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AMP Interviews with the biggest movers and shakers in the Apartment Management Industry

I’ve had the pleasure of “meeting” Jessica virtually and I can say that her energy and passion for the multifamily industry comes through loud and clear!   Not only is she an accomplished speaker & coach, but she’s an advocate for developing rock star teams.  Jessica shares her leadership secrets through her journey to self-awareness in parenting (both of her kids have ADD/ADHD) on her podcast, “Living with Einstein.”  Any chance that you can hear her speak, do it – she’s dynamite! 

I love dissecting words and looking for greater meaning like the word Apartment.  What sets you “Apart” and why are you “Meant” for the multifamily industry?

I love this question, being a fellow wordsmith! I am fearlessly myself, an authenticity champion, professional problem solver, and passionate about what I call, "self-leadership" as I firmly believe that in order to be a good leader, you must first be a good example and that starts from within. I do a ton of work around these topics and am passionate about helping others see that when they remove their fear of failure and embrace their authentic selves and honoring the journey to get here that people can truly thrive. I'm not afraid to talk about my own journey from how ADHD has been a huge part of my success or how unresolved trauma or damage can impact leadership as I'm an advocate of mental strength! I'm super innovative, take chances, speak up, and that's also why I am meant to be in this industry - It's everything I'm good at 1,000 MPH which happens to be the speed my brain operates at best!

How and when did you get your start in the industry?

It's a coincidental series of events that led me to live at the property I was hired at, and I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. Nobody at my tenure meant to get into property management - there was always a story. 


I was 20 when I moved into K-205 after my dad got engaged and moved in with my new stepmom. I was hired as a service manager at an auto shop (I went to technical college on scholarship for a bit for auto!) and was 3 months pregnant with my son. My dad's apartment was right down the road so when he needed someone to take over his lease it just made sense. After taking about a year off with Jackson, I went back to work at a deli across the street. The manager at the community I lived in approached me to ask if I had ever considered a job in leasing as she liked my customer service. After saying no a few times, I finally applied. My dad frequently gives me the "dad nod" of approval and will smile and say "Jess, did you ever think you'd build all of this from K-205?". It's an excellent reminder of how hard I worked to be where I am and continue to work every day. 

What is one song that always puts you in a good mood?

I LOVE music!! I listen to a ton of classical music, even when I'm working out. Lyrics can sometimes get in my way of thinking and I like to be able to let my thoughts run.  I have an arsenal of songs I tap into before I speak that include artists from Pink Floyd to Drake. But my go-to song is "Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty :-)


What are 3 tips you would give someone considering a career in multifamily?

  1. 1.) Property management is one of those careers where you can utilize ANY skill you have ever obtained. There is a "home" for everyone here.

  2. 2.) Never stop learning. All changes, anywhere, impact people, and housing and innovation is welcome here

  3. 3.) Give more than you receive :-)


What is your proudest moment in multifamily?

I have so many!! Besides speaking at NAA in front of 3000 people (I mean - that's hard to beat), the most recent was being on Grace Hill's Women in Leadership panel this past March. It was a moment I look back on and didn't realize was so major as I was focused on delivering the best possible message. Definitely surreal to take a step back and see whom I shared that stage with. My proudest moments really are the ones where I have impacted someone enough for them to believe in themselves. 


Who is your mentor and why?

I'm currently accepting applications for mentors - lol.


What book has left the biggest impression on your life?

You know, I wish I had the capacity to read! I have just started listening to audiobooks. The book that made the biggest difference in my life has been the Practice of Adaptive Leadership, which set the stage for the two-year adaptive leadership certificate course I graduated from in 2016. 


If you ever owned an apartment community, where would it be and what would you name it?

What a great question! It would be named Einstein Wild Estates and would be located at the base of Mount Rainier, WA - My favorite place to be :-)


What is your most memorable vacation?

It is so hard to pick just one! Travel, vacation, and adventure are a part of my long-term goals. Life was meant to be experienced. I love that my organization, FPI, very much supports time off. I'd have to say it's a tie between my kids' first trip to Disneyland, to Hawaii, to London! 


If our country went to 4-day work weeks, how would you spend your 5th day?

Day 5 would be reflection day. We don't have enough time to transition out of work and into our personal lives and it seems we get stuck in the middle making it hard to refresh and fill our tanks up. Nothing feels better than tying up loose ends and preparing for the following week. I try to find time to write, organize and process on Friday afternoons so I can be prepared for the following Monday. 

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Jessica Fern

Sr. Dir. of Training & Development

FPI Management


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