Author’s Note: In keeping with our practice of interviewing interesting real estate industry personalities, Carolyn Capalbo is a REALTOR in Northern Virginia. But she is not the ONLY Carolyn Capalbo in the United States. (There are 4.) One of them is the mother of Ashley Dupree (the infamous “escort” of Eliot Spitzer). Almost instantly, everyone who Googled Carolyn Capalbo saw images of women in bikinis and newspaper articles about the affair. She now has the unenviable task of regaining her image so that she is comfortable having potential clients search for her name.
We caught up with Carolyn at an industry seminar and interviewed her for Real Estate Industry Watch.
EB: Hi Carolyn, you have started a bit of “buzz” in the real estate community as you work to reclaim your name when another “Carolyn Capalbo” became infamous. How is it going so far?
Carolyn Capalbo: The outpouring of support from the Realtor community has been amazing. Agents that I have not met personally have reached out to me and taken time out of their busy schedules to help me reclaim my name. It has been very heartwarming and humbling experience.
EB: Most REALTORS cannot imagine having their name overrun as you did. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like?
Carolyn Capalbo: When the story first broke, I really did not recognize the long term impact that this could have. I thought that the other Carolyn would enjoy her 15 minutes of fame and be out of the limelight once the story died down. I also was amazed that the mother of this girl would garner so much attention. The initial burst of phone calls surprised me. Reporters were calling me directly looking for information regarding Ashley. Reporters were also contacting my Broker’s office looking for information. My own buyer’s agents asked me if I had another child from a previous relationship. My children were also questioned at school if they had an older sister or half sister. What I didn’t recognize was the long term retention of this information via the search engines. Pictures of me were merged into the pictures of the other Carolyn Capalbo. Since our basic coloring is the same, even I can understand why some people might think that we are one and the same person. I also know that I can’t control the images out there on line. It is frustrating to not have control over your image.
EB: Tell us a little bit about the REAL Carolyn Capalbo.
Carolyn Capalbo: My motto is Service, Knowledge, and Integrity. I am very driven to offer my customers the highest level of service, expertise and excellence. Family is extremely important to me. I recently celebrated my 20th Wedding anniversary and am a very proud Mom of 3 amazing children (triplets). While being a Realtor, we have to be out there in the public; however, I have a very private side that I also enjoy. I love the water and love to be out on a sailboat as often as possible. I love to spend as much time with my family as possible.
EB: How did you get into the real estate business?
Carolyn Capalbo: I have always been excited about real estate. Timing was everything for me, my husband served over 20 years in the US Army. We move frequently and I stayed home full time to raise my children. On his final tour, we relocated to the Washington DC Metropolitan area and I re-entered the workplace. I utilized my background in economics and worked for a large bank in the area. When my husband retired and embarked on a second career, it was time for me to follow my dream and give real estate a try. My first full year in real estate I closed 64 transaction sides and knew that this was my calling!
EB: So now for some fun..what are your predictions for the top finishers in the contest? Who do you think will end up at the top?
Carolyn Capalbo: At this moment in time, when you Google my name, Lisa Udy, has the second position. But it is still early in the contest!
I am thrilled and grateful that Morgan Carey and Real Estate Webmasters has taken up my cause. I appreciate your support and generous donation of your time and prizes for my cause as well. Who do you think will win?
EB: (grin) As long as the winners are REALTORS who are helping you get your name back, we all win. Final Question. What have you learned from this experience that you would pass on to other REALTORs?
Carolyn Capalbo: You can’t control what is out there on line. The implications could be both positive or negative depending upon the situation. While I can’t remove the images of the other Carolyn Capalbo hanging out in a bikini on the beach, I can blog and provide testimonial proof that we are not one and the same. If this happens to you, get the word out that you are not one and the same person.
I still have no way to quantify how many potential clients have not called me because of that initial bikini impression. I believe that I must work harder to get past the on-line images.
Carolyn – we wish you the best in your business and efforts.