VP of Sales, Neal Communities
Carlos Puente is used to dealing with uncertainty in his role as vice president of sales for Neal Communities. Everything from consumer confidence and interest rates to an attention-grabbing presidential tweet can have impacts of varying degrees on the housing market.
“There are a lot of external forces that can really affect, negatively and positively, what we do and how we do it,” Puente says. “I feel like it boils down to hard work and good communication, which helps everyone stay motivated during times that are a little more challenging.”
Puente, 39, focuses on sales strategies for the prolific Lakewood Ranch–based home builder and enjoys the higher purpose of what he and his company do. “We are helping build the American dream for a lot of people, in the sense of creating home ownership,” he says. “And we’re actually building something, which is nice. There’s a lot of great growth on the internet, but everything is intangible. We’re still building a very tangible product.”
Over the course of his career, he has learned the importance of making expectations clear, whether that’s among his sales team or with clients and vendors. “If you set expectations from the beginning, you can be more honest, even if things aren’t necessarily what someone wants to hear,” he says. “We tend to be more forgiving if we’re communicated with, and people are honest with us.”
Puente also sets expectations for himself and has found that putting pen to paper helps him stay organized. “I think there’s some sort of innate satisfaction to being able to write something down and then cross it off,” he says.
The native of Spain is a big music lover (“It can literally change your mood within minutes”) and has traveled to every continent but Antarctica, which he hopes to visit. He attributes the career success he’s had to his willingness to put the effort in.
“I don’t think there’s any special sauce to success,” he says. “I think a lot of times it’s just hard work, determination, and staying humble.”
ON THE RECORD: Carlos Puente
Name: Carlos Puente
City of residence: Tampa
Employer: Neal Communities
Title: VP of sales
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Years on the Gulf Coast: Eight
Marital status/children: Married with kids
Alma mater/degree: University of Florida/Indiana University, MBA
Where is the best place to network? MS-Bia and other builder functions
What's the best business lesson you've ever learned? That communication and setting proper expectations with co-workers, internal customers and particularly external customers is key to success. You can overcome delays, product issues and many other problems if you just communicate with honesty.
What's your top tip for being productive? Write it down, and prioritize accordingly. If it is not written down and easily visible, it is likely not going to be complete. It can be on a notepad, an Outlook calendar or a Post-it note. Seeing what needs to be completed keeps me moving through the day.
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? DJing a private party.
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Through office volunteering, we did a lot of work with All Faiths Food Bank
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? US Armed Forces Reserves (Air Force or Navy). Would be fulfilling to give back to my country. In hindsight, I should have done it when I had the opportunity
What's your favorite off-hours activity? My family. Having little ones is very exciting and fun. A close-second is soccer, which I play weekly.
What's your favorite board game or video game? Mario Kart is still my favorite.
What's the top item on your bucket list? A family trip out of Argentina down to Antartica. That would satisfy my last continent to visit, and icebergs, whales and penguins are extremely interesting to me.
What's your happy place? Anywhere I have some good house music playing. The right music can improve my mood no matter what else is going out in the world.
What's your favorite podcast? NPR ones. I really like "Fresh Air," "Science Friday" and others.
Who/what is your favorite musical artist/band? I have a lot of likes, but if I had to pick one, I would actually pick an electronic music producer, Sasha.
Who would play you in a movie about your life? A young Antonio Banderas
What was your first album/tape cassette/CD? Boy, that's a real hard one to try and remember. Maybe Boyz II Men, but it could have been a recorded mix tape of Spanish music before that.
What was your first concert? Backstreet Boys
What's one song that will get you out on the dance floor? Ginuwine, "Pony"
What's your favorite karaoke song? "Bailamos" by Enrique Iglesias
What instrument/role would you play in a band? Maybe piano, but not because I know how to actually play it
Please describe yourself in three words. Friendly, charismatic and driven