Mother’s Day is as good a time as any other to look back on how our mothers impacted and influenced us as a person and how our relationships with them defined who we are right now. Join Moneeka Sawyer and her dear friend, Caterina Rando, as they trade touching stories of their dear mothers who propelled them to the brilliant and powerful women that they are now. Caterina is a business transformation coach who passionately serves women leaders on a mission, with a 25-years track record in educating and empowering audiences. She attributes much of her success, not only in coaching but also in real estate, to her mother’s influence. Learn why she and Moneeka both consider themselves to be a version 2.0 of their respective mothers and why that is such a good thing.
I am excited to welcome to the show a dear friend of mine, Caterina Rando. Caterina is a business transformation coach who passionately serves women leaders on a mission. Her over 25 years of educating and empowering audiences and groups makes her truly masterful at providing a ton of value. She shares how to be loud and proud about the value you bring in order to serve more people and make your businesses thrive with speaking, workshops, group programs, and retreats. Ladies, I want to put in a personal note that Caterina is one of my personal coaches. She and I met years ago. I finally ended up in one of her speaking retreats and programs. We got much closer and I have to say she’s had a huge impact on my life, my business. She’s a big reason why I’m speaking to you. I want all of us to be grateful that she’s here with us. Caterina, how are you?
Moneeka, I am wonderful. Thank you for that fabulous introduction. It is my honor and privilege to watch you do your thing with so much bliss.
When I was talking to Caterina and she was using this word bliss, every other coach would get glassy-eyed. They look at me like, “What the heck? I can’t relate to that word.” Caterina has a term called Blissing, which is when we hear something we love we go, “Bing, bing, bing.” Someone that uses the word blissing is someone I need in my life.
I sometimes talk about you to a client. I say, “I’ve got this client, Moneeka Sawyer. Have you met her?” You’re always in your bliss. Sometimes women in business, they’re focused on different things and they’re stressing about them and I say, “Bring in your bliss.” You are a role model for bliss, my friend, for sure.
Thank you, Caterina. I’m honored that you say that. I know they’re one of the many things that Caterina and I have in common is our relationship with our moms and the huge impact that our mothers have had on our lives. Since this is the Mother’s Day episode, I wanted to share with you in honor of all of those mothers out there that have impacted our lives in many ways, they take care of us, feed us and love us. Not only do they feed our bellies, they feed our souls and our minds and encourage and inspire us to be the best women that we can be. I want to honor our moms and I thought there was no better person for me to have this conversation with than with Caterina. Caterina, could you start by telling us a little bit about your story and your relationship with your mom?
I’m an Italian-American. My grandparents came most of them through Ellis Island and I was raised in an Italian-American household, West Coast Italian though, not East Coast Italian. There’s a difference. My grandfather was a shoemaker and my other grandfather owned a grocery store. My mother came from a home where education was emphasized. My mother was the first person in her community to go to college and she became a school teacher. I share that because some of the things that you would think about your favorite school teacher are present with my mom. She was the mom that would be excited whenever a child would come to the door, selling candy or selling something.
Not only would she instantly open her wallet, but she would also lean down, say hello and tell them how proud she was of them and what a great job she was doing. Her bliss was being a school teacher and working with children. Also, my household, my dad too, were generous and working-class people, living in a regular house, in a regular neighborhood and still, Moneeka, I was taught that there’s always money to help someone whatever it is and whatever the ask was, the answer was always yes. That is something that I continue in my life and was great modeling for an attitude of abundance and generosity.
I know you are all about positivity, integrity, generosity, and community. I can see that it came from your family. One of the things that strike me, another thing that we have in common is this immigrant mindset in a way that our parents came with deep cultural, traditional roots of how a family is supposed to look, what a mom, dad, family, and community look like. Some of those traditions we’ve had to break away from as younger women because we have to evolve and progress and not everything served us. Some of that was valuable in creating a foundation of love and stability so that we could then step to the next step in our power and strength. No matter what tradition says, both your mom and my mom stepped into their power regardless of what culture might have said and sometimes because of what culture might’ve said, wouldn’t you say?[bctt tweet=”Our mothers don’t just feed our bellies. They feed our souls and minds and inspire us to be the best women that we can be.” username=””]
One thing I want to say is that in my family, and the immigrants, they didn’t call it entrepreneurialism, but that’s what immigrants did. They started businesses. Many of them started businesses because there was a lot of discrimination in the workforce. Not just against immigrants, but as we know, also against women. In my household growing up, my dad had this phrase for my mom. He called it a scheme, which was his term for whatever my mom’s brilliant idea was.
I’m not sure how I feel about that.
That’s the thing, Moneeka, you’ve heard me talk about brilliant ideas syndrome. His perspective was making fun of it but from my perspective, it’s awesome and amazing because it was her brilliant ideas. She wrote a children’s book. She came up with these chocolate chips, Italiano with a touch of Galliano. She started, and she did it for many years, an Italian novelty business for all the Italian fairs around the country. She had hats and t-shirts that she would sell wholesale. She’s had many ideas over the years. The most prolific and profitable was real estate, which I know we’ll talk about.
The thing for me was that I always saw my mom having fun with her ideas. She never got an idea and left it at the idea stage. She would do it. She would write the book. She produced the cookies. She has the novelty business on the side. She didn’t stay in the idea stage. That’s what a lot of people do with their ideas and their dreams. They stay in the idea stage. I’m glad that my mother never did that because you know me, Moneeka, I’m all about action. That comes from being raised in a household where it was a fun thing to pursue your ideas.
It wasn’t a scary thing. It’s interesting because, in my household, we came as immigrants educated in India, where my parent’s degrees weren’t recognized here in the United States. It’s a little bit of a different immigrant experience, but what is funny and in common is that they were still entrepreneurs. My mom’s a doctor, my dad’s an engineer and they had these jobs. They felt limited. They needed to do the things that they needed to do for their families, but they felt limited and both of them, the second they could become entrepreneurs, they did that. To me, it was inspiring also because like you, I got to watch them take their idea and create something brand new out of it. My mom became a doctor at a time when girls didn’t go to medical school in India. She was told many times that she wasn’t going to be able to do it.
She wasn’t smart enough, women don’t do that, and you should get married, all of this stuff. She went to medical school against the odds and then came to the United States and her medical degree is not recognized. She goes to the whole thing again. She educates herself. She goes through the internship, but the second she was able to open her own clinic and treat people in the way that she wanted to, that wasn’t dictated by a hospital, that’s what she did and she did it well. She had all these ideas of the people she wanted to help, the conversations she wanted to have and the difference she was going to make and she did it. Like you, I’ve had that experience that great ideas are awesome, but nothing happens until you take action. I got to watch my parents do that.
That is modeling for us not to be hesitant. “What if it doesn’t work out?” I don’t even think about that because I know that I can figure it out, whatever it is and because sometimes it’s fun. You’ve been on retreats with me and when I started retreats, it was like, “Let’s do a retreat.” It wasn’t a strategy for something as it was a great idea to pursue. That’s the thing. It is fun to pursue your ideas and not be attached to a particular outcome. In the process, we learn a lot about ourselves and we grow tremendously. I’m grateful that was my modeling growing up.
Every once in a while, someone will say to me, “You are like your mother.” I’m like, “I know.” I picked up all that’s good and much that’s not good. I’m 2.0 of my mom. I love that because when we have a model that we can emulate, the excitement about creating a business and something new as women, we saw it on her mom’s they birthed us. We have the capacity to birth, not just people, but businesses and full experience.
I do consider it a compliment when someone says I’m like my mother. The other thing is my mother can talk to anybody and she’s a voracious reader. She knows a little bit about a huge variety of topics. She reads things to read them, to learn about a new topic. I’ve always admired that about her, her ability to talk to anybody. It’s the ability to listen and express that you’re genuinely interested because the truth is, she is genuinely interested and that’s something else that I’ve learned from her. It’s great to be like our mothers and, as you say, be creating our path and be the 2.0 version.
I know that a lot of your path around real estate started because of your mom. Could you tell me a little bit more about that and what her experience was?
When my grandfather passed away when I was young and my grandfather left my mom the house that he lived in, which was two flats. He left her a triplex down the block. She has turned that into quite the fempire of real estate by continuing to upgrade and leverage this one to buy that one. If I could share her real estate philosophy, she’s got two things. I didn’t discuss this with her, so there might be more. She doesn’t know that I’m talking about her. The first thing is and for whatever reason, she likes to buy corners. The other thing is my mom. She’s 88. I don’t know if she ever had a license, but she never drove our whole life. As a school teacher, she walked to work about 30 blocks East of our house. She walked to work every day and she walked home. She always liked to be able to walk by her buildings with the exception of one.
She has all of her buildings in the neighborhood so that she can walk by them and do a personal inspection. Those are two things. She has commercial and residential property. I’m going to say one more thing that is part of her philosophy. She always has her properties under market for rent. Whatever the rent is, she goes lower to ensure that she has a high occupancy rate. I can tell you that over the many years, she’s had a high occupancy rate. She does give everybody a gift at the beginning of the year. I’m not sure if it’s Christmas. She’s a loving and customer care heart-centered person, and that is reflected in her landlordship as well.
Those were all philosophies of my own, by the way. I’m not within 30 blocks for every property and I certainly don’t go walk by them and visit them much, but I do like to keep them close in case there’s something that comes up I can drive. Close for me is 15, 20-minute drive. How many properties did she end up leveraging those three flats into?
I would say, maybe eight. Some of them are big buildings with lots of units. Some of them are the building of that are centers in San Francisco own that with my mom. There are several other buildings with multiple units. There’s one building with a bar and a restaurant in it and a couple of restaurants one with some units and a restaurant. There’s a variety of multiuse properties and residential unit buildings.
Does she still have them all?
Yes.[bctt tweet=”We may not get to pick them, but our mothers are some of the greatest mentors we will ever have in our lives.” username=””]
Does she manage them herself?
For many years, my dad was the property manager. My sister’s boyfriend is the property manager. He’s also a successful plumber, but he does this on the side. It’s good because you do need support and a good team.
That was going to be my next question. Did she have any support in this or were she doing it all of her own? That’s great that your dad is supporting her in that way. Did she have any mentors that taught her? Did she learn it from books or on her own? What was her journey like?
I don’t think she ever took a class. I don’t think she ever had a mentor, which is interesting. She figured it out but the other thing is that she always picked people that she trusted and she would get to know them. She rewarded loyalty by having the same gentleman who was doing all her real estate deals for her and a company that helped her with all the financing. As you teach, as I teach, find your good partners and work with them over and over. Trust, integrity, and good communication are key ingredients that you want from any of your partners and that’s what I saw with my mom. That’s part of what I focus on in my business with my vendors and teach my clients.
It’s interesting because people frequently talk about real estate is being a numbers business. If the numbers work by the property, you will make money. One of the things that I say over and over again is that the numbers have to work. That is true, but that’s not where the business stops. The true magic happens in the relationships. The relationships with your vendors, business partners, or with your tenants. One of the reasons women are good at this is because we have an intuitive sense. Not all of us, I don’t want to be segregational in any way here and not to say that men don’t have this too, but this is one of our superpowers. As women, we love the relationship. We put a lot of value on those relationships. We put a lot of energy into them and in the real estate business and in your business that pays off.
Also, that intuitive part, we have this intuition. Your mom needed to have tenants that she trusted and that she liked and she took the time to get to know them. I do that same thing, which is why my tenants stay with me for 10, 12, 15 years. I don’t have turnovers. Ladies, this is what I’m trying to say. Caterina is talking about her mom and her mom has demonstrated she’s a perfect example of what a woman in real estate can look like. Many of you sometimes think, “This is hard. There’s too much to learn. There are many shiny objects, many opportunities.” Sometimes it can get confusing, and instead think of real estate as the most intuitive business in the world. Caterina’s mom inherited property. Did she know much about real estate when she got those?
Not to my knowledge.
She inherited some property. She’s like, “This is cool, and I’ve got some houses. Let me put people there.” She did it and she moved forward. She engaged the support of her husband and later her children. This is what we can do as women and it’s not that hard. Making money in real estate is not that hard. It can be surprisingly simple, not always easy. There are all these challenges. Anything in life worth having is going to have challenges. That’s where your bliss techniques come in. Notice how she flowed into it the way women flow through our lives if you open yourself to that. Would you agree with me on that?
I would say that she flowed, but she worked it. What I mean by that is that often she would find tenants herself. Because she walked in the neighborhood, she would use the neighborhood and if she liked somebody, she would say, “Do you know somebody?” Even the commercial properties, when a restaurant was leaving, she would find the restaurant to go in to replace them or when she bought a building, if it needed tenants, she would work her network as you know how to do. I’m a big proponent of, she would work her network to make it happen and the tenants that met her tenant criteria. She would describe it as a lot of fun. She seemed to have a lot of fun doing her real estate. That’s how I got started.
I don’t think of this flow as not working. A flow is a way to work. If we can work it, we should work it in a way that feels blissful and fun. That’s what I meant by flow. Not that we don’t work it, but she loved the networking. That was the network, that was her skill. That’s what she did to make her business thrive. That’s more of what I meant there.
I told you, she’s 88. She takes a walk every day. If I need to know what’s going on in the neighborhood, I ask my mom anything new and exciting in the neighborhood. Because she walks, many of the people in the neighborhood would know her. She talks to the store owner’s property over there. She’s in the know because she walks the neighborhood. That has been part of the fun for her too.
What were you going to say next?
I was going to say that in watching my mom do her thing and loving it for many years, one day I was someplace with a friend and we played the CASHFLOW game. I came home to my mom and I said, “Mom, I want to be a real estate mogul like you.” This was many years ago. She came to me a month later and she said, “Caterina, if you can come up with $15,000, we can put a down payment on this building.” That was the building that we have our center in San Francisco. I had to borrow $10,000 of that $15,000. Whatever it takes to get started, I was happy to get started. I’ve done deals that have not worked out, but it’s all a part of the learning process and a few thousand dollar lessons here or there is okay because it’s important to be in the game of real estate if you want to get ahead in real estate. If somebody doesn’t have a mom like mine or yours, that’s what you’re here for is to be supporting them as their blissful mentor.
It’s important for people to pick mentors. It’s not about the success of the mentor. It’s about the values by which the mentor lives their life and runs their business. The reason why you’re a great real estate mentor, and I’ve been honored to come to your classes is because of the values by which you run your life and your business and its integrity. The whole thing about bliss, I want to be as blissful as you when I’m doing any deal. If I want more bliss in my life, then I want a mentor that has that bliss value down, which I feel you do. I wanted to say that because I’m a business mentor, I see a lot of people that tell me their sad stories about picking mentors that weren’t the right match for them. That’s the missing piece that they’re often missing looking at the values of the mentor. They’re looking at their success.
I’ve made that mistake myself, going for the business idea rather than the underlying values. As I’m getting older and I’ve made that mistake enough, I’m able to see and peg. I’m paying more attention to my gut. When my gut says, “No, I don’t like that person,” but you still give them the money because you think they’re going to make your business thrive. Now, I’m much more if I don’t feel it, if I don’t feel that our values are synchronous, I won’t do it no matter how good their pitch is.
Sometimes I find the better the pitch, the worst it is because if you got massive value, you don’t need as good of a pitch because everybody’s raving about you. Sometimes when the pitch is good, that’s all they got is the pitch.
It’s interesting, I’ve never heard you say that.[bctt tweet=”There is never enough love and acknowledgment to thank our mothers for the amazing things they have done for us.” username=””]
I don’t know if I’ve ever said it before but I’m thinking of some situations and because I know how to make an offer, but I don’t feel necessarily that I’m the master of a pitch. Like you were saying, it’s about because I have great relationships, a great word of mouth and great raves that the business constant continues to flow and grow regardless of not having a phenomenal pitch.
The other thing that I appreciate about you and this is important when you’re looking for a mentor. Our moms were given to us as mentors that we didn’t get to pick, but often we’re out there, I feel lucky that one that I got, but not everybody feels that lucky. That’s the truth or they feel lucky in many ways, but not necessarily in business. When you’re picking a mentor, the other thing to know is the longevity of that mentor. Maybe they haven’t been in your life for a long time, but they should have seen the cycles of the economy. They should be mature enough not to overpromise based on a lack of knowledge. I’ve been through three big dip cycles in real estate. You’ve been through many cycles as a speaker. That’s one other thing because it also adds to the integrity of that mentor because they can say, “I’ve been through this stuff. I can support you through it.” This is what’s possible for you or all of us.
It is the job I feel of mentors to hold a bigger vision for their clients. The other thing, which I know you’re good at, people doesn’t understand often the value of some encouragement. A little encouragement from someone you respect can be volumes and massive support for people. It’s not about the skills and the super tips. It is about our mentors, genuinely caring about us and throwing in some love like our moms did and that’s encouragement. My mom and my father are always encouraging me with anything I do feel like, “I can do whatever I want to do and if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay, because I’ll be fine.” A lot of that encouragement that we need, even as adults, is important from a mentor, but also to recognize that we can create it for ourselves, but it’s even better when it comes from someone we respect and admire.
That’s important in our business relationships with your vendors, with your tenants. I send my tenants notes to say, “Thank you for always paying on time. Thank you for being the person that I want in my home.” It’s good on many levels. I tell all of my vendors, “Thank you for doing such a good job.” It shows up everywhere and that is that love that we’ve seen from our moms. Could you give us maybe one, tip, strategy and a piece of advice you’d like to leave all the ladies with on this Mother’s Day episode?
One of the things is if your mom is still around, make sure that you’re expressing your gratitude to her, not only on Mother’s Day but on a regular basis. I never have a conversation with my mother or father that doesn’t end with I love you. I always look for things to appreciate and to articulate them. I thank them many times for their love and support over my 55 years. Even though I’ve thanked them for that many times, I continue to do it because none of us can have too much love and acknowledgment in our life. My parents were older. As people get older, it’s even more important that they are reminded of how amazing they are and of the amazing things that they have done. That’s what I would say. There’s never enough love, acknowledgment hugs, etc.
This conversation has been good, Caterina. Thank you for joining me.
Thank you for the invitation. I can’t wait for my mom to read. She doesn’t know that I’m talking about her so I can’t wait.
You have to tell me what she says. Ladies, thank you for joining Caterina and I on this special Mother’s Day episode. It’s nice to have you here. You know how much I appreciate you and I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then remember, goals without action are just dreams. Get out there, take action, and create the life your heart deeply desires. I’ll see you next time. Bye.
Caterina Rando is on a mission to teach, mentor, and support women to be themselves, do their thing, serve their people and massively monetize their mastery. She shows women entrepreneurs how to be loud and proud about the value they bring in order to make their businesses thrive. Her clients grow, shine, expand, open themselves up to new possibilities, and take their businesses further than ever before. Caterina is all about, positivity, integrity, generosity, community, and providing massive value while uplifting others.
She is a sought-after-speaker, event producer, and author. Her latest book is the ABCs of Public Speaking. Her book, Learn to Think Differently, from Watkins Publishing is published in over thirteen countries and several languages.
Caterina is the founder of The Thriving Women in Business Giving Community. This group of big-hearted women, raise money for women and girls education and entrepreneurship training. She wants women to know that they do not have to wait until they are wealthy or retired before they can embrace philanthropy. This is the clear message in the Women’s Giving Circle Guide, a book she co-authored with C.J. Hayden.
Caterina is also the founder of the Thriving Women in Business Center, located in San Francisco. This is an attractive and warm place for women to come and do their workshops. Caterina’s plan is to open more centers throughout northern California.
Caterina is recognized for her special way of infusing business with making a difference. She has received the Extraordinary Woman Award from Developing Alliances. The American Businesswomen Association bestowed on her the Woman of Distinction Award and she has also received the Limitless Woman Award from the Limitless Woman Conference.
Moneeka Sawyer is often described as one of the most blissful people you will ever meet. She has been investing in Real Estate for over 20 years, so has been through all the different cycles of the market. Still, she has turned $10,000 into over $5,000,000, working only 5-10 hours per MONTH with very little stress.
While building her multi-million dollar business, she has traveled to over 55 countries, dances every single day, supports causes that are important to her, and spends lots of time with her husband of over 20 years.
She is the international best-selling author of the multiple award-winning books “Choose Bliss: The Power and Practice of Joy and Contentment” and “Real Estate Investing for Women: Expert Conversations to Increase Wealth and Happiness the Blissful Way.”
Moneeka has been featured on stages including Carnegie Hall and Nasdaq, radio, podcasts such as Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod, and TV stations including ABC, CBS, FOX, and the CW, impacting over 150 million people.