ManUPrising Series Presents: Santiago Arana
ManUPrising is a multi-platform, social-emotional initiative featuring successful men sharing their struggles and successes to encourage men to come-together to speak their truths, encourage fellowship and help other men rise-up and to help women to better understand the men in their lives to enable a stronger connection between the genders.
Bolivia-born Santiago Arana, 35, is Managing Partner-Brentwood at the prestigious, Los Angeles-based real estate firm The Agency (TheAgencyre.com). In 2015, his sales totaled over $300 million. He has also graced The Hollywood Reporter's "Hollywood's Top 25 Real Estate Agents" elite list.
Arana came to the states just 13 years ago, in 2003, in pursuit of a crash course in English after graduating with a business administration and marketing undergraduate degree in his home country. He had an aunt living in Santa Barbara. He quickly ran out of the $120 cash he had come to the states with. After his aunt declined to loan him money for a beer, he became motivated to work. Without speaking any English, Arana's prospects were limited. He found a job at a local restaurant as a busboy. When his english improved, he waited tables and eventually became licensed as a real estate agent after taking note of what some of his wealthy customers did for a living. His first condo sale came from a fellow waiter.
If you ask his real estate colleagues and proteges, they will tell you they admire him for more than his business success. They are equally impressed by Arana's dedication to his family. (He has two young sons, 6 and 8 years, and is married.) The following is our candid conversation about Arana's rise to success in real estate.
Q: What advantages/disadvantages did you have that you came from another country?
Arana: I was hungry. I was not comfortable. I didn't take things for granted. Like the movies, I get to watch the movies now. Obviously not speaking English made things more challenging. But it made me more driven to learn it...to be successful.
"Success is whatever you think you are at that time in your life. When I was a waiter, making $30 a day, I was the best waiter at that restaurant and I felt successful."
- Santiago Arana
Q: Do you have a successful work/life balance? Would your wife say the same thing?
Arana: I have made this important. I get up, I meditate, I acknowledge what I'm grateful for. I eat breakfast with my wife and kids in the morning. Every morning. That is very important to me. I have dinner with my family too. Sometimes I have to take a client to dinner, but I make an effort to make it lunch when I can. But my family understands because I prioritize them most of the time. And yes, I think my wife would agree. We will take extra long vacations if we need more family time. But you can ask her yourself!
I get up and work out everyday. I come home tired and sometimes I want to come home and just go to bed, but I don't. I work out because I have it scheduled and I need to make it a priority. If you don't put it in your calendar, you will put it off. You don't need to wait to make a new year's resolution to do it.
Q: Entrepreneurship can be tough. Would you want your children to be entrepreneurs?
Arana: I want my children to be happy. If they want to be musicians I want them to be
musicians. But yes, I think everybody needs to be an entrepreneur of his own life. Ask yourself, if you were going to be a CEO, would you hire you? If not, why not? What do you need to do? Do you need to schedule your time better? Do you need more resources? Are you marketing yourself? You have to spend money to make money. You need PR. Entrepreneurship is important no matter what you do if you want to be successful.
Q. What is your measure of success and did you achieve it?
Arana: Success is whatever you think you are at that time in your life. When I was a waiter, making $30 a day, I was the best waiter at that restaurant and I felt successful. Then, when I wanted more, I decided to go to another restaurant that was more expensive so I could become more successful. And I became one of the top waiters there. Success isn't necessary just monetary. It's a feeling.
Q. What would you say to men who want to achieve what you have?
Arana: Get clear on what it is you think I have that you want. Be specific. Then set your goals and go achieve it. You have to have a direction. You cannot get into a taxi and say I don't know where I want to go. You will go nowhere and it will cost you a lot of money. You have to be clear on what it is that you want to achieve, get organized, schedule and get the support you need to achieve it.
Q. Do you mentor others? Why is this important?
Arana: Yes, mentorship is very important. I do this with other realtors and I want to do more in the future with seminars. Mentors helped me. Giving back is important. One out of 20 will do what I say to do. They see the first or second obstacle and they think it's going to be hard. It is. But if you really want it, you'll achieve it.
Q. Do you have to act an ass* to be successful in business or as an entrepreneur?
Arana: No you don't. In fact, it was the very thing that drew me to work with my partner at The Agency. He has a sign in his office that says "No Assholes." Life is too short to work with people you don't like. Even with clients who are choosing you to represent them, if I don't feel we are a good fit, I will be professional about it but I will tell them we are not a good fit. You may be working with a client for a year. Do you really want to work with someone for a year you know is not a good fit? I work very hard. I have a very strong work ethic and high integrity. These are qualities I want around me.
Q. What do you think your wife would say to other women about your success?
Arana: After I started dating my wife casually, I got serious. I met her when I waited on her at a restaurant. When I decided to get serious, I didn't have money to buy her a ring to propose. But I told her that I was going to be successful. I told her that I would be driving down PCH in my car and that I wanted her sitting next to me. She trusted in me. She supported my dreams. She believed in me. And that was what I needed. I hear her tell her friends this story so this is what she says.
Q. What would Santiago today tell the 20 year-old Santiago self?
Aran: Trust in myself. Everybody here was telling me that I could do it (achieve his dreams). I was getting pissed because I didn't see it. I didn't believe in myself. They saw the attributes I didn't back then. So I would go back to him and when I didn't have any money, I would tell him it's okay. Trust in yourself. You have everything you need to be successful.
Q. When and where are you happiest?
Arana: Just this past month is my happiest. This was the first time I could have my whole family together here. I like to barbecue and I was outside in the back with my mom, dad, sister,
barbecuing. Then we went inside, and the kids would sing and dance. We enjoyed good music and good wine that I can afford to buy what I like. This is what makes me happiest.
Q. What defines a man today? What will you teach your sons about being a man?
Arana: To be a man today means to be able to show emotion. To be a provider. To be
accountable and responsible. You cannot let hold you back what has happened to
you in the past. You have to make a decision, set goals and work hard.
Q: From whom did you learn how to be a "man" and is there any defining memory that you "felt" that you'd achieved it?
Arana: This was before I was financially successful. My wife was hemorrhaging from the birth of our second child. I had a newborn and 2 yr. old at home. I'm sitting outside of the hospital room and it was a moment that I realized I had to do something. Money was not going to save me in this. This was a pivotal moment. I was the most successful that following year because another part of me was born by going through the darkness.
1. What is it that you most want to achieve? Be specific.
2. Would you hire you as the CEO of your company as you are today? Why or why not? What do you need to change to make it a yes?
3. What do you need from the partner in your life to achieve your life purpose? How does that look day-to-day?
Jennifer Musselman combines her 15 year business background with her Masters Degree in Psychology to empower people and inspire Brands as an Executive Coach, Organizational Consultant and Life Strategist. She's based in Brentwood - Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. Check out www.SwellConsultingLA.com or JenniferMusselman.com for more information.