The NAR show. I could have spent the entire week there. And immersed myself in the chatter and prophetic waxing laced with controversy about real estate’s hottest acronyms. I didn’t. I flew in for the day, enjoyed a bunch of clients and friends, and then left.
There were other things, more pressing things – special things – I needed to attend to.
Laughter. They say it cures all ills. I’ve been chuckling a lot lately, but that’s just a painkiller.
I was due for a cure.
It came by way of my friend in Phoenix, where I touched down on Saturday. A complex, generous, funny friend. I don’t know many people who have been hit as hard by the real estate market as he has given his many holdings (Mortgage, Insurance, Title and Brokerage). But I also don’t know many people who posses the inexorable drive that has allowed him to survive it.
He claims he doesn’t get social media. I disagree. I believe he actually gets it more than most. He asked me about NAR but only in the context of whether it was successful for me or not. “The NAR conference is a whole different kind of real estate industry than the one I’m in,” he’d say.
He is a businessman. He is assured. Decisive. And asks a million questions about everything. Yet not one was posed about the RPR. Or why Dale and Marty seemed so ill prepared in their presentation to America’s MLSs. Or what the buzz was on Twitter.
He picked me up at the airport and we dined at one of Scottsdale’s best Hibachi restaurants. The chef approached the flat grill and performed a Keith Moon solo with his knife and spatula. Then he made a flaming volcano out of an onion. Like NAR, it was entertaining. But after a bit the antics became a distraction. All I really wanted to do was eat.
Another friend joined us. We paid the check and left. And with these two very funny and entertaining friends, I spent the next five hours laughing my ass off.
Sunday I flew.
Austin, Texas. A city filled with gentle people. I was glad to be back. This place continues to grow on me. Slowly and surely. Each time I return, I look for reasons to relocate there. On Monday, I found a hundred.
They were gathered in a conference center. 100 real estate people. All belonging to a relatively small, independent real estate company.
Their owners are seasoned businesswomen who founded their firm back when it was questionable for two young women to start a company of any kind. They had a vision then. A mission. A plan. They put it in writing. They fueled it with spitting determination. And made darn sure every agent who donned their logo was cut from the same cloth.
Today, forty years later, they are a “traditional” brokerage. But at the core, their heart pumps Gen X red. Had you peeked inside you would come away thinking the company is sliced from Silicon Valley. Or Seattle.
In other words, they’re with it. They get it. They’re on it.
Even their agents are different. I sensed this the first time I met with them several months ago. On Monday I picked up on it again. Maybe it’s that gentle Austin people thing I described. Or maybe something else.
I addressed the group. And presented their owners’ vision and strategy for 2010 along with the tools that are being created for them to update their Web presence, strengthen their brand and increase their market share.
Then the owner spoke. E.F. Hutton hushed up.
I watched as I normally do, panning the room and zeroing in on those whose body language speaks discomfort. I want to get into their heads.
But I couldn’t find anyone like that on Monday. Every agent was all in. Prepared to contribute to the vision in ways most brokers could only imagine. Or wish for.
By day’s end, emails were piling up from the agents. Pictures taken earlier that day for the company Flickr account. Posts submitted for the company blog (good ones, I might add). Copy to be used for the many community pages now being mapped for their developing Website. And voice-over copy written by one agent with real talent, which will be used as the narrative for an upcoming neighborhood video.
For these folks too, the NAR show was a million miles away. Their antennae were not tuned to the Tweets, posts, and comments flying like birdshot from San Diego. Honestly, the only acronym that gets them excited is U.T. – University of Texas. Go Longhorns.
If laughter cures all ills, then the unified spirit of one company, one brand, working in harmony and pushing the envelope of technology, service, and adherence to core values is a vaccine that prevents further ill.
I left inoculated.
32,000 feet up, I was strapped to a seat in a US Airways commuter plane. I couldn’t get home fast enough. I missed my kids. I missed my wife. And my daily routine. This would be my last trip for the year. Yeah.
I thought about the last few months and all the things I’ve been involved in. Things that don’t get bleated into the ether by the Twitteblogerati (myself included). Compared to what’s hot these days, the stuff I’m jazzed by seems almost mundane.
But to the brokers and agents with whom I spent this past weekend it isn’t.
These people are jogging out of the doldrums that continue to sprain the spirit of most brokers. Around them, their competition is flailing. As a result that jog will soon turn into a sprint. I suspect by next year the race will be won.
I realize this isn’t the kind of stuff that beckons you to comment. Nevertheless, it’s a story that deserves to be told if for no other reason than to let those of you who are doing similar things know that you are not alone.
And for those who aren’t going about a quiet reinvention, but are starting to realize that the hot topic of they day leaves you bewildered: you too are not alone.
I enjoyed my day in San Diego. But my travels further afield sustain me.
– Davison Follow me on Twitter