William Shakespeare said it well: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” I relate, as much of my life and career has been spent in the public eye.
From working as a high-profile real estate agent and founding my company The Agency to writing my book “The Dealmaker” and having my own show “Buying Beverly Hills” — as well as having my personal life in the headlines — I’ve had the unique experience of embracing life’s great stage. But I took it to a whole new level when I embarked on a dancing journey as a member of the “Dancing with the Stars” cast, an experience that taught me far more than how to dance.
What I learned from my experience on “Dancing with the Stars” could fill a book, but as I reflect on it, it all comes down to a few key things. Here are the top three valuable lessons that I took away from my unforgettable experience on the show.
1. The discomfort zone is the growth zone.
For me, running a brokerage, handling complex real estate deals, negotiating contracts and navigating the dynamic landscape of high-stakes transactions are all in a day’s work. I didn’t realize how much I needed to get out of my comfort zone until I was out on that stage.
The dance floor is a universe apart from the boardroom, and I found myself in brand-new territory. Suddenly, I was being pushed in a way I hadn’t been in a long time, if ever. Everything was unfamiliar and took a huge amount of focus and discipline.
Because the new experience and the physical requirements it was asking of me were so challenging, I quickly learned I had to master my headspace. My perspective and energy were everything if I was going to reach my goals. The experience taught me the importance of embracing new experiences and confronting the unknown with enthusiasm.
The lesson I learned on the dance floor is applicable beyond the ballroom: Success often lies on the other side of fear. And getting to that other side is an invaluable experience. So do the scary thing — it will pay in dividends.
2. Your team is everything.
I founded The Agency on the singular notion that collaboration is the best path in all things. The real estate industry wasn’t a collaborative one so I made it that way. And yet I don’t think I knew the true power of the notion until my experience on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Paired with amazing professional dancer Emma Slater, I quickly learned that success in ballroom dancing requires seamless cooperation, trust and communication. She was an incredible teacher and guide throughout the process — I quite literally couldn’t have done it without her.
Beyond my dance partner, I was astounded by the support the whole cast provided. Even though we were ostensibly competitors, we all approached the situation with humility and a sense of respect for one another. We cheered each other on, always rooting for everyone’s greatest success and sharing insights when we could. This experience reinforced the significance of building strong partnerships and surrounding oneself with a supportive team, both on and off the dance floor.
3. The goal isn’t perfection — it’s improvement.
Much of what the judges were looking for in the competition wasn’t perfection or raw talent, but the ability to learn and grow. The dance floor taught me that setbacks are not failures but opportunities to adapt and come back stronger. Every misstep, stumble and critique became a chance to improve and showcase my growth.
No matter what you’re doing, taking feedback and applying adjustments leads to better results — and to do that, you have to be open to it. In dance, business and life, it all holds true: Success is often born out of resilience and the ability to bounce back from setbacks.
“Dancing with the Stars” was more than a dance competition — it was a transformative experience that left an indelible mark on my personal and professional life. Embracing the unfamiliar, valuing teamwork and taking on a growth mindset are lessons that extend far beyond the ballroom, enriching every facet of my journey in real estate and beyond.
Mauricio Umansky is the founder and CEO of The Agency, a billion-dollar brokerage that utilizes world-class technology and innovative marketing strategies to assist agents and their clients in achieving their real estate goals.