Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A few words from Elizabeth Stribling, as told to The New York Times

The subject of yesterday's "30 Minute Interview" in the Times was my boss, Elizabeth Stribling.

It's an interesting interview.  Libba, as she is known to everyone, talks about residential real estate in the last year, the influx of foreign money, and a bit about French cooking.  She's an ardent Francophile and a superb chef. 

Elizabeth Stribling
Elizabeth Stribling - Stribling & Associates

But there's a lot more to the story.
I have to tell you, Libba, as she as known to everyone, is about as far from the stereotypical real estate lady as you can get.

When she interviewed me for my present job, more than twenty years ago, she looked at my resume and said, "Well, I see you majored in English at the University of Northern Iowa and then did graduate work in English at UCLA.  You know, that's the same background I have.

"I majored in English at Vassar [Libba graduated cum laude, but she didn't mention that] and then read English literature at Cambridge University," she went on, graciously trying to find common ground. 

I restrained myself from saying, "Oh, that's amazing!  We must know all the same people!"

Libba retains her southern accent (she grew up in Atlanta and New York) and still calls our business cards "calling cards."

A petite, perfectly manicured blonde who favors Christian LaCroix suits, Libba started Stribling & Associates in 1980 with 18 brokers, several of whom are still with the firm. Stribling brokers tend to be very loyal.  We know a good thing when we see it. I've been there 23 years; it's the only place I've ever worked in real estate. 

Thanks to brains, skill, charm and a solid ethic ("Work hard and be honest") she has been extremely successful, growing the company to 250 brokers in three offices, never wanting it to grow so large she couldn't manage it herself, and claiming the high end of the market as Stribling's niche.

The firm is still entirely privately owned; no nameless, faceless holding company pullls the strings.  Libba returns phone calls and e-mails from brokers and clients herself, and with alacrity.  She functions as a benevolent despot. And that's the best form of government.  

Here's the link to the article:


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