By Michelle St. Onge | Photo by Jessica McCafferty
Issue: December 2022
HOMETOWN: Schuyler Falls, NY
FAMILY: Husband, Dale Sears; two adult children, two adult stepchildren, and six grandchildren
OCCUPATION: Associate Broker for RE/MAX
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Longtime volunteer and current Director, The Christmas Bureau, support for Girl Scouts, Business and Professional Women, Past President and member, Clinton County Board of Realtors (CCBR), CCBR Wish Committee
With colder weather and the holidays approaching, now is the perfect time to learn more about Tammy Perrotte Sears. Sears is a talented real estate broker in her day job, and volunteers as the current director of The Christmas Bureau, a local effort to collect toys for local children. Sears is celebrating more than three decades working in real estate and helping at the Christmas Bureau, two of her passions that she shared with Strictly Business during our recent interview.
Sears grew up in Schuyler Falls, married her high school sweetheart, and set solid, simple goals for her life. “I never really thought of myself as a career-oriented woman,” she explained, “My mom was always home for us, and that’s what I wanted too. I wanted to get married and have babies.” When her youngest child started kindergarten, she began thinking about what would come next. Her father-in-law was a home builder so she had some familiarity with the business of housing. “One of the reasons I chose a real estate career was because it allowed me to make my own schedule,” she recalled, “I could still be there for my children, because never was there anything more important than making my child’s events.”
With the help of her self-described RE/MAX family she learned the ropes and started working in 1988. Her life changed at the age of 46 when she became a widow and had to reinvent herself once again. Through it all, her steadfast community service focus has been the Christmas Bureau. As we go to press, Sears is pursuing her passion for volunteering once again, headlong into the Christmas season and loving every minute of it.
SB: What important lessons did you learn early in your career?
TPS: I grew up with a Dad who worked hard and always had two jobs. Both my father-in-law and my father were entrepreneurs. You have to work hard when you own your own business. I learned a lot from them along the way. The thing that I learned from my dad was that if you work hard – truly work hard – then you will meet your goals.
SB: Who was your most influential mentor?
TPS: In the real estate business there are many people who helped me get to where I am today. One in particular was Alice Heckard. When I first started, she showed me how to network, and what to do to get my name out there so that I could establish myself in the community. Another was Marion Bourdeau, who was my first Principle Broker. She showed me how to work through the real estate part of the business world with honesty and integrity and again with hard work and determination.
SB: How did you get involved with the Christmas Bureau?
TPS: Through my interactions with Alice and encouragement from Marion I learned about the local effort to organize an annual collection of toys to donate to needy families at Christmas. I had young kids, I knew a lot about toys, and I connected with the mission. She invited me to join the effort. As I watched her and I could tell for her, work wasn’t just about money. It was about helping people and giving back to the community that helped you succeed too. I’ve been involved with The Christmas Bureau ever since the early 1990’s and stepped in as Director when Alice stepped down. I started the gift wrap booth in the mall, and now my sister Vicki has taken that on. It’s a family tradition for us. Each Christmas Eve my family and some core volunteers come together at the mall from open to close staffing the gift wrap booth with other volunteers.
SB: What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
TPS: Be yourself, and don’t try to be someone you’re not. When I made the leap from stay-at-home Mom to the working world, I had a lot of self-doubt about whether I could really do this. I learned to trust who I am, even in my doubts. The best thing I could do was to continue to just be true to myself and know that eventually the rest will fall into place.
SB: What advice would you offer to someone starting his or her business career?
TPS: Do what works for you. There is a lot of advice out there, but you must decide what’s best for you even if that is different from what works for everyone else. If you are motivated and passionate enough about what you’re doing and where you want to be, things will work out when you stay true to yourself.
SB: What does success look like to you?
TPS: In the real estate business, success is a numbers game. You can measure your place in the market, and your performance in sales. I measure success in other ways, and perhaps am most honored by the fact that I was selected by my peers as Realtor of the Year twice in my career. I always approach my work fairly and honestly and try to think of other people more than myself. In real estate, these are some of the biggest purchases of a person’s lifetime. It is about so much more than money.
SB: What is something no one would guess about you?
TPS: I was really into cars when I was younger. I worked at Clinton Auto Parts, and I know my way around an auto body shop. My Dad owned an auto body shop when I was growing up so I learned how to install vinyl tops, sand and mask off cars for painting.
SB: When you find yourself having an off day, what do you to do get back on track?
TPS: I am a retail therapy kind of person. When I need to reset, I try a little shopping first, and that usually helps me to feel better!
SB: How do you work with others in difficult situations?
TPS: This can happen often in real estate transactions where emotions run high. I start by reminding them that there are more people in the transaction than just them. We have to remember that we are all in the game together. I try to focus on the whole situation, not just one side or the other. A lot of it involves diffusing people’s emotions, and reminding myself of what the ultimate goal is. There’s a lot of stroking that goes on, but after 34 years I can usually come up with a good solution for all involved.
SB: What inspires you?
TPS: I’m inspired by little things like a couple buying their first house. They are typically so excited, their eyes just aglow with happiness. Helping them achieve their goals inspires me to keep going.
SB: What do you do in your free time?
TPS: I am around people a lot in my work so I try to get some alone time when I have a chance. We have a camp on Chazy Lake where I love to kayak with my camera in hand. I love to take photos. My late husband did not like to have his picture taken so we have very few photos of him. I learned how precious photos are and try to take as many photos as I can, as they mean so much more when they are all that you have left.