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Meet VANESSA BERGMARK: Red Oak Realty, Berkeley, CA

Get to know Vanessa Bergmark, Partner/General Manager of Leverage Partner Red Oak Realty in the San Francisco East Bay.

What was your vision in founding/stepping into leadership at Red Oak Realty?

In deciding to step into my leadership role, I had two primary objectives that were simple in concept, but far-reaching in the potential impact on the business: 1) refresh the Red Oak brand to increase our recognition as a leader in our marketplace, and 2) improve our market share – in large part by focusing on the customer experience – while maintaining the unique culture that made Red Oak what it is.

Can you describe a significant turning point in your career?

When I purchased Red Oak from the founding owners in 2010, affectionately referred to as the "RO-4," they left big shoes to fill. These men had cultivated the Red Oak culture over three decades, and our people were wary of changes that might negatively impact that. In addition, the market was just beginning to emerge from its very painful downturn.

I had always been very engaged in my job and took participation in our industry seriously, but that was just a precursor to what was about to come. In hindsight it was probably the most character-building experience I've ever undergone – outside of parenting, that is.

How has technology, social media and online marketing changed and/or impacted your approach to business?

We all probably know people who are a little uncomfortable with social media, which is understandable. However, when it comes to leveraging those tools for business, I consider social media and other digital marketing tools a necessity.

Our industry is built on relationships. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms allow us to share another person's experience, and that includes our clients and business partners. I am separated from many people in the industry by geography or conflicting schedules. Social media helps bridge those divides.

As for digital marketing as a whole, it's an indispensible part of our industry and there's no looking back: online marketing is only going to increase in the coming years.

What do you love most about working and living in the San Francisco East Bay?

I was raised in Brooklyn and lived on the East Coast until graduating college in 1996. While New York will always be my first home, the West inspired me in a myriad of ways.  First, there are the obvious geographic benefits: wine country, Tahoe, the long stretches of beaches, Yosemite, Big Sur, and on and on. Additionally its diversity, intellect, and the constant challenging of the status quo lead to some of the best dinner parties and playground conversations one can have. I love that my children are being raised in an area that encourages tolerance, teaches critical thinking, and provides the simple indulgence of living in such a stunningly beautiful environment.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I work hard, and I've made some serious sacrifices as I grow my company while raising a family. I pride myself on playing just as hard, maybe even harder, than I work. Weekends are spent exploring the Bay Area: swimming, skiing, festivals and spending time together as a family. My husband and I have a large group of friends that we consider our extended family, and several times a week there are game nights, dinners, slumber parties and an abundance of children, from infants to tweens, scattered throughout our home. I'd love to say I relax, but frankly relaxing is something I have planned for my afterlife. I spend my free time engaging in a new experience as often as possible with the people I love.

How do you think your colleagues would describe you?

Energetic, outgoing, outspoken. I would describe myself as fair, and I hope they would say that, too. I am known most for my energy level – I should probably cut down on coffee.

What is your daily "must-do"?

Each day I wake up to a large pot of the aforementioned coffee at 6am. I walk the dog and try and get in a few articles on the Wall Street Journal and Inman News before logging on to Facebook and my work emails. I work out three days a week, which I consider to be a time to meditate, relieve stress and stay focused. Each night it's dinner with the whole family with a spirited round of "Roses and Thorns."

When it comes to the work week, each day is different. From company strategy, brand marketing, agent support and positioning Red Oak within our marketplace, my day is ever changing. It's just the way I like it.

Name one thing we might not know about you.

I got my first on-the-job-training in sales as a teenager in Brooklyn, working for my father in his pet cremation business. Yes, pet cremation. In addition to being an emotionally charged environment from a pet owner standpoint, it was also highly regulated by the government – and brutally competitive. I spent summers and weekends learning how to be a small business owner by observing my father as he negotiated, competed, and showed up every day to make his business a success. Without a doubt, that is where I not only got my work ethic, but also my fearlessness on taking on any task, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

Leverage Global Partners is proud to have Vanessa Bergmark and the team at Red Oak Realty as our partners in the network.   

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