To experience multitasking at its higher level, hang with Mississippi born Catherine Donaldson! One of the finest examples of it will appear at the end of this article, as Catherine and I were departing one of her $4 million dollar listed homes, where she agreed to be cornered for an hour.
Catherine greeted me at the door with a brilliant smile, her dark brown, shoulder-length hair framing big eyes with a mischievous twinkle-the energy surrounding her would permanently retire the Energizer bunny! "This is a very interesting home," Catherine explained as we mounted a staircase and settled into a lovely breakfast nook with a stunning Atlantic Ocean view. She continued in sales mode until I was ready to mortgage everything I own to buy this house! It's no wonder, since "Cat," as she is known, is one of Sotheby's International Realty's top producers. After moving to the Lowcountry with engineer husband, Brad, in the late 90s, Cat worked with several companies before joining Sotheby's in 2008. Although specializing in high-end properties, experience has taught her, "There are multitudes of personalities out there, and whether it's a $200,000 property or $5 million property, a good agent works well in either direction. Of course, there are some clients who may not want to work with you, and a few who have to be fired!" she emphasizes. "I tell my clients if they price their house correctly, I'll sell it!"
The electricity in the room tugged at the waves, coaxing them indoors with us, as Catherine recounted her younger years in the U.S. Navy. "I was out of college that year and was not happy with the curfew my dad felt necessary to impose on me, so I joined the Navy to see the world! I chose the Navy because I grew up boating and love being on the water. Off I went to Italy as a fire fighter on the "USS La Salle, the first ship to allow women." A pause, "Let's see.600 men and 50 women-not bad! We visited 37 countries, and spent much time in Italy, so I speak fluent Italian. It was quite an experience, and the military helped me complete my education."
Despite her bustling schedule as a top producer, Cat strives to devote quality time to her five children, which she adores. "There are life lessons kids learn from large families. They cannot be selfish. They have to step up and help, whatever the chore. Running my house is like running a business. Some days turn a profit, others a loss!" With a toss of her head she declares, "This Mama is a big ole' cook, and if it has butter and a root, I'm on it. My kids are spoiled when it comes to their meals. If I cannot be home, I prepare their dinner ahead of time. If I don't, I hear about it!" She laughs, "Even though they dub me a workaholic and roam the house with imaginary cell phones to their ears imitating me, I try to give them one-on-one time, instead of a few uh-huhs while doing something else. However, when driving them to school, sport practices, doctor and dentist appointments and her phone rings, "I simply snap my fingers over my head and all is quiet, so I can take the business call!"
Cat and her daughter, Rebecca, teach Sunday school at Church of the Cross, and with cleverness and creativity, Cat recently surprised eighth graders at Cross School by decorating all their lockers with each individual's personal interests. "Brad was in Afghanistan a year, so I undertook scrapbooking. I learned to sew when little Brad was about a year and made all his clothes."
As "mama," wife, chef, chauffeur, CEO, real estate virtuoso, friend, and teacher, Cat successfully dons enough hats in a few hours to make most dizzy. Two bells ring simultaneously. Geez, even the house is multitasking! One is Cat's phone signaling our hour has slipped away, and the other? "Oh, that's Fed Ex. I had them deliver a package, cause I knew I'd be here an hour!" Another shot of enthusiasm permeates the hallway as Cat concludes, "I feel I was born to be in sales!" And not surprising, Cat, whose life is undertaken with Formula One levels of intensity, finds it "Extremely fulfilling!"