Education: Bachelor's, University of Miami. She studied creative writing and broadcast journalism, which she decided against because of the long hours. "Isn't it ironic that I ended up in a field where I work
Junior year: Crossed the equator three times on the QE II.
Pastimes: Boating and tennis
Fatherly advice: "My dad says to stay focused. When you go into a meeting or a showing, you don't ever want anyone else in that room to know more than you do. (And) there are no shortcuts in life -- he never stops saying that."
Growing up, Cara Mantovani helped her father collect rents and manage property at his commercial development and brokerage firm. And when she got her real estate license, she naturally assumed she had an "in" at her dad's company. Kenneth Mantovani Jr. informed Cara in no uncertain terms that her assumptions were illusory. "Keep sniffing glue," Cara says he told her. "He said if you were going to do anything in this life, you've got to do it yourself," Mantovani says. "Tough love."
So she went out on her own, spending a year as an apprentice at a Miami firm and then another year in which she earned sales production honors. But things were slow at first. "It took me six months to make a deal. It was awful. Mac and cheese every night. Friday night was real fancy by making it tuna casserole. Then it started rolling and popping." She returned to her father's firm in 2003. By then, his Miami office was only for property management and he was going to close it. She took it over, opened a residential sales division and later a new developments sales division.
In 2004, her mother died, which drove Mantovani to work all the harder. By the end of that year, her firm had more than $100 million in listings. Says Mantovani, 27: "You've got to love it. You've got to believe in it. It's not a job. It's a lifestyle."