GREENSBORO, Ga. — Riezl Baker, co-founder and principal owner of Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate Group, spoke at the 14e National Federation of Filipino American Associations National Empowerment Conference, the largest nonpartisan nonprofit organization and affiliation of Filipino American institutions, businesses, and individuals. NaFFAA has thousands of members in thirteen regions that span the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. The conference theme was “Navigating the Present, Shaping the Future”.
Baker was asked to speak about successful entrepreneurship in America and making a difference as an immigrant. She shared positive stories that brought her to where she is today. One such story she named “11 to 11”.
“I was a night manager for a hotel company for two years, working 11:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. most days, and made $11 an hour. I wouldn’t trade him for anything because he taught me the essential trait needed to run a business and that is hard work,” Baker said.
She also joined a group of distinguished business owners and executives for a general session on how to build a successful business and navigate through downturns and challenges.
“To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to have the ability to adapt to change and adapt to different conditions that the economy or the market creates. You have to be agile,” Baker said, as she recounted the launch. Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate Group with her husband Ted during the pandemic in 2020.
The company has seen record sales volume over the past three years and Baker was recognized as the top luxury real estate industry leader in 2021 at an event in Atlanta. She and Ted were also recognized as Top Community Impact for all of their contributions to the Lake Oconee community. They moved to the lake in 1997 and have a combined experience of over 40 years in real estate. They have also been involved in various organizations which have had a positive impact on the community.
Asked about her role model, Baker spoke of her “Lolo” (grandfather), the late Ramon Bagatsing, who was the longest-serving mayor of Manila, Philippines. A World War II veteran with the United States Far East Armed Forces and survivor of the Bataan Death March, he was awarded the United States Defense Ribbon and was posthumously honored with the Gold Medal of the Congress at a ceremony on Capitol Hill attended by Baker and his son.
“Lolo has lived her life in the service of others. He was an amputee and I watched him swim with one leg while we talked about life lessons and how he overcame adversity. I learned empathy and compassion at a very young age. My family has always believed that you should share your talents to enrich the quality of life of others, wherever you live and work,” Baker said.
During his speech, Baker spoke of the journey many immigrants take to come to this country, which builds their resilience and patience that prepares them for the challenges of starting a business.
“Entrepreneurship is one of America’s most famous emblems. I am proud of my Filipino heritage. I am also proud to be a citizen of this great country and to call America my home where you have the opportunity to pursue your passions, start something from scratch, and thrive in the midst of uncertainties. Bakler added.