Gail Johnson

My day job is corporate relocation manager and concierge director at Restaino & Associates Realtors. I’m one of a team of three that works with corporations when they hire outside talent.  My role is to reach out to corporations and introduce our comprehensive relocation assistance program to enhance their recruitment efforts and be a vital resource throughout the entire process.  Our team helps take the question of “Will I like living here?” off the plate of that potential new hire.

Our process starts by mailing a welcome box to introduce the prospect and their family to the Madison community. Then, we connect to learn more about their interests and needs, set up a tour should they be coming into interview and connect them to the resources they need. If they have children, we provide school information and make introductions to faculty. In terms of housing, we’re knowledgeable on temporary/rental options and can also introduce them to an experienced Realtor who can meet their specialized home needs.

Before or after a person settles in and starts to call Madison home, they may be seeking a recommendation for a moving company, mortgage lender or other providers. As the concierge director, I work to provide access to high-quality service and product professionals by category to help serve our clients.

Over the years, there’s been one cool evolution of my job: the opportunity to build a strong network and become a trusted resource. I have had multiple opportunities to help with couples moving to Madison where the significant other was seeking a local career. I have been able to make introductions to recruiters that have landed jobs.  That has added value to our relocation assistance, and it’s been awesome to help in that way.

I really enjoy my job.  It’s fulfilling.  Moving to a new city and/or finding a new career are such huge parts of a person’s life and it’s rewarding to be able to help. It reminds me of the story of the man who crosses paths with a little boy throwing starfish back into the ocean, from a beach that’s littered with them. The man tells the little boy he can’t possibly make a difference (given the immensity of the problem), but the little boy replies he made all the difference for the ones he helped. That’s my motivation: to make a difference, one person at a time.

My most memorable caffeine is having coffee with my daughters at La Brioche. My kids live outside of Madison and whenever they’re home, we like to go there. It is just charming, and I enjoy sitting outside on a nice day on the patio. I cannot wait to get there again—and someday enjoy these moments with my granddaughters.

My current caffeine of choice is a miel latte. I didn’t used to be a coffee drinker, but my daughter, Karla, turned me onto this. Once I tasted that delicious combination of coffee, cinnamon and steamed milk I was hooked. Now I have an espresso maker at home.

My favorite place for caffeine is La Brioche.

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is my mom. She passed away when I was in my early 30s and was a coffee drinker. When I think back to then, I’m guessing she drank coffee for the caffeine to keep up with raising five busy kids. 

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  Finding ways to connect with others. Connections matter with your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and community.  It’s being there for one another. I’ve always strived to send a card to people—usually cards that I have made (I really enjoy painting, mostly watercolors, and then creating a card from the art). There is just something special about getting a personal, hand-written note in your mail!

Last year, one of my co-workers introduced me to a new way to connect: kindness rocks. She left one on my desk and I’ve started to make that my “thing.” I paint a rock, include a simple message and leave them on trails when I go for a walk. One message at just the right moment can change someone’s entire day, outlook, life. My motto in life is “Enjoy the little things.” I try to stop along the way and find those little gestures that will make someone’s day better. And I hope these little rocks and cards do that.