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How the Women of Influence found success

The HousingWire award spotlight series highlights the individuals who have been previously recognized by the HW Editors’ Choice Awards. Nominations for HousingWire’s Women of Influence award are open now through Friday, May 19, 2023.  Click here to nominate a female leader in the industry — a client, colleague, boss or friend — it can even be you!


This is the last week to nominate a female leader in housing for the 2023 HousingWire Women of Influence award! This prestigious award recognizes the women’s outstanding efforts in moving the housing economy forward. From driving business growth to building high-performing teams and impacting public policy, the women recognized each year are setting a new standard for what it means to be a true leader in housing.

HousingWire reached out to previous years’ honorees with a simple question: What has been the secret to your success? The responses, found below, provide a glimpse into the reasons these women have become so successful.

“Communication! Being clear, concise and convincing in your communications is a key element of my leadership strategy. At the core, effective communication requires curiosity and the ability to adjust your thinking in light of what you learn.” — Katie Johnson, chief legal officer and chief member experience officer, National Association of Realtors

“My success is born of numerous personality traits. Some might be considered defects of character, but even those can be harnessed. The first is to never be satisfied. I am constantly reaching toward a goal and working to propel others toward theirs. It may mean I don’t celebrate as often as I should, and it’s a characteristic that needs to be checked at the door when it comes to relationships. However, when applied to achievement, it’s a driving force. 

Second, genuinely and earnestly care about those around you. I haven’t met very many people who achieve success alone. It’s so much easier to run alongside and lead others to their own potential than drag those around you like an anchor. My experience is that in caring about and investing in my team, after ensuring that they are the right members, I receive their buy-in, their commitment and their best. No woman is an island. 

A third thing that has contributed to my success is competition. My mind is constantly being filled with self improvement and motivational content. Many say you should compete with yourself. For me, I find competing with someone else is highly motivational. They don’t have to know they are my competition. I can focus on the performance or characteristics of someone slightly better than where I am.” — Carrie Gusmus, president and CEO of Aslan Home Lending Corp

“There are many different paths to professional success. Pick the one that is right for you based on your own goals and priorities, and don’t get distracted by people on a different path.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” — Andrea Mitchell, managing partner at Mitchell Sandler

The 2023 Women of Influence award nominations close this Friday, May 19th. Nominate a female leader in the industry before it’s too late!

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