Entrepreneurship in America

Entrepreneurship in America

  • Riezl Baker
  • 09/1/22
I have often written about the greatest role model in my life, my grandfather, the late Ramon Bagatsing or “Lolo,” who was the longest serving Mayor of Manila, Philippines. A World War II veteran with the US Armed Forces of the Far East and a survivor of the Bataan Death March, he was awarded the American Defense Ribbon and was posthumously honored with the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony at the Capitol that I attended with my son Stuart.
“Lolo” lived his life serving others. He was an amputee, and I would watch him swim with one leg while we talked about life lessons and how he overcame adversities. I learned about empathy and compassion at a very young age. My family always believed that you should share your talents to enrich the quality of life of others wherever you live and work.

With the memory of my grandfather in my heart, I was honored to be invited to speak about successful entrepreneurship in America and making a difference as an immigrant at the 14th Annual National Empowerment Conference of the National Federation of Filipino American Association in Las Vegas in August. The Association is the largest non-partisan, non-profit organization of Filipino American institutions, businesses, and individuals. NaFFAA has thousands of members in thirteen regions that cover the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands. The conference theme was “Navigating the Present, Shaping the Future.”
Sharing positive turning point stories with young entrepreneurs at the conference was a highlight for me. One of those stories I named “11 at 11.” I was a night manager for a hotel company for two years working from 11:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. most days, making $11 an hour. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything because it taught me the essential trait necessary to run a business, and that is hard work.

I also joined a panel of distinguished business owners and executives for a general session on how to build a successful business and navigate through downturns and challenges. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must have the ability to adapt to change and adjust to different conditions brought about by the economy or the market. You have to be agile.

The journey that many immigrants go through to get to the United States strengthens their resilience and patience, which prepares them for the challenges of starting a business. Entrepreneurship is one of America’s most celebrated emblems. I am proud of my Filipino heritage. I am also proud to be a citizen of this great country where you have the opportunity to pursue your passions, start something out of nothing, and thrive in the midst of uncertainties.
Riezl Baker

Riezl Baker

Realtor® | Founding Principal

About The Author

Riezl Baker is an award-winning real estate agent with 22 years of real estate experience at Lake Oconee, Georgia. A resident since 1997, she is well-known for her business accomplishments and extensive community involvement. In 2020, she and her husband Ted co-founded Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate Group to combine their over 40 years of experience in the Lake Oconee market and with a mission to provide the highest level of service to clients.
In 2022, Riezl closed over $131 million in sales and was recognized as “Top Luxury Real Estate Leader'' by The Atlantan magazine and “Real Estate Newsmaker & Achiever'' by RIS Media. She was recognized as a 2021 Top Producer after closing over 70 transactions totaling $115 million and was awarded the Crystal Phoenix Award by the Lake Country Board of REALTORS®. 
She is passionate about her community and has been involved on a leadership level for many different organizations. She is the Past Chairman of the St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital Board and was part of the original founding Board that steered the opening of the hospital in 2013. She co-chaired the successful 2023 Heart & Soul Gala at The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Lake Oconee which raised over $450,000 for the local hospital. In 2010, she and her husband co-founded the Lake Oconee Food & Wine Festival to benefit local education, which has evolved into a three-day destination event at The Ritz-Carlton. An advocate for the arts, Riezl is a Board Director for the Oconee Performing Arts Society (OPAS). She was the President of the Lake Country Board of Realtors® in 2016. The Atlantan magazine awarded her "Expert in Second and Vacation Homes" for 2020 and 2021. She was recognized as a "2021 Top Luxury Real Estate Industry Leader" and was also nominated as "Best Bilingual" and "Best Community Impact" in Georgia.
Riezl holds a Bachelor's degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration and joined the Hyatt Hotels as a Corporate Management Trainee. She worked for the company for seven years in Operations Management and Hospitality Sales in Houston and Atlanta. She served as a Board Director for Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the largest meeting and event industry association, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Breakout, Georgia MPI's monthly publication that is distributed to thousands of members.
As the Director of Athens (Ga.) Convention and Visitors Bureau, Riezl developed strategic plans to attract conventions to the city. In 2000, she obtained her real estate license and worked for Reynolds Lake Oconee Properties where she was a top producer for 20 years. 
Riezl is a public speaker and has spoken at several national real estate conferences and webinars. She was an invited speaker at a National Empowerment Conference in Las Vegas in 2022 where she spoke about “Successful Entrepreneurship in America.” She was also featured in a 2022 episode of Fox Business Network’s prime-time real estate show Mansion Global. 
She and her husband have been married for 26 years and have two children, Stuart, who is a junior at Yale University, and Remi, who attends Interlochen Performing Arts Academy.

Community Footprints

  • Co-Founder, LEAD Lake Oconee
  • Board Member, Oconee Performing Arts Society.
  • Board Member, St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation Board.
  • Past Chairman, St. Mary Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation Board, 2017-2019.
  • Past President, Lake Country Board of REALTORS®, 2016.
  • Co-Founder, Lake Oconee Food and Wine Festival.
  • Three-Year Chair, Heart and Soul Gala Benefit, Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee.
  • Co-Chair, Heart and Soul Benefit Gala, 2022

Work With Riezl

A consistent top producer in the Lake Oconee area, Riezl has been recognized with numerous awards for her business accomplishments and community involvement. Contact Riezl today if you are thinking of selling or buying, or both.

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