• Amy Howard

    Amy Howard
    Owner of Venture Realty

    Describe your role as owner of Venture Realty.

    About a year ago, my husband and I did some long-range strategic planning and Venture Realty of Florida, LLC began (formerly the company was “of North Florida, Inc.”). I am the owner-broker of this company. On a day to day basis, I actively handle all property management, leasing and sales activity while also overseeing the bookkeeping and general office management.

    Describe your leadership style. How do you lead and guide your employees?

    Leadership is much easier if your business is rooted in hiring and working with competent, smart people. From that point, the essential elements are: clear expectations, open communication, accountability and trust in my people’s abilities.  

    In your field, you must learn a lot about a community. What have you learned about Gainesville and the community here through your job?

    Gainesville makes me smile. Our community has so many brilliant facets: the arts, agriculture, academia, philanthropy, medicine, business, sports, innovation and more. Since people in all these areas need office/retail/warehouse space, my real estate career has allowed me to meet many and learn about their businesses, from startup dreamers and first-time restaurateurs to global corporations and governmental agencies. When I did Leadership Gainesville Class 39, I had been happily living in Gainesville for 25 years. And I was still astounded by what I didn’t know about our area. Gainesville always teaches and amazes me. We are an incredibly generous and vital citizenry.

    Working in real estate, I’m sure problems arise unexpectedly. How do you tackle these challenges?

    I actually laughed out loud at this question. In property management, unexpected problems pop up all the time. Over the last 25 plus years I have seen quite a few different things: cars running into buildings, upstairs plumbing overflows that cause lower ceiling collapses, sinkholes, various uninvited animals and lots of others. I’ve learned to never be surprised by what people will flush down a toilet – clothes, diapers, magazines – it’s crazy. I like to solve problems and have a temperament that allows me to be calm and hopefully reassuring people when they have a “catastrophe” at their place of business. My goal is to always be personally accessible, provide a quick response and timely follow-up.  

    What do you think your strengths are and how did you identify them?

    I grew up in a family who had a restaurant. Then I started officially working at McDonald’s in Tavernier, Florida, when I was 14. McDonald’s management started giving me responsibilities instead of older co-workers, like running birthday parties (yes, McDonald’s birthday parties were a thing) and leading Ronald McDonald House fundraisers. When I asked my manager, “Why me?” He told me that I get things done and do them well. That was a pretty empowering moment for a 15-year-old. I continue to like the reward and tidiness of completing things. I’m a list maker but flexible enough to roll with reworked goals and agendas. Making things happen and getting things done are important to me. Over the years, I’ve learned that I much prefer to make my best decision in the moment than wait around trying to figure out what to do. I’m not saying that I don’t think things through, but if a decision has to be made, it gets made.

    How have your setbacks and weaknesses made you stronger? Any specific stories or anecdotes?

    I am fairly stubborn. There is no way any setback will hold me down for too long. When the Great Recession hit, we got knocked around pretty hard. I questioned whether I could make everything keep working. At just the right time, I had a visit from an awesome former co-worker and all around wonderful person, Bill Munselle. When I shared my worry with him he looked at me and told me that he had no doubt in my ability. That little boost really helped me more than he could have imagined. I dug down and found a well of strength that kept me pushing through. Plus, I had an utterly awesome dog. It could have been her.

    How do you define what it means to be a fierce woman?

    Fierce women handle their business. They count on themselves to make their goals and dreams a reality. This is not to the exclusion of partners, spouses, or friends, but when it comes down to it, we are all responsible for our own fulfillment. Fierce Women make it happen for themselves and, most of the time, create a place for the people around them to be empowered too. We all need support from time to time, but the fierce ones keep fighting. My grandpa, my favorite person, once told me, “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” And I haven’t.