Latoya Watson is from West Los Angeles, California and has been working hard for most of her life. She went from working at a pet store to becoming the Chief Operating Officer of one of the best real estate companies, called CLJ Realty Group. Latoya had to go through certain obstacles to get to where she is today. She has been named a “30 under 30″ in real estate, out hundreds of applicants. Latoya has plans to expand her business, not only to show the world who she really is, but also to educate. Read more about the 30 under 30 magazine article.
La Toya Tolbert Watson
- Tell me a little about yourself, where you came from and what lead you to become the Chief Operating Officer of CLJ Realty Group? I’m from West Los Angeles, California. I came from a really big family. I am one of four children. My mom was a single mom when I was younger, so I had to take on the responsibility of being a big sister / mother. Taking on lots of responsibility at a young age was tough, but it taught me how to work hard… especially while seeing my mother work multiple jobs. It taught me how to be a strong young black woman. She worked hard to make sure we went the best schools and lived in the best areas, especially when my dad left. My first job was working at a pet store when I was 14-and-a-half-year-old. I continued working there throughout college. Then I went to makeup school, since I loved doing makeup. I also started doing photography at the same time, which helped me earn money for a while. While I was doing photography, I ran into an agent named Anita. I told her my story and where I came from. She was someone I admired, she was fly and always so dressed up. She told me that I should get into real estate as well. I took my real estate test and failed twice. That test was extremely hard, but I made sure I passed. Then I started doing internships, but didn’t earn much money during the first few months until I got my first deal. My career skyrocketed from there. Real estate is a hustle, it’s an everyday job. You’ll find yourself checking your emails, and checking your phone all day because a client may want to get in contact with you. I became a COO because the last broker I worked with didn’t really give me what I needed, so I ended up partnering with the other only black realtor in the company. We suggested that we create our own team of realtors. We worked so well together, to the point where we branched off and became partners. He’s the CEO and I’m the COO. I work with a lot of bank owned properties, I train, I hold the agents accountable and make sure they have everything they need. I also make sure they have their lead generating apps and make sure they know what to say when cold calling. Last year I sold 9 million in real estate in Orange County. I was named 30 under 30. I came from a struggle and I made it.
- What are your daily tasks as a chief operating officer? As a real estate agent, there are two sides. First side is the listing side, where you are selling a home, second is when you’re helping people find a home. In the morning, I check my emails to see if anyone needs me right away. I’ll check for a new listing, or if a bank has an emergency and they need some information from me, I’ll provide it to them. I may cold call people I don’t know or I may call people from the past that I had spoken to previously to see what they’re up to. Sometimes I have appointments with my buyers and show them what homes I’m selling. I’ll check the houses to make sure everything looks good. If someone sends me an offer, I always respond to them in a timely fashion because time is money. I have to make sure that I’m on top of everything. At the end of the day, I always check on my agents that are under me to make sure that they’re okay. I try to choose two days out of the week to talk to them and find out about the statuses of their offers and answer questions they may have. I’m responsible for setting up trainings, meetings the realtors individually and setting up team meetings. I also maintain productivity throughout the company and assist the agents to give them whatever they need to keep their business going. It’s not just helping people find a home, I have to educate them as well.
- Talk to me a little bit about your volunteer work. I like to work with the youth, especially with the outreach program at my church. There’s just something about helping the less fortunate. There’s people out here that are poor and you wouldn’t even know. I collect clothes and bring them to the church. Every other Sunday, we will cook for the less fortunate. We also create bags full with tampons, q-tips, and other things that women need and distribute those items to the woman that are less fortunate. I always try to spend as much time as possible with my son, so I also volunteer at his football league. Last year we paid for their whole entire banquet. I volunteered at his fundraisers throughout the year. I love being a football mom. I love seeing the look on their faces. It makes me feel good. Every time something good comes to me I feel the need to give someone a hand.
- Congrats on being part of the 30 under 30 realtor magazine! How does it feel to be on this list? When I first walked into the first Real Estate company I ever worked for, I found this article on the table that said, “30 under 30.” You don’t really see a lot of young people doing this. I recently turned 29 and I decided to just apply since it would be my last year to make it on this list. Someone from the magazine contacted me and told me how much they loved my story and background. It’s not based on numbers and how much you sell, it’s the influence you have in the community and you skills you’ve used and self value … what you contribute to your company. There were hundreds of applicants and I thought I wasn’t going to get picked. I received an email saying that I was a finalist and I was shocked. There was a lot of competition. I remember the morning I received the email saying “Congratulations.” I started crying, so much that my husband thought I didn’t make it, but I did. That was my moment, and a milestone of my career. I came from a rough upbringing. I appreciated this moment and how much God has blessed me. Making it to 30 under 30 made me realize that this is a sign of what I’m supposed to be doing.
- What advice or strategies would you give to someone that would want to be in your shoes? You can’t be afraid of the word “No,” you’re going get lots of no’s. But eventually there will be a “Yes.” You can’t be afraid to fail, there’s going to be a lot of hard work. Nothing in this life comes easy. You have to imagine how you want your life to be and can’t be afraid of no’s. You can’t be afraid to fail and afraid of hard work. You have to envision your goals. I didn’t think for one moment that I’d be in that magazine, but here I am. You can’t just say it, you have to really study your craft and work hard. Make sure you give your faith to the lord and have him guide you. Some people get lost and get distracted. Don’t be like everyone else, you have to stand out.
- Do you have any plans for the future? I want to have another child. Right now one is enough. I want to be able to open my own branch and expand what I already have as a whole. Like a corporate agency. I want to inspire and become a public speaker, not just in my community but everywhere.
For more information about CLJ Realty, visit: http://cljrealty.com