Looking for a home these days can be a demoralizing affair. When it comes to those kinds of feelings, Catherine Labelle has been there—and has always found her way to the other side. Now, she specializes in helping prospective homeowners make that same transition from disempowerment to confidence.
Labelle is one of the top-ranking real estate brokers on Google, this in spite of limited self-marketing. That’s because the bilingual brunette is so popular, there’s no need. The raves she receives from peers and clients alone are enough to sustain her status with KW Distinction, the largest real estate franchise in the world. “If you give people more than they expect,” Labelle explains, “they’ll reciprocate. The fact that your clients tell their Uber driver about you is a happy bonus!”
Labelle’s road to success as a respected broker has had its share of curves. She worked in sales for over a decade, dealing in insurance and mutual funds and health and wellness. In 2018, she quit her job as the sales manager of a well-known fitness chain for some serious “me time.” The fatigue was attributable to her admittedly A-type personality and to a corporate-driven “profit-over-people” ethic that had long been at war with her personal values. While she had always fantasized about a post-retirement foray into real estate, when she discovered that a mentor had already procured their license, she became inspired to follow their example.
“Why wait to do what you want to do?”
she boldly asked herself. Next stop: Group Lachance, the arm of KW Distinction headed, to this day, by her aforementioned inspiration. There, Labelle puts her hard-earned background in strategic marketing, project management, analytical and critical thinking, and expert negotiation at the service of her satisfied clientele. “I offer all of this whilst being true to my core values,” she adds, “which are honesty, respect, accessibility, and humanity.”
The transition from running a sales department for a luxury fitness facility to showing and selling houses wasn’t the first time Labelle had had to reinvent herself. That was back in high school, which the Ottawa native found herself forced to leave to carve her own educational path. “I was surrounded by people who were holding me back from succeeding,” she recounts. Post-graduation, while a more mature and confident Labelle was procuring her financial services accreditation, she found popularity as a staffer at that gym franchise. In time, she was asked to spearhead its newest operation, located in Burlington.
Then came metamorphosis number two. The toll and politics of the fitness industry proved, ironically, unhealthy. “I met with my doctor, which is something I should have done sooner,” confesses Labelle. “I was having panic attacks, was chronically exhausted, and was experiencing short-term memory loss. After the doctor confirmed that I was dealing with burnout and that I needed to take time off to recover, I felt powerless. I felt like a failure. I felt like I had let my team and myself down.”
True to her resilient nature, however, Labelle pulled herself up and decided to embrace her sabbatical, using the time to conduct some serious, soul-saving self-reflection. After that, she set out on the path to professional and personal re-invention. The transition has been such a success, she feels free to offer advice to others looking to make substantial professional leaps. “Making a major change in your career is never easy,” she reminds people. “My advice to anyone going through this experience is to take the time. Take the time to introspect, read, and ask yourself the right questions. It might cost you financially, but you will see a return on your investment in terms of your mental and physical well-being.”
In addition, Labelle cites the importance of connecting with like-minded people, including, as in her own life, a committed partner, an exemplary mentor, and a robust network of support. In turn, she plays guiding hand for her clients and her team, cultivating each relationship in the mutual interest of helping them achieve their dreams, whether that’s procuring the perfect property or growing their business.
As for the future, Labelle has both short-term and long-term goals. “This year, I want to focus on building my team, with an emphasis on diversity. I want to build from the knowledge of those from different walks of life and make my business accessible to all people. Through this, we’ll be able to engage with more people in our community and help those who are new to Canada, or those who are looking for real estate but are having difficulties communicating their needs.
“In the long term, focus I’d like to change the way realtors help their clients. I want to build a worldwide team of strong, diverse, intelligent, and highly analytical communicators; customer-obsessed professionals who can work from a strong foundation and add their own creativity to the business. A team of amazing people with mutual values working in symbiosis towards the same goal.”
“Success to me,” she explains, “is wealth. Wealth comes in many forms; a wealth of knowledge, a wealth of resources—but first comes a wealth of time. Take the time to break down your objectives. Ask yourself daily, ‘What do I need to do to achieve my short-term and long goals?’ Again, self-reflect—it’s something I do constantly and will keep doing!”