Setting the Gold Standard

Meet Tammy Newland-Shishido, 2018 President of OC REALTORS®

It has been said that the best leaders bring out the best in everyone around them by expecting the best from everyone, including themselves. This description certainly fits Tammy Newland-Shishido, the 2018 President of Orange County REALTORS®. Tammy has spent a lifetime expecting the best from herself and those around her and delivering the best of herself to those who need her help.

Because Tammy’s mother had German measles while she was pregnant, Tammy was born with a severe hearing loss and, for a time, was sent to a special school for youngsters with disabilities. But Tammy found the classroom situation chaotic and frightening. She told her mother that she would do whatever it took to be able to go to the regular school with her brother.

What it took was an elementary school teacher who made Tammy her special project and taught Tammy how to read lips so that she could understand what was being said by those around her. Tammy recalls that the only thing this teacher asked of her in return was that she pay it forward. “I know this is where my desire for volunteering was born,” says Tammy.

“This was also my lesson in not settling. To this day, I am not satisfied with limits,” she explains. “No has never meant no to me. It means not right now or find another way to do it.”

Because Tammy could not hear, learning to speak was difficult for her. Classmates who did not understand the reason for her speech impediment mistakenly called her “stupid.” She says that this experience “taught me to toughen up and let the unimportant things go. What really matters in life are faith, family, and friends.”

Faith, family, friends—and a dream. As a kid growing up in Kalispell, Montana, Tammy dreamed of moving to California and attending a fashion college. She says that many people in that small town dreamed of leaving but most never left. She did not want to fall into that trap. Instead, she wanted to move away and support herself, but she knew that going to college would be impossible without financial assistance of some kind.

Tammy’s exceptional business skills and her promise to volunteer and use her skills to help others and to improve her community resulted in her being awarded a national scholarship for college study in California. She came to the Golden State, rented a small apartment with a roommate, slept on an air mattress, and rode a bike. While attending classes, Tammy worked full time in retail, saving her money to buy a bed and a car.

Tammy earned her degree and, between 1982 and 1989, built a career in fashion. At first, she managed purchasing, sales, and advertising for a local firm; but eventually she became national sales coordinator for Nancy Johnson, Los Angeles, with full responsibility for the development and promotion of a designer women’s dress line and $22 million in annual sales.

Although Tammy had a home, a vacation home, a boat, and a nanny for her children, she was miserable. Her job required regular travel. She explains, “I was always in hotels and missing my kids and their activities.”

While on one of those business trips, Tammy had an epiphany. “I was in Atlanta working, and my family and nanny were in Lake Havasu playing,” she says. “I asked myself, What am I doing?” She flew home and quit her job. But because she had thought only of a career in the fashion industry, she had no backup plan. The salient question was, Now what?

Fortunately, Tammy had some friends in real estate. “Back in the 1980s,” she explains “real estate was not a professional career.” She adds that she remembers a lot of women who “worked part time and wore gold blazers.” But she got her real estate license and started working at a luxury boutique office. At the time, she says, she was the only person in that office who wasn’t married to a doctor and who really needed to work.“

Real estate,” says Tammy, “provided the balance I was so hungry for. I was able to volunteer in my community and in the kids’ schools and to make enough money to provide for my family.” After working three years, Tammy realized she needed to run her real estate career as a business. “Once I had that focus,” she explains, “I built up a team, doubled my production, knew my numbers, and started investing.”

In 2004, Tammy became the operating principal and owner of Keller Williams Realty in Los Alamitos/Seal Beach, a firm that now has more than five hundred agents and was honored by the City of Los Alamitos as its Business of the Year in 2010. Over the years, she has assisted some 960 people in buying or selling property. Two years ago, Tammy relocated the office to Seal Beach, upgraded the look, and opened a luxury division. She says that she still loves real estate and helping people create wealth through real property ownership.

Volunteering has long been important to Tammy. Although her initial focus was on helping youngsters, more recently she has turned her attention to developing leaders. She speaks of not only reaching up for opportunity but also reaching back to bring others along behind her on the leadership path. She explains, “I have had lots of leadership opportunities and hope that, by developing others, I can replace myself, make my piece of the world better, and leave a legacy.”

In 2013, when Tammy was state president of the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, her mission statement was “creating leaders.” Now focused on creating leaders in local communities and in the real estate profession, she has become widely recognized and requested as a mentor and trainer in the areas of business planning, recruitment, retention, strategic planning, and volunteerism.

In February 2017, the Long Beach Assistance League honored Tammy as Rick Rackers 62nd Woman of the Year in recognition of her thirty years of volunteer service in the Long Beach community. Specifically mentioned was her involvement in an impressive list of organizations that included Long Beach Rotary, Steel Magnolias, and the Long Beach St. Mary’s Foundation.

Tammy considers being “Mother” to two adult children and “Nana” to four adoring grandchildren her greatest accomplishment. She is married to Ken Shishido, a broker in commercial real estate. Together, they enjoy traveling California and the world in search of wonderful wines that are still a bargain and bringing them home to share with friends.

Among Tammy’s plans for Orange County REALTORS®in the New Year are to find a reliable source of non-dues revenue and to enhance the work of the new Leadership Development and Strategic Partner Committees. “My goals,” she says, “are to 10+ the Association and move our Strategic Plan forward.”

As has been true throughout her life, Tammy is setting the gold standard. She is inspiring those around her to do their best, to be their best, and to make Orange County REALTORS®the best Association it can be.