Written By: Sidda Bruno
Bryson Gray is a sophomore Aerospace Engineering major at the University of Texas at Austin. He started as a leasing agent in the Spring of 2019. Here is a short interview we had with him to let you get to know him better.
Where are you from? I am originally from Midland, TX, I grew up there most of my life. It’s in West Texas but there’s not a lot going on out there. Then I finished up high school in the Fort Worth area in a smaller town called Weatherford. In my opinion, I would say Fort Worth is the cleanest Texas city. Both places were great places, but I really love Austin – I would say Austin is my home more than anything.
Why did you pick your major? I lived in Fort Worth pretty close to Lockheed Martin, and there’s just a bunch of Aerospace engineering guys over there and in my community. That’s what attracted me to it and I love space and anything space-related.
What do you enjoy about college? I like the social aspect of college, it’s a lot of fun. Also, academic-wise, I love studying and I love being a student. I think I’m a good student, I like to be a student – it’s fun to be organized and learn more stuff.
Are you involved in organizations on campus? I’m a Ramshorn Scholar with the Cockrell School of Engineering and then a Texas Pike. Ramshorn starts out as a FIG [First-Year Interest Group] and after your first year most FIGS will just end but the Ramshorn is more of an organization. You get invited as a FIG and then admitted – you have the option to continue. For second-year and third-year there aren’t spots reserved for you in the FIG so they have dinners where they invite engineering guest speakers – it’s usually pretty small just 10-12 people on campus at the ER. The engineering guys come in and talk about their job and engineering difficulties they run into and it’s a lot of fun. The fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha is Texas Pike and that’s been a lot of fun. It’s mostly a social fraternity but we do have a philanthropy group. We work a lot with the Austin Firefighters — at one of our tailgates they brought a firetruck and I don’t know how they did it but they installed this margarita machine inside of the firetruck, so we had a tap on the truck. We raise a lot of money for them every year. Actually, I pretty much landed this job because of it, I’d say, because Bobby Cave, he was a Texas Pike. I think it helped me, but I definitely didn’t find Bobby because of Texas Pike. It was just nice to have some common ground during the interview.
Would you rather go to the beach or the mountains for a vacation? The beach is nicer, you can get a tan. I think vacations are more about relaxation so if you go to the mountains, I can imagine you’re gonna be hiking. That’s fun, don’t get me wrong, I would probably still go to both – but the beach if I wanted a vacation. I’d want to chill, have my flip-flops and my tan, get some drinks.
What does it mean to be having the college experience? I think it means trying new things and figuring out what you like and don’t like, in almost every realm. So, schedule-wise, what you’re okay with, what your capacity is at, and social-wise meeting new people — especially being on the 40-Acres we have so many abroad students so you can meet many people. The endless opportunity here at UT is the college experience of trying new things and doing things that you wouldn’t normally do if you weren’t in college or weren’t in Austin. It’s a great place, you can try pretty much anything.
What are 3 words to describe yourself? I would say I am outspoken, optimistic and good at making light of things (maybe silly or lighthearted?). I’m pretty serious with some things, but I would hate to call myself serious if I only had 3 words. I could be serious about some things, maybe focused.
What do you like to do on your days off? I really don’t have days off. I’m pretty much always out, but on down-time – I go to the gym every day. Usually, on the weekends I’ll go to the gym and hit legs extra hard or something only because you have more time to relax and rest and you have the next day to sleep in. I think sleep is important when you’re abusing your body like that. I just like to chill – I think the best way to put it is that days off are literally meant to be days off. To catch up, I’ll end up doing laundry or grocery shopping in preparation for the next week. Days off are prepping for the next week while relaxing – it’s your buffer zone for the next week because otherwise you have to do all those things during the week and that’s just a wrench in the dryer.
What’s your dream car? A Tesla. I think electric cars are underrated and I am a huge fan of Elon Musk. I love him, SpaceX, Tesla, what did he do…PayPal? What a great guy.
What’s your favorite holiday? My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because you’re with family, there’s football, there’s food and then after – you can still look forward to Christmas. It’s literally the perfect spot in the year cause it’s a big feast and then at the end of the day…Christmas is still there and you’re not disappointed. After Christmas ends you’re just like…………….Valentine’s Day. We have the ham, the turkey, my Grandfather makes brisket, my aunts and my dad will make Pecan Pie – my favorite pie. I think that’s the most “family” thing we do is the Pecan Pie.
Do you have a favorite movie genre? I don’t like re-watching movies or TV shows because then there are little bits that I know are gonna happen and it’s less interesting. I like to appreciate things in the present moment, the first time around, I wouldn’t ever re-watch something. I’d say my favorite genre of movies is Horror movies. I love scary movies, especially at the movie theatre. Alone, by yourself, in your room – maybe not. But at a movie theatre with friends, that’s always cool. Actually, I’d say I like Sci-Fi movies even more than Horror.
What’s a talent you wish you had? Besides a couple of cords on a guitar, I don’t know how to play any instrument. I hope one day, probably when I’m retired and have free-time, I’d like to invest some time into learning an instrument. The piano would be nice, just so you know it all. I think that’s a good place to start but even to have a little band, that would be cool.
Who is someone that you look up to? The basic answer is my parents, I do look up to them. They’re very hardworking, assertive, strong-willed people, both of them. So, they’re a lot to handle but they instilled great work-ethic into me – that’s who I look up to personally. But as far as a role model I would say someone more like Elon Musk. I love him because he does it all – the electric car stuff, SpaceX, and I think he’s cool. He’s self-made and at one point he shared a computer with his brother and he could only use it at night time when his brother didn’t need it. So, he coded PayPal every night for months on end and he could only do it at night and then it turned into this huge business. He’s very intelligent and also an entrepreneur. Some people think he’s kind of weird but he’s just genius.
Do you have a favorite musician? I am a huge fan of modern rap and hip-hop. But if I had to pick one artist of all-time, it would be the Red Hot Chili Peppers because they remind me of my dad.
How do you maintain balance in your schedule? Via google calendar. I like to plan at least a week ahead of time, but also maintaining balance is accounting for unpredicted things. Most days I like to have an hour or two of absolutely nothing planned, no studying, no nothing just in case you do have that unexpected tour or an unexpected trip to the grocery store. Last year I tried to have everything planned by the hour every day and that was overwhelming and hard to maintain. I like to be consistent because I think consistency is proof of concept of mental strength – but by-the-hour was just overboard. I plan a couple of days in advance but I also like to plan for unaccounted things, I think that’s the best way to not let your OCD go overboard.
Who is one person you want to have lunch with? Elon Musk.
When do you feel you’re most creative? This is another nerdy thing. I think I feel the most creative when I’m making Excel spreadsheets. Half the tabs open on my computer are Excel spreadsheets – either that I’ve made or someone else. I like to track things and you can present data in so many different ways. The more data you have the more you can fix or track. Another thing I ran into with working out is that it’s really a conceptual thing – how do you plan for improvement? Would you rather do more reps or more weight? And if you’re doing both, more reps with more weight, is that an efficient way to go about it? I decided more reps and then after you hit 4×10, 4×12, 4×14 with the same weight, instead of going to 4×16 you go back to 4×10 with a higher weight. You google this and there’s no answer, it’s a conceptual thing. When you’re writing an Excel spreadsheet and planning it all out these are the things you run into.
What’s something you’ve done recently that you’re proud of? Client related, I was able to get one of my really good clients – her mom reached out to me and I helped all three of her daughters find housing at all different places (they didn’t want to live together) – I was able to get her a really, really short-term lease. Her mom called and she said her daughter needed a really short-term lease and they tried the sublet route but couldn’t find anything they liked on Facebook or it was sketchy. I reached out to my contacts at this apartment and I was able to do a 4-month lease and that’s very uncommon and… I still got paid a commission. As a locator – it’s not really even smart for apartments to pay commission for anything less than 12 months. But I was paid commission on a 4-month lease. They were having a hard time filling their rooms and we just made it happen. I was really proud of that – I don’t think I’d be able to do that again anywhere else. Her mom trusted me and I pulled through with it.
What attracted you to get your Real Estate License? I worked for a non-profit HUD-approved agency. They helped people manage through foreclosure here in Austin. So, if you’re foreclosing on your home they’d help you settle or renegotiate the mortgage but a lot of times the people would lose their home. It was such a sad thing, it was a really sad job. People would call and cry and so that’s when I not only saw those agents making a difference but that’s when I understand how important the home is for people. As a family, your home has so much to do with your livelihood and that’s only because I would see people completely break down in the office – they were losing their home, losing their life. A home holds a lot of weight in someone’s life. That’s why I got my license, I wanted to be a part in the process of helping students, in this case, find the place they will call home for a few years or months.
How does it feel to help students find housing? It feels good. They’re gonna call it their home and that’s the place that they’re going to go to at the end of every day – if you help someone and they enjoy the place you find, you deserve the credit. And you made the process easy. Coming in, most students don’t know about guarantors, admin fees, security deposits, lease addendums, little stuff like that. If you’re able to make it easier for someone at the same time it’s nice.
What are some of your favorite properties right now? Right now, my favorite property is HillTop because I am part of the leasing team. Mostly, I like new apartments – they’re just fun. They usually have more money to spend on leasing and marketing so they usually have cooler events. I’d say my favorite right now would be HillTop and Moontower. Of course, I’m a little biased but honestly what product is better than HillTop right now?
What keeps you motivated in leasing? I really do like our Congratulations email system because I feel out of place when it’s not my name. When someone else is killing it I’m like, I need to go out there and kill it now. That’s a good source of motivation is when I see the success of colleagues, I want to share in that success. If I see someone load in 20 potentials in Zoho, like, I need to do that too. I wish that was me.
How do you advertise yourself? On my Instagram is the only place I advertise other than in conversations, in classes or on campus. Super easy, @brysonu – every platform I’m on is that. I post on my stories of events and I try to keep people reminded of what I do so when the time comes they’ll remember.
What are the aspects of your job that you love? You get to make your own schedule and you’re not required hours. You work around your schedule and your success is measured by how much you work. There’s no cap on how much you can potentially make – I like that a lot too. If you’re being paid hourly, you can work at 110% capacity and still be paid the same as you working 70% — but in this job working at 110% you’re going to get paid way more than just operating at 70%. The endless potential is a great aspect of this job.
Do you have any funny stories from going on tours? I had a time going to a model unit on the 8th floor and the client I was with really insisted that we take the stairs. Really insisted. I don’t know if she was scared about the elevator or if it was a lifestyle thing for her, so I was like, fine we’ll take the stairs. We raced up the stairs and we were both out of breath and I was like this is why I didn’t want to take the stairs – it was so awkward. We both, without saying anything, mutually agreed that we needed to catch our breath. It was kind of awkward, but we both knew we needed to catch our breath. I was so done from that little rush up the stairs so that I couldn’t speak – so how do you give a tour when you can’t speak?
What career do you see yourself doing? I’m going to pursue a career in Aerospace for sure but I have a passion for real estate so I’ll probably keep up with it in some capacity. I’d like to stay in the real estate world even if that’s just buying a home early on and gaining equity then selling, or leasing it out one day – you could still say you’re in real estate. I’ll probably buy a home right out of college, because you know if you start early you pay it off early.
What’s your dream job? Elon Musk, serial entrepreneur. Like Shark Tank stuff, that’d be cool, I love that show. I think that should be everyone’s goal at one point in their life when they retire is to have a lot of savings or something to be able to invest, even in their children, or small businesses. I’d like to do something like that one day — of course, have an Aerospace career, have some real estate and hopefully have enough money to do some cool stuff like invest.
How do you see yourself being in 10 years? I’d like to have at least a few different sources of income, passive or non-passive, and I’d like to be on track with my goals and, of course, I’d like to be happy and I hopefully am happy. At age 30 you’re still pretty early on in any career you’re in, so I’d like to be at a good spot and showing initiative with whatever I’m doing and being the best, going up the ladder of things.
Anything to add?! I’m a great conversation and an even better agent. Reach out or follow me on Instagram, @brysonu.