There is more to life than just making money. We all know that, right?
Here on the InFLOW podcast, we love talking to women who are building a purpose-driven business and living a purpose-filled life. We are encouraged and inspired by women working toward something bigger than themselves and their own financial freedom.
Today’s guest, Caroline Pinal, is doing just that. Caroline is a passionate social entrepreneur and co-founder of GiveBack Homes, which is empowering the real estate industry to turn business into an opportunity for social good.
A few years ago, Caroline was working with big companies like FOX and Disney, and quickly climbing the corporate ladder, but she wasn’t fulfilled. She wanted to make more of an impact. She began working for TOMS shoes that gives a pair of shoes to someone in need with every purchase. She and a co-worker decided to apply that same concept to the real estate world, and GiveBack Homes was born.
Today on the InFLOW podcast, Caroline shares:
- Why real estate agents come back from trips to Central America transformed.
- How GiveBack Homes helps real estate agencies bring in more business.
- How real estate companies can develop and execute giving strategies that feel good and do good.
Find out more!
- Subscribe and rate our podcast on iTunes at: http://www.michellebosch.com/itunes
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- Follow Michelle Bosch on Instagram to see what she’s up to: https://www.instagram.com/michelleboschofficial
To learn more about how you can get involved with GiveBack Homes, go to http://givebackhomes.com or check out their Instagram: @givebackhomes. You can also email Caroline directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caroline: Thank you, Michelle. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to talk with you and learn more about all the amazing stuff you’re doing and spread the word about Giveback Homes to as many people as possible as well.
Michelle: Awesome. Perfect. So, let’s start at the beginning. This show is not just like I was telling you just a little bit a go. It’s not just about inflows of hard cash, it’s also inflows of grace, of ease, of purpose, you know, living and working and building a purpose-driven business, whether that be in the real estate industry or in anything that you’re doing. And so I was really impressed with your background with what you’re doing right now. Can you give us a little bit of just an introduction as to how does Giveback Homes come about. Tell us just like your full story.
Caroline: Okay. I’ll try and give you the short and sweet version.
Caroline: But Giveback Homes was created about six years ago now. Both myself and my co-founder, his name is Blake Andrews, we both used to work at Toms Shoes which, you know, most people are pretty familiar with the company, became popular like probably over 10 years ago now. But it’s a company that for every pair of shoes they sell, they give a pair to a child in need. So me and Blake were working there. We got to travel to Central America distributing shoes to children in need. You know, and those trips were extremely powerful and eye-opening. And it was on those trips that we saw the living conditions of the families that we were, you know, there to help and to deliver shoes to.
And so a couple of years later, Blake was actually going through the process of buying a home himself for his family and in working with the real estate agent, we started having the conversation around, you know, agents wanting to give back, you know. The agent that he was working with donated checks left and right, you know, anytime that anybody wanted a sponsor or whatever, he was just kind of doing things to give back to his community but not in a very strategic way and he never really felt the impact. And he wanted to do something that would help, you know, build more of a legacy and something that he would be able to see where his money was going to.
So, Blake and I had the idea what if we could apply, you know, a similar the Toms concept, you know, to the real estate world? What if every time someone bought or sold a home here in the United States, it could help provide shelter to a family in desperate need of a safe roof over their head, you know, throughout the world. So, that’s where the idea came from. And then soon after we brought Nick, that was the name of his agent, we brought him down to Nicaragua with a group of about 10 other agents.
We just kind of were very scrappy, like who wants to come help build homes? Like this is what we’re doing, this is our idea. And luckily, a lot of people were, you know, very interested in wanting to do this. So, that was our first trip that we built homes for five families. And we’ve just kind of been rolling with it ever since.
We came back and we developed Giveback Homes, we launched it. We started talking to brokerages and agents and entire real estate companies. And now we’re actually supporting affordable housing all throughout the United States as well. So we work with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and rebuilding together to support their projects because obviously we’re all aware that the housing crisis that’s going on here in the U.S. So we’re also supporting those projects as well as continuing to build homes throughout Central America. So we’re really excited and we’re really proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish, all thanks to our real estate agent members.
Michelle: And you should be very proud, that is fantastic. Amazing. How long of a time span between the idea to where you are right now?
Caroline: That was about seven years ago.
Michelle: Wow. Okay. So you’ve been at this for quite some time. And now, how do you find the communities in Central America or elsewhere, how do you find them? How do you make sure, I mean, somebody needs to be boots on the ground coordinating, you know, orchestrating the purchase of materials and then you have, I don’t know if you have an engineering background, but someone that, you know, makes sure that whatever you’re building is solid.
Caroline: Yeah. I don’t have engineering background and it would be nearly impossible if I was the one physically, you know, managing all that. But it’s a good question. So we work with nonprofits and NGOs. So, I’m leaving for El Salvador tomorrow. We’re taking a group as part of our key program with a real estate auction company called Concierge Auctions. So, once I get to El Salvador, we have a partner there that is exactly what you said, boots on the ground. They handle all the logistics, they, you know, are managing the relationships with the community and community leaders. And we work very closely with them to make sure everything’s going smoothly and according to, you know, our plan and having the greatest impact as possible.
Michelle: Absolutely. Now, Concierge Auctions. I think read a little bit about it in some of the paperwork that I read. So, tell me, what are they, are they kind of like your sponsor? How are you guys working together? That seems like a really great like relationship.
Caroline: It is. We’re so excited for that program. So we started that it was about three years ago, the president of that company came with us to Nicaragua to build homes and he came back and he was just completely transformed. I mean, obviously those trips are, it was life-changing for me and Blake. And so I always encourage people to come on these trips because it’s always such an incredible experience. So he came back and he wanted to incorporate that into his business, into their business with Concierge. So now every time they buy or sell a home at auction through their company, they build a home for a family in Central America.
So that program alone for Key has resulted in 200 homes for families. And we’ve completely transformed two communities in El Salvador. So, that’s one way that we work with companies is we develop the social impact programs for them or we develop a giving strategy and we execute it.
Michelle: So you bring people down there and you say they are transformed, they come back different. What is it about the experience you think, you know, that precipitates this transformation, that makes it like, wow, I’ve been touched, if I was doing and making money before, and I was, you know, yes, you know, donating here and there but now this is going to be my, you know, my focus, I’m gonna make it a concerted effort. Like what is it about the experience? What happens once you’re down there?
Caroline: It’s hard to put into words but I mean, just imagine, you know, I always describe it as, you know, be feeling very grateful for the people who come because they are, you know, making the time, making it a priority. It’s four days, you know, we fly on Friday, we build Saturday, Sunday, and we’re back by Monday. So it’s really not that big amount of time but they’re traveling to a country they probably would have never considered like as a way of a vacation or whatever. They’re traveling to a country they would probably never consider to help build a home for a family they’ve never met. And that is extremely powerful.
And when you’re there and you meet the family and you’re talking with them and you see their current living conditions which is usually made out of scraps of metal, it’s dirt floors, families of six sharing one mattress, every time it rains that mattress and everything they own gets soaked. So the homes we’re building are simple, they’re humble homes, but it’s life-changing for these families. And, you know, it makes you just kind of reassess and just kind of realigns you in a lot of ways.
Michelle: And I wanted to basically where, you know, our listeners have it hear it from you, I’m originally from Honduras Central America. I was born and raised there. I came to the U.S. in 1995, I was 19 years old. I go home every year. I have a 12-year-old little girl, and now that I want to make sure she sees, you know, the privilege that we live in and why, you know, mom and dad help back home, you know, we help a school and K through 12. And I want her to see exactly what you’re saying, people living in dire conditions with just dirt floors, scraps really that they find that they turn into a home and into roofing and so on and so forth.
Michelle: So there is no electricity, no running water, you know, kids that are naked, sick, you know, malnourished, I mean, everything.
Caroline: For the work you’re doing for your country and for supporting the schools there, I think that’s a really beautiful thing and the fact that you’re, you know, getting your daughter engaged and involved in and exposing her to that, you know, at a young age is super important.
Michelle: It is super important because we can get carried away here in comfort, you know. I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and sometimes, well, in Phoenix, Arizona, it’s over 100 degrees in the summer. And we’re driving a very beautiful car and sometimes she’ll be like, “Oh my gosh, I hate this, I can’t stand it, this is so uncomfortable,” because the air conditioner doesn’t kick in fast enough for her. And I’m like, “No, this is not discomfort, remember what we saw in Honduras? That is discomfort,” you know, and so on and so forth. So, why is social entrepreneurship, why are you so passionate about this? Why does it matter and why something that you’re doing for someone out there in Central America or someplace else in the world, what’s the repercussion? Why is it so important for us to start thinking not just about ourselves here locally but start looking elsewhere around the world? Why?
Caroline: Why? Why? Why? I’ll answer your first question…
Michelle: Because you see it and you’re working with companies that see exactly why it is important and, you know what I mean? And sometimes I feel like especially in the real estate industry, you know, we may forget a little bit about that, that we are here not just providing housing, you know, that is almost like a sterile way to think about it. You can think about it in that way, but you can also think about it, you’re providing homes and what does that entail. You know, there’s so much more heart when you talk about providing homes to families versus just housing, you know, and so on and so forth. People forget about it and all their focus becomes the cashflow, you know? And so that’s why, yeah, go for it.
Caroline: Absolutely. And you know, what kind of led me to even before I started working at Toms Shoes, you know, I was working at big companies, I was working at Fox, I was working at Disney and I was just kind of like going trying to make my way up the corporate ladder and I just wasn’t fulfilled. And, you know, I wanted to, if I was gonna spend so much time and energy working for a company, I wanted it to be a company that I really believed in was making an impact. And so that’s what led me to Toms and then eventually starting Giveback Homes.
So, I’m extremely passionate about inspiring people to realize that business doesn’t just have to be business, there’s a lot of empathy and there’s a lot of compassion in business as well. So, you know, it doesn’t just have to be you either work for a nonprofit or for-profit. There’s so much in the middle, you know, your for-profit can be aligned with the social good cause. And so that’s really what we’re trying to do here specifically for the real estate industry. Because agents and companies and brokerages they’re in the business of buying and selling homes. So it makes a lot of sense to align yourself with, you know, a cause that helps provide homes for people in need too, or even locally in your own backyard affordable housing. I mean, you know, there’s just so much you can do in your own backyard and there’s so much you can do globally as well too.
Michelle: Okay. So, my next question was, what is your current focus and what are like two key things that would be important for you to get out in terms of like if someone was listening, whether it be someone that owns a real estate brokerage that would be interested in partnering with you? Like, tell me a little bit more about that.
Caroline: Okay. Sorry. The first question was?
Michelle: What is the current focus?
Caroline: Current focus?
Michelle: Focus to expand and basically really grow the Giveback Homes brand and impact.
Caroline: I mean, my very, very current focus right now is this, our next build trip to El Salvador, I leave tomorrow. So, just preparing and getting everybody ready and making sure everything is good to go. So that’s kind of what I’m focusing on very literally. In general, I mean, yes, we want to connect with as many brokerage owners or team leaders or individual real estate agents because Giveback Homes was, like I said, developed and designed specifically for the real estate world. We have marketing materials, listing pages, we help promote your listings on social media.
You know, we are very focused on helping you grow your business as equally as we are helping build homes for people in need, because, you know, you can’t continue building homes if people are not in business. And we want to promote our members, promote our companies and our agents to consumers and encourage them to work with them because they’re gonna help, you know, build homes for people in need. And as we all know, more and more people want to buy products and services who have a social cause and who they believe in what they stand for. And so that’s really what we’re aiming to do and promote for all our agents and our members that are part of Giveback Homes.
Michelle: And that is fantastic because it’s an amazing value add that you bring as well. Because if I heard you correctly you’re helping basically the agents even market their property. So there’s an element of some kind of an expertise or genius that, you know, Giveback Homes brings into the picture. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Caroline: Yes. I mean, we’ve had referrals within our community, we promote our members listings, we have signage, we have signwriters, yard signs that, you know, you put out in the listings that show, you know, Giveback Homes with the sale of this home you’ll help build a home for a family in need. We help coordinate volunteer events for our members, we help them do fundraising events. You know, a lot of people want to give back, they want to do it, they just, you know, either don’t have the time or they don’t know where to start, or they just need that extra little push to help them get organized. And that’s really where we come in and we help make it very easy and streamlined for them.
Michelle: Awesome. Perfect. Now, what do you think has been the three key things that have contributed incredible to your success thus far as a woman that goes out there and says, you know what? I want to be fulfilled, I want to live not just the freedom of money, time, and relationships, but I want to live the freedom of purpose of doing something incredibly purpose-driven that I’m passionate about. What are the three key ingredients that have helped you, you know, with clarity, with direction, with deciding, this is my path and this is where I know, you know, that God has put me on this spot for a reason? What are some of those attributes of success that you’ve had?
Caroline: I would say following your curiosities would be the first one, you know, like that’s how what led me to where I am now is just kind of being like, “Wow, that sounds cool that sounds interesting, I’m passionate about that, I can be passionate about that,” and just kind of following one curiosity to another. Again, for me personally simplifying my life, like I’m a pretty simple person and I find that every time I find a way to simplify my life, the happier I get. Like I just, you know, whether it’s getting rid of stuff, clutter, all the, you know what I mean? Or whatever it might be for you, like as much as you can simplify your life, the better, less is more, you realize you don’t need a lot of stuff.
And learning that, and this could be something you speak to or I’m sure you have, is, in learning that your money has energy, right? Like, you know, everyone. One of a quote that we always like to share is, every time you spend money you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want to see, and that was from Anna Lappe. She was an author and an environmentalist. And it’s so true, you know, your money has energy. And so whether you have a little or a lot, it still has energy and it’s important to focus and strategize what you spend it on and what you’re investing in and what you’re donating.
Michelle: And the reasons why you’re creating it and producing it and sometimes, you know, it’s beautiful wise, you know, like I said, money can be a matter of the heart with beautiful wise. Now, what do you do on a daily basis to stay what we call here inflow? You know, just because it’s something that it’s purpose-driven that is passion-driven doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with, you know, having those days, you know, so what do you do on a daily basis to make sure that you stay inflow, that you juggle everything that you’ve got going on? You already kind of alluded one of it is simplicity, but, you know, in simplifying and so on, but any other tips?
Caroline: I would say, as of last year I started focusing and prioritizing meditation. So, I’ve been able to successfully do that in the mornings and I feel like it’s made a big difference in my mindset. I also have been focused on, you know, worrying less. You know, I think people worry a lot about things that haven’t even happened yet, and we’re just constantly always worried, worried, worried, worried. And, you know, that was a huge stress for me. As you know, working at a startup and starting a company of your own always have the first three or four years are just brutal. I mean, they all are, but you’re just constantly worried about things.
And there’s a lot of people out there, no matter how good you’re doing, no matter how much good you’re doing in the world, there’s people out there who just want to take you down and evil people. It’s just like, you just can’t worry about that, you can’t let it inhibit you or be afraid of that sort of stuff. You just have to keep going strong in what you believe in.
Michelle: That’s beautiful. Wonderful, I love that. Now, what are three pieces of advice that you would have for our young woman listening to you right now, and that would see you, or maybe not so young, like me, that see you as a role model really a pioneer in paving a path and trying to kind of like marry, like you said, the nonprofit, the profit in specifically within the real estate industry, what are some three pieces of advice that you would say to someone right now that doesn’t feel fulfilled that felt like you felt when you were in corporate America and what would those be?
Caroline: I would say go outside of your comfort zone if you are looking for something for more fulfillment, like find a cause, figure out what you want to either donate money or volunteer your time towards. I mean, I think doing small things like that even once a month can make a big difference in your life and can help you. Like I said, like you follow one curiosity, maybe you volunteer here and then you’re like not really feeling it and you try a different one, like just keep trying to find the one. And then once you do find it, like, get more involved, you know, like find ways to kind of amplify what they’re doing and being champion of what they’re doing.
And then I would also say, if you do work for a company that like doesn’t have a volunteer program or a give-back program, don’t be afraid to have that conversation with either your managers or your higher-ups, and just let them know that it’s something that’s important to you and you’re looking for, you know, to work for a company that also prioritizes that. And I think the more people who speak up and say that the quicker, you know, our leaders and company leaders will realize the importance of it. I mean, it already, so many companies and you look around like are starting to do this. They all have, you know, a few volunteers, you can go volunteer so many hours of your day and things like that. But I think there’s a huge opportunity to make it a lot bigger and a lot more impactful. People want to love where they work. And so it’s up to these companies and the leaders of these companies to provide that for them.
Michelle: And now, Caroline, if people wanted to learn more about, you know, Giveback Homes, get involved, like figure out if they can, you know, partner in any way with you, how can they best reach you?
Caroline: You could just email me, my email is just email@example.com. Our website is givebackhomes.com. You can follow us on Instagram @givebackhomes. That’s the easiest way.
Michelle: Okay. Thank you so much for the time with us. It was really enlightening, wonderful to see, you know, young people such as yourself really passionate about something and really marrying those two worlds together and, you know, just going out there and getting more people involved and seeing that, you know, whatever, even if it’s a small thing, a small contribution, like you said, it’s a start. And from there, it keeps growing and follow your curiosity. And, who knows, you know, it could turn into starting a new venture, just like, you know, Giveback Homes is for you and your co-founder. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure having you.
Caroline: Thank you. Are you in Phoenix?
Caroline: Okay. So we will probably have a build day there this year, so I’ll make sure to send the invite.
Michelle: You need to definitely. I will right now probably then send my contact information as well through my assistant so that we can definitely get to. I would love to meet you in person.
Caroline: Perfect. And then you’ll have to come with us to El Salvador soon too as well.
Michelle: Yes, because we do a yearly trip anyways already down there, you know, so that would be wonderful. That would be perfect.
Caroline: Beautiful. Well, thank you for all you’re doing for Honduras, and for all you’re doing for your community at InFLOW. I think it’s really special and I’m happy to be part of it. So, thank you.
Michelle: Thank you so much, Caroline.
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