5 Questions with Eric Copper

With a heart for travel, Austin Portfolio Real Estate agent Eric Copper had plans after college that involved anything but a “conventional” job. After a few twists and turns, Eric landed in the perfect industry – one that he is passionate about.

We sat down with Eric to find out more about how his background, passion, and experience have distinguished him in the Austin real estate arena and helped him become a top producer.

Tell us about your journey into real estate.

After I graduated college, United Airlines hired me in my hometown, Chicago where they are based. Having a degree in Business Administration and German…(he paused before admitting that Spanish would have been much more practical and useful had he known he was going to live in Austin), I passed the Berlitz German conversational test and was set to “fly the friendly skies.” I was excited thinking I could justify traveling the world and then use my degrees in Business Administration and Marketing when I was ready to get a “real” job. Well, suffice it to say, I had to get a “real” job real fast as I was immediately furloughed for six months. I didn’t have the luxury of waiting – I was a young graduate and had bills to pay!

I wound up in the cellular industry in 1993 when the industry was still in its infancy stages. I helped pilot the first kiosk within, what would be today, the equivalent of a Best Buy. It was cutting edge at that time. Long story short, I was in the telecom industry for 11 years before moving into the residential division of the company overseeing 100+ person call centers for Ameritech until we were bought out by SBC in 2000 when I was then transferred from Chicago to Austin.

In short, the home phone industry was in a state of turmoil and slowing becoming extinct. I was intrigued with real estate and decided to take night classes to get my license. After surviving 8 layoffs over a 2 year period, I lost in the 9th inning (laugh). It was at that point that I decided to bank on myself and become an entrepreneur. It didn’t happen overnight and it took a tremendous amount of hard work. I failed forward a lot but was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time when my career took another big turn. Because of my leadership skills and experience in the telecom industry, I got on the radar at Keller Williams.

I ended up having the unique and special privilege of working for both Mary Tennant and Gary Keller running the largest real estate brokerage in the country at that time. It was a huge opportunity and it shaped my future success for sure. I did that for four years and although I am grateful for that opportunity, I am super happy being an entrepreneur again.

What do you enjoy the most about being in real estate?

Selling real estate is not transactional for me. It is a lifestyle and it connects me deeply to the community and city I love. Real Estate offers me the opportunity to work with a variety of people from all walks of life, each with unique needs and circumstances. That excites me and fulfills my desire to have variety and new challenges regularly. I am fortunate to have clientele ranging from A-list celebrities and professional athletes to first-time homebuyers. It is a privilege to be invited into a client’s home as a professional and it is a gift when they invite you back as a friend. I cherish that.

You’ve called Austin home since 2000. What has been your favorite place to go in town?

One of my all-time favorite places is Maria’s Taco Xpress. My boss at SBC took me there the first day on the job in June of 2000 for breakfast. This was back when it was on a dirt road and wasn’t surrounded by all the residential hi-rises and businesses there today. It’s a place that is quintessentially Austin. I always take friends, family, and clients there to get a feel for what makes Austin “Austin.” My order never deviates – it’s always 1 Miga and 1 Pollo Guisado. Total comfort food for me! It’s still open today and, if you’re lucky, Maria will be there to say hello.

Outside of real estate, what are some of your other passions?

The Arts are a huge passion of mine and I am a firm believer in supporting the community where I live and make a living by giving back with both my time and resources. I am particularly passionate about Zach Theatre, The Long Center and Conspirare, along with so many other great organizations like People’s Community Clinic, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, and Hospice of Austin. It is my belief that The Arts gives our community vitality. It connects people in a meaningful way and challenges us to see and hear things differently. It was through Zach Theatre that I was able to meet some of the most wonderful people and connect quickly to the community when I moved to Austin. I was even able to perform a little in some shows over the years, most recently with the Conspirare Symphonic Choir. Today, I am very proud and honored to serve as a Trustee for both the Zach Theatre and The Long Center.

We know you enjoy traveling. What are some of the most exciting places you’ve visited?

Traveling is my favorite adventure. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than getting on a plane and visiting a foreign land. You won’t find me on a tour bus – you’ll find me off the beaten path exploring and indulging in local culture and cuisine. I am especially fond of Denmark, where I still have family and visit often. Back in 2004, I made it a goal to take my grandmother on as many trips as possible since she shares the same passion for traveling that I do. We’ve traveled the world together and I’m proud to say that she is in fabulous health and is super active. We celebrated her 90th birthday in Denmark two years ago with our family there. Am I lucky or what?!

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