Beyond the Boardroom

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Melissa Bradley

Author: Alexandra Russell
September, 2011 Issue


“I was born in 1971 at Marin General and lived in an apartment above Smiley’s Bar in Bolinas as a baby. My parents were hippies,” says Bradley Real Estate founder Melissa Bradley. “My grandmother, Sue Bradley, sold real estate. I assisted her with little projects while I was still in high school and knew this was my ‘calling’ when she told me I’d be a natural at it. I got my real estate license 18 years ago and opened my own brokerage about 14 years ago.”

Married with four children (ages 10, 7, 5 and 18 months), Bradley these days leaves much of the company’s daily business to her husband, Robert. It’s a decision she doesn’t regret. “My father left when I was 10 years old,” she says. “My mother worked two jobs, and I started a paper route at age 10 to help out with necessities. So, I love to give my children all the experiences that I wasn’t able to have. OK, I spoil them rotten—and I love every minute of it!”

Are you a creature of habit?
That’s like asking me if I breathe air! I’m such a creature of habit—most of the time. I have my daily rituals and comforts, but I have a spontaneous side to me, too. Some people call it OCD.

At what time of day do you feel your best?
I’m a night owl. I can get a lot done when my kids go to bed and the phone’s not ringing. Some of my best ideas come to me at 2 a.m.

What are your strongest and weakest skills as a manager?
I think my strongest point is that I’m a good listener. My challenge is that I get impatient or annoyed if people don’t listen to my advice. The old “ I told you so….”

Have you kept any mementos from childhood?
I’ve saved old playbills and mementos from shows I performed in as a child. My biggest part was Alice in Alice in Wonderland. I also won first prize for a lip-synching contest at the Marin County Fair when I was 13; I did Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.” I saved them because I’m proud of the performances I did as a kid. I think they helped make me successful today.

What’s the wackiest belief you held as a child or young adult?
I told myself that first I needed to be hugely financially successful, and then I’d let myself go into my “real” career of being a famous dancer. Just for the record, I gave up on that idea somewhere in my 20s.

What book has had the most impact in your life and why?
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. It’s all about how what we think becomes our reality. It is soooo true! I’ve memorized some of the book and recite it to myself (and, occasionally, to my sales force) when I think it will be helpful. The book comes in a tiny version that can fit easily in your pocket. Early on in my career, I kept it with me and read it over and over again. Also one year, I gave out hundreds of these tiny books at a sales meeting.

What skill would you like to learn over the next year?
I’d love to learn how to cook. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I started working at such a young age. I was lucky to always have had meals prepared for me by others or to have dined out a lot. But I would love to become a really excellent cook.

What value or virtue was most emphasized in your home when you were growing up?
My mother was amazing. I never witnessed her lie to anyone, and I’ve been fortunate to inherit that trait. I am really honest—even when it hurts a little. Honesty is the best policy.

What the most important value you try to instill in your own children?
Besides honesty, I really try to instill gratitude. We need to remember to be grateful for all of our many blessings.

What’s your favorite day of the week?
Saturday is family day! My husband is home and we all do something fun.

Which word or phrase do you overuse most?
“Get down/off/away from there!” I have four little kids—what did you expect me to say? My other overused words: “Quiet please!”

What does “success” mean to you?
It means being happy with what you have. I feel very successful.



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