Episode 52 - GRIT The Real Estate Growth Mindset with Erica Ramus

Brian Charlesworth
January 12, 2021

In 1987, Erica started working for a magazine where she worked her way up from opening the mail to being editor-in-chief.  Years later, she bought this magazine from her boss only to be hammered by major players in the industry. Her  business went down in flames and she was in $750,000 debt.  But this didn’t stop her and she daringly decided to start a new magazine.  Two years went on and her publication proved to be a great success - this was when she was dubbed as “The Magazine Lady”.

One of her clients was a realtor and an ad she made for his marketing resulted in a $10 million deal. This paved her way into the real estate world.  Her passion for professionalism and education led her to take up a master’s degree in real estate. She was one of the first people to hold this title in the country.

Today , Erica is the broker/owner of the Ramus Realty Group with multiple awards under her name. She is currently  the 2021 President Elect of the Reading Berks Association of Realtors. Aside from these, she is also active in the community and her family hosts exchange students to live with them from all over the world. 

In this episode, we talked about:

(05:41) Why Erica refers to her brokerage as “fiercely independent”

(09:51) How a Masters Degree in Real Estate helps you understand the business at a different level

(11:58) Which tech stack her brokerage uses for lead generating, tracking and contract to close

(16:41) How being in production helps Erica inspire her agents

(18:00) The strategy that resulted to having the best August, September and October in 13 years despite COVID

(20:34) How to best motivate agents to keep dialling

(22:29) The story behind “The Magazine Lady”

(25:53) How Erica got started in real estate

(28:12) How to have work-life balance and still have time to give back to those in need

(29:39) What is Erica’s advice for those starting in real estate business

(34:27) The importance of contributing to a higher purpose 

To get in touch with Erica, visit the websites below:



Episode Transcript:

Brian Charlesworth  0:34  

Alright. Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the Grit podcast. I'm Brian Charlesworth. I'm the founder of Sisu, the growth automation software for real estate and your host of the show and today I'm here with Erica Ramus with Ramos Realty Group. She's Erica, if you were to go to her website, which is ramus realty.com. You will see hundreds of awards here but a few that I wanted to key in on his top 20 under 40 in Northeast Pennsylvania. She is top 25 women in business in 2008 in northeast Pennsylvania and a number of other things. She's a volunteer and has dozens of awards on there. So go check that out. And I'm thrilled to be here today with you, Erica, and look forward to learning more about how you're driving your business forward in such a great way.

Erica Ramus  1:26  

Thanks, Brian.

Brian Charlesworth  1:27  

Tell us so you have Ramus Realty Group. And that's a brokerage right?

Erica Ramus  1:35  

Yep, I describe it as we are fiercely independent. And it's a small group of highly productive full-time agents. We're the number one independent brokerage in our marketplace. And we just operate very differently.

Brian Charlesworth  1:52  

Okay, I love it. Independent people are usually super aggressive have their systems in place extremely well. So I do want to dive into some of those things with you. But don't you run your business more like a team as well, even though you're a brokerage?

Erica Ramus  2:09  

We're a brokerage. But I think you could describe it as a super team concept. So I'm the broker. I'm the Rainmaker for the most part, I consider my job to be bringing in the leads. That's my job. That's my focus. I do all the marketing for the brokerage I handle, on the back end all the paperwork, and I actually communicate with the clients. So yes, my agents bring their own business in, they have a lot of repeat referral business. But I am always there in the background. So we have 12 agents, and there's a minimum production quota in the office of 24 sides a year. So my agents must close at least two a month to stay in the office. They have to be full time. If we bring on a part-timer or a new person, they have to have a transition plan. We have to have a timeframe and a hard stop and when they will be quitting the full-time job. I understand it's difficult, but we have to have a plan. We don't hire part-time hobbyists. Everything is done by the brokerage everything from ordering the signs to the lockboxes to paying for all of the Zillow ads, all of the marketing is paid for by the broker. And so we control the whole process start to finish. And while other brokerages talk about we are agent-centric, we are client-centric client first agent will follow. And it's just the mission and the vision of the business.

Brian Charlesworth  3:41  

Okay. Good. I love that. So I had about 10 questions that just came up while you're talking about that. So you guys are a brokerage. When you say you act like a team, you're doing the marketing and if you're paying for Zillow leads, I know what kind of dollars you're paying there. And I mean, you're putting out a substantial investment in doing that. You are acting as a TC, you bring in their leads your recruiting agents, is that something you're doing or somebody else in your office doing the recruiting?

Erica Ramus  4:12  

We actually don't actively recruit everyone who has been in the office came to us through their act of being proactive, I do not go out and recruit agents, they come to us, okay, we actually turned down more agents than we accept.

Brian Charlesworth  4:26  

So you have a reputation of being the top brokerage that only top producers are allowed and you guys actually provide leads and do transaction coordination and all the stuff that a normal team does. So the agents can focus on selling real estate, is that right?

Erica Ramus  4:44  

Exactly. I don't want them doing the back end stuff. I don't want them to worry about how to do marketing. I just want them to get in the car, list and sell properties that go to closing and we will handle all the rest.

Brian Charlesworth  4:58  

Okay. So you really are like a Power Team. What about splits? Do you charge like a brokerage? Do you charge like a team? How do you guys make money,

Erica Ramus  5:10  

we have a straight split, everybody's on the same program, everybody's on the same plan. We pay for everything in the office. So the agents have to do nothing except show up and sell. And we're on a split. So if somebody wants a higher split or wants more money, it's just not fair. And it's not how the program works in our office.

Brian Charlesworth  5:30  

Makes sense. I think that's how every team out there that I've ever met, operates as well. So okay, so why an independent brokerage, you said, You are fiercely independent, let's talk about that.

Erica Ramus  5:44  

So I've been a part of multiple franchises, I was an agent, years ago, and a franchise and I started out with a franchise. When I went on my own I knew how to run a business, because I had been a business owner in the past. But I didn't believe that I knew or had all the systems and the tools to run my own company. So I did go out and purchase a franchise. And it was a huge mistake, in my opinion, because the systems and the tools they gave me, I had to bend and tweak until they were my own anyway. And I was paying a franchise fee, and it just wasn't a perfect fit for me. So the attorney,

Brian Charlesworth  6:29  

What value were you hoping to get out of that franchise that you didn't get?

Erica Ramus  6:34  

I think I was hoping for more guidance. So when they sold me the franchise, they said we have websites, we have this we have that you can have all this when you're one of our franchisees, and as soon as I had signed on, I said, Okay, where's my website, and they gave me a point to website, you know, the lowest possible free website that that's out there in the world. I said That's not what I signed on for I wanted a real website. This was 2007. I ended up paying $5,000 to a custom designer to get what I wanted anyway. So and it went down the list. They said we have marketing will create custom ads for you. So I would contact the marketing department, the ad department, and say this is what I want. And two weeks later, there's an ad in my inbox. This was not exactly what I want it and it was late. And I ended up creating my own ads anyway. So I went through the whole process, also of not having my name on the business. And just me personally in my area, I was known as a local business owner. I had a prior business and the turning point was a local attorney called, Century21 down the street and said I'm looking for Erica Ramus and I can't find her. He couldn't find me in the phonebook. And Century21 was very nice and gave them my brokerage name. The franchise and gave them my phone number and he called me up and he said I'm listing my house with you. But I couldn't find you I want Ramus on your name.

Brian Charlesworth  8:05  

So you were actually a C21 brokerage? Actually,

Erica Ramus  8:08  

I was not, I was realty executives. Okay, the attorney called Century21, one of my competitors to ask how to find me.

Brian Charlesworth  8:20  

Okay. I don't even I'm not even familiar with Realty Executives. Where are they based out of?

Erica Ramus  8:27  

So they were out of Phoenix, and they were the first 100% franchise. They started before REMAX.

Brian Charlesworth  8:36  


Erica Ramus  8:37  

Yep, they started just a couple of years before REMAX this this gentleman in the Phoenix area started realty executives. It was 100% concept. And apparently, his right-hand man left and went and started REMAX

Brian Charlesworth  8:51  

Oh, okay.

Erica Ramus  8:52  

That's the story there. But I love their marketing, and I love their message. Their message was we are executives. This is our full-time job. They call their people associates and not salespeople. And I thought I want to hire a team of executives. I don't want to hire salespeople. So I bought the franchise. And I consider that my first master's degree that output that I put, you know, to buy the franchise, I spent $25,000 or more. And I got three years of training really fast on how I wanted to run my business.

Brian Charlesworth  9:32  

So I show here that you actually hold a master's degree in real estate. Is that what you consider your master's degree in real estate? Or did you get that from school?

Erica Ramus  9:43  

I would consider that's my second Master's. So I paid 25 grand for that.

Brian Charlesworth  9:48  

So tell us about getting a master's in real estate in school because I don't know if I know anybody else that I've met that actually has that.

Erica Ramus  9:57  

There are not many programs out there. I mean temple has one Wharton has won Columbia University and Missouri has one. But it was a program actually that NAR spearheaded in, well, they it took them about five years to get it up and rolling on the ground. But it opened in 2010, 2011. And they NAR put this program together for a full Master's, and it's an accredited master's degree out of Illinois. And after running it for a couple years, and putting seven or eight groups of students through, they spun it off. So now it's a program at Columbia University in Columbia, Missouri. But it is a fully accredited master's degree, it took two years of eight-week modules, we had to do a capstone final dissertation. And it was a rigorous program, and I was one of the first 13 people in the country to receive it.

Brian Charlesworth  10:58  

Well, but you know, you're the first one I've met that actually has that. So I may need to get an autograph from you or something when I see you next.

Erica Ramus  11:07  

It just means I put my time in and I wanted it, not so much that I could put it on my resume. But because I wanted the experience, it basically was giving me what I learned through buying my franchise, but at a different level, we had to put together operating procedures, we had to put together a business, a full business plan, marketing plan, the whole works, it took two years, and I did my dissertation on dual agency in the country. And it was a good experience. But it also just brought me to a different level as far as my understanding of the whole business,

Brian Charlesworth  11:48  

Which is probably why you went the route of starting your own brokerage, I'm guessing.

Erica Ramus  11:52  

I think so.

Brian Charlesworth  11:53  

Yeah. Okay. So as a brokerage, as a broker-owner, as an independent broker, you're really working as a team, which means you're providing leads, it also means you're providing technology for your people. Talk to us about your technology stack. And what you guys are doing their

Erica Ramus  12:12  

technology stack is, it's always a challenge, I always want to hone it down and have everything talk to each other. The biggest problem I've had over these years is there's this piece here, and there's this piece here, and he's just peace here. And the agents don't want to log into 17 dashboards,

Brian Charlesworth  12:30  

You sound like me, honestly, I mean, that's, that's the same thing I say every day.

Erica Ramus  12:35  

I want them to go to one place. And there's never going to be a single sign on, I don't know. But they've got to go the MLS. We use Boomtown for our lead gen and CRM, and also drip campaigns. And I've tweaked Boomtown, to be almost everything I know, there are other people who use Boomtown as lead gen. And then they have something else for contract to close or to, to do. All the touches that they do, but we do everything in Boomtown. And then from Boomtown, we move to dot loop, dot loop is our transaction management program. So they can actually start a loop in Boomtown with a buyer or seller move it to dot loop dot loop is our contracts and signature and task lists. And then soon as we get under contract, we bring it into Sisu. And Sisu is our contract to close. It is our accountability program where we see what's in the pipeline, it's how I pay the agents. And it's how we keep track of the vitals.

Brian Charlesworth  13:43  

Okay, so we are just updating the payment piece there in the very near future. So you can actually make your payments from Sisu as well, so excited about that. But you guys are using a different workflow than most of our customers that go from Boomtown to Sisu to then dot loop. So anyway, it's just interesting to see the workflows and you and I share the same vision that there really should only be one or two software's that you actually need to sign into, and that everything should speak or that you should just minimize where the data is having to be entered.

Erica Ramus  14:18  

The agents get confused and think about most agents and their, their personalities, their personalities or their drivers, their sellers. They're not detail-oriented. The typical agent wants to go out, sell, and bring the bacon home. The typical agent does not want to sit there and open 12 different windows to figure out I'm going to update Boomtown then I'm going to take it over here then I'm going to update it over here. It drives them nuts.

Brian Charlesworth  14:46  

Yeah, that was a big part of the mission we were looking to solve when we started Sisu you know we're still working on that so great. So you are still in production or you're not in production today.

Erica Ramus  14:57  

I am minorly in production, so I used to do millions and millions. And in my area, we're a small, local, rural part of Pennsylvania average price point is about 100,000. So when you tell someone, you're a million-dollar producer around here, that's, that's high stuff, you know, million-dollar producer around here is selling 10 to 12 houses a year. So it's a big deal. But I am minorly in production, because there will always be certain buyers or sellers, I have to have my hand on or we won't get there are people who call up and say, I will have you I have to have you, you've sold three of my houses in the past. And so I will take that on and gently try to slide them to another agent. I take everything I can even my personal stuff, and have another agent on it with me. And even if my name is on it, the agent assisting me will get the money, they'll get the payment. The way we work the team is the agents will get every lead that comes in unless it's a personal lead. If it's a personal lead, and I'm trying to transfer it to one of the agents, they know that they're allowed to return the call and say, Hey, Dr. So and so I know you called Erica, she says you want to list your house I'm Erica's partner. Because there's a certain level of client who won't speak to anyone except me. And that's not me being full of ego. It's just Dr. Smith calls and says I have to have Erica Ramus. Well, my partner calls me call them back. You know?

Brian Charlesworth  16:36  

Yeah, it's a great approach.

Erica Ramus  16:37  

I also feel that I have to have a little bit of boots on the ground because I need to know what they're going through and the pain points. And sometimes I do it just to show them I'm one of them. So when we were on lockdown, I had challenges going with Boomtown and Sisu, and we had dial challenges, and they were supposed to log their calls. Every time they made a call. It was supposed to be logged into Boomtown. It funneled into si su and we had leaderboards and we had challenges. And I told them, I'm right there with you. When I tell you I want 10 dials a day minimum. I'm making 10 dials a day too. So I reached out one day to someone who I didn't even think was even thinking of selling. It was a past client who told me he was redoing his bathroom in January. He called me and asked what do I think about this kind of tile? And I said, That's fantastic. He says they're going to live and die in that house. Well, I called him in April, and just left a voicemail and said, Hey, wondering how you did with the tile? And did you finish the bathroom? And he called me right back and said, Oh my god, I just got transferred to Nashville. We want to list the house. So I listened to house and then told the whole team you know, I made the dial, random dial and we got a high-end listing out of it.

Brian Charlesworth  17:55  

Yeah. Congratulations. So you had challenges cells, challenges going on with the leaderboards, the Sisu gamification, during COVID. And I've saved March and April, likely that was? Yeah. And so most businesses that did what you did are up significantly this year. Because they took advantage of that time to differentiate themselves. Most businesses that sat and didn't do that and find ways to increase their activity are down this year. Are you guys up this year from making that move?

Erica Ramus  18:31  

We're up 28%. And typically we had a hard stop, meaning we were not supposed to be putting a sign in the ground. We weren't even supposed to be letting the sellers do their own showings nothing. So we were shut down from March 18 till May 18. And we had our best August September October in 13 years. 

Brian Charlesworth  18:55  

So you were still prospecting you're during that time but you really couldn't do real estate. Could you meet you could meet with people on zoom? Are you doing zoom meetings?

Erica Ramus  19:04  

Some of them were doing FaceTime specifically. Okay. We were not really doing zoom meetings. I mainly, I tried to keep them motivated using the leaderboards and challenges and we have a private Facebook group. So every day I posted something I want you to write three thank you cards today. Tomorrow, I want you to make 10 dials to past clients. Wednesday, I want you to, you know order coffee from your favorite coffee shop. I don't know, we posted challenges almost every single day. And we kept them off the couch and off of Netflix and I could tell who was making the dials. There was a direct correlation between the people who are making the dials, the texts, the emails, and those who closed in August, September, October. And we had a meeting in October where I said I want you to look at the winners of the may challenge and see who were the top sellers in August. I want you to see the direct correlation between dials to closings. And gamification is great. But you've got to put the pieces together for them and show them. The top winner of dials actually closed 30% more than she did a year ago.

Brian Charlesworth  20:25  

So you can look back and show them that today, which I think is awesome. But what did you do during that time frame to motivate them? Like if they want to sell this challenge? What did they get other than being the top producer three months later, because that's hard to show, right?

Erica Ramus  20:52  

I mixed it up a little bit. The main thing I did was I spent a lot of money on leads and a lot of money on Zillow, not just Zillow. But other portals that we spend money on. We spend money on paid Facebook ads, Boomtown paid spend. So my reward was the more dials you give, the higher on the leaderboard, the more leads you're going to get in your inbox.

Brian Charlesworth  21:15  

Hmm, very nice. Yeah, that's a good, that's a great motivator. So are you tracking in Sisu, all of your expenses that you're paying for lead sources and getting your ROI on lead source reports?

Erica Ramus  21:28  

I am not. I do all that in QuickBooks. And then I manually do it, I need to do that. But I have not done that. We also have just last year started with the goals with the agents. And so this year, we're ramping up and I'm plugging in all the goals. And But yeah, I manually figure out we track everything we track every closing. And so a couple years ago, I thought the Zillow spend was out of control. It was kind of stupid. So we dialed it back for a little bit. And then we checked, check the ROI. And I went like, wow, we need to pump that up again. Because what I thought was an expensive buy turned out to be a very good ROI.

Brian Charlesworth  22:13  

Well, if you want a quick one on one training on how to quickly do that, in CC, I'm happy to volunteer some time to help you get that in place.

Erica Ramus  22:22  

Thank you.

Brian Charlesworth  22:23  

So I'd like to go back to 1997 with you. You started a magazine. And how do you pronounce the name of your city?

Erica Ramus  22:32  

It's Schuylkill County. Schuylkill

Brian Charlesworth  22:35  

Hill. Okay, so Schuylkill County. He started a Schuylkill living magazine. Tell me about that. Is that how people got to know you or tell me more? Tell me more about that. Magazine.

Erica Ramus  22:48  

Well, and this is called grits I'll tell you a little bit about before that. So my degree is in English professional writing, science journalism. And in 1987, I started with a magazine called reptile and amphibian magazine. It was a startup and I started at the bottom opening mail and worked my way up to editor in chief. And I bought that magazine in 1995, from my boss, and the dumbest pregnancy move ever. So I took the magazine over and within two years, was three quarters of a million in debt. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. From major vendors backing out to the industry. Turning we talk about disruption in real estate, the whole industry got disrupted with two major players who came out to hammer. There were two of us two very small, independent magazines, one in LA one in Pennsylvania, and two major players came out to hammer us. I don't know if you've ever heard cat, fancy dog fancy. That guy in LA. And then in New Jersey, there was something called a fancy fish, fancy all kinds of fancy publications out in New Jersey, and they hammered us and we went down in flames. So I miss three quarters of a million in debt. And I had this brilliant idea to start a new magazine. So to my husband's credit, I've been with my husband for 30 some years. And he said to me, we have no money, you have no time for your family. And you want to start a brand new magazine out of the gate. And I said yes. So he didn't leave me and we started school living magazine. And that was a small local magazine, which you've got to have something like salt lake living or Salt Lake magazine or something in your city. So my idea was to bring that to the cole region of Pennsylvania and take the big city magazine and bring it to to the coal region. And people told me you know, it's not going to work. There aren't enough coffee tables in our county to support you and it worked. It took off. And it was amazing. So I was the magazine lady. And I sold the ads. And I saw I wrote the stories and I took the photos. And, you know, I started in 1997. And we just took off. And so two years after suffering this giant business failure, I want Business Woman of the Year in the area, and nobody, no, no, nobody locally knew that I had crashed and burned. Just two years prior to that.

Brian Charlesworth  25:28  

They only see the upside, they don't see the challenges, along the  journey, right?

Erica Ramus  25:33  

They didn't see what had that I ran the business. You know, when I couldn't pay payroll, I use my Discover card, you know, just crazy stuff that I learned on the first time around that I will never, ever, ever repeat again. So that I was the magazine lady. And when I started in real estate, I started because I had one of my clients was a realtor, and they paid me to do their marketing. This was in the day of, you know, slrs, and cameras, real cameras. And I would go out and shoot the houses, and then come back and with real film, and real pictures, create trifold brochures, you know, stuff that nobody knew how to do, but I know how to do it.

Brian Charlesworth  26:19  

And so I started working with a lot of real estate companies at the time, since you kind of came up with that, that talent and that marketing expertise.

Erica Ramus  26:27  

I just worked with one mainly and they would pay me every time they had a really good listing. And at one point, the guy sold like a $10 million property, which is huge, huge in my area. It was commercial. And he came to me and he said I just because of your brochure, I just sold this corner gas station, and I made X amount of dollars. And here's $500 for you. And if you got your real estate license, I could pay you nice commission. But because you did the photos, here's 500 bucks. And so the light went off and I got my real estate license.

Brian Charlesworth  27:06  

Okay, that's a cool story. So what year was that, that you were doing that because you started your living magazine in 1997. You opened your real estate brokerage in 2007. So

Erica Ramus  27:19  

I got my real estate license in 2000. Okay. And I ran both companies for a while I did I had two phones on my desk, the real estate phone and, and the magazine phone. And yeah, they work together for quite a while. But I was an instant success, not because I was a great real estate salesperson. But because everybody knew me as the magazine lady. And when I got

Brian Charlesworth  27:45  

this, you made it publicly known you were in real estate through the magazine.

Erica Ramus  27:49  

Yeah. And I took out full page, full color ads in my own.

Brian Charlesworth  27:54  

I'm sure you did. Good for you. All right. Well, that's a fun story. So right now you are the president elect at reading Burke's Association of Realtors. Is that right? Yeah. Okay, so you're very active. How do you find time to? I mean, you still have a husband? How do you find time to you know, juggle your family, your business, and then do the volunteer work that you do as well.

Erica Ramus  28:25  

Sometimes it's harder than others. This was a tough year, I had a lot of personal travel. My father. My father got really sick in June and he died at Christmas. My one of my sons went through a personal thing. And I had to make several trips to Austin, Texas in the past six months. So it's hard, but you learn how to time block and juggle. And I think that you make time for what's important to you. So many people say I didn't have time to do that last night. Well, yeah, but you had time to watch Netflix for three hours. So you have you make time for what's important for you and you systemize things and have I have a fallback plan. If I at one point I had to get on a plane and go to Austin with 24 hours notice and everything back at the office was systemized and I was a little bit worried but they handled it while I was gone for a week. You know, it's

Brian Charlesworth  29:23  

Yes, you do. You obviously have a lot of grit and I love that since this is the grit podcast and just seeing your journey is is a fun thing to see here. I'd love to get your advice for either somebody starting a real estate business or somebody starting just in real estate, like what are the most important things in each case, or you can choose one that you would like to give for that person starting a real estate business or starting just in real estate.

Erica Ramus  29:55  

starting a business is my wheelhouse. I talked to a lot of people who will Want to jump ship who wants to open a company because of my articles on Inman writing about independent brokerages, people just call me and ask, say they want their top producer at XYZ and they want to open their own company. And the first thing is being top producer at XYZ is not anything like running your own company.

Brian Charlesworth  30:21  

Being a great salesperson and running a business are two different things, right?

Erica Ramus  30:25  

They're totally different. And if you want to open up your own brokerage, just because you want to be in charge, that's not necessarily the best reason to open your own company. There's so much work on the back end, and you're not going to get out to do the things you might love. Like, you might love listing, you might love working with buyers. If you're running your own company, you're rarely going to do that. It's so number one, understand that there's a difference between those two things. And secondly, you need to understand how to run a business, any business before you open your own brokerage. And in my business, first business failure, and second business success, it led to my third business success, because if I didn't have the big failures that I had, and the really stupid dumb business moves I made in in 1995, and 1997, I don't think I'd be as successful I learned really, by falling on my face, what not to do the second and third time around, and you have to understand the business world before you open up the doors.

Brian Charlesworth  31:39  

And to your point, a lot of people that fall on their face, never get back up. And if you can fall on your face and look at that as a learning experience that takes you one step closer to success. Then, fall on your face as much as you can, right. It's just a different perspective on how you view them.

Erica Ramus  32:01  

Just don't make the same mistake twice.

Brian Charlesworth  32:03  

Exactly. Yeah, it's learning. It's progressing forward. Right. It's been fun having you on the show. We're not quite done, because I want to ask you some personal questions before we go. So do you have a few more minutes?

Erica Ramus  32:16  


Brian Charlesworth  32:16  

Okay. So you've had exchange students from all over the world, one more thing to just volunteer your time and consume your time, instead of Netflix consuming your time. But you've had, I don't know, dozens of exchange students from all over the world come to your house. How did you guys start doing this and why?

Erica Ramus  32:34  

So when I was 16, I left home, I left school in small world, Pennsylvania. And I went to an international school, I applied. And I was top of my class in St. Clair, Pennsylvania, which honestly, was great. Only it means nothing. When you're in the bigger world, top of your class out of 86 means nothing in the big picture. I applied to this international school and my father who was a teacher said, Good job, apply, but good luck. And I got an interview. And he freaked out a little bit. The interview was in New York City he had never gone out of Pennsylvania to go to New York City. So he said if you can get the New York City to the interview, you can go and I got to New York City found a friend who had a sister who lived in New York City, and we got on a bus together went up for the weekend. And he said, Okay, if you get the place you can go. But only if you get a scholarship, I got a scholarship. So it was an international school of called Armand hammer united world college, the American West in New Mexico. And there were 100 students in each class. And it's my way of giving back. So that two years when I was 16 1718, were the best two years of my education ever. And I lived with kids from 50 different countries. And international understanding is a passion of mine. And so it's my way of giving back and giving someone a home. Who needs a home for whether it's six weeks or nine months. The kids make it make our home their home.

Brian Charlesworth  34:22  

I love it. So how important is contribution to your life and to your happiness? I mean, you're contributing in a big way to so many people's lives. How what kind of impact does that have on your life because I think that's something that's missing from so many people's lives. And I'd love to hear what a difference that makes in your life to be able to do that kind of thing.

Erica Ramus  34:43  

Money is great. My business is great. Closing things is great, but contributing to a higher purpose. I think it has value in my life and to some people maybe that's church. Maybe it's donating your time at a food pantry or a homeless shelter or It's volunteering at your church every Sunday. For me, it's giving back to people who, who really need help. As far as the students go, they need a home. My husband and I are also trail angels on the Appalachian Trail. And so on any given Friday in the summer, my husband will text me and say, I've got five of them. I'm going to giant to buy food. We've got five in the house this weekend, and I will have five people sleeping on my floor and using my laundry, and for an entire weekend. So it's not just me, it's my husband and his philosophy as well. And as far as giving back to my association, it's about my one of my biggest frustrations is the lack of professionalism, and education in real estate. And so for me giving back that's my passion. I want to give back. I want to help make our association, the most professional, the most educated I possibly can.

Brian Charlesworth  36:03  

Yeah, well, congratulations to you that just says a tremendous amount about you, that you guys that you and your husband do that. So thanks for your efforts in making a difference in other people's lives. I want to ask you as well, what is your favorite book or your favorite source of learning? Because you've done a lot of learning. So what's been what's had the biggest impact on your life?

Erica Ramus  36:26  

I wish I had time to read more. I honestly am a passionate reader. I have not been able to read a book all year, I swear. But I'm a big fan of podcasts. And I love listening to the Wharton School of Business Online. I live as I'm driving. I just drove back and forth to Michigan. So you know, an 11 hour trip and I listened nonstop to Wharton School of Business HBr, Harvard Business Review, and Bloomberg, Bloomberg radio. And

Brian Charlesworth  36:59  

Usually, you're going to Wharton and Harvard while you're driving down the street. What kind of content do they talk about? In the because I haven't been on either of those podcasts? I love podcasts as well, but I have not been on those. So what kind of content are you getting out of those.

Erica Ramus  37:13  

The funny thing is, I put them on the loop. And some of them are 20 minutes, some of them are up to an hour. And some I've not picked my topics, I just keep playing the loop. Because sometimes I will get a topic that I have no interest in no interest in nanotechnology. As I was driving, I'm listening to like a comms Professor such and such on nanotechnology in biomedicine. I don't care about that. But I learned something out of that podcast. And I find that sometimes I find nuggets of information I can actually use in my personal life or business out of the most obscure topics. There's something I think it's Wharton that has a Masters of Business. It's called. And it's about an hour long. And these obscure topics, people who are investment bankers who are way over my head, but you listen to that for an hour. And you just you learn general philosophies of business.

Brian Charlesworth  38:12  

Yeah, I'm gonna have to listen to that Wharton School of Business. That sounds like something we should all be listening to if we love business, so thanks for opening me up to that. That is new for me. So

Erica Ramus  38:23  

I'm a nerd. 

Brian Charlesworth  38:25  

No, I love it. That's great. I will be adding that podcast to my list of podcasts today. And what's your favorite place to visit? Your dad had never been out of Pennsylvania? And probably didn't think you were going to get out of Pennsylvania. Now. You've been all over the world. What’s your favorite place to visit?

Erica Ramus  38:43  

My dad did travel. He was military went to Germany, blah, blah, blah. But to him getting in the car to go to Philadelphia was a major, major trip, let alone in New York City. I have a son in Alaska who's a pilot. I haven't been there yet. That's on the list. But I love traveling to Austin, Texas because my grandson's there. So I have a 20 month old grandson and I I go every other month just to help out help my son. And so I love traveling to Texas. I love the weather there. I love the terrain. So

Brian Charlesworth  39:21  

Yeah, nice. Well, it's good that your son moved there then huh. Yeah. Okay. Was it your son or daughter that moved there?

Erica Ramus  39:28  

My son and my grandson.

Brian Charlesworth  39:30  

Okay. So how do people best get ahold of you if they want to reach out to you?

Erica Ramus  39:36  

I give you the name of my real estate company. It's RamusRealty.com. Or you could check out EricaRamus.com. Erica Ramus is my personal website.

Brian Charlesworth  39:47  

Okay. All right, Erica. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It's been great catching up with you and learning about your business and your personal life and what's important to you that drives your life ahead in big ways, so thanks for sharing that with us. For those of you listeners out there, please remember to go give us a review. It will mean the world to me if you'll do that it will help us also bring in more guests that will enhance your life by giving us those reviews. So, that being said, Erica, have an amazing day. I look forward to getting to know you better. And if you want to get together on Sisu to talk about ROI, and how to do that easily. Just let me know. Just reach out and I'll be happy to touch base with you on that. Okay.

Erica Ramus  40:32  

I will do that.

Brian Charlesworth  40:33  

All right. Thank you.

Erica Ramus  40:34  

Thanks, Brian.

About the Author

Brian Charlesworth
Chairman and CEO

Brian is an entrepreneur and business builder. He has built and sold companies in the software, telecommunications, and franchise space. He’s passionate about technology and focused on changing lives through driving technology forward.