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Jelena Zande, Realtor, Century 21 Elm, Realtors, Park Ridge

What was your first job in the realty industry? I was a real estate agent selling residential and commercial properties in the northwest suburbs and Chicago metropolitan area.

Where did you grow up? Lakeview/Wrigleyville area of Chicago.

What is your favorite free-time activity? Shopping, visiting with family and friends and driving to Lake Geneva.

What do you do to relax when you’re stressed? I basically regroup mentally and move on with the routine daily grind.

Growing up, what did you want to be? A journalist (I have a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College), a writer or something in politics (behind the scenes). I’d be great at campaigning for a candidate I believed in, but wouldn’t want to be in the front line — I couldn’t handle the scrutiny, criticism and lack of appreciation most politicians deal with.

If you could have lunch with a well-known figure (living or not), who would it be and why? Former president Bill Clinton. He’s brilliant — turned our economy around in record time with a trillion dollar surplus, which has since been squandered. He’s also a regular Joe, with faults and weaknesses just like everybody else.

Where is your favorite place to hang out? Zia’s Trattoria in Edison Park — always good food and a friendly crowd. Also, I love driving up to Lake Geneva for the day or staying for a night or two at the Abbey Resort.

How do you distinguish yourself from the crowd of agents? I always go the extra mile for my clients, without exception. I stay focused, informed and genuinely feel what my clients are thinking. I work in my clients’ best interest and they know it.

What is the most difficult aspect of your job? Nothing is too difficult. I’m exceptional at closing the most challenging deals. There’s always a solution to every issue that may come along, and I will find it!

Where do you go to network and meet new clients? I network wherever there are people, because everyone needs a place to live and change is a constant. I believe face-to-face interaction is my strongest point.

What has been your greatest accomplishment? Raising my three smart, handsome sons.

What was the last good movie you saw or book you read? The last good book I read was “Memoirs of a Geisha.” This book was phenomenal, the kind of book you wish was a thousand pages.

What is your favorite restaurant? Zia’s Trattoria in Edison Park.

Architecturally speaking, what is your favorite building in Chicago? The old Water Tower and Pumping Station.

What kind of car do you drive? 2006 Lexus RX 400h.

Smartphone or paper? Smartphone.

What is your favorite city after Chicago? Lake Geneva — I think I could live there. I also love Rome — it’s architecturally beautiful.

What is your advice for someone new to the industry? Don’t expect something for nothing. You have to work for it!

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