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Opinion Editorials

Tales from Inman real estate connect conference



Last week was the 15th anniversary for Inman News’ Real Estate Connect Conference. I’m a little flustered to admit I’ve never attended one until this time in New York City. It’s a little ironic that I jetted across the country 3000 miles to my first Inman News event when they actually are based right in my back yard in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mind you, I arrived to the conference in a sour mood.

I boarded the plane in sunny California & disembarked in a 15 degree blizzard in the Big Apple! Wailing “California Girls/We’re unforgettable/Daisy Dukes, bikinis on top” as I dragged my frozen self into the Times Square Marriot Marquis did not help warm me up at all. This conference better be worth getting frost bite!

I’m happy to report for the most part, it was! Tim Smith’s (CEO of Inman News) welcome letter stated, “Brad Inman saw the need to connect real estate professionals with the emerging technologies that could help them not only prosper, but succeed… Connect became the place to network with other professionals, and to hear first hand from technology’s brightest minds…”

They indeed lived up to their promise. So, instead of re-hashing (pun intended) all the cool gadgets & trends from the conference, I’m going to go out on a ledge & make eensie-weensie observations which I hope will be taken to heart by the powers that be.

From tech mavens, to real estate CEO’s, to real estate celebs, it was like the Saks 5th Ave of the real estate biz. Kudos to Inman for attracting “industry luminaries.” Exciting, right? Well, yes and no. It was impressive to see industry leaders take the stage live, but less impressive when a few fell flat.

Watching some of the industry giants put the paying customers to sleep, I realized that dominating a boardroom is not the same as captivating a live audience. Totally different skill set! By default, a fancy VP title does not a good speaker make. You have to pop! Some were great, and some were just plain bad.

But Chris Smith killed it. When he kicked off Agent Reboot (or Re-booty, as I like to call it), he was merely enumerating apps & websites. Nothing fantastical. But it was the way he presented it, with personality, cadence, pacing, inflection. He engaged the audience. He put on a show! It is still a stage, after all. Many of us attendees commiserated that we’d prefer to see more truly dynamic speakers than highfalutin execs on Valium.

It’s about creating a narrative arc. During his presentation Adam Hirsh, COO of Mashable, explained the power of telling a story through social media. The same applies to public speaking and putting on a conference. Content must be contextualized. The most impactful speakers were those who shared their personal stories against the backdrop of real estate.

HGTV Star Vern Yip peppered his talk “Can Design Sell a House?” with details about his new son and his rise to fame. While discussing real estate porn, Lockhart Steele, founder of, revealed the inner workings of his company, like how they annoyed and then endeared Courtney Love. During his explanation of the “new media neighborhood,” David Carr, NY Times Media and Culture Columnist, organically wove into his presentation how he raised his daughter as an ex-crackhead (his words, not mine!). Great stuff!

As an side note, for an industry where many women make more than their male counterparts, I couldn’t help but notice a gender gap. Despite the fact women make up a large portion of the industry, their presence is markedly absent in the upper echelons…which is why it was so exhilarating to see some girl power at the podium. Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate and Dottie Herman (no relation…I wish), CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman took the stage by storm.

During the Tweet Up, many of us gals (and some boys) said it was inspiring to witness female powerhouses represent! The real estate industry as a whole is very eclectic; seeing a little diversity meant so much for us plebeians.

I hope I haven’t ruffled too many feathers here. But hey, whenever someone ruffles my feathers, I turn it into a positive and make a boa. Assuming Inman hasn’t banned me yet, I’ll see you all at the Real Estate Connect in San Francisco this summer… with daisy dukes and bikini on top.

Watch Real Estate Expert Herman Chan put the REAL back in REALTY. In his show Habitat for Hermanity, Herman skewers the real estate business and pokes fun at his fellow agents, all the while empowering buyers & sellers with behind-the-scene tips & secrets of the industry! Get a glimpse beyond the glitz & glam of real estate. It's a hot mess! Featured on HGTV, House Hunters & other media outlets, Herman is the undisputed Real Estate Maven whose helpful & hilarious commentary you just can't live without! In fact, his real estate TV show has just been optioned in Hollywood!

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  1. Agent for Movoto

    January 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm is one of my very favorite real estate porn sites…… would LOVE to have heard the whole story there.

    • Herman Chan

      January 24, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      basically curbed was stalking Love’s house hunting, which ticked her off. over a long time they would suggest listings to her,and apparently she warmed to them, b/c she started giving feedback on homes they recommended. pretty cool! tweeting w/ a celeb about her home search!

  2. Chris Smith

    January 24, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Herman thank you so much for the nice comments in the post about my presentation. Meeting you was one of the highlights for me! It is all about SWAGGER and you got it!

    • Herman Chan

      January 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      i don’t have swagger, chris. i have sass! 😉

  3. Coleen DeGroff

    January 25, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Hi Herman – your voice comes shining thru in this piece. I feel like I already know you. 🙂 Thanks for this great RE roundup about Inman Connect. It’s definitely on my “must-attend” list, hopefully sooner rather than later. But I’m definitely not going to freeze my butt off to get to one. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it, and hope the powers-that-be take note of your remarks about dynamic speakers. They truly make all the difference.


      January 25, 2011 at 7:12 am

      hi coleen! that is the best compliment a writer could get, “your voice comes shining thru in this piece. I feel like I already know you.”

      thank you for “listening” to my voice.

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Opinion Editorials

Facebook fights falsehoods (it’s a false flag)

(EDITORIAL) Facebook has chosen Reuters to monitor its site for false information, but what can one company really do, and why would Facebook only pick one?



Reuters checks facebook

So Facebook has finally taken a step to making sure fake news doesn’t get spread on it’s platform. Like many a decision from them though, they haven’t been thorough with their venture.

I am a scientifically driven person, I want facts, figures, and evidence to determine what is reality. Technology is a double edged sword in this arena; sure having a camera on every device any person can hold makes it easy to film events, but deepfakes have made even video more questionable.

Many social media platforms have tried to ban deepfakes but others have actually encouraged it. “I’ll believe it when I see it” was the rally cry for the skeptical, but now it doesn’t mean anything. Altering video in realistic ways has destroyed the credibility of the medium, we have to question even what we see with our eyes.

The expansion of the internet has created a tighter communication net for all of humanity to share, but when specific groups want to sway everyone else there isn’t a lot stopping them if they shout louder than the rest.

With the use of bots, and knowing the specifics of a group you want to sway, it’s easy to spread a lie as truth. Considering how much information is known about almost any user on any social media platform, it’s easy to pick targets that don’t question what they see online.

Facebook has been the worst offender in knowing consumer data and what they do with that data. Even if you never post anything political, they know what your affiliation is. If you want to delete that information, it’s hidden in advertising customization.

Part of me is thrilled that Facebook has decided to try and stand against this spread of misinformation, but how they pursued this goal is anything but complete and foolproof.

Reuters is the news organization that Facebook has chosen to fact check the massive amount of posts, photos, and videos that show up on their platform everyday. It makes sense to grab a news organization to verify facts compared to “alternative facts”.

A big problem I have with this is that Reuters is a company, companies exist to make money. Lies sell better than truths. Ask 2007 banks how well lies sell, ask Enron how that business plan worked out, ask the actors from Game of Thrones about that last season.

Since Reuters is a company, some other bigger company could come along, buy them, and change everything, or put in people who let things slide. Even Captain America recognizes this process. “It’s run by people with agendas, and agendas change.” This could either begin pushing falsehoods into Facebook, or destroy Reuters credibility, and bite Facebook in the ass.

If some large group wants to spread misinformation, but can’t do it themselves, why wouldn’t they go after the number one place that people share information?

I really question if Reuters can handle the amount of information flowing through Facebook, remember almost a 3rd of the whole world uses Facebook. 2.45 Billion people will be checked by 25,800 employees at Reuters? I can appreciate their effort, but they will fail.

Why did Facebook only tag one company to handle this monumental task? If you know that many people are using your platform, and such a limited number of people work for the company you tasked with guarding the users, why wouldn’t you tag a dozen companies to tackle that nigh insurmountable number of users?

I think it’s because Facebook just needs that first headline “Facebook fights falsehoods”. That one line gets spread around but the rest of the story is ignored, or not thought about at all. If there is anything Facebook has learned about the spread of fake information on their platform, it’s how to spread it better.

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Opinion Editorials

Will shopping for that luxury item actually lower your quality of life?

(EDITORIAL) Want to buy yourself a pick-me-up? Have you thought of all the ramifications of that purchase? Try to avoid splurging on it.



shopping bags

In an era of “treat-yo-self,” the urge to splurge is real. It doesn’t help that shopping – or what ends up being closer to impulse shopping – provides us with a hit of dopamine and a fleeting sense of control. Whether your life feels like it’s going downhill or you’ve just had a bad day, buying something you want (or think you want) can seem like an easy fix.

Unfortunately, it might not be so great when it comes to long-term happiness.

As you might have already guessed, purchasing new goods doesn’t fall in line with the minimalism trend that’s been sweeping the globe. Being saddled with a bunch of stuff you don’t need (and don’t even like!) is sure to make your mood dip, especially if the clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Plus, if you’ve got a real spending problem, the ache in your wallet is sure to manifest.

If that seems depressing, I’ve got even more bad news. Researchers at Harvard and Boston College have found yet another way spending can make us more unhappy in the long run: imposter syndrome. It’s that feeling you get when it seems like you’re not as good as your peers and they just haven’t caught on yet. This insecurity often arises in competitive careers, academics and, apparently, shopping.

Now, there’s one big caveat to this idea that purchasing goods will make you feel inferior: it really only applies to luxury goods. I’m talking about things like a Louis Vuitton purse, a top of the line Mercedes Benz, a cast iron skillet from Williams Sonoma (or is that one just me?). The point is, the study found that about 67% of people – regardless of their income – believed their purchase was inauthentic to their “true self.”

And this imposter syndrome even existed when the luxury items were bought on sale.

Does this mean you should avoid making a nice purchase you’ve been saving up for? Not necessarily. One researcher at Cambridge found that people were more likely to report happiness for purchases that fit their personalities. Basically, a die-hard golfer is going to enjoy a new club more than someone who bought the same golf club to try to keep up with their co-workers.

Moral of the story: maybe don’t impulse buy a fancy new Apple watch. Waiting to see if it’s something you really want can save your budget…and your overall happiness.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer got you down? Does it make your job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment without budget worries.



better equipment, better work

Aside from bringing the boss coffee and donuts for a month before asking, what is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes. In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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