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Kelly Rizzo, Rizzo Realty Group, Chicago

What was your first job in the realty industry?
I became a licensed Realtor in 1999 and began working in general brokerage with American Invsco in Chicago.

Who inspires you?
My parents inspire me the most. My father moved here from Sicily as a young boy, grew up with nothing and, because of his hard work and determination, has achieved a significant amount. My mother has done more things in her life than most people could do in 10 lifetimes. She was a model (even lived in the Playboy mansion), a nationally renowned narrator, received a Ph.D. in audiology from the University of Chicago and became one of the most successful Realtors in Chicago. Their words of wisdom have gotten me to where I am now.

How did you learn the business?
My parents, who have over 30 years of experience in the real estate industry, have taught me all that I know about the profession.

What was your most difficult sale, and how did you succeed?
In 2004, I was a salesperson for a large condo conversion. I had one particular resident who was an attorney and, even though he was receiving a tremendous resident discount, he was having a difficult time making the decision to purchase. So I spent five hours in his home overcoming every concern and objection he had. It was really a battle of the wills. Finally, I guess I must have worn him down, and he decided to buy his first home.

Where do you go to network and meet new clients?
I don’t go out of my way to network, because I find that the best clients are around me. Our company’s philosophy is different than others, because our emphasis focuses on the agents’ own circle of influence. With a mission statement built on client service, social responsibility, fun and family, our clients are our best advocates.

What was the last good movie you saw or book you read?
The last good movie I saw was “The Pursuit of Happyness.” The message in the movie is inspiring: Be steadfast in living your dreams and create the best life possible. The last good book was “Angels and Demons” by Dan Brown, a fast-paced detective drama that combines science, art, religion and murder.

Architecturally speaking, what is your favorite building in Chicago?
Lake Point Tower, one of Chicago’s most beautiful and recognizable skyscrapers, holds great sentimental value for me. My father was the broker who sold the tower in 1986 and both of my parents were involved with the condo sales. In 1988, it was considered the largest condominium conversion to date in the nation in terms of property value, so my family is proud of that.

What is your personal motto?
Being optimistic and positive are the keys to happiness. Never be afraid to try something, and always step out of your comfort zone and take risks that will help you to lead a better life.

In 10 words or less, what is your advice for someone new to the industry?
Build life-long relationships with clients. Reputation is everything.

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