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Danielle Garofalo: Make the Most of Every Opportunity & Trust the Process

Danielle Garofalo Freedom Matters

A sense of adventure and knowing when to ask for help are the secret to success for the multi-titled marketer

At Freedom, we love our users – not just because they use our product, but because they’re cool – cool people working on cool stuff. Academy Award-nominated screenwritersbestselling authorseditorsjournalists, developers, illustrators, designers, academics, coaches, podcast hosts, comic book writers, students, and entrepreneurs – the Freedom community is packed with curious, creative, and passionate go-getters. We love to share their stories, advice, and processes because how better to learn about productivity than from the productive?

Meet Danielle Garofalo

Danielle Garofalo is a partner at REALM Global, an invitation-only real estate membership made up of the top luxury agents in the world. She is also marketer in residence at CORE Group Real Estate in NYC, where she is responsible for the firm’s marketing strategy. Danielle has been named by Inman as one of the Top Most Influential People in Real Estate and to International Hospitality Media’s list of the 50 Urban Innovators Changing the Way We Live.

Prior to real estate, she worked in marketing for both IBM and Disney. With a resume as impressive as hers, we were eager to learn how Danielle makes time for work, rest, and adventure!

It appears you’ve had quite the career journey! How did you arrive at where you are today, and what keeps you motivated?

There’s a quote from Steve Jobs I read about 15 years ago that sums it up best for me:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future…”

For me, there’s no secret formula, it’s just been about working hard and trusting that the dots would connect. Looking back, what I’ve done is make the most of every opportunity that’s come my way, which in turn led to paths I didn’t even consider. And that’s very motivating for me, the fact that I can look back and say the dots have connected as they should, and I can trust that process going forward.

At what point did you realize that technology was becoming a major distraction and taking a toll on your productivity?

I realized that I was getting to certain tasks and projects later and later in the day, and on a personal level, I didn’t want to be answering emails on my phone right before bed or sitting with my laptop through a meal anymore. Forget about even getting to my regular level of work, I wanted to be able to actually do more, but in less time. I used the analytics on my phone and the history in my browser to help me realize how much time I was spending on sites and apps that were not helping me with work and personal production. After doing that I was a little embarrassed to see how much time I was wasting.

Minimalist desk with Apple iMac

How do you incorporate Freedom into your daily working routine?


I work on a lot of digital marketing and social media projects, and by shutting those down, I wasn’t sure if Freedom was going to be the right solution. But after reading more, I realized the issue was how I was using it. I was blocking out everything all at once instead of being strategic. Now I use the feature of blocking different sites at certain times.

Once I started to do that, I realized the magic in Freedom, and why it is now essential to my daily life. I mean it is tempting to look at it and say: Ok I’m blocking all news, all social, all sports sites for the next 8-10 hours. But for me, that wasn’t helpful because I would need to check on an ad or a client’s Instagram and then have to cancel my session. So now it’s about smaller sessions, and knowing what I need to block during each one.

Asking for help organizing my day and prioritizing meetings and tasks is something I wish I started to do much earlier in my career. Anyone who feels the overwhelmed by their daily list should ask for help – it makes a world of difference.

As someone who wears multiple hats, how do you prioritize what tasks, activities, or people get your time each day?


I am not joking when I say that I have a team of people who are much smarter and organized than I am who help me with this daily. Asking for help organizing my day and prioritizing meetings and tasks is something I wish I started to do much earlier in my career. I think I was forced into it as I took on more and more, but that is certainly advice I would give to anyone who feels the slightest bit overwhelmed with your daily list: Ask for help – it makes a world of difference.

What environments are most productive for you?

Anywhere that I can be alone and it’s quiet. I was never one to study with the music playing or the TV on, or hanging out in a group, and I’ve been the exact same way throughout my career. I need quiet. My head is noisy enough!

Other than that, I’m not picky. I don’t need a certain chair, or lighting, or room temperature. As long as it’s quiet and I am alone, I’ll get into a groove and get things done. 

interior of a library

How do you stay motivated and focused on a daily basis? Do you have a routine, process, or place that helps to get into a productive flow?

Setting a goal and achieving it. That is my motivation.

For me it’s not about reading a book or listening to a specific song to get me going, it’s about achieving what I’ve set out to do. If I want it, then I’ll do the work to get it. I guess that means it’s internal motivation for me, but I admit it can be difficult to sustain that level of intense focus on something when it’s going to take a while to see the results.

Some things take much longer to achieve than others, and in those instances, I have to remind myself to be disciplined. Abraham Lincoln said: “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” I just remind myself what I want most, and that keeps me on track.

 

Once I started to use it strategically by blocking different sites at different times, I realized the magic in Freedom.

That’s why it is now essential to my daily life!

What have you discovered about yourself and the way you work since the pandemic hit? What changes (if any) have you made?


I saw a joke I think on Twitter during the first few months of the pandemic about introverts thriving because they’d been planning their entire lives for this moment of lockdown. I felt that joke in my soul haha. I did almost no work from home prior to the pandemic. Now I am fully remote and will stay that way. My production level has increased, and instead of my introverts’ social battery being drained by office life, I have felt much more like being social now that I have my quiet place to work. (For what it’s worth, I don’t count Zoom as social interactions since the focus is never entirely on me.)

What do you do outside of your work routine that helps you stay productive?



Three things in life are essential for me: My people, adventure, and staying active.

I say ‘my people’ because I don’t crave being out in the world just meeting people anywhere. My time is limited, and any time I do have, I choose 10/10 to spend it with my family and friends. They are my reason for everything I do, and truly what is important.

A sense of adventure for me is necessary, whether it’s travel or jumping off a cliff (safely of course), that is an essential part of my life. Staying active is how I keep my head clear. Shaun Osher who is the CEO of CORE, did a TED talk in which he talks about how necessary it is to give yourself unstructured time for structured thinking, and he is absolutely right. For me, that’s when I’m active.

Whether that’s riding my bike, running, weight lifting, hiking, or rowing, my best ideas have happened when my physical focus is elsewhere. Those three essentials in my life help my mind stay fresh, which in turn, helps me stay productive.

vintage bike parked in forest

What upcoming project are you currently most excited about? 

Ah, this is a tough one! Not sure there’s just one I can choose, but I am very excited about a live course I’m going to start teaching at the end of September. Paying for a consultant does not make sense financially for every agent, and there is a lot of knowledge I have from various projects I’ve worked on which will help agents reach the next level.

Instead of a downloadable course, I decided to teach a live class, in which I sort of pass on this knowledge and teach agents how to do it themselves while avoiding some of the bumps and failures I’ve had along the way. It’s affordable, it’s valuable and I think it’s going to be very useful. It’s also almost sold out, so I’m super excited there are many others who agree that it’s needed!

What does the future of work look like for you?


Working more with the people and projects that get me excited, while at the same time leaving the door open to possibilities that I may not even have on my radar. I’ll keep trusting in the fact that the dots will connect as they always have. It doesn’t get more exciting than that!

You can stay up-to-date with Danielle and her work via her Instagram and LinkedIn.