Samina Chowdhury is a Maryland-based real estate agent who specializes in finding every client their dream home. With over 18 years of experience, she can help her clients achieve their real estate lifestyle goals without unnecessary stress. With a degree in interior design, Samina has the creative perspective to show her clients the uniqueness of every home and imagine what it could be. Samina has achieved some of the most prestigious awards in the real estate industry including Top Agent (2006-2020) and the Keller Williams’ Millionaire Agent Medal (2014-2020).
I had the opportunity to interview Samina recently. Here are some of the highlights of that interview:
Jill Griffin: Were your parents entrepreneurs?
Samina Chowdhury: Yes, my father was an entrepreneur. My father studied in Japan. We’re originally from Bangladesh – my mom’s from India and my dad’s from Bangladesh. I was born in India, raised in Bangladesh, and came here for undergrad and never went back.
My father is one of my idols – I follow his ways and techniques. My father studied at Sofia University in Japan, and he graduated with an engineering degree along with his master’s. When he went back to Bangladesh in 1971, he was fluent in Japanese. So, the Japanese noticed how my father spoke Japanese fluently and that helped him essentially get the dealership for Panasonic, Subaru, and Nissan for Bangladesh at that time. My father is a self-made millionaire and entrepreneur.
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My mother was a homemaker. I’m the second of five siblings she raised. She was always concerned about her children and what our needs were. The good thing about the five of us is that we never got spoiled with all our father’s success. We are all humble in our ways, and we were taught how to focus on our needs versus our wants. So, because of the way my siblings and I grew up, none of us are like, “oh dad has money he can give us.” No, we have integrity. Our father gave us the means to get a degree, and we don’t have student loans – that’s good enough for us.
Griffin: When did you know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Chowdhury: Well, this was all I saw all my life.
Griffin: So, it was kind of destiny, right?
Chowdhury: Yes, I didn’t know anything different.
Griffin: Are your siblings entrepreneurs too, or did they take different roles?
Chowdhury: My brother is an entrepreneur, and my other three siblings are like my mom – homemakers. But we all have our integrity and heart, like what we were raised up with, you know? And, you know, when it comes to my mom, Mom and I both had similar interest as far as design goes. My degree is in interior design, and I chose that because of my interest in watching my mom decorate the home all her life.
So, that’s where I got my interest in interior design, and I got a bachelor’s degree in that as well. When I finished my degree, I was a mom of two kids who had just started going to school, so I had a little more free time. I had been doing interior design work as a freelancer all this time, but then my husband and I decided that we wanted to get into real estate investments. So, I got my license. And once I got my license, I started getting some clients and really enjoyed my work. And you always follow your passion, right? I’m never bored with houses. That’s the creative mind inside me. So, when I started getting coached in real estate, my first coach did what is called a heritage profile – basically it dissects your character. So, my strong characteristics are that I have a refiner mentality, and I am very creative in my work. So, I perform creative real estate negotiations, and I’m an Olympian when I’m challenged.
Griffin: What do you enjoy most about being in the real estate industry?
Chowdhury: I always get asked what my one liner is. You know, what makes me stand out? And when I first started, I always wanted to do something different than what everyone else was doing. Why would clients choose me over 10,000 other realtors out there, you know? So, that was the “refiner mentality” that was always asking that question. So, my one liner is helping people from different cultures see how their culture and lifestyle fit into today’s American homes.
Griffin: And how is that working out in practice?
Chowdhury: Eighty to Ninety percent of my clients are minorities. .
Growing up in a family where my mom is from India, I learned Hindi and Urdu. And my dad was from Bangladesh, so I learned Bengali. And then I come from a Muslim family, so I picked up Arabic. So, when you talk about India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Middle East, I cover it all. And when I tell clients that I can relate to their culture, because I grew up in a similar culture, and that the houses that I’m going to show them will help them picture their culture and lifestyle into the house, they totally get it and I make it easy for them.
Griffin: Tell me about some of your daily habits because you are obviously very disciplined.
Chowdhury: Yes. My day starts the night before. I sit down and look at my schedule. I’m constantly putting stuff in my schedule as they come. But I sit with my schedule before I go to bed and I write down the 10 most important things that I need to do. If I don’t have 10, I create 10 for myself.
As a self-employed entrepreneur, the most difficult thing to do is to wake up in the morning motivated and knowing what to do. And when I first started, it would be 1:00 PM, and I wouldn’t even know what I was supposed to be doing for the day.
Griffin: What advice would you have for anyone that is starting a new business?
Chowdhury: Write down your goals in the past tense. For example, write out what you will have accomplished by this time next year. There is a great book out there called The 12-week year. If you follow the pattern of how to achieve your goals through this book, it asks you “what if the year was only 12 weeks and not 365 days or 52 weeks? If you only had 12 weeks in a year, and you had to achieve your goal, what would you have to do?” So, write your goals down, and then write down what needs to happen to achieve that as well as the barriers for you that might keep you from achieving your goal and how to avoid all those. And every week for 12 weeks, write down what you must do to get a step closer to achieving your goals. Do this for 12 weeks – map it out. And every week, just follow what you have to do that week, and just focus on that week. After 12 weeks, you’ll see that you have achieved that goal.
Griffin: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Chowdhury: I think I’m unique in that I speak five languages. I cater to different cultures and show them how their culture fits into American homes. I have also traveled the world. My father was Secretary of State for Bangladesh, so being in that foreign service field, you get to travel the world. And I have since I was young – I’ve traveled the world with him. And I’ve seen different cultures, different services, and how people show their service. I always tell my team leader that in America, luxury hotels like the Ritz or Four Seasons are considered top-notch. But I always tell him to go to a regular five-star hotel in India and see how they treat you. That is what I’m trying to provide in my business.