The self made journey was one that Ruth Alexander discovered and mastered over the years. She is a real estate sensation out of Calgary with one of the biggest networks in her industry. She has amassed success through her residential career and becoming an online personality for investments in the luxury market. With over thirty months in the industry, she is renown for her expertise, her vast network and her knowledge in residential, commercial and soon rural markets. Her story is one of resilience, grit and hard work. Having understood the hard way that financial independence is a necessity for women, as she says so well : “pressure is a privilege”. Here is her entrepreneurial journey.
Let’s start with your beautiful career. You are next-level for branding. How did you even get started?
It’s fun to hear that because I started this business on a shoestring. I had zero credit. I had not built up any credit. I had maxed my only credit card. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I’m a very one-track minded person, so when I get something in my head and I decide to go for it, I’m headstrong about the idea. That’s what you have to be in order to succeed. You have to be one-track minded. When I look back at that person, I think to myself, “if I had only discovered real estate and made that my one track, I can’t even imagine where I’d be today.” Hindsight is 2020. You can’t look back and wish you were a person you were not. Luckily, when I became the sole provider of my family, I realized that if my mindset doesn’t change with how I’m going to use all those past failures and all the things I did right in my life and put them into one ball of fire, I was really going to sink. The other option was to marry someone who had already made it. As women, that’s the fallback plan. For me, there was no way I ever wanted to depend on another person again.
What happened during your separation?
I was getting divorced and I thought that I would have equity in the house as I was led to believe. It ended up that my girls and I were homeless. The car was taken away too. Everything was taken away. I had to live in a basement with one of my daughters. Then I had to have my daughter room with a friend. I had self-taught myself social media because I had an investment property, a condo that I had sold in Mexico to a few other partners, and so I had become very familiar with social media, trying to get those properties rented.
I learned about posting and linking the property that I tried to rent. I became way more aggressive with learning it as I found myself homeless. I slowly got social media contracts as a result of that from different home builders and realtors that I knew that I had approached because I saw that they were not doing any social media marketing and I had become good at it. I convinced a handful of different companies, even a Christian music venture company, that I could help them. I took anything anywhere so I could keep groceries and just the bare minimum. That’s when I decided to use my last resources to get my real estate license. Frankly, no one else would hire me. I was a stay at home mom for ten years.
I knew had to use social media and I presented well, but inside I was dying at every interview because I knew that if I didn’t get that job, I wouldn’t put groceries on the table. It was a very emotional time while I was still trying to keep it together and look very professional and sound professional. I would always make it to the top tier of those interviews, and I’m so grateful I never got those jobs. I’m so happy because it forced me to take my career into my own hands and do something. The only thing I could think of that would accept me would be the real estate course, because I had to only have a high school education and I could just apply. As long as I had the money to pay for the course, which I barely had, and everyone thought I was crazy. I was in my late forties. I just knew that every single ounce of my marketing and creativity and my determination at anything that I become, that one-track mind, if I could put it towards something. I barely knew how to describe a house when I got into this. I didn’t know the difference between a soffit or fascia. I knew could learn everything. Now, I can’t believe it. I pinch myself.
Last year, someone asked me what my goal is. I said my goal was to double my income in 2021. That was my number one goal. I don’t think women talk about finances or money. For some, it feels dirty that we ever admit that we make money. Money is so uncomfortable. I am really comfortable talking about money and earnings. I think everyone should be proud of or set higher goals. Women, especially, should embrace money and money planning and financial planning and wealth. It should become part of their day-to-day language. There should be no shame associated with it. It shouldn’t be regarded as something you’re bragging about. It is not easy to make money. It is just five months into the year, and I have doubled my income already. Those who think it’s not possible — I’m here to tell you, it really is.
With such a booming career that is constantly growing, how do you manage balancing it all?
To get to where I am meant zero balance. Hence, why I’m chubby. One of my one-track minds used to be fit. I wanted to be super fit. I did get super fit. The point is, now that I have accomplished what I set out to do, my next thing is just to maybe add a little bit of health and fitness into my life — not too much though. I still have the one-track mind, and my goal is not to be ‘Miss Fitness.’ My goal is to be ‘Miss Real Estate.’ That’s my goal and it’s going to remain my goal. I would love to look more fit, and it’s a constant obsession for women. You have to be a good mother. You have to be fit. You have to look good. You have to be a great partner and run a business. The traditional role for men was always to run a business and be a good family guy. I think there is more pressure on men now to have it all as well. I think we’re evening it out there a little bit. It’s impossible to have it all, though. Something’s gotta give, and so for now it’s my waistline. It’s not like I want to be looked at like, “look how good looking Ruth is.” I want to be successful. That’s my goal.
What are some short term and long term goals that you have set to accomplish?
My short-term goal is to learn better systems. I’ve always been really good at marketing and sales, but to run a business, I recognize my shortcomings. It’s invaluable to invest in help. I have an amazing executive assistant. It’s impossible to be good at everything, so it’s really important to seek help when you need to. Short-term, I realize the income I made, I’m going to have to give a lot of it away in order to grow my business. That was hard.
The best part about being a realtor is my expense is my car. The pandemic has been wonderful in many ways because it has made people a lot more comfortable with zoom meetings. From the beginning, I thought, “why can’t people hop onto a zoom call with me instead of driving and parking.” I put almost eighty thousand kilometres on my car in twenty-four months from driving. People are more flexible, which has been wonderful. My short-term goal is to hire and invest in better systems to grow my business, and that’s a challenge because you’re finally making a good income and you want to invest it and you want to hoard it. Part of the survival mentality and mindset is to hoard, and that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s a fear of not being successful and letting go. I’ve really been working on a new mindset of not worrying about the money anymore and having a mindset of growth and abundance.
Everything I have done up to this point has been so focused on never being in a situation of financial instability ever again. Now, I’m shifting that to attracting, and it’s working. I’m going to invest in proper systems and in an assistant to grow my business. I’m going to help others who want to become an agent who might not be able to afford to pay for their license. I’m going to help those people join my team because I’ve been there. Instead of hoarding it and worrying about it, I’m going to reinvest it to grow my business and not be afraid.
Photo Credit – Country Hill Mercedes
When you have a better system in place and a bigger team, is your vision more of it being “Ruth Alexander” and her team under her?
That’s a really interesting question. I called my company “Rare Group.” R.A.R.E is my acronym to Ruth Alexander Real Estate. But, if I were to join a group or a team, I really wouldn’t want to represent myself as someone else. I don’t like that mentality. I want everyone to run their own business and be a part of my group. I feel like someone will be more proud when they work for the RARE group. I feel like they’ll walk into that front door and own that listing and have that spirit that they’re a part of this, instead of saying they’re will Ruth Alexander. I don’t need that ego. Of course, I’m doing a major part of the investing and I want to be the head of this vision that I have. I feel like that’s important. I want to support them with what I’m good at, which is my marketing and social media and learning the systems so that they could literally become part of my group and they get their business card and it’s the RARE group. My name is not on the card. Their name is on the card. I hope that that philosophy works and that’s how I came up with the name and why I want it branded. I do my own social media and brand my name effectively, but if someone joins my group, they can drive their own business too and tag the RARE Group.
Of course, I’m protective over my name and my name brands, so there’s some risk there. But, I feel like it’s important that people remain as individuals while part of a group. That’s my goal. I would like to have a larger group. I don’t think I want fifty or seventy agents, but I can’t comment because when I started, I never thought that I’d ever have a group, an assistant, colleagues, or even people coming to join me. I had no clue this would happen, it’s just happening.
Can you imagine what it would be like in five to ten years?
I just keep it at one day at a time. This business is mind-boggling, so you have to harness your energy. It’s a lot more than I ever dreamed it would be. I’m so excited. There are so many dimensions to it, from negotiating and buyers and sellers. To me, it’s the most interesting industry and career choice in the world. I love it. If anyone is out there wondering what to do and they’re great in sales but they’re not quite appreciated for those talents, real estate welcomes that. My favourite people are real estate agents. they’re so colourful. They’re so funny. Even the ones that are cranky that I talk to, I always have to imagine what they’ve been through up until that point. I’m always compassionate in moments I feel like flipping them the bird. You’re dealing with people’s number one financial investment in their lifetime. If anyone thinks just because they’re cute and funny they could become a realtor, they’re going to find out that’s it’s so multidimensional. If you’re at a stage in your life where you welcome that type of learning and you appreciate that it’s not just looking cute and Selling Sunset. It is so much more than that, and I absolutely devour every bit of it.
Photo Credit – Sona Visual
Where do you think the real estate market is headed in Alberta?
Alberta has seen some really tough years. The pandemic played a huge part in real estate across the globe emotionally, which is why women are so good in real estate. We can dive deep emotionally as to why people do things. We’ve always been those caretakers, so we understand when your toddlers having a tantrum, you get to learn what’s really driving it. A whole shift is happening where people refuse to be held back anymore. When you’re stuck in your house for three months straight, two things are happening: you’re not spending as much money so your bank account is looking better to you with almost two years in a pandemic. Interest rates are so low, so you can borrow money basically for free. You’re also sick and tired of your house since you’ve been in it for so long. People need to change all the time. They either want bigger or better or smaller or more outdoor space. Lots of changes and shifts are happening and that’s driving the real estate market. I know there’s a more economical and business opinion on that, but my thoughts are that human emotion really drives money anyway. When you tell humans, especially successful humans, that they can’t do something, like leaving their house, they immediately look for something else to do. Some need two offices in case this ever happened again or their own space. Some need a whole new house. As for the future of real estate in Alberta, I think it’s light. We’re becoming less dependent on certain industries that have driven us, like the oil industry which has always been predominant. Technology as a sector is growing here. I think we’re going to diversify.
Photo Credit – Sona Visual
Have you noticed an upwards shift in the market?
The market here has gone up by forty per cent. It’s incredible. The demand is here. Buyers have to be very competitive. Sellers have to be very strategic when accepting offers. It’s a really good time. Is the bubble going to burst? Nobody knows. That’s the toughest part about being a real estate agent. People look to you with those types of questions. If I buy today, is it going to be worth the same in five years when I move? We never answer those questions because we simply don’t know the answer. We can only look at the past as an indicator of the future. For example, acreages in Alberta was a tough sell. Now, they’re flying off the shelf. Why? People don’t want to be cooped up. They want to live in the country. They’re making a great shift to grow their own vegetables and be more sustainable. The pandemic has shifted our minds also in how we feed ourselves or how we live on a day-to-day basis.
Photo Credit – Sona Visual
You have expanded your reach geographically to Canmore. What other areas do you want to target in the near future?
The philosophy there was for me as a marketer and with more national reach, to help promote Canmore as a destination and as a place for investment properties. Investment properties, recreational properties, as well as luxury homes. We wanted to have more Canmore listings. As a result, we have gotten more listings, which is our goal. It’s only a forty-five-minute drive from Calgary. It just seemed like a natural expansion for me. Canmore properties are at low inventory, so it’s difficult to buy a property there. It meets the prerequisites of being close to the city yet in the mountains. It’s really a luxurious place. My goals of expansion for right now is just one agent at a time. I already sell real estate in all areas of Calgary and surrounding small towns. I’m also studying to get my rural license.
Rural focuses on farms and agricultural pieces of property. Country acreages are residential. If a house is in a country in four acres or even twenty acres of land, it could still be a country residential property, and I’ve sold many of those. People often refer to me as a rural agent, but I’m not a rural agent. Rural means that it’s a farm versus a country residential. You might live in the country but you’re not farming and mowing. You’re not harvesting hay and selling vegetables. You don’t have cattle and beef on your land.
Is rural considered commercial in any way?
It’s not commercial, because commercial is in a city with a multi-family complex. I don’t do commercial. I have no interest in commercial either. That’s a whole different area of real state. I love selling homes. The last frontier is to get my rural license so I can help my clients who also have twenty acres of farmland to sell. I’m already in those areas as it is, so why not add that to my license, so I can attract those types of agents too.
Photo Credit – Calgary Photos
How do you stay grounded? How would you define your work-life balance?
It’s tough to find balance when you are someone who’s goal-oriented. Goals require focus. For the first two years of my career, I barely stepped on a treadmill because every time I would, I would just think about the next thing I had to do for my client. That was not good. It truly could consume you and it becomes like an addiction. You become a workaholic. Anything with “holic” in the end eventually wears on you and your family. My new goal is to have a little bit more of a balance, like adding yoga or a walk to my day. I couldn’t switch my focus for so long to any of those things, and literally felt depressed when I went to bed, even though I was finding so much financial success. I was crying on my way home at 8:30 in my car because I was unhappy, tired, dehydrated. I didn’t know what was going on at home. I was too tired to play with my kids or to walk my dogs. I definitely had to get some counselling there to try to be okay with taking time for myself and not feeling anxious. That’s the negative part. I actually took a week off last week and went to Banff by myself. I worked only a little bit. I slept, walked, thought. I came back with that passion again and I’m super excited again.
Whenever I start talking about burnout and how tired I am, I always remember that pressure is a privilege. What that means to me is obvious. Yes, I’m tired and driving really hard, but to feel the pressure means I’m doing something right. I have more listings coming and more clients. My success is a result of that pressure. I’m privileged to sit here today because there have been so many hard times for many families during this pandemic, so in no way am I complaining in any way.
Cover Photo Credit – Kokemor Studio
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