I attended my very first RE BarCamp just a few weeks ago. BarCamps are scheduled one day events in major cities across the country. The attendance is usually between 100 and 300 agents, brokers, suppliers. Not many CEOs. There are no preplanned agendas, no major sponsors to feel obligated to, people check their egos at the door. Everyone is there to learn, collaborate, network. Sponsorships are welcome, but each one is usually limited to $250, so nobody receives preferential treatment.
To get the the idea, check out the Wikipedia description http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcamp
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has been a sponsor of almost every event. We feel it is a way to give back, to collaborate, to learn what is really inside the heads of those who may very well be leaders in the future of the industry. We feel these are incubators for the next generation of agent who need to learn and share information that is not taught in real estate school. These are agents who come from all walks of life and many different companies, drawn by a common passion to learn, share and grow.
The very first BarCamp was held last July in San Francisco. According to Andy Kaufman, founder and catalyst of the RE BarCamp movement, “the original vision was to organize a free event where people could meet up in real life and openly share ideas with one another”. How unselfish is that? What he didn’t expect was the explosive growth and amazing community that resulted from the first event.
The BarCamp movement is special. It is run and attended by what I would call some of the true entrepreneurs of the industry. They understand that in the transparent world we live in, to thrive in the future means to openly share today. Putting the ideas of many together will allow us to be in control of truly shaping our future. Many of the participants are what I would call trailblazers, pioneers of the new way of doing business who will take not just the baton from the old guard, but will take their market share as well. It is only a matter of time.
As a student of the industry, and one who is building a brand that embraces the future, I like to interact with these people who are so passionate about what our industry needs to look like now. BarCamp devotee Ginger Wilcox told me “most conferences are all about people talking at you, BarCamps are all about learning while participating and engaging. The first one scared me because it was so unplanned, but now I realize the best learning opportunities come from collaborative brainstorming, this is where innovation is born”. I couldn’t agree more!
Krystal Kraft who arranged the recent event in Denver says “there is a universal appeal because they speak to people with a wide range of skill sets. There is excitement that turns into synergy when groups of people get together with the purpose of sharing”.
And so from a humble beginning, and a group of about 50 people who shaped the first event, the movement has grown to multiple events in venues across the country with hundreds of attendees at each. Personally, I couldn’t be more impressed with the people who organize these grassroots learning days, and the people who fly and drive in to each city to participate. Notice I use the word “participate” rather than “attend”. You see, there is a big difference.
While some brokers are back at the office trying to decide how their companies need to change to meet the next generation of agents and consumers on their own, others are participating in events such as these to ensure they are involved in shaping our future now. You can count me as part of the second group.