(Disclaimer - not sure what is going on with the formatting. Sorry. I tried to fix it too many times, it keeps reverting back to all sorts of weirdness.)
Who Needs Brad Pitt, When You Can Have Brad Inman?
Alarm rings at 6:00 am, I jump out of bed and head directly to the window of my 28th floor hotel room in Time Square to get the first glimpse the devastation of the Snowmageddon-Blizzard… 2 seconds later, I see Brad Inman’s post on facebook:
Classic Brad. Classic start to Inman Connect NYC 2015.
If you missed the conference last week, you missed out. Realtors, innovators, entrepreneurs, marketing buffs gathered to discuss where the real estate industry is going and how to keep up. As they say, industry knowledge is power and this was a powerful bunch.
This is THE conference I look forward to each and every year because it never disappoints. You just can't beat the energy of New York City, which keeps us charged for the back-to-back sessions, workshops and networking (galore!) with some of the best minds in our industry and around the world. This conference drew people from France, Germany, China, Scotland, and even Botswana!
Everyone has their own takeaways, here are mine:
FROM THE TOP, DOWN: Spencer, Barbara, Rupert, Luis & Yaz
They were all there and while I didn’t get to meet her, Brad’s ‘trophy wife’ was there too (Barbara Corcoran’s words, not mine). Can’t wait to meet the woman who stole Brad’s heart one of these days! Oh yes, Rupert Murdoch was there too - talking about how he is going to take over the world of real estate with his new acquisition of Move.com and Realtor.com.
Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow discussed his new book “The New Rules of Real Estate” - packed with some great tid bits ans stats. Barbara Corcoran showed up, threw out the F-bomb a couple of times and generally inspired the agents about how all her success came on the heel of her failures. I just stuck Luis’ name up there because he is cute. He is an amazingly inspiring guy with a great story and probably the only clean shaven guy there. Beards were definitely the trend this year, which is fine, because I happen to like beards. Apparently Barbara Corcoran does too, but I won’t go into why she does here – that is a conversation that took place in the INMAN green room and that is where it shall remain.
It will be interesting to see how the Zillow & Trulia will stand up to their new competition in Rupert Murdoch’s new acquisition of Move.com and Realtor.com. Highlights included Spencer Rascoff making sure agents knew that Realtor.com is not "their" website (meaning the National Association of Realtors website) and Rupert Murdoch wondered out lout "what kind of name is “Zillow”? Good stuff for those in the room.
(Meeting Spencer Rascoff'and getting a signed copy of his new book)
AGENT REBOOT – REINVIGORATING THE HARD WORKING AGENT
By far, the best one I’ve been to over the years. Top of mind speakers include Brett Calltharp and his topic “Tyranny of the Urgent” really resonated with me and from the sound of it, the rest of the audience as well. Ditch the monkey bar approach to your business! Make your to do list your WILL do list! These are all things we need to be reminded (rebooted) to take back our business. I walked out of that thinking, OK, no more excuses. I think we are going to see more of Brett. This self-proclaimed Ameri-Canadian is a super star speaker, IMHO.
Jeff Lobb. I have to give this man some props because he is from New Jersey - the state I went to kicking and screaming when I got married, but have come to know and love (and I am not alone, have you seen the latest Buzzfeed article?!) Talk about a dynamo. His presentation on “Selling Visually with Social” was chock full of good stuff. Let’s be honest - visual content drives engagement. Period. Some of his ideas are the first to top my “take action on” list when I get back to the office.
Valerie Garcia was so refreshing with her quick wit and great social media tips. This woman needs to explore stand up comedy. We should try an Inman segment of Comedy & Cocktails – that would be fun and, with Valerie, insightful too.
Throughout the day I had a chance to stroll up and down “Start-Up Alley”. Video is definitely a hot platform. Raj Qsar and Aaron Woodman from the Boutique Real Estate Group in LA are at the forefront, as evidenced by this video for a $2.8 million property. I have a long way to go before making videos like that, but I am going to try, as I signed up on the spot with Animoto. Others vying for a piece of my marketing budget this year were AM Open House, HomeKeepr and the Beacon. A new start up called Revaluate.com also caught my eye – if you live in the city and are planning to rent or buy – check out their ranking site which tell you about hidden issues, potential problems, and the good things about any apartment, co-op, or condo in Manhattan. Would love to hear what Tristan Harper, Nikki Beauchamp and Danielle Grossenbacher, my friends from the NYC chapter of FIABCI think of it.
Laurie Weston Davis shared some great Gmail tid-bits and Chris Smith, who was not there in person, but in spirit and definitely online, was also sharing great info on the Tech Group for Real Estate Agents during and after the conference. Have you guys tried Boomerang and MomentumDash? Do it and then thank him. Katie Lance, the queen of social was there (with her famous smile!). Bottom line, if you are not into social media, you need to speak to Katie.
Laura Monroe - this woman is multi-talented. She can literally lead any workshop or panel discussion on any topic - and boy did she. Some of her messages: you must invest in amplification and PLEASE no more vanilla! Talk about owning the stage - she has a voice and a presence and knows how to use it! I won’t make a reference to her having the best hair in the industry (because everyone does), but she can rock a dress.
One last thing about Laura, is her line up of INMAN Ambassadors was top notch and it was great to meet and connect with every single one of them during and after the event. How does one get in on this? Sean Carpenter beat me to the "conference take away" post, here is his succinct (not something I am good at) recap of what he got out of the conference. Dane Briggs, Joe Schutt, Leigthon Dees, Nicole Beauchamp, Aaron Woodman, Valerie Garcia, Gina Theleman, Karlton Utter, Sam Debord, Jacy Riedmann. All amazing peeps.
Morgan Carey - this guy is a powerhouse, full of energy, ambition and amazing business partners like, oh just, Barbara Corcoran. And the man knows how to throw a great party (Barbara Corcoran and I posed together, see below). His suite hosted a constant stream of who’s who in real estate and it was an amazing place to do all the “connecting” that Inman Connect was created for. Thanks to our gracious host!
LOOKING PAST THE EDGES OF WHAT IS FAMILIAR, ESPECIALLY IN TECH
If you're looking for ideas, you need to look past the edges of what's familiar. I read that on LinkedIn somewhere once and it stuck with me. Brad Inman gets this. No one does a better job of creating a perfect mashup of different sectors and throwing them all together to have great idea-provoking conversations. We have a lot to learn from the innovators and “hackers”. Their messages included: be passionate, don’t listen to negativity, focus on the consumer, be flexible, and think outside the box. All the new tools won’t help if a brand doesn’t know their customers and deliver a positive overall experience. Once you get this right, “onboarding” (client buy-in) will happen automatically.
Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian (who was mentored by the Y Combinator in NYC when he was developing Reddit, and since went on to start many other companies, including Hipmunk) summed it up: “Be honest. Be helpful. Be responsive.”
The panel of New Kids on the Block is one of my favorites. You can feel the energy in the room when these start-up CEOs line up and each have 30 seconds to pitch their product or service. Notables were Melissa Kwan from Spacio (if other agents were as intrigued about her Beacon device, it is going to revolutionize open houses) and Krishna Malyala from TLC Engine who is bringing to the table a long needed way to measure “true lifestyle cost.” Rentity.com, Agent Pair, Fancyhands, Perchwell and Dizzle peaked my interest as well. I have to say the most memorable name was Yodata.io. Their tag line is “Because it is YoData”… and guess what they do? They protect YoData. Loved it.
We came away with a new sense of what the change agents are out there for our industry. For example, how big data can be leveraged to improve the consumer experience and improve how the marketing experience can personalized to each consumer. Of course how to monetize this by packaging this up for realtors to make an impact and mine for leads effectively will be the measure of success. SmartZip is at the forefront of this and there are other players in the game, like Patric Veling of Real Data Systems and David Sheehan of SOI4ROI.com (who you will be seeing more of as they are cooking up some amazing things).
Also Ethan Beute of BombBomb has an amazing product. This guy knows how to speak from his “Why”. Loved his insights on Spencer Rascoff’s new book “The New Rules of Real Estate” which can be found here. Another new startup who's CEO, Anthony Mann, is on target with a new open house tool www.AMOpenHouse.com. Loved his write up of the conference from a vendors perspective!
WHO NEEDS BRAD PITT, WHEN YOU CAN HAVE BRAD INMAN?
With jokes about the FTC and lines like “Putin is such a nut case”, how can you not love this man? Brad Inman has created this amazing forum for us all. Joanna Lord, the VP of marketing at Porch (who was a breath of fresh air, despite having come directly from her red eye flight from San Francisco), spoke about some great stuff: high growth, extending your moat, and the importance of infrastructure in a startup. But what struck me most was her point about the importance of contributing to your ecosystem. Brad and his team have created a forum with Inman, which allows us all to meet twice a year and share, learn, network and contribute to our ecosystem. I know my business has greatly benefited and for that I am grateful.
NO MAN STEPS IN THE SAME RIVER TWICE...
Imran Poladi knows what to say, when to say it, is genuine, funny, smart, witty and a great MC. I am definitely on #teamimran. He put things in perspective with his heart-wrenching and heart-warming story about his experience with Hodgkins Lymphoma. If this man can have chemo on Friday, live through hell Saturday and Sunday and come back to the office on Monday smiling with energy to work – we can push ourselves to the limit everyday too – no more excuses. This man’s strength and resolve is astounding and he shows us that even the most painful parts of our lives can have remarkable transformative properties. Imran used the quote below to drive home that point.
(No photo infringements here… that’s a photo of my son Lucas in the Poconos this summer).
SO, WHY WEREN’T YOU THERE?
Making connections with vendors and seeing demonstrations on tools that will revolutionize the industry, meeting and hearing the innovators who are revolutionizing the industry is truly invaluable. Laughing together, learning together leads to tons of great conversations.
I come to Inman every year because I want to be the first to know and learn about new tools, new marketing, new ANYTHING. Inman has served me well over the years, and this conference plays a BIG part in keeping me in the know, but also keeping me motivate, inspired and accountable. You can feel people tapping into their true potential, expanding their minds and ideas.
Thank you to the Inman team for their commitment to making our industry the best it can be by continuing to infuse, year, after year, integrity, professionalism, education and technology into it. The culture of this conference is truly about innovation and changing the way things have been done in this industry.
MIRROR MIRROR WHAT DO YOU SEE? AN ENTREPRENEUR OR JUST ME?
If you are open to it, this conference makes you ask yourself tough questions about your business and I love that. That’s what makes you grow and I realized I have a lot of growing up to do this year to take myself to the “next level”. My most important take away, after 4 years of coming to this conference is that I can redirect my course, as it is never too late to start implementing change.
If you ever had any doubts as to whether you should stay until the VERY end of the conference - the answer is yes, you should. I had one of the most honest, ground breaking, difficult and inspiring conversations of my career in one of the back rooms of Inman at noon on Friday. I left NYC committed to following through with some very difficult decisions that need to be made in my business to take it to the next level.