In honor of Father’s Day, we asked members of the Citi Habitats’ team to share their thoughts about fatherhood – from stories from the fathers here at our firm, to agents’ memories of their own dads. We begin with a Q&A with Ira and Mike Schulte, a father and son (pictured above) – and leaders of one of our brokerage’s most successful teams.
Citi Habitats: You and Mike have real estate in common, but do you have any other shared interests? What do you guys like to do together for fun?
Mike and I have both made helping people a priority in our lives. Mike has been involved in scouting his entire life. He made Eagle Scout and then was a troop leader for many years. Before I embarked on my real estate career, I was a social worker and licensed psychotherapist for 23 years – and we have both been heavily involved in Citi Habitats Cares – Citi Habitats’ charitable organization. We’ve worked at Trinity Soup Kitchen every month for several years and organized the JCCA holiday toy drive for foster children. In fact, members of our entire family are dedicated to improving the lives of others. My daughter is a 5th grade teacher – and my wife is a retired registered nurse. Her last job was staff nurse for the TV station, ABC 7.
As far as what Mike and I like to do together, we love to go out to eat – it’s a great way to catch up. One of our favorites is Sevilla in the West Village. It’s a classic in our family. My wife and I have been going there for 45 years – even before we got married. We also are huge fans of Patrizia’s of Williamsburg. Not only is the food delicious, but the owners and staff at Patrizia’s are great people. They donate the pizza for the holiday party we throw for foster kids every year.
We travelled together a lot when Mike and his sister were younger. The Schultes have driven all throughout the Northeast United States – and other favorite family destinations have included Florida and Bermuda. In terms of hobbies, Mike and I are also both really into collecting art. My favorite artists are Itzchak Tarkay and Linda Le Kinff. They are both known for their portraits of elegant women in vivid colors.
Citi Habitats: Did you inspire Mike to get into the real estate business? How did he get involved in the industry?
I never encouraged him to pursue real estate, but Mike’s been entrepreneurial since he was little. In kindergarten, he would sell turns on his handheld computer game to other kids for 5 cents. He was like a one-man video arcade. In high school, Mike would sell Rice Krispie Treats and other snacks out of his gym bag. After college, he ended up as a successful store manager at a Circuit City on Long Island – until the company went bankrupt and he was at a crossroads. I think what appealed to him about the real estate industry is that here you control your own destiny.
Since he’s started in the business, we’ve always worked together and have been committed helping each other. We bring an interesting combination when we work together. Mike’s very tech savvy – he’s even got a full-time videographer. I think my strength is in customer service. We go about helping clients in different ways, but we both truly care. In the last few years, Mike’s come into his own, and his business has really taken off. I’ve passed the baton to the new generation, and he’s now running our team.
Citi Habitats: What advice would you give Mike – to pass on to his own son?
Mike and I have a lot of similarities. We are both very involved with our kids. Mike is very motivated to give his wife and son a good life, and he’s willing to work very hard to give them the best financially. I’d like to remind Mike to not become ‘all consumed’ with business – and not to let work get in the way of bonding with your family. Time spent with them – and the memories made – are what matters.
Citi Habitats: Did your dad influence your decision to get involved in the real estate business? If so – how?
I grew up in the business as my dad worked in real estate in our home borough of Queens for many years. I remember helping him pass out open house flyers – but I never thought real estate was the business was for me. I spent 6.5 years in management at the electronics store chain, Circuit City. After they went out business – I did some travelling and plotted my next move. I decided that corporate America wasn’t for me. I realized that throughout my life I’ve been a salesperson and I saw my dad making a good living as a real estate agent for over 15 years. So, I figured I’d give it a shot… and here I am 9 years later. I never thought this business would change my life like it has. It’s been a wild ride but in the last 2.5 years my career has really grown. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.
Citi Habitats: Is there anything in either business or in life that you have taught your dad?
I’ve tried to teach my dad to be more direct and ‘to the point’ with his communication. I think his communication style is a product of his generation. People my age are more inclined to respond to direct, straightforward messages. He’s doing a good job working on how to tailor his message to his audience.
I’m also his 24-hour tech support and I walk him through the same ‘issues’ all the time.
Citi Habitats: Is there anything your dad has taught you that you plan to pass on to your son?
I take my dad’s passion for caring for other people and always giving back. That’s something that’s special about him. He taught me that it’s important to give – and if you do good for others with no expectation of anything in return, it will come back. The universe will take care of you. In both his career and personal life, my dad has always led by example when it comes to helping others. This is something I will continue to instill in Cooper, my own son. It the most important life lesson one can get.
As a single parent, my children are truly the center of my universe. All the work I do within my real estate business is for them. To balance my duties, I need to stay very well scheduled. I have to give proper thanks to my colleagues here at Citi Habitats for assisting with my marketing and administrative work, as well as working on appointed buildings for me. It’s a great team atmosphere in my office.
I’m the proud father of two beautiful girls, Lucie (age 7) and Violet (age 5). I moved here from Ireland to start a life in New York 2009, having met their mother – and whilst that didn’t quite work out as planned, I treasure the life I now have with each of my girls. I’d say I’m a very involved dad. I’m a class parent for my youngest daughter and wouldn’t miss a ballet recital, or any engagement involving either of them. While they live with me approximately half of the time, I am a father to them 100% of the time.
Right now, my kids are in kindergarten and second grade, so they are learning lots of engaging things at school which we often chat about. I taught them both to swim, and they generally love sport, which is a great outlet for the three of us. They recently scaled the climbing wall at Equinox on Columbus, opposite our office. I love that they are competitive in their nature. I want my daughters to explore New York – as city kids, they have done a lot of interesting things I could never have imagined at their age. This summer, I’m taking them back to my hometown of Belfast, for the 3rd time. I want them to have an escape from the big city and to experience some of their Papa’s culture, particularly as they will be able to understand and learn more from it now.
I see myself as someone who has reinvented themselves twice – once upon arriving in NYC, and the other as a single dad, all in the backdrop of one of the most competitive cities in the world. I want my daughters to learn from me that with hard work, grit and a true desire to achieve, anything is possible. Later in their lives, I would like for them to know that they were my driving force in all.
My dad’s name was Emilio Lopez and he was veteran of the Coast Guard and the Army. He taught me to give and to do for others. Every day at dinner he would ask us kids, “and what did you do today for the good of the community?” And he was serious! He managed and coached youth baseball in Tampa for over 20 years. Many of the players on his teams were classmates of mine – and I keep in touch with several of them. One of them told me recently that the reason he coached little league as an adult was because of the inspiration my dad was to him.
My dad also helped raise funds for and build a camp in Brooksville, Florida for kids that otherwise would have never been able to go. He also managed a local pool for no pay just to keep it open and gave swimming lessons to blind children so that they could enjoy the water and have no fear. He taught me to be giving and to lead, as he did. I wouldn’t have been an active volunteer for several organizations without his inspiration.
In 1968 as I was entering my senior year of high school, my dad was an Army Reserve member and was called to active duty. He was 42 years old, and passed away after returning from the Vietnam War. Yes, he missed so much of my life, but during the time he was here he gave me so much. I salute him every day.
My dad was a man that would take care of his little girl when she was ill. He brought me a Walt Disney ‘Mickey on the steamship’ puzzle (circa 1969) when I was home from school sick one day. He was a gentle, kind man – sincere and full of integrity and honesty. One time we went through a drive-through bank teller to cash a check. We had driven quite a distance before we realized the bank teller put an extra $20 in the bank envelope. The moment he realized, he turned around and went back to the bank and gave the lady her $20 back. When this happened, I was a child under the age of 10 – and I think that lesson stuck with me quite deeply. Honesty and integrity therefore are a big part of my life and always have been.
A father that sets an honest, loving, kind and tender example creates beautiful, honest people. My father passed away when I was 12 years old; he was only 44. However, the impression he made on me as a young person stuck with me the rest of my life. I owe all the beautiful friendships I have in life to the way I was raised by my dad. Life is a boomerang. The way you treat other people, comes back around to you in the long run.
When I am not in the office, on the phone closing deals, or out looking at properties, I am spending precious time with my wife Amy, daughters Jolie (9) and Brooke (6), and our two pugs Rocky and Sandy.
After getting married, becoming a father has been the second most life-changing event I have experienced in my 39 years.
The past nine years have been incredible as I’ve watched my two daughters grow up from infants to adolescents. Along the way, I’ve tried to teach them everything they need to know to thrive in this complex world. This week my wife and I bought our oldest daughter her first 24 inch, 7 speed bicycle and taught her how to ride on her own for the first time. Seeing her glow with excitement as she grasped this new skill and new-found freedom was one of the most special times I have shared with her. I have never been prouder. Now her six year old sister Brooke is eager to learn and should be riding in the next few weeks. She’s a quick learner!
Being a husband and father and raising a family of my own was always something I wanted to do from a very young age. It’s all I thought it was going to be – and a whole lot more. I could never have imagined being so loved and looked up to until I had my daughters.
On June 26th, Amy and I will be celebrating 13 years of marriage and we could never imagine life without Jolie and Brooke. June 17th is also my wife’s birthday so we always have a double celebration. Happy Birthday Amy… our journey has just begun!!