ER, RE, RX: A post op-ed view of ICNY


It seemed fitting.

Last Tuesday night, at 1:35 am, I calmly exited a Yellow Cab on 60th and 9th and entered the Roosevelt Hospital’s ER. I’m no stranger to this happenstance. Lately, this has become part of my Real Estate Connect experience.

I began the day feeling sluggish. While BarCamp and the Property Portal Watch seminar rocked and rolled, I sandwiched an afternoon of scheduled meetings between a morning tour of Corcoran Groups’s plush uptown office and an evening visit to OnBoard’s Wall Street office.

Before heading out to dinner, I attempted to warm my bones with a drink at Nebraska, a Russian-owned steakhouse where the drinks are served by bartenders so beautiful, each possess the finest collection of features ever formed around a human soul. I chatted with an old friend, raised a glass to our friendship, then bolted back uptown for dinner.

By 10:00 p.m., the wheezing broached painful discomfort. By 1:00 am, dressed in a hospital gown, I faced the cold steel of a physician’s stethoscope and the reality that I might be unable to attend my 4th Connect in a row.

Three hours, four physicians and two prescriptions later, I returned to my hotel room cursing the virus that was feverishly infecting my upper respiratory system.

In bed, with my iPhone in hand, I checked my email one last time and found some comfort in Jay Thompson’s pre-dawn post filled with some exceptional shots of Manhattan after dark.

I was hours away from falling asleep.


RE Connect

The prescription for success for this conference was written well in advance and poured from the beaker of people, technologies and events of 2009.

The RPR was one such topic and two of real estate’s most newsworthy people – Marty Frame and Dale Ross – were in the hot seat. Brian’s firm but fair interview provided few answers and a host of new questions providing brokers, agents, vendors and bloggers much to consider in the months to come. It provided the sort of controversial sizzle Connect is historically known for.

Social media was another hot topic and introduced a new face to the Connect crowd – Coach Tom Ferry. Chaperoned by his wit and personality, Tom is new to social media but fast becoming an inspirational voice in this category.

The brokerage model was dissected with commanding authority over several sessions. Attendees got a deep dive into how operators like BH&GRE’s Sherry Chris and @Properties’ Thad Wong see the future. A personal highlight for me came from Sherry’s answer to a question regarding where the part-time agent fits into the future model. “They don’t,” she replied. Her colleagues on the panel agreed in unison

The subject of branding, a topic near and dear to me, was well represented by Camilla Sullivan from BH&GRE and Christina Lowris from Corcoran Group. Both have carved out identities that distinctively and accurately pay homage to their respective brands.

Start Up Alley, perfectly positioned to greet attendees as soon as they exited the elevators, included many up and coming vendors. The few times I walked the floor I took notice of how many people were engaged in their wares. From mobile apps to data providers this was a World’s Fair of ideas, products and services that will comprise the next round of real estate innovation.

Behind the scenes, the world-class Inman News team worked tirelessly to produce every minute of this three-day event. The little engine that could, did.

But what made this event so significant however, was the diverse assemblage of attendees emanating from every nook and cranny of real estate. I can’t recall a Connect where I had seen the lines so blurred between tenured technologists, association executives, young agents and vendors. All mashed-up as if they were best buds.

What occurred on the 5th floor of the Marriott Times Square was more than a real estate technology conference.

It was a real estate rave.


I observed all this through the fog of several medications that failed to stem a high fever or bring back my voice, which had disappeared Wednesday morning. Walking through the crowd and not engaging folks was difficult. I was unable to really connect – the very thing this event was created for.

It’s now Saturday. I’m back home in California, still unable to speak – a much-appreciated surprise for my family I’m sure. I have many regrets regarding this conference, mostly because it was so damn good and all I could do was observe some of it through glassy eyes rather than be fully involved.

I missed most of the sessions. I never got to speak one on one with many of the vendors or for that matter many of the repeat attendees who I look forward to seeing year after year. I missed catching up with old personal friends, walking old neighborhoods where I grew up and all the great food NYC has to offer. In room dinning didn’t cut it for me.

What a small price to pay however, for the realization that what took place at the conference constitutes an RX that might very well cure what has been ailing the real estate industry. Every speaker, every vendor, every attendee” you represent what real estate’s future is already starting to look like today.

I can’t speak it right now. But I’m feeling 2010 is off to a great start. I’m stoked.

See ya this summer for #ICSF. Uh” I hope!


[Full disclosure: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, @properties and Inman News are 1000WATT Consulting clients]