Jo Natoli, the 247th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, has built an incredible career in property management through a stroke of luck, a leap of faith and a lot of hard work.

When Jo was just 17 and unsure of what she wanted to do with her life, she travelled from her home in Wollongong to a government employment office in Sydney to discuss a secretary job. When she arrived, the official told her the role had already been filled. Feeling guilty that she’d been made to travel all that way for nothing, the official put her forward for a traineeship at a real estate agency that had just become available. So thanks to that stroke of luck, Jo landed in property management, where she’s been ever since.

Five years later, Jo took the leap of faith to start her own business, The Rental Specialists. To keep costs down, Jo initially worked out of home. And to put food on the table in those early days when she was struggling for clients, Jo worked bloody hard – moonlighting as a waitress and a call centre operator.

During her three decades in the real estate industry, Jo has also branched out into property development and, since 2021, been a board member of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales.

Jo is more than a property expert and an experienced businesswoman. She’s also great company and consciously positive. When someone asks her how she is, rather than automatically answer “Good thanks”, she likes to say “I’m excellent!” – and really mean it. Through all the ups and down Jo has experienced over the years, she’s learned that while we can’t control external forces we can control what goes on inside our heads.