Friday Flash: Changing to remain

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

I’ve been reading a lot since this thing started. When you stare into an electrified rectangle all day it’s nice to take flights of imagination on paper wings at night. It helps.

The quote above is from The Leopard, an Italian novel I read a couple weeks ago. It’s an interesting idea: changing to stay the same. 

Adapt. Move beyond that which is no longer justifiable while keeping what is most valuable. Shake off the complacency that had come to envelop you like a psychic lead blanket, an invisible drag. 

Step toward the challenge in order to get through it. 

I’m seeing a lot of this around real estate these days. People and companies changing in order to keep the best parts of themselves intact. 

I am not arguing here for keeping things precisely as they are in real estate. If you’ve followed us long enough, you know that we are driven by a belief that this business, so beautiful and so flawed, must change, must get better. 

But there are things that should “stay as they are.” Skilled agents, called to the vocation of real estate, helping people attain the peak of their highest aspirations; brokerage companies that gather people from all walks and stages of life to build rewarding careers; the deeply local and neighborly quality within what we sometimes call industry “fragmentation” or “inefficiency.” 

This week, I got up at 4:30 a.m. to join an east coast brokerage’s “all-hands” Zoom meeting. Over 700 agents showed up. They had been showing up like this every morning, Saturdays and Sundays included, for the past six weeks. They do this because their leader is showing up for them, giving up-to-the-minute updates on the company’s performance, leading a virtual book club, and laying down a positive vibe at the beginning of every day. 

This is changing to keep something the same. But it’s more than that. It’s changing in a way that will create lasting improvement. 

In “normal” times, getting even a couple dozen agents to show up for an office meeting was challenging (even with donuts!). Maybe it wasn’t the agents’ fault. Maybe those meetings just sucked. 

We got an email this morning from a broker with whom we just completed a brand and messaging engagement. He saw our project through, changing so much, as uncertainty clouded his market. His report: the company ended April up 10% YOY in sales. No lie. This company entered the crisis on an upward trajectory, is investing through it, and will come out of it unbeatable. 

We’ve been in the weeds for a month with a tech company that’s been rocked by this. What they’re coming to realize is that what had made them great when they launched several years ago, what had built their success in the first place, had been weakened by the “good” times, not strengthened. They are now able to see that. They are making changes that will allow them to endure.   

There always seems to be talk about how “things will never be the same” when major crises hit us. I remember this after 9/11. I remember it after 2008. What ends up happening, though, is not nearly so definite. Some things change for the better, some for the worse, some things stop, and some things lumber on.

It’s up to each of us to determine what changes and what stays the same. It’s our choice.

What a rare opportunity.