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12 August 2016

The Five Best Quotes from ICSF 2016

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Inman Connect San Francisco (ICSF 2016) has come and gone, and as is usually the case there was no shortage of fantastic information shared from the stages of the event. This was my fourth Inman Connect and my fourth time serving as an Inman Ambassador, a group of around 20 real estate industry professionals who are tasked with serving as influencers, connectors, and coverage providers of the event on social media. I typically write a wrap-up immediately after the event (it makes the plane trip across the country go a little faster); however this year I wanted to give the speakers, information, and experience a bit more time to marinate.

What resonates a week later? What are those moments that haven’t left my thoughts since? Below are the top five quotes I heard at Inman Connect and my thoughts on why each resonated with me.

“If we are going to keeping moving forward in this industry, we have to look outside.” Jennifer Marchetti, CMO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

Marchetti was part of a great panel discussing whether the sales funnel was dead in real estate, and naturally the conversation took a number of twists and turns. In discussing the makeup of our corporate marketing team – all of whom come from outside the real estate industry – Marchetti touched on a subject that I think more real estate companies should consider. Too often in this industry we have sacred cows of thinking and technology, discounting ideas from “outsiders” for never selling real estate. Real estate is a global industry, providing a basic human need, and as a result demands the ability for good ideas to come from anywhere. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always had and at the speed of which the industry continues to evolve, expanding your thinking to include best practices from other industries is essential.

“I was willing to live outside my plan, to shift my thinking. Instead of asking, ‘Why?’ to ask ‘Why not? Be willing to live outside your plan and into possibility.”
Alyssa Hellman, Director, Go School Of Real Estate (Better Homes and Gardens Go Realty)

In sharing her journey that led her to Go Realty as well as her personal journey that led her to love, Hellman highlighted a major issue for sales people, real estate and otherwise – limiting beliefs. As a real estate agent, if you judge the success of your day on whether or not you had a closing, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of gloomy days. It’s important, essential really, to have a business plan and strategy in place that accounts for both your business and personal goals. However, make sure that you are not short-changing yourself in either category, thinking that you can’t realistically do X or Y. Set your mind to it, be consistent in your approach, and achieve. Through all of that you should be flexible in your methods and approach so that when opportunity knocks, you answer. Big leaps are often scary and require hard work, but the payoffs are more often than not worth it.

“As a leader, I want to empower people to exceed their wildest expectations.”
Sherry Chris, CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

I can’t write a top five without including Sherry Chris. As the host and moderator for Broker Connect, Chris shared the stage with many great professionals while discussing a number of topics. This quote is for the broker/owners and team leaders reading this. The value proposition of leadership has become more important than ever in an industry where tech advances every second. As a broker, it’s not enough to rent a building and lease a copier. Real estate agents have the world (and Facebook groups) at their fingertips, so to be an effective leader you need to empower them to follow Alyssa Hellman’s advice and “live in possibility.”

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Many brokers struggle with the “boss” aspect of the business, sometimes treating agents like employees, which of course they are not. It’s a partnership, and like all partnerships, both parties must benefit from it. The real value of a broker (aside from keeping the agents out of legal harm) is to inspire those who affiliate with them to be better than they’ve ever been. To help them to achieve all that they desire and do so while maintaining balance in their lives. Empower your agents and team members to become the best version of themselves that they’ve been, and your office and culture will benefit.

“Success can be mapped by two things – work ethic and patience.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO, VaynerMedia

As the keynote speaker at Inman Connect San Francisco, Vaynerchuk brought his trademark wit, insights, humor and occasionally NSFW language, discussing how to tell a story in a noisy world. In recounting a bit of his background, he discussed what he felt were the two essential elements in business: work ethic and patience. I’ve worked in both the U.S. and Canada, in small groups, big groups, and the corporate world, and the largest factor for success in all arenas that I have seen is work ethic. Top producers become top producers by hustling, putting in the hours. To succeed they embrace the tasks that others can’t do or don’t wish to do, and they do them consistently and to a high level.

“Would I be a lead or a person to you? Would I be worth your attention?”
Billy Ekofo, Director of Leads Management, Century 21 Redwood Realty

In a week of hearing speech after speech, panel after panel, Ekofo was the unequivocal star of the show, breaking through the “noisy world” that Gary Vaynerchuk spoke of to deliver perhaps the most powerful Inman Connect presentation ever. In sharing his incredible story of being evacuated as a child from the Congo to the United States, unable to speak English and arriving with only a name and phone number in his pocket, Ekofo challenged the attendees to look inside and evaluate how we all view people in this industry. Ekofo would find people who believed in him, that helped him to overcome prejudices (in some cases from unlikely sources) and mature into the incredible man that he is today. It reminded me of a story I heard early in my career about a young businessman who came into a real estate office to discuss finding a location for a retail store. He wasn’t dressed like a businessman, didn’t speak like a businessman, so a few of the agents didn’t want to take the time to speak with him. The one who did met Sam Walton that day, and I would bet that the other agents kicked themselves for years to come for missing out on working with the Wal-Mart founder.

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Real estate professionals are so often focused on themselves, whether it’s a daily selfie sent out to “promote their business” or promoting their face on a bus ad. However, there are those who embrace a spirit of giving back and doing more for others, and thankfully that spirit is growing. Whether it’s donating to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate’s corporate charity partner New Story – where $6,000 builds a house for a family in El Salvador who is currently living in conditions unimaginable to most – or giving each person we encounter the attention and respect they deserve, regardless of background and our perceived first impressions, as an industry we can all be better. If you have a heart of service, education, facilitation and gratitude, success has a way of following.

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