The second installment of HELPFUL ALUMNI is here!
This is our ongoing series profiling some of the wonderful candidates that The Help Company has placed over the years. And without further ado, here’s our QA with estate manager Carlos Escobar.
THE HELP COMPANY: How did you get into this line of work?
CARLOS ESCOBAR: Completely by chance. Back in the late 90s, I had a friend that worked in the domestic field, as a personal assistant to an older couple in the Hollywood Hills. I happened to be with this friend of mine for a few hours, and I offered the housekeeper to help her clean a window that was higher up, as I saw she was struggling. She said, “That would be great.” The next thing I knew, the lady of house came out and said, I need your help with something else. I ended up getting a job there, as a houseman, sort of as a male housekeeper. I had been taking pharmacist courses at the time, but I liked this job, and they liked me as well, so I stayed on — washing cars, windows, everything a house man does. I didn’t even know how deep and expansive the field of domestic help was until later.
HELP CO: So how did you go on to become an estate manager?
CE: After a few years in that first job, I moved to another client. I was fortunate that their estate manager had me do a lot of things for him. That’s when I found out that estate management existed. It totally opened my eyes and he became my mentor. He saw the potential in me and told me to go back to school. He sent me to Hubbard College of Administration in L.A. and I took courses in business administration, while I was working as a house man. Then when my mentor left this job, he took me with him. At the next job, my mentor only lasted a couple of months — he really wasn’t cut out for the job — and I took the job after he left. Now I’ve been an estate manager for the last 10 years or so.
HELP CO: If someone wanted advice getting into this field, what would you tell them?
CE: You have to have a heart for service in this field. You can’t do it just for the money. If you don’t have the heart for service, you’re just not going to make it. That’s my perspective. It’s pretty stressful. You have to learn how to not take things personally. You absorb a lot of heat. If you’re thick skinned, give it a try.
HELP CO: Where would you tell someone to start who wanted to do this?
CE: I would advise someone to start at the very bottom, just like me. I’m not just a desk person, or a manager — I’ve done house keeping for many years myself, so I have authority when it comes to teaching a new housekeeper that comes in. That’s how I earn their respect. They know I’ve done it so they can’t fool me. I know what it is to wash a car in the winter weather where your hands freeze. I’ve done that. I’m a butler as well. I know what it’s like to be under pressure in the kitchen. So starting at the bottom is the most useful resource in my opinion. There’s a lot to learn if you want to be successful. I know everyone wants to be at the top. Some people get lucky. I can think of a couple of people who did maybe a year of care taking and then all of a sudden they get a break and they’re house managers. Great, I’m glad for them, but I don’t know how successful they will be. Part of my success has been knowing how to be a team player. If the housekeeper doesn’t show up on time, my boss doesn’t even know. The bed will be made. It will be done even better. But again, winning the respect from your subordinates – it’s having the experience behind you and being able to show them you know what you’re doing.
And also of course, get whatever education related to the field that you can, whether it’s wine courses or etiquette. Figure out how to handle yourself in front of celebrities and make them feel comfortable. They are running away from the paparazzi and coming into a house – the estate manager or butler has to be that totally calm escape.
HELP CO: What do you like about this kind of work?
CE: What I have really enjoyed over the years is seeing the smiles on my client’s faces. When you accomplish a task, you see the satisfaction on someone’s face that they know someone’s taking care of them. That really makes my day. Other than that, it’s really versatile. There’s not one minute of boring. You have to multi-task and problem solve. That’s a huge part of things, and it really gets me going. It’s about making it happen without letting the pressure show. You have to keep it calm, keep it cool. And the end result is just, it has to happen. No matter what. So that’s pretty exciting.
In my case, I get to meet tons of people. I don’t mean just like celebrities, but people in general, anyone. I just love people. I love working with people. I think my main motivation is to know that I’m making someone happy. And of course so many perks come with this job. I get to fly in private jets and all that kind of stuff that regular people don’t do.
HELP CO: Is there one particularly difficult problem that you solved, that you’d like to share?
CE: One client really liked organic blueberries, but they weren’t in season in the U.S. So we had to chase blueberries, and we ordered them from New Zealand, and we got them. That was pretty wild, pretty crazy and unusual. Another time, I was flown to New York on a private plane just to go for a walk with a client’s kids. I still don’t really understand it to this day. It just happened. People get so used to you. You’re family almost. You feel so comfortable around them. I had the fortune, in the place I work right now, to host the Duke and Duchess at the property when they were in Los Angeles recently. I got to be Michael Jackson and his children’s butler for 2 weeks. That was a very nice experience for me.
HELP CO: What has being an estate manager brought to your life?
CE: Growth as a person and knowledge — incredible knowledge overall. I’ve learned how to be well organized and punctual. It has improved my knowledge in many areas like managing and budgeting for multi-million dollar construction projects, helped me acquire etiquette. You learn to be a problem solver and in order to do that you have to be resourceful and just take care of business. That makes you grow up as a person, big time. And to my personal life, it has brought a lot of stability, especially financial stability, 100%. And it’s been a growth experience for my kids. How many people get invited to the Grammys at the last minute on a Saturday morning? All those things. It just changes your life. The financial stability is huge. I wouldn’t say it helps with marriage stability. It’s going to take a lot of your time so your marriage might get rocky. You belong to the client, pretty much. It’s a 24-7 thing.