Balancing the Grind with Helen Tarrant, Commercial Property Specialist

Helen Tarrant is a Commercial Property Specialist educating everyday Aussies about the commercial property market.

Looking for your dream start-up role? Sign up for global career opportunities with The Nudge Group!

1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My name is Helen Tarrant and I am a Commercial Property Specialist and Buyer’s Agent. After moving to Australia from China as a young girl, I was fortunate enough to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a Master of Laws.

While I was at law school I decided I needed something practical to apply my business and law knowledge so I started my own beauty business. I had no idea how to do beauty or run a business when I first started but I was 22 years old and full of enthusiasm to learn about the world of business and beauty.

I ended up being in the beauty business for over 15 years having multiple salons and then having a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) teaching the diploma of beauty therapy. All along while working I invested in real estate. I wanted to make my money work hard and build up passive income.

I started looking into investments, and realised there were some fantastic opportunities in the commercial property market. I took a leap of faith and bought my first property in 2012, and soon I found that I was actually making over $10,000 per year in passive income from just one property, and that’s when the addiction began!

Over the following five years, I was able to extend my commercial portfolio to 20 properties. Soon, my friends and acquaintances also wanted to give commercial property a go, so I started helping them. I realised then how inaccessible commercial property education was to the average everyday Australian and that there was literally no information out there.

This was back in 2016 – and I realised that everyday Australians should have the right to choose to invest in residential or commercial property as such I started a training course and started to teach all around Australia.

After a year, in 2017 I started my specialist buyers agency and grew Unikorn Commercial to encompass education, buyers agency and syndication. Now I love working as a buyer’s agent and educating everyday Aussies about the commercial property market. 

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

 I have two young boys. A 7 years old who just started back at school this week and almost 9 months old. Life is busy and full of fun. I am blessed that I can thrive on limited sleep. Typically I wake up and get into some work around 7am when the rest of the family is still asleep.

I get my son ready for school from around 8:15 to 9am. I spend some time playing with the little one before starting work. I catch up on emails and calls and then have a team meeting around 11 to go over the files and urgent work for the day. 

As we can’t do physical inspections – we do a lot of zoom inspections. I get back to my desk and do some more work until around 4pm. In the afternoon I tend to work on and off mostly off my phone with messages to clients and team. Typically dinner is around 7pm and I try to finish off my day by then

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

 I am blessed that I can operate my whole business via my phone. All my clients know that I work around my kids, and so when I am looking after them, I am offline and they have to wait until late evening to get me. I work all the time because I love it, but also because I can fit my family life into it.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

It means that I am okay with visiting clients with my son in tow, or that they are okay to catch up at the park, going for a walk, or even meeting in a nail salon in order to save them and me time! 

Work life balance means you have the freedom to be with your kids and work as well. I used to go to a play center and work – I don’t easily get distracted by noise or the outside world so I can work anywhere with a laptop or phone.

I take my children to everything as much as I can – to the office, to inspections – to my seminars. Work is high octane but I can relax by zoning out and playing with my son(s) for 10 or 20mins throughout the day. 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I have homeschooled my eldest since lockdown. It’s been a joy to take him to the office and get him to do his workbooks, craft or even lego, as I work. It has meant I’ve had to schedule less calls in my workday and I’m tending to work more after hours, but it has been incredibly fun hanging out with him.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

 I love listening to audio books; my latest favourites are Superhuman by Dave Asprey, Catalyst by Jonah Bergers and The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. When it comes to newsletters, unfortunately I spend way too much time online looking at commercial listings, seeing how areas have changed. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My real estate apps, WhatsApp and WeChat

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

I think I would be curious how any work leaders (or high-level corporate women) make it work. 

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

For me, it would be to build a business around what you love and your family life. I have this funny story – I had a client who wanted my advice on commercial property, and I said I’d only give it to him if he came to the park and pushed my son on the swing, and so that’s what he did! I gave him the advice, as he pushed my son on the swing; a win win. 

Another time, I needed a contract signed, so I asked the client to meet me at Chipmunks at Macquarie Center. My son was playing – it was loud with over 100 kids there in the middle of the day, I pull out the contract and my glitter pen and asked him to sign it.

I am fortunate that being the top expert in my field means people are happy to accommodate and come to you and blend in with the way you do business.

As a result, I am able to set my own work life balance and I also hire a lot of women who have kids, so we are an operation that works 24/7 because I keep their schedule flexible so they can be with their children. For me as long as we all hit our KPIs, I don’t care where anyone works.

Before you go…

If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here.

Join our community and never miss a conversation about work, life & balance – subscribe to our newsletter.

Start-up Founders, Venture Capital, Private Equity, Accelerators – hear them all talk about their stories where they went wrong, what went right and what they learned!
About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.