You know when you meet someone and they make an instant, unforgettable impact on you? So full of zest and zeal, vim and vigour, just 10 minutes in their presence fills you with positivity? That’s how you feel when you encounter Monika Tu. A force of nature, with a laugh that fills the room and eyes that sparkle like black diamonds, she’s not only smart and savvy, she’s a lot of fun to be around. It’s no surprise she’s built Australia’s number one agency for luxury property sales for Chinese buyers.
“When I started Black Diamondz with my husband Jad nine years ago, I didn’t look for a niche, and then start the company; I started the company, then found the niche. I looked at who I was, what I could do and what I could do better than anyone else, because I wanted to make sure there was no competition. No-one like me.”
She needn’t have worried; Monika is one in a billion. Arriving in Australia from China in 1988, without any English or connections, she forged her own path, always determined, focused and remarkably honest. Like when you ask about the best decision she’s ever made. “Marrying my younger husband,” she says candidly. Wait. What? This is a strong, powerful, successful woman – that really wasn’t the answer I was expecting…
“Jad gave me something I only dreamed of and that’s confidence, how to love and how to trust,” Monika reveals.
“If you’ve been through a couple of marriages like I have, and lost trust along the way, it’s very important to get it back. He did that for me. Plus, he’s 20 years my junior and he’s very good-looking. That gave me a lot of confidence.”
Leading by example
If there’s one thing Monika doesn’t appear to lack it’s that: a strong self-belief in who she is as a leader. “My leadership style is setting by example. I don’t tell people what to do; I walk the walk and talk the talk. I work seven days a week and I set very high standards, but it’s my passion. I think I have the best job in the world and if you can turn your job into your passion, then it’s not work anymore.”
That’s not to say the real estate industry is a walk in the park; far from it, says Monika. “The industry I chose to be in
is very male dominated and that’s a big challenge for women in business. You have to be strong – you constantly get bullied and challenged by vendors, buyers and fellow agents – and you have to believe in yourself. I’ve slowly overcome this, but it was difficult at first.
“Luckily, I think the perception of what makes a great salesperson is changing too, particularly with clients. I’m finding that buyers love to deal with women because we’re more patient, honest and nurturing, and most of us don’t have egos. We’re also more intuitive – we understand what a client wants, sometimes before they even know what they want. That makes for a very good agent. I believe women make better salespeople than men, especially in real estate.”
A matter of trust
Them’s fightin’ words, some might say, but for Monika, the proof is in her success. “We’ve been in the industry for 10 years and have so many repeat customers. What’s more, 80% of our business now is from referrals. Our clients don’t just want a quick transaction; they want to trust in you. Think about it. For most, this is their life savings; it’s a huge responsibility. Some sell their homes because of divorce or death so it’s a very important, very emotional time in their lives. They have to trust that you’ll look after them.”
Even after the deal has been done, it would seem. One of the points of difference with Black Diamondz is that it’s also a property concierge – a full-service agency that goes well beyond simply selling someone a house. “We work with a lot of really high-net-worth Chinese buyers, and the majority of them are new migrants to the country. We don’t just help them find their home; we help them find the right school for their children; we help them buy their cars, their boats; we welcome them into our circle of friends so they quickly feel like part of the community.”
It’s this influence in the community that Monika cites as her biggest success. “It’s not how many houses I’ve sold, but the difference I’ve made to the people around me. It starts with respect; people respect you for how much you give back to the community. In everything I do, I try to set a good example for my community. I also love to connect people – it’s in my blood! I’ve been doing it forever. If you want my help, I’ll help you with all my heart and not ask
for anything in return.”
The power of the feminine
Ask Monika about the one thing she’d change about her industry and she’s quick to answer: “I’d definitely encourage more women to join the real estate business. I started this company without any prior knowledge of the property industry; I’d bought and sold properties, but I’d never worked in it. Now, 10 years down the track, I think I’m doing very well, and I also think it’s a particularly great industry for women. Whether you have children or you’re retired, if you’re looking for flexibility and you’re willing to work hard, you’ll be rewarded as it’s a very lucrative industry.
“However, you must believe in yourself,” continues Monika. “Women have to empower themselves. I believe you can be very powerful, while still keeping your femininity. As long as we balance our feminine and masculine sides, our internal strength with intelligence and skill, we can do anything. I really believe we can conquer the world!”