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Tales from Inman real estate connect conference

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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 Curbed.com, 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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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Agent for Movoto

    January 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Curbed.com 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.

    • www.hermanchan.com

      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.
      xo
      H

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Opinion Editorials

The offensive myth of getting laid off being a blessing

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There’s an age-old trend in news to look for rags-to-riches stories. People love to hear about someone who’s down on their luck scraping together a genius idea and, through sheer grit (it seems), finding the motivation to finally strike out on their own and realize their dream.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Person X is laid off from their long-time but unfulfilling office job, say at an oil company in Alberta, or a marketing agency where their good ideas are consistently shot down.

What seems like a situation to for despair is actually an opportunity in disguise— see, with their newfound freedom Person X has the ability to fully commit to their small business pipe dream.

In fact, the story goes, getting laid off was actually the best thing to ever happen to this person.

This story is a myth.

Although I don’t want to discredit anybody who has had the willpower, luck, and resources to succeed at launching their business, there are many people who are laid off who are truly in critically terrible times.

The insidious underlying message of this myth is that anybody who is truly devastated by being laid off is being weak or lazy.

It serves to alleviate the guilt of those who may have survived the lay off themselves; it helps organizations justify the fact that they might have had to let an otherwise good employee go for their own, corporate-level problems.

The characteristics that many of these laid-off-turned-successful-entrepreneurs have in common are the same sort of privileges that many take for granted – health, youth, a personal support system to help keep the lights on, and an established network of people that can be turned into a market of clients.

What happens to the many workers who are victims of ageism when they are laid off in favor of younger, less expensive workers?

What happens if you’re laid off and you can’t use your newfound time to work on your business plan because you’re raising young children?

The entrepreneurs who find opportunity in being suddenly jobless were probably already on their way to striking out on their own, with their being laid off acting as the defined starting point for a plan they might not have known was forming in their heads.

If you, a friend, or a colleague have the unfortunate luck to be laid off, don’t let this myth get under your skin.

It’s okay to have a rough time with a huge life event that is absolutely terrifying and difficult.

Hang in there.

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Opinion Editorials

3 things to do if you *really* want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce.

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More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.

Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

(This article was first published here in November, 2016.)

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Opinion Editorials

How the Bullet Journal method has been hijacked and twisted

(EDITORIAL) I’m a big fan of the Bullet Journal method, but sticker-loving tweens have hijacked the movement. Worry not, I’m still using black and white bullet points with work tasks (not “pet cat,” or “smile more”).

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bullet journal

It’s taken me some time to come around to the Bullet Journal method, because it took me some time to fully understand it (I have a tendency to overthink simplicity). Now that I understand the use, I find it very beneficial for my life and my appreciation for pen-to-paper.

In short, it’s a quick and simple system for organization tasks and staying focused with everything you have going on. All you need to employ this method is a journal with graph or dotted paper, and a pen. Easy.

However, there seems to be this odd truth that: we find ways to simplify complicated things, and we find ways to complicate simple things. The latter is exactly what’s happened with the Bullet Journal method, thanks to creative people who show the rest of us up.

To understand what I’m talking about, open up Instagram (or Pinterest, or even Google) and just search “bullet journal.” You’ll soon find post after post of frilly, sticker-filled, calligraphy-laden journal pages.

The simple method of writing down bullets of tasks has been hijacked to become a competitive art form.

Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at this stuff because I dig the creativity. But, do I have time to do that myself? No! For honesty’s sake, I’ve tried just for fun and it takes too much damn time.

With this is mind, this new-found method of Bullet Journaling as an art is something that: a) defeats the purpose of accomplishing tasks quickly as you’re setting yourself back with the nifty art, and b) entrepreneurs, freelancers, executives, or anyone busy would not have time for.

Most of these people posting artistic Bullet Journal pages on Instagram are younger and have more time on their hands (and if you want to spend your time doing that, do you, man).

But, it goes against the simplistic method of Bullet Journaling. The intent of the method.

And, beneath the washi tape, stickers, and different colored pens, usually lies a list of: put away laundry, feed cat, post on Insta. So, this is being done more for the sake of art than for employing the method.

Again, I’m all for art and for people following their passions and creativities, but it stands to reason that this should be something separate from the concept of Bullet Journaling, as it has become a caricature of the original method.

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