What does designing men’s underwear have to do with selling real estate? A whole lot more than you think, according to Miami-based Compass agent Melissa Rubin. Montreal-native, Melissa started her career in the fashion industry, working for companies like The Limited, Watch Station, and yes, designing men’s underwear for K-Mart and Walmart. “When you’re working on merchandise for big box retailers you have to understand the client’s needs really well, listen to what they want, and execute. And so then I just took all of those skills and translated it to real estate,” says Melissa, who made an abrupt transition from fashion to real estate in 2001.
After working for the fashion business’s most recognizable brands, it was jarring for Melissa to start anew. “Most people affiliate who you are as what you do, and so you become that alter ego,” she says. As Melissa got to know herself outside the fashion industry, she joined a small boutique firm in Miami, where she found a passion for doing all of the creative aspects of the business. Overtime Melissa noticed that she and her brokerage were growing together. “It takes a lot to change. You have to be willing,” Melissa says of leaning into any transition.
As a rookie, Melissa’s most important learning was to set a foundation for her business, start with her sphere, and “learn to crawl, before you can walk, before you can run.” By 2016 Melissa was fully up and running—and thriving!—at her firm, when a new opportunity came her way: Compass. After meeting with founder and CEO, Robert Reffkin, Melissa fell in love with Compass “for their creativity and entrepreneurship.” Additionally, Compass’s value of collaborating without ego, really connected to Melissa’s own values. “I love the ability of having dialogue without ego and collaborating together.”
A few years after her move, Melissa attended a Compass sponsored diversity and inclusion event, when—true to her value—she had the idea to launch a mentorship program. After taking the idea to Florida sales manager, Jeff Polashuk, Melissa got the green light to create the curriculum, and launch the program, which inevitably paired twenty team leaders with twenty rookies to collaborate on business and learn from each other.
“Mentoring is really big for me,” Melissa says. “I think my biggest accomplishment is Joanne Jones, a key member of my team.” At the start of the mentorship program, Joanne was doing 65 transactions in a quarter—all $1,500 rentals. This quarter, after working with Melissa, Joanne will have closed for $4 million worth of business. “She had the best year ever last year, in COVID, because we rethought how she was viewing her business.” Melissa says “I want to develop my people enough so they can be self‑sufficient and able to grow their businesses. I think that’s the biggest gift that we can get that we can give them.”
Through the program, Melissa has noticed that “people in general, but especially newer agents, become overwhelmed,” when they’re getting started. She reminds them, like she did herself when she was a rookie, to walk before you run. “I break things down to the smallest degree.” Melissa brings this same philosophy to her real estate mentees. “Start with the basics, otherwise you try to do it all and then you wind up doing nothing,” she says. “So if you said that each agent could increase their volume by $500,000—which is basically one transaction—how could that impact the company? That’s how I thought to do it.”
While Melissa has an abundance to teach, she also knows she still has a lot to learn, which is why she signed up for Chirag Shah Coaching at the onset of the pandemic. “What I love about Chirag, which is very different from many of my other coaches, is that he’s very direct.” The most valuable thing that Melissa learned from her coach is that your language matters, not to defend the market as if it’s your own creation, and the importance of listening.
As for the next chapter? Whether it’s clever marketing initiatives, new relationships, community groups—just ask her about Remy and Rose, the monthly meet-up she spearheaded for women who love their dogs and a glass of wine—business growth initiatives, and opportunities for collaboration, Melissa is going to continue doing what she does best: creating.
Follow Melissa @mjrgroupe on Instagram to watch her in action.