Every year on Mother’s Day, Daniel de la Vega sends his mother, Mayi, a large bouquet of flowers, and the two try to squeeze in lunch. But as the dynamic force behind One Sotheby’s International Realty, this mother-son pair doesn’t lack for time together during the workday.
For starters, they kick off every week in the office with a strategy session. “I’ve learned to make a long task list instead of picking up the phone to call him every time I get an idea in my head!” Mayi said with a laugh.
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Another ground rule: “Out of respect for people around us, we’ve made a huge effort to not talk business when we are doing family things,” she said. “But if we’re driving to a Miami Heat game and something comes up, we’ll talk about it.”
Mayi and Daniel de la Vega: Not Looking Back
Mayi, who founded the firm amid the recession and real estate downturn in 2008, is the visionary with a laser focus on strategic positioning. Her son, meantime, handles everyday operations under his purview as president. The South Florida brokerage now boasts more than 800 agents in 14 offices. “We’ve never looked back,” Daniel said.
From One Sotheby’s earliest days, Mayi told her son that he had to work his way up from the bottom. “I said, ‘You’ve got to do all the things everybody doesn’t want to do, get your hands dirty and earn everyone’s respect.’”
In addition to working with Daniel, Mayi also has a daughter, Alina, who is a real estate agent. “It’s very rewarding to have my children involved in my business,” Mayi said. “They are the sunshine of my life.” (At Daniel’s wedding, he and his mom danced to Stevie Wonder’s You Are the Sunshine of My Life.)
‘Miami is a global city. A city with soul.’
“We have a great relationship,” Daniel chimed in. “I’ve learned a lot from her. For the most part, she gives me the autonomy to do whatever I feel is right for the organization.”
At One Sotheby’s, No Two Days Are the Same
From a brokerage standpoint, he said, the industry is moving toward an agent-centered model, and he’s focused on growing the firm’s mortgage, title and commercial ancillary businesses, as well as concentrating on their Stuart and Palm Beach offices that opened late last year. “What I love about what I do is that no two days are the same.”
Mother and son share a passion for art and design (perfect for a Sotheby’s brokerage). Daniel started building his collection 10 years ago with emerging Latin American artists and has since transitioned to mid-career national artists. “Design is my frustrated passion!” Daniel said. “We just opened our headquarters in the Design District, and every time I drive through it, it’s completely mind-boggling how far that neighborhood has come and the stores they’ve opened.”
They also both relish their homes in Miami Beach. Daniel, whose house was designed by Briggs Edward Solomon, appreciates how the open design is tailor-made for entertaining. Mayi enjoys relaxing on her balcony and taking in the city’s skyline, water views and colorful sunsets.
“It reminds me every day of how much our city has evolved and thrived and how beautiful it is,” she said. “It’s a global city. A city with soul. A happy city.”