Meet Cindy Scholz

A Compass agent from the brokerage’s earliest days and one of New York’s top luxury real estate specialists, Cindy Scholz and her Hudson Advisory Team are well-known throughout the industry for their work representing high-end clientele, including major financial institutions, wealth managers, global executives, and private investors.

Cindy recently joined us for Agent Talk to discuss her early years at Compass, the greatest lessons she’s learned throughout her incredible career, her amazing work in co-founding the groundbreaking “Women of Compass” project, and her thoughts on why every agent should work with a coach!

On Her Early Years with Compass

You’ve been with Compass since almost the beginning, back when the brokerage was still known as Urban Compass. You were agent number 17. What convinced you to join Compass when it was still a new player in the industry?

It’s interesting. You know, joining Compass was really a profound moment for me. I don’t feel like real estate was ever a career for me until I joined Compass. Before then, it was just work that I was doing while still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. But I took a meeting with Robert Reffkin, sort of reluctantly. I had no intention of joining Compass. I was actually thinking about going back to business school. But Robert said to me, “Working at Compass will be the best business school you could ever attend,” and he was right. I’ve learned more in the last seven years at Compass than I ever learned at any institution or school.

What are some of the biggest business lessons you’ve learned in that time?

I came from a very traditional real estate background, and I had a very specific way of thinking about how to work in the industry. At the time, I was very reactive, very aggressive. Everything I thought an agent should be. But I was wrong. I learned through working at Compass that winning a negotiation is something you do with your head, not your mouth. Being an agent is more about thinking through the negotiation, thinking through the deal. I’ve also come to better understand that you don’t always have to be the smartest person in the room. The culture at Compass is so collaborative, and the people who work here are so smart, that it’s ok to ask for help, and, indeed, almost always help is forthcoming.

On the Value of Coaching

Why do you believe every agent would benefit from working with a coach?

Coaching is the best selfish thing you can do for yourself as an agent. I know that sounds like a negative, but it’s not. What I mean is, you know, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your business, and it’s totally about you and how you can improve yourself and the way you work. With Compass agents, for example, you know, Compass gives you the tools, but coaching gives you the edge. Coaching shows you how to use the tools and maximize them for your business, especially if you’re working with a Compass-specific coach, like Chirag.

How would you recommend an agent go about finding the right coach for them?

Well, coaching is an investment in yourself. And I think you need to be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for in a coach, what you need help with, how much time and money you have to devote to coaching. I also think you have to be cognizant of the fact that with coaching, the results aren’t always immediate. Rather, coaching helps you recognize the patterns and habits that are both helping and hindering your work, and helps you shake off those bad habits over time. Coaching sort of gradually rewires your brain and how you work, so that you can build upon the habits that are serving you well in your business, or adopt new habits and patterns.

On "Women of Compass"

One of the biggest things you’ve done at Compass is to co-found the “Women of Compass” grassroots community organization, which helps empower female Compass agents in their work. Can you elaborate on how that organization came to be?

Well, early in my career, I was doing high-level corporate finance work for Blackstone. I was the only woman on the project, and several of the men on the project had difficulties working with me as a woman because of their religious beliefs. Eventually, I was able to prove myself to them, and show that I knew what I was talking about and that I deserved a seat at the table, but I remember thinking that there needed to be more female representation in leadership roles within our industry. So “Women of Compass” is the product of that realization. And everyone at Compass, men included, have been so supportive of us, our mission, and our projects. That’s part of the collaborative nature of Compass agents.

What are some of the “Women of Compass” projects you’ve been involved with?

Well, at “Women of Compass,” our mission statement is “to build a community that promotes and shares stories that inspire and connect women everywhere.” So one of the things I like to do is host dinners among select female Compass agents, where we can speak openly about our work, but also about our personal lives. The goal of these conversations is to get women to open up to each other, help each other, and collaborate on how we can open more doors for each other in this industry. At each dinner, everyone gets asked, “What is one thing that’s no longer serving you in your business, and how are you going to let go of it over the next year?” You want to tap into that innate sense of empathy, as I feel that’s a real source of strength for us as women and it makes us stronger agents.

On Building a Team

You joined the top-producing Hudson Advisory Team at the beginning of the pandemic, and at the same time shifted the bulk of your residential work to the Hamptons market, which was a new market for you. Can you elaborate on how that all came together, and how you overcame some of the challenges you faced?

Well, I had known Stephen Ferrara and Clayton Orrigo, the founders of the Hudson Advisory Team, for quite some time. I really admired their work and their marketing. I guess you could say that before I joined their team, we were sort of competitors. But eventually, I realized that we’d all be stronger agents and do more business if we joined forces on a single team. I made the move to their team and started working in the Hamptons market around the onset of the pandemic, which made a challenging situation even moreso. But I’ve found that because our clientele overlapped so much, and because we share similar work habits and goals, that I’ve been able to find as much success as before on a new team and in a new market.

What are some of the unique features of your team?

Well, first of all, we do a lot of strong team branding. You know, we have branded swag for clients. We also try to do a lot of client events, client dinners. We’ll set up dinners between groups of clients who we think would get along well together. We also try to treat everyone on the team as equals as much as possible. So, for example, the junior agents on our team are not considered ‘junior’ or ‘assistant’ agents. Rather, they’re ‘partners’ on the team. This gives them not only a greater sense of ownership in the team, but also makes them more comfortable in collaborating with us and being honest and open about their opinions and goals.

How do you know what to look for in a potential team member? What are some of your best hiring practices?

Well, I think it’s about hiring people whose goals and values align with your own. So, for example, I’m very conscious about finances, about money. I value financial responsibility and I want to hire people who feel the same way. So when I interview someone, I usually ask them about how they manage their finances, what their financial goals for the future are, etc. These aren’t too invasive, I don’t think. I just want to get a ‘feel’ for how they think about money. If you’re a team leader and you have different values or priorities than mine, then you should be hiring team members whose values align with yours, who seem like a good match.

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© 2021

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Adrianna Nava

Coach & Advisor
Expert in Compass Tools; Business Modernization; Prospecting

The first real estate deal Adrianna put together was unusual in several ways: she was only 17 years old; her parents were the listing agents; and (strangest of all for an agent) she did it for free! Since then, Adrianna has nurtured a lifelong passion for real estate, and learned the value of commissions! Wearing many hats throughout her career, Adrianna spent 20 years managing her own portfolio of real estate properties; 10 years as a licensed real estate agent; and the past four years working with Compass as a Senior Agent Experience Manager. It is in this last role that Adrianna has made her mark on the Compass brand and transformed the lives and businesses of Compass agents throughout the country. 
Adrianna previously worked as a Senior Agent Experience Manager at Compass and has over 8,000 hours of training Compass agents on using the Compass platform, as well as honing their strengths and skills, to grow their businesses. Now, Adrianna is the Hamptons real estate market and transaction expert, founder of, contributes a weekly market update column to Behind the Hedges and is the author of Hamptons Real Estate Showcase’s Market Watch feature.

Ethan Leifer

Coach & Advisor
Real Trends Top 100; Expert in Team Building; Lead Generation; Client Outreach

It’s fair to say that Ethan Leifer is something of a Compass fanatic. Ethan joined the Compass family in 2017 after being blown away by a combination of the firm’s incredible suite of tech tools and its obvious dedication to its agents. Ethan left the brokerage he was at, signed up with Compass, and hasn’t looked back since. But fresh starts are nothing new to Ethan. His first career was as a cantor singer in Jewish worship. But after falling in love with the real estate business, Ethan decided to radically switch gears, first making a stab at being a Long Island agent before finally settling down in Manhattan.
It’s in NYC where Ethan has truly made his mark, dominating the city’s luxury real estate market and presently leading one of Compass’s most successful agency teams. According to Ethan, the secrets to his success are as follows: relationship building; tremendous focus; and a certain type of chutzpah (he is a ‘cold calling’ master, after all). As one of our 360 Mastermind coaches, Ethan specializes in leading weekly role playing exercises with agents.

Haneen Hayder

Coach & Advisor
Real Trends WSJ #212; Expert in Property Flipping; Farming; Lead Generation

Compass agent Haneen Hayder began her real estate career in 2012, and quickly rose to the top 3% of all realtors in her brokerage nationwide and internationally. She attributes her success to excellent negotiation skills, which she considers her client’s biggest advantage.

Before becoming a realtor, Haneen earned a masters degree in Chemical Engineering, and gained international corporate experience in the field of engineering. With extensive access to off-market listings, Haneen offers buyers a multitude of avenues for achieving their real estate dreams. Her technical background is particularly advantageous in this market, helping her provide innovative and unique marketing strategies to engage potential buyers.
Haneen strives for unparalleled customer service and commitment to both buyers and sellers, giving her clients an extra edge in competitive markets. Haneen is renowned for her dedication, integrity, and first-class customer service in the Bay Area real estate market. No detail is overlooked utilizing her full-service sales approach, impact marketing campaigns, and powerful local, national, and global networks.

Amit Bhuta

Coach & Advisor
Expert in Marketing; Social Media; Brand-Building

Amit Bhuta loves his job; his passion for Compass and Miami’s luxury real estate market is contagious—just ask any of his nearly 80,000 social media followers. As the leader of the All in Miami team, and a nearly 16 year industry veteran, Amit has a deep understanding of the sales, communication, and marketing skills it takes to succeed in this business. Brand-building and storytelling are Amit’s specialties; and as a coach, regular fixture on Workplace, and co-host of “Ask Me Anything,” Amit is committed to helping his fellow agents grow their own brands, and earn more money by doing things they really enjoy. His goal is to help each realtor love their jobs too.

David Severance

Chief Learning Officer & Coach
Expert in Leadership; Team Building; Business Strategy

As the son of a Westchester real estate agent, David Severance was exposed to the world of sales at an early age. He witnessed first hand the dedication, grit, and relationship-building skills that go into the job. Around this time, David also developed an interest in psychology, specifically the way our perceptions influence our choices and outcomes. When he eventually moved to Japan during college, David really started thinking about many of his own beliefs about relating to others and the makings of a life well-lived. David believes that success comes from our ability to profoundly connect with and influence those around us.
For 15 years David rose through the ranks of one of the world’s biggest airlines, where he applied his psychology background to studying what makes teams effective and how they get derailed. His work inspired international companies to find new ways of working together, both internally and publicly.

In 2005 David became a certified coach and started working with leaders in Fortune 500 companies, where he’s been at the cutting edge of leadership theory and practice. Now David brings his expertise to small teams and startups, and teaches leaders how to relate more effectively with teammates and clients.

As a coach at CSC, David runs our Leadership Mastery program, as well as leading GCI Accelerator sessions each week and working with individual clients. He looks forward to working with agents who want to grow as team leaders and find more fulfillment in their lives and jobs.

Chirag Shah

CEO & Founder

By working with Chirag Shah you can expect effective, results-driven coaching, or as one of his clients said, “you can learn more from three months with Chirag than you can in three years on your own.” Whether it’s creating systems, structures, and processes that help you grow your business; building out your team, or learning to enforce healthy work/life boundaries, Chirag wants to help you bring your vision for your future to life. As a life-long learner, people-person, and curious problem-solver, Chirag has been a student of real estate coaching since he got his realtor’s license in 2007.

In fact, Chirag is a self-described ‘real estate training seminars obsessive,’ because he loves innovating ways to help agents maximize their potential.

Chirag’s drive to inspire transformation in his colleagues made him a natural fit for Compass’s Director of Coaching and Training, a position he held for two years. While at Compass, Chirag spent over 5,000 hours training Compass agents; he created Pitching Compass, which became the gold standard for agents’ pitches, and developed both regional and national trainings that helped share Compass’s value proposition—and not just what Compass does, but how they do it.

“The How” is big for Chirag, who believes if you’re going to tell someone to do something, you need to give them steps on how to do it. This coaching philosophy guides the work he does with his clients, which include teams and agents that are featured in Real Trends Top 100 lists, and rank amongst the top 1% of realtors in the country. Chirag spends time understanding what is most important to each individual, the direction they want to take their businesses and lives, and then he creates a custom roadmap, with step-by-step processes to help get them there.