Adrienne Albert is the CEO and founder of the Marketing Directors, a residential real estate sales and marketing firm. Founded in 1980, the Marketing Directors has served clients on projects from Canada to California. The firm’s current projects include the Sheffield (formerly Sheffield57) and new Battery Park City condos Liberty Luxe and Liberty Green. Albert, who has a master of architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was recently named a “Legend of Residential Marketing” by the National Association of Home Builders’ National Sales and Marketing Council, and inducted into its Hall of Fame.
What is your full name?
Adrienne Sue Albert.
When were you born?
February 26. Do you have to put the year? I’m a winter baby, but a summer girl.
Where are you from?
Brooklyn, and I lived there until I was about five. Then we moved out to the Island. I grew up in Great Neck.
You got a master’s degree in architecture from MIT. Why didn’t you become an architect?
Nobody would hire me. People thought a woman couldn’t run a construction crew; I don’t know why. This was 1976. I was offered a job as a receptionist in a tennis club [even though] I had been a partner with two other guys building tennis clubs. I was also offered a job drafting bathrooms in an architecture firm. Those were the two job offers.
How did you end up starting the Marketing Directors?
I met a guy who had an advertising business. … I said, “I don’t know anything about advertising.” He said, “Don’t worry, you’ll learn.” A year and a half later we were the largest real estate advertising agency in Toronto. It was essentially his business … so I moved on and opened a [real estate advertising] consultancy for a year while I tried to figure out what to do. Eventually the Marketing Directors was born.
You work with your son. What’s that like?
I have a wonderful son. He’s our IT guy. His name is Matthew Brecher. Working together is the best. As your kids grow up, you don’t get to see much of them. At least I get to see him.
How did you meet your husband [developer Oskar Brecher]?
He was at the business school at Harvard and I was at MIT. We like to tell people that we met at Central Square, which is halfway between the two. It’s not true. We were set up by a mutual friend and went on a blind date.
Where do you live now?
I live at 923 Fifth Avenue. It’s a building my husband converted in the early ’80s [which the Marketing Directors worked on].
You also have a place on Fire Island.
Yes, I’ve got sand between my toes. When I was in college I went to Fire Island for a weekend and I fell in love with it. Fast-forward 100 years. … My husband and I were newly married and we were already not seeing a lot of each other. He’s working hard, I’m working hard. And I said, This marriage isn’t going to last unless we spend more time together … so let’s rent a house. That summer I became pregnant. So from about ’84 on, we’ve been on Fire Island.
Why Fire Island and not the Hamptons?
It was the fastest place to get to from the city. And it’s a great equalizer. Everybody walks around shoeless, in relatively old clothes. There is no scene. You don’t know if somebody is the CEO of a major multinational firm, or if they’re barely able to put two nickels together. And it doesn’t seem to matter to anybody.
Why was the Marketing Directors founded in Canada?
I got my degree and moved to Toronto because my husband was working there. He’s from Montreal.
What made you move the business to New York in 1982?
I wanted my son born on American soil. I am boringly patriotic — too many John Wayne movies as a child.
What advice do you have for working moms?
I think it’s really tough to be a working mother. It was very, very tough for me. Women of my generation were in the golden age of women’s lib, where you really thought you could do it all. Today’s young women are different. They aren’t trying to be all things to all people. I think that’s a lot healthier.
What do you do for fun?
I play tennis — poorly. I’m a very good cook. I do a lot of cooking, mostly in the summer because that’s when I have time, out at the beach. I paint a little bit, I do some watercolors. I try to ski. I ride horses. I love anything that has to do with a boat.
Do you have a boat?
No. Don’t you know what a boat is? A hole in the water surrounded by wood into which you pour money. I don’t have a boat but I love to rent a sailboat and go sailing for a week. I generally rent a captain and a cook.
I like your pedicure.
I just did this. Hot pink, for the summer. When you’re in a corporate environment you really can’t do too much. But you can have fun with your toenail color. So sometimes it’s bright blue, and this time I said, “Let me try a bright pink.”
But you’re the boss. Can’t you wear what you want?
No. We have an image and that is that we are professional and we will handle your $500 million sellout because we are serious people. So on those days I wear closed toes.
What kind of boss are you?
I’m afraid to guess. I’d like them to say I am a compassionate taskmaster.