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  • Michael Valdes

Donnie Pigaro, Managing Broker of Florida for Side, Inc., "It's Time to Elevate Others"


Donnie Pigaro, Managing Broker of Florida for Side, Inc., has sold over 5000 properties over the last 30 years on Fisher Island. An exclusive enclave only reachable through ferry, seaplane, private boat, or helicopter, home to people like Oprah Winfrey at one point in time is "nirvana". It is one of the most expensive zip codes in the country that could never be duplicated again because the EPA would never allow a developer to dredge land in South Florida. He also tells a story about commonplace of buyers, who are willing to pay way above market price just to be a part of this exclusive community that has its hotel, country club, and school.


"Writing the book with a ghostwriter will be my retirement plan." he jokes. Don could have never survived as long as he has on Fisher Island (and the industry at large) if discretion wasn't the motto that he lived by every day. He is a true servant leader who wants to find his clients the "lifestyle", they are seeking.


After being one of the most successful boutique companies in South Florida, he has now joined Side, Inc as the VP of Florida Operations. "The industry is broken", he explains, "the agents are not getting the support they need. The more you succeed, the more the broker wants to take from them". "I met the leadership of Side on a panel and loved what they had to say and then got to know more about them, and they asked me to run the Florida operations, and it's been amazing."


When I asked him about the three pieces of advice he would give a newcomer, he said:

1) Treat people with respect. Care about your client's needs.

2) Learn the inventory. Know the cabinetry -- the investment -- the nuances that someone has put into the property.

3) If you can work for a team, it's the greatest learning ground.


The greatest lesson he's learned in his career is that the people he has had the privilege to meet have been amazing. "People are going to forget what you say, people are going to forget what you do, but people will not forget how you make them feel". That was said to him by one of his billionaire clients and it has always resonated with him.


Three pieces of advice for newcomers entering the business today:

1) Be Careful. It is not a normal market. Markets are cyclical. Learn your craft.

2) Get with a team. Don't try to do it alone now because it's essential to be able to build your career this way.

3) Get trained. Don't focus on the dollar value of the deal. Focus on doing as many deals as possible.


For those that want to expand their business into a global business, he recommends getting involved with real estate associations that focus on this. Donnie is in the leadership of AREAA ( Asian Real Estate Association of America ), and he has learned so much culturally from this organization that has helped his business tremendously. Other associations such as NAHREP -- The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals -- is also a great start to build that business.


Part of his philanthropic efforts is sitting on the board of "More Than Sport". "I was a triathlete, and it's the only sport where you compete with professionals in the same field". One of the key athletes who started this charity wanted to give back to the communities where we used to race. The first mission was in Panama, and it was extraordinary to see the impact that 30 athletes did over a weekend in building homes for homeless people. It was an incredible mission, and I have supported the organization ever since.


He ends the interview by saying this chapter in his life is called, "It's time to elevate others.".


Donnie is a great leader in our industry and a great humanitarian. It was a great pleasure to have him on the show.

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