CRE Success: The Podcast, S01E03 Sheila Lobien, Lobien Realty Group


commercial real estate, philippines, sharing, company, women, clients, business, work, podcast, industry, ceo, success, leader, priorities



Welcome to CRE Success: The Podcast, where we help people working in commercial real estate achieve their professional goals. Check us out online at cresuccess.co/podcast. And now here's your host, Darren Krakowiak. 


Darren Krakowiak:

Hello, and welcome to Episode 3. I'm so glad that you've decided to join us. This is the place for people in Asia Pacific who work in commercial real estate and want to hear from some of the most successful people in our industry. Today is no different. My guest is Sheila Lobien. She's the founder and CEO of brokerage firm Lobien Realty Group. Sheila is the gun office leasing agent in Manila, the Philippines. She's also one of the best people I know of in our industry when it comes to personal branding. During our chat she shares how she has cultivated such a strong personal brand, while staying true to her values and supporting women's empowerment. 

Before we meet Sheila, I'd like to invite you to join our weekly email. Just like this podcast, the email is made especially for people working in commercial real estate. And if you're on the list, every Thursday you'll receive an email directly from me that contains resources designed to help people in our industry achieve success more quickly. Now, I know you have too many emails to deal with already, but this is one that is really relevant to you if you want timely resources and actionable insights that will help you achieve your professional goals. Just head to our website, leave your email address using one of the signup forms and you'll be added to the list. And, if you don't like the email, you can always just unsubscribe, no harm done…I promise we can still be friends. All right, don’t go anywhere, I'll introduce today's guest, Sheila Lobien, the CEO of Lobien Realty Group, in just 30 seconds. 





And now it's time for the interview on CRE Success: The Podcast. 


Darren Krakowiak:

Sheila, welcome to CRE Success, The Podcast


Sheila Lobien:

Thank you Darren for having me here. 


Darren Krakowiak:

Well, the first thing that we do is we ask our guests to step into the virtual elevator to give us their 20 to 30 second introduction, the elevator pitch of who they are. So, Sheila, who are you? 


Sheila Lobien:

I'm Sheila Lobien. I'm the CEO and founder of Lobien Realty Group. It's actually one of the fastest real estate brokerage firm in the Philippines right now. 20 years in the real estate market, and I'm also an advocate of women’s empowerment. 


Excellent. So how did you get started in commercial real estate? 


I always have an affinity towards land so anything that has land, I'm interested in it. Properties definitely and I love talking to people, so I guess that's how I started my career in the sales part of the business, you communicate a lot, you meet a lot of people, people from different backgrounds. So that excites me. That gave me a lot of motivation. So that was the start. 


And what was your first job in the business?


As a sales executive of this resort in the southern part of Manila. So at that time, I started marketing and selling resorts and then moved to hotels and then service apartment after that, then from there moved to the office leasing, somehow, leasing the coworking type. That was like 15 years ago when that model was not that popular yet. So I was one of the pioneers in that segment of real estate also here in the Philippines. And then 10 years ago, I joined a Fortune 500 company we're in I became one of the regional directors and specializing in the commercial real estate market, so that's why I said two decades in the property market already, here in the Philippines. 


Well, now you've got your own company. It's called Lobien Realty Group. Tell me about how you started that company and where you're at at the moment with that. 


So, it's a company that we started almost two years ago with a group of friends and old colleagues also. As I've shared, I've been more than a decade, two decades now, but when we started that, almost two decades in the real estate business, and several clients of mine are also asking me if, you know, I have plans to do my own thing as well, because real estate brokerage here in the country, and I think anywhere in Asia, it's always about relationship. And I do have a lot of networks already. And I have a good team. So that prompted me to start my own. Plus, as I've shared, I'm also advocating women empowerment women, leading an organization, so I said it's time to have my own company and start something on my own. And also, as the chair of the European Chamber of Commerce, Women in Business, have to walk the talk. Right. So that's that's a start. So far it has been good, challenging, but really good fulfilling as well. 


And your company focuses on brokerage and leasing, correct? 


Yes, yes. So, landlord representation and tenant representation. I do also a lot of land sale, because our clients are mostly high net worth individuals and the developers here in the country, and they're all locals and we are servicing them for their property, real estate portfolio. 


Very good. Well, you explained a little bit about the rationale for starting your own company, about walking the talk and supporting women's empowerment, and I guess being an excellent role model for others in the industry, but how did you actually make the decision to finally make the leap and how did you get the confidence to make that very important step to take action and to go out on your own. 


Well, as I’ve shared, I know the market well, real estate is something local, and the developers are also local. I have a good reach of the local investors, the property owners and developers, they're all locals and at the same time, because of my experience also, I'm able to get hold and made relationships and network with several multinational companies here in the Philippines. The biggest drivers of three biggest driver of the office demand are: outsourcing industry, now the Chinese gaming market and some because of the overseas Filipino workers, so I have a good reach of both the supply and demand. So, putting up my own, is something that, of course, it's a calculated risk, but it's something that I feel confident about. I know my abilities at the same time I have with team also people that I have experience working with for almost some of them for almost a decade. So, having that, plus my family who's always there supporting me, gave me that courage to do things on my own. 


And what's been the part that you've enjoyed most about running your own business?


You can make quick decisions. So you know, you have your clients… as long as you're delivering on your commitments. First and foremost, you have to have clients that you will service right. Without them, you can't start anything. So, we do have loyal clients, some of them I've been working with some of those big developers for like 10 years old already, some 20 years. So, we kind of know them well. That that was really very helpful for me when I started the business. I already have a set of supporters and then the people that I had, that I've been working with also, so it was like an easy transition somehow just changing the colors in the background.


Yeah, I think your comment about making decisions quickly is an important one. Because if the leader doesn't have that ability to make decisions quickly, then the leader can become the bottleneck to getting things done. Now in a bigger organization, of course, there's more layers and more complexity and more decision makers. But in a smaller organization, or one where you are at the top, you've ultimately got that ability to make things happen more quickly. 


Yeah, you have to be flexible, agile, lean and mean team. That’s it!


So, on the flip side, what's been the hardest thing about being the founder and CEO of an independent commercial services firm? 


Well, now you have to think about everything, not just you know, bringing in the revenue, but you look at operations, the people things that will of course, make them happy, stay and motivated to bring more than what's expected of them. So many things that you have to consider, but I like it because I'm learning a lot. It's not an easy thing to do, but the fact that you have different challenges every day, that is really good. I'm motivated because of that. I'm learning so many things every day. 


Well, I know that you're personally committed to being an effective leader and that others are inspired to, to follow you. So, I'd be very curious to hear about your views on leadership and what makes a great leader. 


You always have to walk the talk. I do enjoy my job a lot. I've been always in the front line. And I like that because somehow, yes, you inspire a lot of people out there, I'm able to inspire a lot of young women also who have big dreams in life and who are somehow they want to have a career also in the commercial real estate market. I think as a leader, you always have to be exhibit one, right? Walk the talk. A lot of leaders are respected because people know that that leader knows what they're talking about and you'll gain a lot of respect when they see you, not just committed, but really out there leading them, you know the way somehow and you take care of them because of that. You're not just sitting at your desk and instructing people to do things. You are there in the battlefield as well. So, yeah, that's, that's, that's it for me. 


And is there anything that you do to make sure that you continue to grow as a leader?


You always have to learn so I keep on reading. I keep on attending well before, seminars, conferences today, there's webinars. Education is free. I think right now it will be better. A lot of schools are opening their universities. They have different types of tuition fees right now, you don't have to go to say Harvard just to get educated there, can do things online, so more and more that you'll learn a lot and that's what I enjoyed about what we do, Darren, as a real estate professional, you get to meet a lot of people that others have no access to like in what we do, you know, these billionaires, these multi business owners, they are the drivers, they are they are the main force of the Philippine economy, and yet we have access to them. So, I learn a lot by dealing with them, by exposing myself with these type of people, these are the free education that I said you can get in school. So, the fact that we're able to enjoy that and learn from that experience is already for me, it's a great blessing. And that's one of the best things that I enjoy about, you know, my job what I do. That's the best part of it. You learn from these people.


Sheila, let's talk about personal branding and content marketing. I know from what I've seen on LinkedIn and Instagram that you set a very high standard in our industry for having curated and grown an amazing personal brand. I've seen you do it in various digital channels, and I've seen it through your interaction with others. My question to you is, how have you done that? Because it's all come together really well and also, what have been the benefits from investing the time to do it? 


Okay, so number one, I'd say I'm very authentic because what you see is what you get. There's no Sheila in the social media and another Sheila when you meet her in person. So that's, I think my number one thing: people see Sheila in the social media, it's similar to when they meet me. So you have to be authentic. You can't fool people…people see through you, right. And in our business, we interact a lot. We get to meet a lot of people and they will know if you are just, you know, putting a front. So, when I started sharing information, it's not just because I want people to see me. I was actually putting a lot of posts in LinkedIn, in my Facebook because I want to connect with my friends. For LinkedIn, it's also because I have a lot of you know, back then we have, in the global company, you have a lot of colleagues abroad. And it's a way for us to connect with each other and also to share information. So that was just the start, until finally, I see a lot of you know, followers, people sharing information with you as well. And it's a platform that I enjoy the social media. And then the benefit of that; when you're always out there and you're sharing your thoughts, you're, you're sharing ideas, people appreciate that, they learn from you and at the same time you learn from going out and meeting people as well. So the benefit of that, they see you as a credible person, because you know, once you stand there on stage, or up there, you know your craft well and you're sharing that, so people view you as a credible person, and they'll go through you. It's simpler, and one of the best ways also to put your name out there when they see you talking in front in the public with other reputable speakers also, that adds to one's credibility. So far, I, I've enjoyed that I have learned a lot by doing that. It was not something that I enjoyed initially, but I had to stretch myself. In the beginning, it was not something that I liked to go up on stage and share things. But since you know, we've been doing the real estate, we've been in the real estate market for so long I feel like somehow I have something to share. I have something to give to people also, I will not stand there just to show myself, but I will talk and share because I have something valuable for people to also know. So yeah, if you're starting your career and you want to be known, the social media is number one, it's one of the best ways to start. You also have to, you know, be good in what you do can just post and post and yeah.


So, I wanted to ask you actually, some people on social media, they get addicted to it, they they do it too much. So how do you have that self-control to make sure that you're not getting sort of sucked into all of the vanity of it and also just the interaction or the engagement, it can be very…


That’s a hard question, but I tried to limit myself in the morning I checked and then I stopped. I have to work, also I have a very good schedule. And there are, you know, different social media for different use, right, for me LinkedIn is where I also get a lot of information I read and I check on several professionals, there are different industries. And then Instagram is where you just post good photos, share it with friends. Facebook, all my family members are there and friends in the community from an eight-year-old boy to an eight-year-old, you know. So different social media, different platforms, they have different somehow target.


I always try to keep Facebook for my own personal use and then LinkedIn as the professional platform and Instagram has kind of been between. If an employee or a client, a client contacts you and wants to connect with you on any of those platforms, do you connect with them? 


Usually clients, they connect with me through Facebook and LinkedIn; Instagram, very few. It's for the young ones. I started going there because my daughter, she's already 16 now, she started, you know, being active in Instagram and I said, I have learn that, I have to there too. So I started being active there like four years ago. Now she doesn't want to be there. She's in another platform. So I have to learn that again. But at least the main ones here in the Philippines, everyone's on Facebook. 




So Facebook important. Even drivers…yah yah, we call them Yah, yeah, sorry, but they have that they're in that the mass You know, they're in there. The middle class…LinkedIn is for my globe, my friends around the globe and business professionals 


So will we see Sheila on Tick Tock in the future?


I don't like that. I have not tried it yet. I've seen it. But I'm like, you know, it's I don't know, you


Gotta draw the line somewhere.


Yes, people might not respect me anymore. I don't know. 


Let's talk about women in leadership positions, you've referenced a couple of times how important it is for you to help empower women in our industry. There's been some significant progress made over the past decade. But of course, there's still some ways to go in terms of women being well represented in commercial real estate and in leadership positions. So firstly, I'd like to ask you what advice you have to women who aspire to be future leaders. 


They have to learn whatever they're doing, they have to be the best in what they're doing. Here in the Philippines. What's good about, you know, being a woman, a lot of women CEOs are actually now here in the country and the real estate market, in commercial real estate, I'm proud to say that I'm the only one local as the CEO. But most international property firms are run by a male leader, nothing against them but a case in other industries when you look at the number of CEOs here in the Philippines, there are many In fact, two were in the top 10, when you check it across the globe. However, you know, Director levels and all that we still have a lot of rooms for Filipina women to move up and really be respected. The good thing about us here in the Philippines is that we can afford to have helpers in other countries. It's not doable. It's not easy primarily because when you're married, you have kids, you have to take care of the house, the family, the husband, the kids right. Here in the Philippines, we're lucky because we can afford to have our own drivers, our own maids, and therefore managing the household is doable. If you have a supportive husband or a partner there, you can still have a very good career and then have like a battalion of helpers to run your house. So, somehow it's doable here in the Philippines. But for the young ones who are out there starting, my number one advice they have to if they're looking for a partner, they have to have that right partner who will support them and will be their cheerleader as they grew their career, because I'm blessed to have a husband who's very supportive, who knows that I enjoy what I do, and that sometimes it's not work life balance, but work life integration. There will be weekends we're in, I'd spend, you know, lunch with them. And then after lunch on go meet a client to site inspection. There are weeks like that, but it's not the case all the time. The good thing about being in the commercial real estate market is that my weekend, they're normally free. I'm very busy during the weekday, but weekend, it's sacred, it's for the family. So as long as a woman has her priority, peace in life fighting for us here, it's doable. You can you can excel and a lot of companies right now are giving opportunities to m women to also move up and take leadership position here in the Philippines and even around the world now, Darren, it's quite, it's nice to see that companies are really putting priorities and making sure that, even in conferences, you know, the speakers are like, if there are five male, there should be five female speakers as well. So they're quite sensitive now, which is good. So it's better for a lot of women out there. The fight is not that hard anymore compared to 10, 20 years ago, when we started. That's encouraging. 


Well, your answer to that question is a nice segue into my final question, which is all about how you have a balanced life. And you've mentioned a little bit about your family. I know you love to travel, and obviously you're committed to your business and your own personal development. So, that's hard to juggle with a busy work schedule. So, what's your strategy for balancing life's competing priorities and how is that developed over your career?


Like, like what I have shared, you have to have priorities in life. But my strategy really is, I make sure that I plan my schedule well, even you know, before when I was just starting, I always have my calendar and then I work backwards. So, if you're a driven, if you have a sales quota, I always look at what do I have to achieve and then work backwards. So, if this is my let's say, target for the month, then this is what I have to do. Right? My schedule has to be, I have to meet, let's say five people in a day. And that's 25 in a week, but my weekend is for my family, don't disturb me. So, it's always driven by my priorities. And when things are important, you will make time. So I always say that time is love. It's not just money, right? People are saying: Time is money. Time is love, because you'll always have time for the things that you love and you want in life. So if your career is your priority, then you'll put time in it. If your family also is a priority, then you'll make time for that. If you know learning is also one of your priorities, and you'll set aside a time to also learn something new to stretch yourself. So, it's all about priorities and how much weight you give in each priorities in life. Of course, as you go through life, as you age, you have different types of priorities. So, it's really up to you. But for me as a family woman, also and a very career woman, I have those two priorities set actually, three, career family and my personal improvement as well. So yeah, time is love. So you have to prioritize.


Darren Krakowiak:

Very, very good advice. Well, Sheila, congratulations on all your success. I know that you're a great role model for many right in our industry, especially to women. I want to say thank you for giving us your time and for sharing your knowledge with us here on CRE Success: The Podcast.


Sheila Lobien:

Thank you, Darren. 



For more information about our guests visit cresuccess.co/podcast And now a final thought from Darren Krakowiak. 


Darren Krakowiak: 

Okay, we're back. And you may have heard on our last episode of the podcast, I invited you to contact us with any questions you might have or topics that you would like to see covered. And I'm pleased to say that we have a question from Joseph. 

Joseph writes, I would like to ask about managing your own performance expectations as well as the company's expectations. During hard times, transactions and enquiries have slowed due to the bad economy and travel restrictions. Specifically, I'd like some advice on how to manage mindset as well as on communicating with stakeholders. I would also like a strategy on how to look visible and useful. 

All right. Well, thank you, Joseph. It's an interesting question and a number of aspects to consider. Given the limited time let me offer three quick suggestions. Number one, focus on what you can control. You can't control the economy, travel restrictions or the level of inquiry, so try not to waste too much energy worrying about that. You can have with a control the amount of prospecting you do, the presence you have with existing clients by staying in touch, and the professional development that you undertake while the market is down. That way, you'll have the peace of mind that you did everything that you could to make things happen, no matter what the outcome, and you've also upgraded your skills while you're at it. 

Secondly, I'd say technology can help overcome travel restrictions. Certainly, virtual inspections could be a way for international buyers to participate in deals. Encourage your clients to consider this approach. Buyers open to virtual inspections could pick up some great deals while market sentiment is down. And, if you're representing sellers, make sure they offer virtual inspections to overseas buyers to deepen the buyer pool. 

Thirdly, in terms of mindset, a positive attitude is so important. It's one of the five P's of commercial real estate success identified in my eBook. One idea on this point is to stay away from negative people. You may have heard the theory that you most closely reflect the five people who you spend the most time with. So, make sure those five people lift you up, not drag you down; avoid negative people and deflect the negative energy. 

I hope that goes some way to answering your question, Joseph. If you've got a topic that you'd like me to tackle, you can email darren@cresuccess.co or visit our website cresuccess.co, and use the Contact Us form at the bottom of the homepage. If you'd like to see more tips for people working in commercial real estate, please check out my YouTube channel or connect with me on LinkedIn; just Google CRE Success and you'll be able to find me. That's all for today. Thanks so much for listening and I will speak to you soon. 



Thanks for listening to CRE Success: The Podcast if you enjoyed this episode, make sure you subscribe to us on your favorite podcast platform and be sure to leave us a five-star review. For more information about the show, just check the show notes on your podcast app or visit us online at cresuccess.co 

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