Series: I Work at Zeus

Karolis Karalevicius

Posted on Mar 29

In this edition, we spoke with Karolis Karalevicius, Director of Real Estate Portfolio. Karolis joined Zeus in 2016 (the scrappy early days) and now spearheads the Portfolio Management team. Read on to learn Karolis’s take on living and what led him to Zeus.

Where did you grow up? Did you move around or stay put?

I was born in Lithuania and didn’t leave the country until I was 15. My family migrated to the U.S. in 2000—my first flight ever. My parents, grandma, brother, and I lived in very tight quarters in a two-bedroom apartment (in the U.S. it would be considered a one-bedroom apartment). I got used to not having my own space, but now I really value it.

The apartment on the right on the 4th floor is where I grew up. (Google Street View)
But truly Kaunas (the town I grew up in) is remembered in my mind like this.

Once we immigrated to the U.S., it was like the floodgates opened. I moved away to college, I studied abroad in Singapore and traveled throughout Southeast Asia, and during the summers, I worked in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I’ve probably had 10 or 12 different addresses since college.

“Anytime someone says, “this is the right way to live,” I know they haven’t seen or experienced the world enough.”

Did moving around give you a new perspective on living?

A hundred percent. My wife and I share a passion for traveling—not just visiting somewhere, but traveling to see how life is lived differently in other places and blending into the flow of the local scene.

Each time you travel, you expand your horizon on what’s possible and learn another way to live. We tend to let our upbringing dictate the types of careers we could have or the things we could do, but as you travel and see more of the world, you learn that’s not the case. People can be happy in so many different situations. Anytime someone says, “this is the right way to live,” I know they haven’t seen or experienced the world enough.

Tell us what ‘home’ means to you.

Home is a feeling. It’s a place where you belong and where you’re welcomed. It’s a reprieve from any hardship or things that are going on in your life or society. Home is a sense of security.

Let’s switch gears to your experience working at Zeus. What led you here?

So the journey started after I read a Medium article by Kulveer (Zeus’ Co-founder & CEO). I had worked on a couple of real estate-related projects previously —one was running a hacker house in San Francisco with a friend. After reading that article, I thought, “this is interesting!” I ended up meeting with Kulveer and walked through the office. It had a homey feel and was definitely what you imagine a startup experience in San Francisco to be.

I started on a contract basis, which was great because it allowed me to get to know the founders and the company, and for them to get to know me. I found that from my first conversation with Kulveer, he was very self-aware, humble, and had ambition. It wasn’t the Kulveer show. It was really about wanting to change the rental landscape and finding ways to think of property management differently. I realized quickly that the reason some of my previous projects did not succeed was not that the business didn’t have potential, but because we did not think ambitiously enough and failed to build a culture of trust, vulnerability, and transparency.

Tell us a little about what you do.

I manage our property portfolio, meaning I choose which properties we add, which homes we keep, and the number of homes we have in an area. I collaborate closely with the finance and data teams.

How do you like to start your workday?

The first thing I do is get the girls ready and off to daycare (we have two young kids—a four and a two-year-old). On the way back, I usually stop to grab a cup of coffee at Equator (they have amazing coffee!), and then I get on the computer.

I’ve also started the habit of being mindful before I begin working. For a couple of minutes, I’ll meditate and be quiet. The main idea is to learn how taking a pause and centering myself creates different outcomes and results, and adjusts my perception of the day and my interactions with people...I just want a better quality of interaction with people and to be present.

How do you manage a healthy work-life balance?

It’s definitely an ongoing process, but the main thing I do is turn off my devices and notifications. So, for example, when I'm having dinner I don't have to constantly switch my attention.

Fortunately, at Zeus, I don’t think anyone is judging if you want to go for a run mid-day, take care of an errand, or set yourself offline for an hour. I value that because I’ve worked at other places where that was not the case versus Zeus where the focus is getting your work done but also taking care of your human needs.

“I think that's what gives me a lot of joy and meaning in life.”
What keeps you at Zeus?

The people. We get a lot done and are continuously learning and iterating. Iteration, to me, means that you're constantly finding a way to improve something about yourself or your environment. And I think that's what gives me a lot of joy and meaning in life. The culture makes it a special place where we celebrate even the small wins.

What’s something you want people to know about Zeus?

Zeus is the most psychologically safe (the top determinant of most productive teams) place I've worked and I think that allows everyone to be who they are. Our culture isn’t something that can be easily communicated through a photo. There’s an environment that anyone can thrive in, so bring your true self.

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I Work at Zeus is a monthly blog series that features the talented humans of Zeus Living. Interested in learning more about our work, culture, or joining the team? Visit our Careers page.

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