Nic Behrends Team Member Spotlight

At Optima®, every individual on our team brings a unique story and perspective that enriches our community. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Nic Behrends, Optima Lakeview’s Leasing Consultant. From a rich background in hospitality to his heartwarming transition into the world of real estate, Nic shares his journey and insights about what makes Optima stand out. Dive in below:

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima.

My background is actually not in real estate. I spent over two decades in hospitality during which I also ran a non-profit focused on bartenders for several years. During my time in hospitality, people kept telling me I would be a great real estate agent, so eventually, I was convinced to get my leasing license. I worked as an agent for a couple of years and realized chasing all over town wasn’t my cup of tea and that I would be much happier managing buildings. I learned that I can be an expert in one specific community and get to know the residents instead of grinding through different prospects, and now I’m one of Optima Lakeview’s Leasing Consultants!

How did you first begin your journey at Optima?

I interviewed with Optima and immediately fell in love with the team and how they illuminated the brand for me. Everything I learned about Optima was far more attractive than any of the other properties I had interviewed with, so I knew I had to work here. Everyone encouraged me to be myself and understand how I could bring my true self to the position, and once I was encouraged to bring that person out, sales just started erupting for me. It’s been great to work in a place where I know that I’m not judged because maybe I’m not the most proficient typist or super skilled in Excel, but I can relate to people. 

How do you view the concept of community at Optima? How does it differ from other properties/buildings?

It’s unique that with Optima, we are all a part of this community. The fact that I see our chief engineer working out in the gym alongside a resident, sharing tips with each other, or I see another staff member at the pool with his partner exemplifies that we’re not just the staff here, we’re also members of the community, and the residents respect that and treat us as neighbors since we’re all here together. In most of the other communities that I interacted with as a broker, there was always an issue with control or power, and there is usually a disconnect between the residents and the staff. But at Optima, everyone is heard. Residents see that we care about what’s going on in their lives and it makes everything much more warm and happier. 

Optima has a unique set of values that differentiates it from other company cultures. How does that affect the quality of your work life? What values matter most to you?

Being bold. It takes a lot to put your true self out there and to let the walls down. And to be in a building that lets me do that has allowed me to progress in my career very rapidly. Becoming not only successful but also happy in this career has come from the opportunities that being bold has given me. All of our work here is done with intent and purpose, so in every action, we’re acting bold. It’s been an amazing opportunity to work with Maike and the team here because everyone truly embodies that value. 

What are some things you’ve learned during your time at Optima?

What I’ve learned most here at Optima is that there is a way to do this business that is beneficial to both the property owner and the residents. When you produce a premium building that you can stand behind, you’ve got to be willing to put in the effort and show residents that we’re invested in their lives and are here to help them at all costs. Too often, at other properties, the solution is a rebuttal with a demand that you live with it, and here, we’re always looking for a way to solve problems. 

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima team?

What I’m most proud of is the fact that I made a huge career change after doing the same thing for 20-plus years and made it into an environment that makes me feel valued. I walk into the most amazing building and am greeted by spectacular residents every morning. I work with a team that is not only going to work as hard or harder than me but also respects me for who I am. I’m over the moon to tell everybody how happy I am here and how proud I am to know I made it onto this team. 

Team Member Spotlight: Heather Williams

The first time Heather Williams saw an Optima building, she was awestruck. A lifelong Arizona resident, Heather was fascinated by the hanging plants and Modernist architecture that was so different from anything else in the desert and was immediately intrigued. After doing some research, she found that the promises and values at Optima were something she wanted to be a part of. Heather joined our team in 2017 with the opening of the first tower at Optima Kierland Center. Fast-forward to 2020, Heather is now the General Manager at Optima Kierland Apartments and runs the entire property, orchestrating details both large and small (including providing a five-star resident experience and hosting some spectacular Super Bowl parties). We sat down with Heather to talk about her journey and how her experience at Optima has evolved since she first saw our buildings. 

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima.

I’ve had a really varied background ranging from marketing to insurance to credit card processing, but they all encompassed high levels of customer service and creating a positive experience for the client. In my role as General Manager, I’ve had to become fluent in all parts of our business operations, so it’s been beneficial to pull from my experience in different industries. The role I’m in now at Optima gives me the opportunity to collaborate with different departments within our organization, so I’m constantly able to learn from some of the brightest minds and best problem solvers I’ve ever encountered. 

What drew you to Optima initially, and what’s kept you working there?

Everything about Optima speaks “exceptional”. I strive to give my best in everything I do and I’m so fulfilled at Optima because I know that all of my colleagues also give their best. When you get the opportunity to work with people who are solution-oriented, genuine and collaborative, a lot of barriers start to come down and you can achieve some pretty incredible things. We have a wealth of resources and communications tools at Optima, so it’s always easy to know what the company’s goals are and what we are trying to accomplish and it’s really inspiring to know you are a part of something bigger than yourself. 

How do you view the concept of community at Optima? How might it differ from other properties/buildings?

The attention to detail in Optima buildings is unparalleled. Everything about the way they are designed lends to creating an experience of living well and that has a huge impact on the way people interact with one another. When people choose Optima, they are choosing a lifestyle and we see a lot of connections with people formed as a result. The wealth of amenities in Optima communities inspire our residents to get out and use these spaces as an extension of their homes and they really get to know their neighbors as a result. We’ve seen so many friendships formed and even a wedding from the relationships people are able to make with one another here! 

Optima Kierland Apartments where Heather Williams is General Manager
Optima Kierland Apartments where Heather Williams is General Manager

Optima has a distinct set of values that really differentiates it from other companies. Which values really speak to the work you’ve done at Optima?

When making decisions, I always have one particular core value in mind – do the right thing even when it’s hard. In our industry, a lot of decisions are bottom-lined and based on budgets. We’re owner managed, so our decisions are not always financially-driven. Everyone at Optima just wants to do right by people. I know without a doubt that our goal on our Property Management team is to create the best possible experience for those who visit and live in our communities, so I try to always view the perspective of the person I’m working with and make the decision to do the right thing, even if that means it creates more work or is more challenging. 

I’m also really inspired by the concept that “we all create” and I feel that every day. I’ve seen ideas at Optima come from all corners and be implemented in record time. It’s a really empowering feeling to know I don’t just work for a company, I’m an active part of it and I can impact how we grow and move forward. 

person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL

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