On a sunny day in Raleigh, NC, real estate professionals from all over the country (and Canada) gathered in a former knitting mill for a conference. But unlike most real estate conferences, there were no vendor booths. No lengthy tables of swag. No name badges. No keynote speaker.
Instead, there was a bar. There were speakers with both actionable and aspirational topics. There was a book produced, printed and distributed in less than a day.
And there were hosts Alyssa Hellman and Zach Schabot of Bamboo Realty, presenting the east coast version of the hottest new un-conference on the circuit right now.
“Don’t follow rules. Follow standards.”
Kit Hughes has nothing to do with real estate. But he has everything to do with being a creative person and an entrepreneur, and he kicked off the morning’s lineup.
He brought lessons from his own life’s journey, from self-inflicted homelessness to punk rock to working artist to making the Inc. 500 list for his company, LookListen. And he left the audience with thought starters such as:
- Who are your creative collaborators? Who helps you bring out your best ideas? Partner with those people.
- Effectual vs Causal Reasoning. Are you working toward a goal with tunnel vision? Or are you open to what happens along the way?
- If you’re becoming too successful at what you do, you aren’t failing enough.
“When you take risks, you challenge beliefs.”
Zach Schabot and Bamboo Realty broke with tradition with their “Pay What You Want” model. It scared people. It confused agents. It set off a firestorm of comments on the Inman article that introduced it
But it’s working.
Zach’s message was really about trust and relationships. The traditional commission model asks two questions of the clients: first, do you want to work with me? And second, can you afford me?
He wanted to bring those two questions together because there was an opportunity he was missing out on -- rentals. Now Zach and his team are forming relationships, helping people and making money by putting value first.
“Handwritten cards only suck if you let them.”
Stacie Staub took the stage and informed the audience, “You’re gonna do some work here.” The founder and owner of West+Main Homes in the Denver Metro area was going to fit a three hour class into 20 minutes.
Then the questions started:
How many people are in your database?
Where is your farm?
How big is your farm?
Then Stacie took the attendees through best practices to finding more listings in a low inventory market. Because when there isn’t anything to sell, real estate agents can’t work.
The handwritten cards came up because Stacie wants agents to find their contacts “love language” in reference to the relationship book. Does this person like cards? Does she like texts? Or maybe emails? Finding the right channel for each person is critical, and a good CRM platform will help you organize those tactics.
“With great belief comes great results.”
Bamboo CEO Sarah Jones opened her talk with a story about drowning rats. Turns out that rats who’d been previously saved from drowning were better swimmers than rats who’d never been in the water at all.
Because they believed.
Scene change to an orphanage in Ethiopia, where Sarah endured twist after twist, from health issues to civil unrest, when visiting her not-yet-adopted infant son. She booked a one way ticket with no plan on how the trip would end.
But she believed. And look at those children now.
Her message to the audience was one of context: no transaction will ever be as challenging as her bringing her son back from Ethiopia. But also one of inspiration: you are capable of greatness. You can power through if you believe it to be so.
“If you don’t like guacamole, we can’t be friends.”
Valerie Garcia was joking, of course, but she was deadly serious about something she readily admits most agents do very badly: content. In all forms.
So using a recipe for her favorite dip as a model, she presented a formula for content that will help agents build relationships and nurture business. It’s a balance of the personal and the professional. It’s not looking for leads, but rather finding people who need help from you. And the following guidance:
- Think visual. Beautiful images matter.
- Content isn’t anything other than your message. So have one.
- Don’t forget a call to action. What do you want them to do once they read?
- Have a goal. That way you’re call to action is clear and your ability to measure is strong.
Postscript: Valerie says she will be your friend if you don't like guacamole, it just won't be as delicious.
“Instagram helps people see the world through your eyes.”
When people know you better by your social handle, you know you’re doing something right.
@TacomaJones is also known by her real name, Anne Jones. And she wears her market on her social handle.
Anne shared her growth with the photo-based social media platform from her days of playing around with it back in 2012. From there, Anne learned what her community of followers wanted from her. She focused her efforts, and developed hashtags to curate and cultivate her images.
Then she took a risk. The racial tensions in the country were at a fever pitch -- to the point where Anne felt she needed to breach that line between professional and personal -- and shine light on her brown-skinned family members in a way that might alienate some of her followers.
But happily, sharing her family, her beliefs and her concerns helped her community reveal themselves even more.
Instagram is a critical element in Anne’s brand. And as she told her the audience, “It’s your opportunity to be vulnerable.”
“Pick your thing,” she said. “Stick with it.”
“Why am I waiting for permission to make my idea happen?”
Stephanie Lanier of Lanier Property Group took the stage and owned up to two things:
- She had a shiny gold strand in her hair on purpose -- it was a great conversation starter to have “fairy hair.”
- She opened her brokerage without ever having sold a house.
Her personal story of how she became an agent was incredibly moving. Her son’s health issues were a catalyst in many ways. “Life changing events can make you bitter, or they can make you brave,” she shared.
In Stephanie’s case, bravery won out.
She opened her business. And then things really kicked off when she thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone made a map of this changing area in Wilmington? This area people are calling “Midtown?””
Then she realized it would be even greater if she did it herself.
This map has, in turn, put Stephanie and her brokerage on the map. Appealing and informative, the map has attracted press, local business owners and homeowners alike. And where Stephanie was on the outside looking in before, she realized those were places she didn’t actually want to me.
“Instead of waiting for a seat at the table, I made my own table,” she said.
“LET'S MAKE A BOOK IN A DAY!”
Pulling off an un-conference conference isn't enough of a achievement. Hosts Alyssa Hellman and Zach Schabot had an additional big idea: a book.
The plan was clear:
- All attendees create a page.
- The pages are scanned during the event.
- A local printer bhurns out 300 copies by end of day.
With only a few moments of panic, the efforts paid off and attendees took home a compilation of inspiration from the speakers as well as their fellow agents.
There was so much more, even after all this. But Relola was thrilled to be there, and excited what these change-makers are a-makin'! #relola_love