successful real estate agency in the Washington DC and surrounding areas. When I decided to interview millennial entrepreneurs, Sheena was on top of my list and I couldn’t wait to pick her brain.
The goal of ‘The Millennial Entrepreneur’ blog series is to bring you into the world and the mindset of those millennials who are succeeding and/or have succeeded in business. Why should Sheena Burton Saydam be featured for Money-Smart Millennials? Sheena Saydam was named by Washingtonian Magazine in 2015 and 2016 as one of DC Metropolitan Area’s “99 Agents You Want on Your Side”; and in 2015 and 2016 as a “Top Producer.” In 2015, she was recognized as the #1 highest producer at Keller Williams for the DC Metro Region…and she’s not stopping. Nonetheless, besides the success Sheena is having, she’s giving back to her community. She’s the chair of the board for Urban Ed. She is also a volunteer outreach and fundraising activist for the Tree House and a sponsor of Generosity Global.
Here is an excerpt of my conversation with Sheena.
Please give a bit of your background and experience prior to starting in real estate?
I’d always worked in non-profits and just prior to real estate I was a lobbyist for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I taught family members of people with cystic fibrosis how to advocate for their loved ones before Members of Congress. After earning my masters degree in national security policy, I started to think about how I might translate my passion for people and desire for constant change into something useful. That was when I decided to get into real estate.
You were named by Washingtonian Magazine in 2015 and 2016 as one of DC Metropolitan Area’s “99 Agents You Want on Your Side”; and in 2015 and 2016 as a “Top Producer.” In 2015, you were recognized as the #1 highest producer at Keller Williams for the DC Metro Region. What is the ‘secret’ for such a success in such a small amount of time?
Thank you. From what I can tell, it’s 3 things:
- My obsession with the hustle (as my hero Gary Vaynerchuck likes to call it) and creating value in other people’s lives is how I seemed to progress a little more quickly than others in my industry.
- My husband who has been my sidekick and greatest supporter since I was 17.
- Finally,my company, Keller Williams, which has the best training in the industry. They’re innovative and they believe in growth in everything we do – from our businesses to our personal lives.
You have a pretty busy life with a successful business and two young beautiful kids. How do you manage it all?
Less sleep, more coffee. It’s self-inflicted, and I’m really addicted to taking action. I feel like any “free” time should be used to develop something of value, whether helping our business grow or doing more for charity. I don’t watch much TV, and if I do I’m always doing something else – preparing food for the next day, working, or on my rower. To be honest, it’s hard. It’s exhausting, but I’m completely obsessed with the people we serve as well as serving various charities. My goal this year is to find ways to leverage so that I can spend more quality time with my children — and maybe with my husband as well.
There are many millennials (people) out there who fear the risk of stepping into entrepreneurship or who are just taking their first step. From your experience, please give us a wise advice about fighting for your passion (dreams).
You should do what you’re good at. That’s the first thing. Once you figure out what you’re good at and find a way to monetize that (because, well, you need to eat), you can become an entrepreneur. To be a successful entrepreneur, though, you have to be purposeful and strategic. Don’t EVER stop and consider blaming someone else for your current circumstances; it will slow you down and eventually completely derail you. I see this over and over again where people will blame someone else, often their parents or “society” for where they are now. That might feel nice, but it leaves you completely powerless. Take responsibility for everything, take control, and you will quickly be empowered.
Thank you Sheena.