In our ‘At the Core’ section, we typically consider how our morals and values and our thoughts and ideas intertwine with the way we conduct ourselves within the context of the real estate industry. It’s a peek inside our collective mindsets. But as we wrap up 2019, for our last installment of the year, we wanted to have a little bit of fun with this segment by shining a light on the personalities of some of the individuals on our team.

It wasn’t a straightforward Q&A. We gave each team member the option to answer a few questions in each segment below just to see where they might take us. Aside from being talented professionals, we think the ESPINAL ADLER Team has a pretty interesting cast of characters. Enjoy!

Interview with Jeff Adler, Principal of ESPINAL ADLER Team

Where is your favorite place in the world outside of New York City?

I always wanted to be in New York. But there was a time that I loved London too. And Berlin is amazing.

Sometimes I think about what other cities I could live in. You go to New York, Baltimore, D.C., Miami, LA, Chicago – Cities where a part of the modern culture that was shaped by Jewish immigrants. I feel more at home. If I was going to leave New York, it would be one of those places.

I guess my happy place is Miami. I think that’s why we ended up there. (Jeff and his partner Ronen have a 2nd home in Miami). My grandfather ended up in Miami. It’s a big Jewish place. But what we love about it is how diverse it is. It’s not just the Jewish vibe there, but there’s a Latin vibe, Midwestern. Miami is a true melting pot city of America.

Tell us about one of your top-3 New York City moments?

It was in the late 90s. I was flying back from a business trip in Buffalo. I don’t love to fly, so I was already very nervous. But it was worse because there was a storm and the plane was surrounded by an ocean of clouds. When you looked out the window, you couldn’t see anything. Then the plane suddenly banked hard to the left. I looked out the window again and in the distance, I saw the top 3 stories of the World Trade Center. I was relieved.

From the moment we landed, the plane taxied, I got a cab, and I was opening the door to my apartment on W 21st street in 23 minutes! I was home and I felt safe.

Tell us a funny real estate story.

Marie and I helped a lovely couple sell their apartment very easily. But it wasn’t as easy finding a new place for them to live. Something was just a little off about all of the places we looked at. We saw so many places, but they weren’t really latching onto anything.

I showed them an apartment on July 10th, this year. I remember the date because I was thinking a lot about my dad who passed away. It would have been his birthday the next day. He was born on July 11th, 1937, the same day that George Gershwin died. My dad was an old school Jewish guy, and he really loved George Gershwin.

We walked into the lobby of the building and I saw a plaque dedicated to George Gershwin. It kind of felt like my dad was there with me. And somehow I just knew that this was the apartment our clients were going to love. And they did! Shortly thereafter they were in contract and they closed.

Tell us something amazing about one of your relatives.

My dad was an Assistant Principal at Jackie Robinson Intermediate School in Bed Stuy, on the same property where Ebbets Field was. My dad founded the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame.

Tell us something you learned in 2019 that is related to the real estate industry.

I learned that I can thrive in the real estate business no matter what the market is like. I came full circle on my confidence knowing that wherever the “market” was that my experience, perspective and work ethic would help me continue to succeed – and actually flourish because when the going gets tougher client’s need even more guidance and hand-holding. And I realized this many years later that I am actually an optimist not the stereotypical curmudgeonly pessimist New Yorker.

Interview with Marie Espinal, Principal of ESPINAL ADLER Team

Where is your favorite place in the world outside of New York City?

I was born at Beth Israel. Growing up, I lived in Brooklyn and in Queens and through their businesses, my family has roots in the Lower East Side. They set up shop on Ludlow Street, Rivington, Essex. Those were our stomping grounds. I’ve developed a love for this city almost like it’s a part of my family.

 The Dominican Republic is my favorite place outside of New York. It is the inception of that story and it allows me to bridge my ancestry and my roots. There is a certain purity to going back home to see how my parents were raised and where they came from. We go back every summer. My kids ride horses and play with the ducks. There is zero Internet. My parents always had that growing up. I like to go back to that.

Tell us about your worst day in New York City.

 9/11 was my worst day. I was taking classes at Fordham’s Bronx Hill Campus. I knew the gravity of what happened. That day I walked from the Bronx all the way home to Queens. It took me almost 9 hours. It’s impossible to forget.

Tell us a funny story about your childhood

 My brother and I were home alone while my parents were at work. I was 15 and he was 11. We were binge watching movies. We had a defective toaster oven and I put something in it, then completely forgot it was there. The kitchen caught fire. My brother, who is a New York City firefighter today was always destined for that job. He put the fire out, but all of the paint on the wall was dark and smoked out.

Together, we scrounged up enough from our allowance money to buy paint. We repainted the entire kitchen before my parents got home and we finished just in the nick of time.

 My mom got home first. She thought something smelled a little funny, but she went upstairs to change her clothes. After coming back down, she leaned up against the wall in the kitchen. The entire backside of her clothes were covered in white paint. But she didn’t notice. It was about three years ago when we finally admitted to all of this.

Tell us something amazing about one of your relatives.

My mom was one of 16 brothers and sisters. My dad was one of nine. I have 95 cousins. We just celebrated my grandparents 75th wedding anniversary. He’s 99 and she’s 97 and they are like two peas in a pod. And, at 99, from memory, my grandfather can still recite the love letters he sent to my grandmother before they were married. The two of them came from nothing and they created an army of people with such a tight bond.

What will you resolve to do differently in 2020 that will make you more successful at work?

 In this job we meet people from all walks of life. I really want to use this platform as a way to connect people and to do good. That is very important to me. We get so caught up in the work sometimes. The work matters, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that the people you meet really matter too. Making connections and turning it into something greater defines greatness and success and it brings about personal fulfillment. If everyone in every industry did this, they would be ridiculously happy. That’s the path I’ll be on in 2020.


Interview with Matt Jablonski, Real Estate Finance Specialist with ESPINAL ADLER Team

What brought you to New York City?

On most days, the train.

Tell us about your worst day in New York City.

For a while, I tried doing stand-up comedy in New York City. For the better part of a year, I did one or two open mics a week. I wrote enough jokes and funny stories that I filled more than a dozen journals. And I’m pretty confident that a lot the material is actually funny. Unfortunately, that’s not even half the battle.

I’ve had a panic attack once before, when I was in basic training. But I haven’t had any real issues with anxiety. Growing up, I was always the class clown. When I was in college I had a job entertaining at a nursing home – singing, conducting fake murder trials, and telling corny jokes to the residents. I even recorded a greatest hits tape with all my best songs – I was terrible, but people you can hear the people laughing in the background when I couldn’t hit the high notes. One lady even laughed and booed at the same time. I’m positive though, they were all having a good time. When I was a reporter, I could stand and ask a question in front of everyone at a town hall meeting. And when I was in the mortgage business, I had no issues speaking to a room filled with 30 real estate agents.

But with stand-up, when I was all alone on a stage and the spotlight was pointed at me, I was nearly paralyzed by fear. I got on stage 50 times, maybe. Every once in a while, I felt 25% comfortable. On those occasions, I got some laughs, which would push me to 37% comfortable, which got me a few more laughs. That felt really good. But I plateaued at that 37% mark. It never got better than that. In fact, sometimes it was a lot worse.

There were at least three occasions in which I officially reached the level of temporary paralysis. I froze! Two out of three times, I pulled it back together and suffered through my act.

The first time was the first time I was ever on stage. My parents were there. Some of my friends. My sister and brother-in-law. And front row, center, about 4 feet in front of me Ray Liotta was there too. You’re supposed to practice at dozens of open mics at least before you get up in front of 250 people. I didn’t do any. And when I was next to get on stage, the comedian that finished a few minutes earlier let me know that the guy from Goodfellas and those Chantix commercials was sitting up front. I was terrible. It was awful.

Tell us a funny story about your childhood.

I have a ton of funny stories from when I was a kid, but they’re not all fit for print. I don’t think this story qualifies as funny, but it’s sort of interesting, so I’ll tell it.

I lived in Texas when I was in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. My dad’s crazy boss with dark shades, slicked-back, jet-black hair, a died-black mustache, and a huge metal belt buckle, got us ticket to ride in the Goodyear Blimp. Its headquarters wasn’t too far from where we lived. Somewhere, there are pictures that me and my little brother took of our own house while sitting inside the Goodyear Blimp!

Tell us something amazing about one of your relatives.

According to my mom, vis-à-vis, I’m a distant relative of Daniel Boone.

Tell us something you learned in 2019 that is related to the real estate industry.

2019 was a learning year for me. I left the mortgage business behind. Now, with a year under my belt in a brand new position in real estate, I feel like I finally have my bearings. It’ll be easier to approach things more proactively instead of reactively. So, I can plan better.  

Interview with Joseph Chaplin, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with ESPINAL ADLER Team

Where is your favorite place in the world outside of New York City?

My two favorite places outside of New York are Aruba and Israel.

I love Aruba. It’s a short flight. The weather is warm. The water is crystal clear. I’m a big ocean guy.

I have family in Israel. It’s home to the Jewish people, and my dad spent many years there. I’ve been there three times. Once for my bar mitzvah, another time for birthright, and once just for a visit. The beaches in Israel are beautiful too.

Tell us about one of your top-3 New York City moments?

One of my top New York City moments was purchasing my first apartment. It really meant a lot to finally own real estate instead of supporting a landlord. That sense of pride really helps me when I’m showing properties and I can talk with first-time buyers about the value of homeownership.

Tell us a funny story about your childhood

I’m such a cautious person. I’ve been that way my whole life. I’m not the type to go skydiving or bungee jumping… I don’t do any of that stuff. So, I’ll never forget the time I thought I broke my leg at soccer practice. One doctor said it was broken and another one realized that it wasn’t. For a few days, I walked around on crutches. But that’s the only time something like that has ever happened to me. I’ve never had stitches or anything like that.

Tell us about a hidden talent.

I’ve made it to two different World Series of Poker final tables. In one of those events, I won $275,000. Before I got really busy with real estate, (and when it was legal to play online) I was ranked as a top 3 online poker player in the entire state of New York.

Tell us something amazing about one of your relatives.

I’m distantly related to Charlie Chaplin.

Tell us something you learned in 2019 that is related to the real estate industry.

I learned a lot about the finance side of real estate. And I learned a lot about different ways that my clients can save money.

Interview with Jessica Escobar, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with ESPINAL ADLER Team

What brought you to New York City?

I was born and raised in New York.

Where is your favorite place in the world outside of New York City?

My favorite place in the world outside of New York City… I would have to say it’s when I go visit family in Columbia. My whole family is from Columbia. It’s nice to get away and be in such a different place. I was there in February for a wedding and I brought my daughter with me.

Tell us about a hidden talent.

I do a really great impression of the Cookie Monster. And now that I have kids it’s making a big comeback. Sometimes I try a fake British accent, but it’s really bad.

 Tell us something you learned in 2019 that is related to the real estate industry.

I learned so much about the different neighborhoods in New York. Things I never knew before. And I learned a lot about which people in which places I can confidently refer my clients – especially while I’m on maternity leave.

For millions of people around the world, it’s the holiday season. Tell us about one of your holiday season traditions.

We always grew up celebrating all the American holidays. I have a small family. But we always had two turkeys. A Columbian turkey and an American turkey. They were stuffed and seasoned differently. There were only 8 or 10 of us, but we still had two turkeys. So, we had leftovers for days.

Another tradition we have, especially my family in Columbia, is 12 grapes. Everyone gets 12 grapes and you make one wish for each month of the upcoming year. Whenever we celebrate, we try to find a restaurant that does this so we don’t have to carry around all of those grapes with us – that would be weird!

Interview with Cortnie Schultz, Marketing Director for ESPINAL ADLER Team

What brought you to New York City?

I first visited NYC as an adult in 2016 and left the City knowing it was somewhere I wanted to live and make a life for myself outside of Florida, where I had been living for the previous eight years. Originally from San Diego, I had moved around a lot and had never visited a place that left me with the same feeling NYC did when my visit was over, so I knew this was the right decision for me to make the move. A year later, I moved to Manhattan and a few months later started with the ESPINAL ADLER Team, which has been the best decision I’ve made! They have truly become my family and helped immensely with the transition of moving to NYC a few years ago.

Where is your favorite place to visit outside of New York City?

I’ve lived in a bunch of different places around the globe (California, Virginia, Alaska, England, and Florida) and the one place I love going back to is San Diego, California. I grew up there and spent some of the best years of my childhood there, so when I go back I get very nostalgic. Not to mention the weather is amazing all year round! It’s so different than NYC, each place having their own individual advantages and drawbacks over the other.

Tell us something amazing about one of your relatives.

My father is a retired Navy SEAL, which I think is absolutely incredible. He accomplished so much throughout his 30-year career in the Navy and I have the utmost respect for the sacrifices he’s made for our country and freedom. He enlisted in the US Navy in August 1979 and completed basic training as an E-1 Fireman recruit, and retired in 2013 as a Lieutenant Commander.

Unfortunately I don’t have time here to talk about ALL of his accomplishments, but some milestones include completing Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training in 1990, serving at SEAL Team TWO as a weapons expert/platoon ordnance representative, deploying on two EUCOM winter warfare platoons and being involved in Operation Provide Promise Deny Flight in Croatia/Yugoslavia 1992 and again in 1994, advancing to First Class Petty Officer and being hand selected as SEAL Team TWO’s Personal Exchange Program (PEP) to operate with the British Special Boat Service 1995-1997, where he became the first American to be assigned as Assault Team Leader from another nation for the British Counterterrorism Squadron.

He advanced to Chief Petty Officer in 1998 and then was commissioned as a Navy SEAL Officer in 2000.  He reported to SEAL Team THREE as an Ensign and was personally assigned by the Captain as Assistant Operations Officer, Training Officer, and Task Unit Commander.  In May 2003 he was assigned as Officer in Charge at Naval Special Warfare Center Detachment Kodiak Alaska, where he was responsible for the Cold Weather Training program for more than 1,400 SEAL Qualification Students.  In 2007 he assumed the duties as Officer in Charge for the Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Command SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Detachment Panama City Florida, and in 2011 he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander.

His accomplishments throughout his career are amazing and he’s someone I always have admired and looked up to. I am so grateful to have such a great role model as my father! He’s definitely where I get my work ethic from.

What’s your biggest goal for the team in 2020?

2019 was a huge year for the ESPINAL ADLER Team and I’m so proud of the hard work and dedication from each agent on our team. It really makes me eager to see what we can accomplish in 2020 and beyond. As Marketing Director for the team, my biggest goal in this position for 2020 is to push the envelope to find out how we can set ourselves even further apart from other brokers in the real estate industry. Of course, this is an on-going initiative, but I think 2020 will be the year that everything starts coming together in this sense and it becomes outwardly apparent the work and time we’re putting into our marketing behind the scenes.