His question caught me off guard:
“How do we stack up against the other real estate companies you’ve worked with?”
I paused briefly before answering. Not because I didn’t have an answer. I was just surprised by such a question coming from a respected brokerage CEO in the middle of an impromptu video chat.
I was honored that he would think to ask me that question.
I didn’t want him to think I was stalling or speed dialing a safe answer. Especially in this case. My response echoed my belief:
“You belong to an elite group of extraordinary people and companies within our industry. A very short list.”
It sounded like flattery when it came out. But I meant it.
Comfort versus action
Most of us are not conditioned to open ourselves up to criticism. Comfort is taken from buying into our own story. Believing what we want to believe. Like how we’re killing it.
We conveniently ignore our shortcomings, hoping others are as blind to them as we are. We sometimes cling to pillowy reassurances from those with an interest in preserving our ignorance.
This guy? Not that type. His honesty and openness are something else.
But there was more. He egged me on. So I explained:
It’s one thing to have your name on the yard sign or occupy the big corner office. But not every CEO is engaged. Not like him. He’s not gone for months at a time partying like Jayzee Jay-Z. He attends meetings. He remains inside the loop without trashing it. He wants to understand new things in the marketing, media and tech world because, for him, expanding the horizon of awareness is never a bad thing.
He has a vision
I respect those who are not sure what their path forward is but remain open to possibilities. But this guy’s a different breed. He has a vision. He knows where he came from and respects that legacy. But he knows where he has to go. And trusts the people he hired to help him get there.
He invests in smart people
I’ve met most of the corporate staff at his company. They too respect the company legacy, but are passionate about building upon it. They project an honesty and competence that’s refreshing.
And they all share one thing in common: each has a little Errol Flynn in them. They’re ready to duel with every opponent, every canard, that confronts them.
Everything is questioned
It’s all placed on the table at this company. Open for scrutiny. The best of idea wins. The culture does not support the paranoia, insecurity and ass-covering that keeps too many real estate brokerages or, for that matter, any sort of business, forever behind.
He likes his agents
If you’ve spent a lot of time with real estate brokers, you know this is not a throwaway statement. Agents are tough customers. Their wants, needs, demands and quirks can be a major bummer. But I’ve never heard him say that. When he speaks about his agents, he smiles. Their hard work has supported his family and company for a long time. He never forgets that.
He’s not distracted by the competition
He’s aware of them, but he’s not obsessed by them. They do their thing. He does his. As a result, everything has his mark on it. A brand.
I realize I did not include GCI or market share in my list. These are important. To say so is obvious.
But I’m into the raw elements of extraordinary. And so, I suspect, are you. You became a fan of Google well before they made their first billion. And probably loved U2 back before Bono grew facial hair and had a pot to piss in.
Some extraordinary firms are big and profitable.
Others can fit their bankroll into a fanny pack.
They all have the potential to become extraordinary.