When Jennifer Mack first met her husband, Kris, fate stepped in. She was 20 years old and attending the University of Texas. Her high school best friend, who was attending the University of Wisconsin, invited her to live in Madison for the summer. While there, she applied for a summer gig at a restaurant. Initially, she didn’t get hired because she’d only be there for the summer.
But the 21-year-old bartender, her future husband, noticed her resumé. “He saw that I was from Austin and, coincidentally, his parents just moved there.” Kris asked the manager to reconsider, and Jennifer was hired. A couple weeks later, they officially met. “It was love at first sight. We dated that whole summer,” says Jennifer. Fast forward, five years later — and they were married in 2002. Celebrating 18 years of marriage this summer, Jennifer says she is still madly in love with Kris. They do weekly, non-negotiable date nights and alternate planning them.
To be clear, this love story wasn’t always fairy-tale like. As a former JAG in the Army, Kris did three tours in Iraq. On one particular tour, he left when their oldest was 6 months old and returned when she was 14 months old. “When he came back, she wanted nothing to do with him. For one month, we’d force her into the stroller and they’d go to the park together. That first day she screamed the entire time and then every single day it was like a minute less of screaming her head off.” By the end of the first month, things were fine, and now they have a great relationship.
But the point is, “For military families, it is really, really hard,” especially when it comes to rearing children. That said, Kris recognizes the value of serving his country so much that he is now in the National Guard (and during the COVID-19 pandemic, was activated and away from the family, yet again). His passion for military service rivals Jennifer’s for real estate.
Jennifer is no stranger to military life. Her father served in the Army and the family moved around quite a bit. In fact, she went to three different high schools in four years. Her mom was a school teacher and relied on Jennifer to help out with her two younger siblings. Through preschool and kindergarten, they lived in Germany; she spoke fluent German and would go to the grocery store regularly and make sure her siblings were on time and efficient. Often her parents would host parties and her mom would put her in charge. “I remember people were always impressed by that and I would get a lot of compliments on it — it made me want to help more.”
Jennifer got her master’s degree from Texas State, and for five years she worked for software companies. But when she and Kris married, he joined the Army and they were stationed in a town where she could no longer pursue that. After they bought their first house, she decided to get her license, in 2005. Shortly thereafter, she answered a classified ad for a licensed assistant. For $10 an hour she soaked up as much knowledge as possible. For two years, she worked under Donna Clayton Lloyd, an agent in Fayetteville, North Carolina. “We sold 55 houses that first year we worked together…She was this entrepreneurial force and taught me everything that I know.” They still keep in touch to this day.
Jennifer didn’t start selling on her own until 2012, a month after her youngest child was born.
Last year, this Pearson Smith REALTOR® did nearly $27 million personally and has a team with four other agents.
Jennifer says she is constantly being asked, how do you balance it all? How can you be so active with your husband, children, and volunteering and still be a Real Producer? For her, it boils down to a few core principals she has learned to hone: intention, calendaring, and discipline.
One of the keys has been keeping her schedule tight and standards high. She goes to bed early and doesn’t watch television. She gets her morning workout in by 7 a.m., is out the door by 9 a.m. and at the bus stop with her children. She has learned to really dial into what is important. “I work really hard until 4 p.m. and then I am pretty much done.” That leaves family time intact, “I’m pretty crazy with my calendar. Every minute is scheduled; that is the only way this all works.”
She wonders out loud, why do we have to choose between being a good mom and doing a robust business? We don’t, she insists, and she is passionate about helping other women REALTORS® live big, full lives. “I think that too many women think they have to take a particular path and don’t think outside the box, as far as what their lives could look like if they really considered all their choices and options.” For her, it’s not a choice as much as it is a calling.
Jennifer is a big advocate of self-care. “The biggest things that have helped me with this is being proactive and not putting off difficult conversations, sleep, exercise, and the practice of being grateful. We have to take care of ourselves and make sure we have healthy relationships.” Jennifer is a big fan of Orangetheory fitness and attends four times a week.
Jennifer and Kris have two children, 12-year-old Riley and 8-year-old Dane. Kris and her children obviously sit atop her list of priorities, and she mentioned that each of them share the same “sarcastic sense of humor.” She loves to cook (is actually in a cooking club) for them and play games with them, and only takes evening appointments once or twice a week. Some of her most cherished times with the family include “laughing together so hard we can’t even talk.” They stay active together doing things like hiking and skiing.
Giving back is in Jennifer’s DNA. It’s not uncommon for her to help a single mom pay rent or make a car payment. She is on the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce as well. When the pandemic hit, she reached out to nonprofits to see what they needed. Food and blood were top priorities. She collected hundreds of snack packs for kids who need food on the weekends when the school system wasn’t able to provide. Then, she began organizing a blood drive. She is a woman of action and will do whatever it takes to lend a hand.