Things I Have Learned in These 30 Years


By Rita Santamaria

To grow a value-based company you must be a broad thinker.  Your thinking has to go beyond your own self-interest.  You have to put someone else’s needs ahead of your own.  Leadership comes from the inside out.  One must nurture talent and always be scouting for new talent.  The most valuable asset is human capital and it is also the most volatile.

Motivating the sales force is an on-going, everyday, personal directive.  There are days when you would enjoy going to someone with your problems and there are those in other positions such as HR and managers who are able to listen…but ultimately, “the buck stops here” – with you.

Strategic thinking that goes beyond the crisis of the hour is on a leader’s daily to-do lists.  This often occurs as you are evaluating your own personal growth and skills.  Strategic thinking leads to assembling and managing outside teams or coaching others.  Selecting good people from the start can be the best time the manager ever invests.

Leading or navigating through generations with different mindsets can be challenging.  Most companies have four different generations they are working with.  Not only are the teams multigenerational but multicultural as well.  Adding different personality styles into the mix can make it more interesting for managers.  Resolving internal conflicts when styles collide are part of all leaders’ responsibilities.  Resolving the conflicts for a win-win, save face for all involved is the ultimate goal.

It’s easy to fall into stereotyping others through generational patterns.  It’s flawed to believe that generations based on their general characteristics is an across-the-board characteristic of each individual.  People need to be managed based on their individual contributions.  Leveraging a diverse work force to increase innovation and high performance is the top-of-mind internal roadmap of the company.

On a basic but dramatically important level, my list of day-to-day tasks includes:

  1. Being a fair leader.
  2. Listening with an unbiased, open mind and listening more than talking.
  3. Showing honesty in all that I do and expecting everyone in my company to be trustworthy.
  4. Leading by encouragement, not fear.
  5. Leaving all negativity at home before going to my business and then leaving all my business issues at the office before going home at the end of the day.
  6. Taking care of problems right away.  Never putting off tomorrow what I can fix today while it is still fresh on my mind.
  7. Always genuinely praising others when praise is due.
  8. Demonstrating gratitude.
  9. Always exemplifying the excellence of the company.
  10. Having a take-charge attitude.  Being a Captain Phillips!
  11. Giving back, being generous.

Leaders – answer their own emails and the telephone.

Leaders – make coffee and order lunch for the team.

Leaders – always dress for success.

Leaders – are professional in their verbal language and body language.

“The attitude of the leader is the attitude of the office, company, and team. Choose the attitude you want to have your customers experience from your associates, and that is the attitude you must demonstrate yourself.”


Rita Santamaria is the owner and founder of Champions School of Real Estate (established in 1983) and the Champions School of Professional Development.  Rita’s accolades include:  2013 Texas Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Top Business Woman in Texas Honoree, 2013 Top 100 Small Businesses by the Houston Business Journal, and Top 50 Most Recognized Women in Houston in 2011.  For more information, visit her company website at


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