"There is a difference in life between a job that pays the bills and a career that excites you to get up in the morning, plot your day and have the passion to be your best self," Tami Halton Pardee begins.

She knows what she's talking about. You may never have heard of Halton Pardee, but among Real Estate brokers, she is The Queen. Halton Pardee is the owner and principal broker of Halton Pardee & Partners, the #1 real estate brokerage firm in Los Angeles -- and the #2 team in the entire nation for transaction volume. To date, her company has sold over $2 billion dollars worth of residential and commercial properties, and Halton Pardee has been featured in People Magazine, Good Housekeeping and other leading publications.

When founding her firm in 2005, Halton Pardee chose to create a unique business model, forming what she refers to as a "work family" with staff employees, rather than using independent contractors as most competitors do. She chose people who love the work as much as she does -- professionals she enjoys working with, collaborating with and socializing with. She picks people who "share a mutual love" of their work. However, she notes, "Despite love for our work, fatigue from the daily routine is always a concern," so Halton Pardee's strives to be innovative with her team. "I work to find creative ways to consistently inspire, empower and encourage (my staff), to avoid complacency and continue to grow." She shared a few of her "go-to" practices in achieving this goal with Inc.com:

1. Make your work family like your real family.

"We support each other in all of our 'extra curricular' activities, whether it's an art show or comedy performance one of our team members is participating in," Halton Pardee explains. "We show up for each other -- and that commitment really builds a strong bond among us. It also encourages creativity inside and outside the workplace."

2. Make the workday fun whenever possible.

Halton Pardee believes that love and laughter are the best rewards in life, so she focuses on creating a fun culture to reflect that. "We have a big bell that we ring every time we close a sale, and a large picture of a rooster that represents an inside joke from when we first started the company. There's also a "grumpy cat" costume that has been part of the Abbot Kinney fall festival, held each year on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California.

But silliness is encouraged for more than a good laugh. "It's about taking time out each day to make human connections with our coworkers," she notes. To this end, the company also has a company retreat, weekly "happy hours," and other fun events for staff members throughout the year.

3. Build work-life balance in to the plan.

"At the beginning of every year, our teams gather in our conference room to make what we call 'Life Boards.'" Halton Pardee explains: "It's a visual collage broken into 5 categories: Community Roles, Family Roles, Work Roles, Relationship Roles, and Personal Roles. Each one of us creates goals within the categories that are very specific. After we complete our boards, we all present it to the group so that we can support one another throughout the year to achieve them. For example, one of our team member's goal was to become a professional DJ. He listed exactly how he was going to go about it. Now, he's DJ'd in Las Vegas for Jay-Z and Beyoncé. It's incredible what happens once you really dig in and make that strong commitment, with support; you actually meet your goals more often than not!"

Another strategy Halton Pardee uses to set the tone that encourages work-life balance is to begin weekly meetings with "an insight into life and its application to work." She adds, "So often, we forget that our work is an extension of our life and that life lessons can be aptly applied to our days in the office. For that reason, I start our weekly meetings sharing a life experience. Whether it's something that happened to me recently or an observation I make during my early morning walks on the beach, our meetings begin with an insight that I can share to pay it forward to my team. I try to provide perspective and empower them to make more inspired choices in their lives, and to take a more pragmatic approach to their work. Recently, I moved into a new house and had an unexpected water leak that flooded part of the first floor. Rather than panic or get angry, I stopped, took a deep breath, and made the calls necessary to solve the problem. I shared that story with my team to remind them that any situation with a client can be solved through a calm and strategic approach -- and that they have the necessary tools to make smart recommendations to their clients." These stories help bring the team together, and also build connections between what happens at the office and at home into a more seamless unit.

4. Be creative.

"Create unique experiences as part of your mission, day to day," Halton Pardee advises. For example, she talks about realtor caravans and hosts open houses. "Yes, we do them, but that doesn't mean they should be cookie cutter. I consistently challenge myself and my team to be innovative when we represent a home - whether it's having a wine and cheese platter for a Beverly Hills estate, local coffee for a Venice duplex, or an inspired event for a "must-see" newly constructed property. If we can create experiences, we're pushing ourselves to be even better at what we do. Our clients can feel the difference between working with us and with our competitors. It's also a great showcase of the kind of company we are, which is apparent to everyone who walks in the door."

5. Give back

Halton Pardee is very committed to charity, and has built her company to reflect her values. She suggests that companies get out and make a difference in their communities, because in addition to doing good, "giving back is an incredible motivator." She elaborates, "Too often, I see companies that are focused on making money -- and while that is important -- it's also important to do something good for the community where you work. Feeling good from helping others, not just checking your bank account statement, is inspiring and breathes new energy into the whole team. For this reason, we offer the Lifechanger Program, which empowers the transformation of lives and communities. "By active participation, hands-on involvement, and significant financial contributions, we work with local charities including Teen Project, Harvest Home, Homeless Task Force, Venice Community Housing Corporation, and more," explains Halton Paredee. Her company has donated over $800,000 to local non-profits and schools.

Halton Pardee, who personally battles multiple sclerosis (MS), shares her philosophy: "Life is precious. Our time should be spent doing what we love, feeling good about it and always learning, because that's what leads to constant creativity and innovation instead of complacency." By focusing on nurturing enthusiasm for what they do, pushing each other "to be better than the rest", she and her staff have created a corporate culture that celebrates innovation and creativity.

Published on: Oct 21, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.