Veronica attributes a lot of her success to being around really great people from the very beginning. When she has come up against trials, she has been able to push through because she has had good people behind her encouraging her and supporting her. Her cousins taught her to fight for what she wanted by creating obstacle courses to beat in order to play, and this taught her to persevere from an early age. She knew that it was okay to be daring, different, and unliked.
She grew up on a military base in Germany, Kansas, and then back to Germany; so, she was used to change and adapting. With allowed her to be really successful with the introduction of technology. She watched her mom as an entrepreneur on the base, opening bodega shops and selling records or whatever was trending in the States. It was natural for Veronica to learn from her and become and entrepreneur herself. Her mom taught her the mindset that if she wanted something, she had to work for it.
At 16 years old, Veronica got pregnant, and she feared becoming a statistic, but she decidedly pursued something different. To Veronica being a statistic meant, “Your life is over, you’re going to be on welfare, you’re just another 16 and pregnant Puerto Rican girl; that’s it, you’ve thrown your life away. It played in my head over and over again…and I was like, ‘no’ that’s not what has to happen… I should be able to overcome this.” Every time she wanted to give up, she looked around and reminded herself that she didn’t want to be that statistic. She finished school, worked hard to support herself and her child, and not let her circumstances interfere with her future. Her grit and grind are a huge part of where she has come from and where she is today.
Veronica was divorced at the age of 25 and early on worried about providing for her small children. She started thinking about how to provide for them with a single income. She wanted to do something special and had an overconfidence about what she was capable of.
When Covid hit, she panicked, but her coach, Jon Cheplak calmly told her, “This is where we show up as leaders.” And instead of becoming a hermit she went all in and became a great leader and showed up for her team. They went from a once-a-week meeting to a once-a-day huddle to overcome challenges of mental health and doing everything they needed to do to be there for one another and the community.
She realized there wasn’t a playbook for Covid Leadership, so she made her own. She wanted to help others, not just her own team, but others. They started relaunch live, Fire Fridays, they were on every video podcast, they launched Zillow Flex, they did a lot and adapted quickly. After all these things rolled out, she needed to step back and reflect. She retreated to the beach for a few weeks to think. “The beach is my safe place… and we need that whiteboard space in our brain and find that kid inside ourselves,” she explains, “We are taught as adults to not show our emotions… but I know that it’s also okay to be vulnerable.”
“I’m a connector, I connect people who are connected to each other and I’m not even connected to them anymore!” She says laughing. This is a strength of hers that she is proud of. If someone is not in her circle now, it is intentional, “I’m not willing to sacrifice my joy. Before I wanted to make everyone happy and what I was doing is I was harming myself. We can be cool, but we aren’t going to be close. If we are going to be close, it is because you bring joy to my life.”
She saw a big leap in growth three years ago when she hired her coach and it has changed her life, “The first thing you have to do is be coachable.” She went from selling around 100 homes a year with her small team, to now selling over 1,000 homes in a year. Her coach tells her that her version of mediocre is other peoples’ version of greatness, so it is important to keep that in mind when you’re thinking about how you operate in a consistent state of growth and excellence. The successes are about bite-sized successes, weekly successes, not huge successes. Work on creating a healthy work culture that isn’t afraid to dream big.