Carol Scott, and her husband J Scott, had high-paying corporate careers before giving them up for a life that would allow them to focus on family. This Mother’s Day, we spoke with Carol about real estate investing and motherhood. Read our conversation below to find out how she got started, why real estate investing works for her family, and what advice she has for other moms interested in real estate investment as a career.
Walnut Street Finance (WSF): Tell us a little about your background and how you got into real estate investing.
Carol Scott (CS): Like so many people of my generation, we were all taught that you have to work really hard and go to college. And work really hard and get a good job. And work really hard at your job and put your kids in daycare when you have that job, and just work, work, work, work, work. I grew up in New York and I ended up on the west coast working in Silicon Valley during the first dot-com bubble heyday. I did marketing, PR, advertising, communications, and it was so much fun, with so many great opportunities. But I was working 80-100 hours a week, flying all over the world on private jets, and living in hotels. Which sounds so glitzy and glamorous, until you’re living that life.
J was in a similar situation. For the first 6 months of our relationship, we’d high five each other in an airport and go onto the next spot. We never saw each other. We loved what we did, but it was not conducive to sustaining a marriage, much less children. We needed to figure out a whole different solution for our life.
So we just quit our jobs. We were very fortunate, because we had a little bit of capital from doing Silicon Valley back in the day. We decided to move to Atlanta, because we wanted to be back on the east coast, knew a lot of friends there, and it was warm. One day, I was watching HGTV (a lot of people will tell you that’s how they got interested in flipping houses) and I realized, if these guys can flip houses, we can certainly flip houses. We had never owned a piece of real estate. But I have a passion for talking to people and building relationships, and also the fun parts of marketing and design. J is really good at building at systems and processes. So we said, “let's give this a shot.” That’s how we got our start. We wanted to trade in the “glamorous” corporate lifestyle and tone it down, so we could really have ownership over our own time. And that’s what we built over the years.
WSF: What motherhood skills have helped you in your real estate investing career? And what career skills have helped you with motherhood?
CS: I feel like I’m good at building relationships and trust. One of the big things I learned in my corporate career is that when people take themselves way too seriously, nothing gets done. It becomes a big political game of who can win the next move in the chess match. But when you knock stuff down to a really personal level, that’s when deals get made. Being a mom, you take the love, nurturing, and trust that you build every second of every day with your kids, and then you translate that into real estate investing. We have been involved in hundreds of deals at this point and I can’t tell you how many of the very best deals we got were simply because I would run around neighborhoods and just chit chat with people. Being able to genuinely care about people and build trust and establish the relationship works in your whole life--not only in real estate investing, but in any business in general. People have to remember at the end of the day, people are just people. It’s that simple.
WSF: What's the toughest part of being a mom involved in real estate investment? And the best part?
CS: The toughest part is compartmentalizing, and that’s not always the easiest thing in the world, especially when you’re selling a house. You’ll have an agent who wants to talk to you at 6pm and that’s their only availability. But I’ve got dinner to make at 6pm. Once in a while you have those little juggles and struggles, but you just figure out a way to do it. And that’s always the hardest part of anything.
The best part is that my time is my own. I put my kids on the bus every morning. I get my kids off the bus every day. I had a few extra days where we had downtime, so I was able to go up to New York and help my little sister run a convention. I was able to come back from that and decorate the stage for my son’s first grade play and do stuff for teacher appreciation week. With real estate investing, you can contribute financially and feel like you’re accomplishing something professionally, while also truly having the freedom to do the things that are most important to you. In our case, the most important thing is simply spending time with our kids and doing stuff for our family. That is absolutely the best part of it.
WSF: What advice would you give to moms interested in fix and flipping and real estate investment?
CS: Yoga. Seriously, you have to set aside some time for yourself every day. And that’s not only with real estate investing, that’s with anything. That said, with real estate investing you are 100% in control of what you do with those 24 hours of your day. You absolutely have to find whatever amount of time you have that day where you can truly focus on you.
You also have to figure out a good way to compartmentalize, like I said before. My kids get on the bus at 9am and they get home at 4pm. I have to make everything fit into that 7 hour block, so the second they get off the bus, I’m 100% mom. That said, you really can’t do absolutely everything yourself. As much as you want to, your brain can only function on so many different tasks at once. When your kids are little and not in school yet, you have to get a mother’s helper. If it was during the summer, we’d find teenagers who had the summer off who could come along for scouting out houses or working on deals and it was a lifesaver. You have to get people to help fill in those blanks. And then you really can make it happen.
Thanks so much to Carol Scott for chatting with us and sharing her incredible insights this Mother’s Day. Be sure to check out Carol and J Scott’s website, http://www.123flip.com, for great educational resources and to learn more about their story.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the super moms out there!