Who doesn’t enjoy a good rags-to-riches story that entails how grueling work leads to overwhelming success? It’s the stuff of movies, that is, true stories about those who stick with it. For example, the story of a single father moving from poverty to successful stockbroker in the 2006 film, “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith or the true tale of a migrant worker who fulfilled his dream of becoming an astronaut in the 2023 film “A Million Miles Away.” They keep us absorbed and inspired. This is the true story of Ellen Dynov Dell’Alba, a 9th grade dropout from Brooklyn, NY who fell in love at the early age of just 14, had 3 kids with her high school sweetheart by the age of 23 and separated after he became physically, mentally and emotionally abusive. The twists and turns, and old-fashioned hard work since then have led her to become a top producing real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty which would certainly make more good material for a Hollywood film.
After they split up, Ellen met James, a New York firefighter and they married. Two more children followed and Ellen was working 3-4 jobs at one time. Exhausted, she decided to try another avenue and join her brother and sister who were starting to attend Real Estate school. She did not take the venture seriously at first. Blessed with “street smarts and business smarts, but not book smart,” as Ellen described, the academics of the course frustrated her. She was about to give up but finally passed the test on her 6th try. From then on, she became centered, even devoting weekends and holidays working, spending endless hours late at her office. She was completely laser-focused on success. She said, “I knocked on doors and I cold-called. I slept, ate and breathed real estate.” To her merit, nothing was going to hold her back from succeeding. In her first year in the real estate business she completed 18 transactions. It grew to 42 transactions in her second year and 70 in her third year.
Ellen became so overworked that she landed in the hospital. She realized that she was trying to do too much and needed to learn to delegate some of the workload. She then hired a marketing specialist, a transaction coordinator, an administrator and several buyer agents. By year 5, Ellen had a full team of 9 or 10 realtors in New Jersey. She explained, “The business was running itself. My marketing showed the name “Ellen” everywhere in town and put Keller Williams on the map.” In her 6th year, Ellen was doing 150 to 200 transactions per year.
A year and a half ago her 27 year old daughter married and moved to Florida. “That did it for me, I didn’t want to be distant from my grandkids that I knew would be in my near future, “ Ellen said and added, “I always knew Florida would be my retirement place anyway.”
At that moment she decided to move to Florida and duplicate the way she had grown her business up north. In a quirky kind of coincidence, three of her children followed in her footsteps and are in relationships with their high school sweethearts. Though Ellen said she felt that the move was “like starting her business from scratch”, it helped that her 2 daughters and son-in-law followed her lead and joined real estate here in Florida. Her team did 22 real estate transactions in 2022 and they are aiming to finish this year with 40+ transactions. Her husband, James, who is retired and enjoys playing pickleball and cards with his many new friends has now joined The Platinum Group FL as well to help out with business. Ellen said, after some medical issues, “he is living life now and Florida has been the best move for my family.”
Ellen still travels back to New Jersey every 2 weeks but her oldest daughter, now 29, runs the business there, managing 21 real estate agents. Her goal is to eventually do 200 transactions here and 200 in New Jersey. “I’ll get there, in time,” Ellen said. “I was a young teenage mom with 3 kids, having my first at the early age of just 18. I was portrayed “—-as a young nothing who became a successful entrepreneur.” She feels she has worked hard and does not stand for whining or excuses. “I’m tough with my team. There’s no such thing as, “I’m tired, or I can’t do it. I don’t believe in failure!”
Ellen’s road to success has been admirable and is now filled with many awards: Sales Associate -Team Leader of “The Platinum Group’’, Keller Williams-A Top Regional Producer AND Keller Williams Realtor -”Top 1% Worldwide”, just to name a few. She has steadily grown from high school dropout / teenage mom to a hugely respectable force in her industry. Ellen sums up her philosophy saying, “My biggest thing is this: I don’t care where you are in life at the present moment—you can succeed and do anything you put your mind to if you want it bad enough.”