D'Leanne Lewis, Principal of Laing & Simmons Double Bay is the definition of a determined, hardworking & strong woman. Moving to Australia at the age of ten from South Africa, D'Leanne shares with Parlour X how she landed the role of a successful real estate agent, whilst juggling two children as a single mother. You could almost crown her the Queen of Multitasking as she elaborates on her daily routine and how she runs a business whilst keeping fit, fashion forward and being a fabulous mother. X Files speaks with D'Leanne about Motherhood, juggling work & family life & the journey to her career success.
Tell us about yourself & your childhood. Where did it all begin?
I was born in Johannesburg in South Africa. We immigrated to Australia when I was 10. I didn’t want to come here, I thought it was filled with crazy people that surfed and got sunburnt!! When we came to Australia a lot of people thought we lived in jungles with monkeys, lions and Tarzans!
We moved to Hornsby and I went to school in Wahroonga.
Then, my parents bought a house in Blacktown, which is where a lot of the South African community was and actually was all we could afford.
At this stage in 1982 we could only bring a very very limited amount of money into Australia, so times were tough!
What sparked your initial interest in real estate?
To be honest, I never really had an interest in real estate. I kind of fell into it. I was working as a legal secretary in the CBD and I wanted a change.
I looked at a 10 line ad in the SMH (before internet) and it was an advertisement for a PA for the Director of Sales at Laing & Simmons.
I applied for the job, got it, and then started working! I didn’t even know where Double Bay was when I applied, but the people seemed nice and I liked my new boss.
The first 6 months I spent driving her around. I didn’t realise it was because she had lost her licence for drink driving ha ha. I thought it was the cushiest job (and most boring job) ever as I spent most of the time driving her around. I didn’t really enjoy those first 6 months. But after that, I came to LOVE it! I loved seeing these beautiful houses, meeting new people and understanding how negotiations work.
You have been named one of Australia’s most successful real estate agents, running your own business Laing + Simmons Double Bay. How have you gotten to where you are today?
I have been working in this industry for 27 years. There are no short cuts. It takes hard work and discipline.
Over the years I have made a lot of sacrifices in terms of my time, my friendships and, being young, at 21/22 I was working 6 days a week whereas all my friends were going out at partying. Being typical kids.
By 24 I had bought my first house and then on it went from there…. I got the house bug!!!
As I have gotten older, I have gotten a lot wiser and I appreciate my friendships, my family, my health and above all my two little girls who make my heart sing every day.
Balance and Happiness is key. This is worth more to me than what money can buy.
When did you know that working in real estate was your calling?
I actually didn’t. Back then (27 years ago) you didn’t have coaches like you have today. It was literally sink or swim. No-one was there to mentor or help you.
Remember there weren’t even mobile phones or internet!!
We had old school car phones and used faxes….lol.
I was 20 when I started, and had never lived in the East. I was an “outsider”. I didn’t have any network, I didn’t go to school in the East, I didn’t know ANYONE.
So I knew that all I had was my determination and my never give up attitude and once I started, I didn’t want to stop! And that was when I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I enjoy it, I really do and I have the passion for it every day, even after 27 years of working. So, it doesn’t really feel like work when you are doing something you love to do on a daily basis…even on the more difficult days!
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I think we live in one of the luckiest countries in the world.
I love where I live (in Bronte) and I am ridiculously happy where I live.
Of course there are other places I would like to stay for extended periods of time, I enjoy the South of France immensely, but to me, there is no place like home.
What advice to you have for people trying to follow a similar career trajectory?
Be authentic. Be honest. Be Happy.
When you make promises, keep them.
Success does not happen overnight.
There is no such thing as luck. The harder you work, the luckier you become.
How do you measure success?
Interesting question. To me, the measure of success is happiness, passion, balance and fulfilment. If you are happy doing what you are doing, it is not like work, even on the difficult days.
What has been the most rewarding & the most challenging aspect of running your own successful business?
Every day is challenging in its own way, but certainly being a single mum, juggling home and business, is a challenge and ultimately the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
Generally, the challenging part is managing time and maintaining enough energy to be present at each and every meeting, at each and every phone call.
After I work a full day of meeting clients and showing houses, I generally have to come back into the office, run through emails, plan the next day, week, month, quarter or year with the business.
Make sure we are always moving forward.
Its not just about selling real estate and showing houses, its about managing staff (ensuring everyone is happy), managing progress (ensuring we are always moving in a forward trajectory), making sure our clients are happy, that we are actually listing and selling real estate as well and keeping up with world events, making sure we are always informed!!!
As well as running a business, you also have a beautiful family. How do you find balance between your work & personal life?
One of the greatest challenges is finding the balance between work and personal. I am still working on this now. I don’t know if you can ever perfect it, but I am a "work in progress”.
My kids always come first. I always give my clients 100%, but they do know first and foremost I am a mum and my kids will always come first, no matter what.
Some of my male competitors used to use the fact that I am a mum to try to tell potential clients that I would not be able to sell their houses because I am a single mum and I don’t have the time.
But my results have consistently shown differently, and as working mums, we are great at multi-tasking and getting it all done. I think sometimes going to work is actually easier than staying at home and being a full time mum. In saying this, to ALL the mums out there… I think we are ALL amazing for raising these incredible little humans.
Talk us through your daily routine.
5:55am - Wake and meditate for 23 mins.
6:20am - Get ready for work, make kids lunches, feed rabbit, guinea pig & 2 dogs.
7:15am - Wake kids, get ready for school, make breakfast.
8:30am - Leave home, drop kids at school.
9:00am - Work, no stopping till close!!
Generally I work 15 hour days 2-3 times a week and work around picking kids up from school, I do a lot of late night calls and appointments once the kids have gone to sleep.
I generally lack sufficient sleep but apparently meditating for 20 mins is equivalent to 3-4 hours worth of sleep, so I am a big fan!!
I train twice a week with my personal trainer as well. It's amazing how much you can fit into a day when you wake up earlier.
What are your favourite pieces from Parlour X?
I loathe shopping generally, so anything Eva suggests I am a fan of as she has great style.
What is next for you?
Ooooo, I would love another baby! I love babies!
Continuing to see my children thrive and be the best and most happy and fulfilled versions of themselves they can be.
More work, grow the business.
Keep up with D'Leanne Lewis on Instagram @dleannelewis.