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Lab Coat Agents’ founders accused of violent, sexist comments during Inman SF

(REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY) “Hell yeah… who’s the hottest girl you have ever screwed off of Tinder?” women allegedly hear during a luxury shuttle at a San Francisco real estate conference.

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The story begins on August 4th, 2016. The opening scene is a private luxury shuttle where a group of men and women boarded to be whisked from the Inman Connect San Francisco tour of a posh mansion to the Inman Innovators Award event. On the ride over, something went awry.

The men believed that just a few rows away from the women, they could have a private conversation. Locker talk, if you will.

Three men allegedly said the following, which three women claim to have heard clearly:

“I swear, I would have punched that bitch if I knew I could do it without fucking killing her.”

“I mean, I know how to hit a cunt so that she can hide the bruises.”

“Now I’m back on Tinder just hitting that shit — I’m still married but fuck that cheating bitch.”

“You guys know what I mean — fuck all the bitches, amiright?”

“Yeah, man… you had every right to fuck that bitch up.”

“If my girl ever did that to me she would fucking regret it for sure.”

“Hell yeah… who’s the hottest girl you have ever screwed off of Tinder?”

One of the women began to recognize the voices. The women were then addressed directly. “Are you ladies learning something up there?! Don’t ever cheat on your man or he has every right to fuck you up.”

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None of the women shared their story until Thursday, October 13th when Stacie Perrault Staub outlined the encounter in detail, never naming the men or offering hints as to their identities.

The three men implicate themselves

All three men implicated themselves on Friday, October 14th, posting on Facebook that they were on the bus, but claimed they never said anything to that effect while they privately discussed a crumbling marriage.

Ronnie George, Real Estate Agent and Team Leader at Keller Williams Realty CENLA Partners in Louisiana, was allegedly one of the commenters on the bus, along with Lab Coat Agents founders Nicholas “Nick” Baldwin (the COO at Lab Coat Agents and Listing Specialist at The Baldwin Dream Team at Keller Williams Realty in New Jersey) and Herubay “Tristan” Ahumada (CEO at Lab Coat Agents and Real Estate Agent at Keller Williams World Class, Tristan & Associates), who were on their way to find out whether as finalists, Lab Coat Agents had won Inman’s “Most Innovative Technology” category (which Cloud MLX ultimately went on to win).

The morning after the bus ride in question, this picture was posted on Instagram:
instagram-screenshot
The three men have not responded to our requests for comment, but our email tracking system confirms they have opened the emails.

On Monday, October 17th, a Keller Williams spokesperson said, “Derogatory statements and actions have no place in our Keller Williams’ culture. We take these matters seriously, and have taken immediate action.” We have asked for clarification as to what actions have been taken.

Throwing gasoline on a fire

On Friday, the three men called Staub (as well as witnesses Valerie Garcia and Nikki Beauchamp) liars, even making videos on the topic to defend their innocence and subsequently deleted the videos from the “closed” Lab Coat Agents (LCA) group on Facebook. Anyone that watched this group today saw threads deleted in front of them.

While the videos, self-implicating status updates, and references to this incidence have been scrubbed from LCA, we have hundreds of screenshots as well as shared videos, just as countless private Facebook groups and real estate practitioners do.

For example, the deleted videos have since been uploaded to YouTube (courtesy of Rob Hahn):


People offended by the scrubbing efforts have re-posted screenshots of others questioning the LCA founders. Those have also been deleted by LCA.

Group members have gone as far as finding old tweets from George as far back as 2015, asserting that they depict an ongoing misogynistic attitude.

ronnie george on twitter

Another group member confronted Baldwin directly, alleging that moments after meeting, Baldwin bragged to him about having sex with one of the event hosts. That post was removed (and was defiantly reposted by other LCA members).

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A source close to the story tells us that this is far from over, and one of the women tells us she is “terrified.” Another source indicates the witnesses are upset at being named by blogger Rob Hahn, although many people have publicly tagged the three women in Facebook status updates to show their support. Several people have told us that there are private backchannel conversations going on that are being perceived as threatening.

The allegations have led to respected industry leaders to leave the Facebook group, along with others that are purportedly blocked from seeing or returning to the LCA group. Many have left, some have been banned by LCA administrators.

The three men have confirmed they were on the bus, had a personal conversation, and they have called the women liars, and apologized if anyone was offended, but have yet to recount what exactly their conversation entailed (which at this point is irrelevant, as they continue to deny the account of that day).

While numerous sources are speaking to us off of the record for fear of retribution, New York broker, J. Philip Faranda had intimate knowledge of this encounter prior to Staub’s original post being published and he opined brashly.

Faranda calls this “a brand-killing event” for Lab Coat Agents.

Moving forward in a post-Inman-bus world

According to Inman, Lab Coat Agents’ Baldwin and Ahumada are “de-facto consultants” for real estate tech firms in exchange for equity. Further, Ahumada told Inman he had been flown in by the VP of realtor.com to consult on various Move, Inc. products. Previously, Baldwin told The Real Daily that they were being brought in by realtor.com to take over the still defunct Tech Savvy Agent blog.

Move and realtor.com have not responded to our request for comment, although the email request has been opened 13 times as of publication. The National Association of Realtors has verified with The Real Daily that they have no affiliation with Lab Coat Agents, financial or otherwise.

In full disclosure, leadership at The Real Daily was previously invited (and we ultimately declined) to speak at the first LCA conference by Baldwin, who by all standards has maintained a professional tone during all of our interactions.

Ultimately, this is a black eye on the industry as Staub’s original blog post has been shared across social networks in front of endless consumers.

At home or at a conference, Realtors are held to a Code of Ethics, a Code of Excellence, and to higher standards of behavior. The egos of a few won’t be allowed to damage the reputation of 1.2 million Realtors in America. The real estate industry continues to protect consumers (and to an extent other agents) from this behavior; for example, NAR amended the CoE to protect LGBTQ couples from being discriminated against while the federal government continues to deliberate.

Consumers would not expect any other industry to tolerate even a hint of bullying, intimidation, sexism, or indirect threats of violence. Even from real estate vendors.

Since publication, Valerie Garcia and Nikki Beauchamp have both put forward statements corroborating Staub’s account of the incident.

This is an ongoing story and we will keep you updated.

UPDATE: Industry leader Jeff Lobb reportedly left the group and was blocked prior to this incident and for separate reasons.

UPDATE: October 17th, 2:18pm cst updated the story to reflect Beauchamp and Garcia’s public statements, and to add Keller William’s statement.

UPDATE, October 17th: Lab Coat Agents’ LCA Live speakers backing out

#LCAccused

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The Real Daily and sister news outlet, The American Genius, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Real Estate Brokerage

How you can stick with your habits and actually achieve your goals

(BROKERAGE) Sticking to new habits can be tough, but there are ways to train your brain. We’ve got the deets on the best way to beat fatigue.

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Person typing on computer representing habits in our workday.

Just about every Sunday night I say to myself, “This week, I am going to eat better.” And, just about every Monday afternoon, I find myself cooking the same frozen pizza I always eat. Why is it so difficult for us to stick to our guns and really follow through on developing better habits? Well, if you’re anything like me, it’s mostly because doing what you’re used to is so much easier.

Trick of the trade

Each year I find myself being notorious for skipping out on my New Year’s resolutions, my fitness goals, and my attempts at reading one book per month. Right when I was beginning to feel completely fed up with myself, I found a trick that has helped me form habits and maintain behavior to accomplish my goals.

And, this trick is quite simple: accountability.

This can be found in the form of a friend or in the form of a planner or calendar.

Creating accountable ideas

I have thousands of ideas per day, many of which are fleeting. However, some ideas are about self-improvement.

For example, I often have the idea of beginning a workout routine. While I know that I should be doing daily exercise to increase my overall health, it can be a difficult task to stick with.

By developing this idea into something that I am accountable for, it makes me much more likely to stick with this habit. Let me explain…

Accountable for others

The two aforementioned methods of accountability, a friend or planner, can be used for the given workout example.

If you find a friend who can daylight as your workout buddy, you have someone that will motivate you and that you can motivate.

Now that you’ve made this friend your workout buddy, you have someone to hold you accountable if you miss a day. Gone would be the days where you could skip a workout and have no one to answer to.

Accountable for yourself

But, if you are a solo exerciser like myself, it can be difficult to find a method of accountability. What I have found works for me is taking my thought of, “I should workout,” and putting my goals down on paper.

By writing down a workout plan and the attached goals, it fosters a sense of tangibility.

I then create a calendar where I write down what exercise I want to do on what day, and, after I complete my goal, I am able to check it out.

For the accountability aspect, I like to put this calendar somewhere in everyday eyesight, so that I can’t ignore it. And, sure, I could easily throw it away and pretend it never existed in the first place, but I promise the act of writing out your goals will motivate completion.

In the end…

While sticking to habits can be a tricky business and different methods work for different people, developing an environment in which you hold accountability helps to inspire motivation.

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Real Estate Brokerage

Sales Exercise: Can you sell water as well as you can sell a house?

(BROKERAGE) Spice up your office life! Create a friendly office competition and see if the sales prowess is limited to just homes.

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sales competition negotiating

Here’s a fun way to shake up the daily grind at your brokerage and give your team a chance to practice their skills: a one-day sales challenge.

Choose a random day of the week to cancel all other plans and have the competition. It will be even more fun if you don’t warn your team – just spring it on them. Before you do, make sure no one is working up to any pressing deadlines.

How to play

Divide your staff into teams and give them the challenge of selling a tangible product. One group in Chicago sold bottles of water. Have the teams decide how much inventory they would like, with the rule that they can’t buy more later. It’s up to the teams to decide how much to charge for each unit.

This will challenge the teams to estimate how much inventory they think they can move

Overconfident teams may end up with too much inventory, while others will sell out quickly and may wish they had sold at a higher price, or had bought more to start with.

If you’d like, you can let teams that sell out quickly negotiate to buy extra inventory from teams that overbought.

Send your teams out to the streets and see how much they can sell in one day. Celebrate with a happy hour at the end of the day where you compare remaining inventories and net profits, congratulate the winners, and discuss lessons learned.

The benefits

This is a great challenge for encouraging teamwork. Teams have to communicate, make decisions, and make sales cooperatively. The competition and the time limit put the pressure on, but since it’s just a game, it’s also low stakes and there is no real risk.

Teams have to rely on their own skills, rather than the pre-existing systems of your business.

A sales challenge is obviously a great way to practice sales. Many Realtors are great at marketing or negotiation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can nail it when it comes to sales. The challenge can also help identify star salespeople, even in departments where you might not expect.

What’s to lose?

Bonus points for blogging about the challenge. Show your customers some of the personalities behind your company and celebrate the unsung sales heroes of your team.

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Real Estate Brokerage

3 important things to consider before you pivot your business model

(BROKERAGE) Many businesses have had to pivot during the global pandemic but maybe yours isn’t one of them. Consider these questions first!

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Team discussing the pivot of a business model.

When Ross asked Rachel and Chandler (Friends TV show 1994-2004) to move a couch, many of us will never forget his voice inflection and how many times he yelled “PIVOT”! It’s actually a really funny scene and if you’ve never seen it, it might be worth 3.5 minutes of your time. Ross had the best of intentions by starting with a sketch and enlisting help from friends but even that ends up in hilarity as getting his couch into his apartment doesn’t work and he ends up being offered $4 when he tries to return it (stay for the end of the clip).

The best plans and intentions for your business are often met with what the market and customers demand, where technology grows, and where your ROI is the best. You often know that your original plans will grow and evolve, even in the uncertainty and now… a global pandemic.

Many entrepreneurs and small businesses have had to lean on technology to add virtual services (or expand their offerings) to meet our current norm where people are just not out and about like they used to be. Some have seen this work well and others have had to completely re-design their offerings to maintain safe and socially distanced considerations.

The thing is, businesses that have pivoted are being highlighted. But it is also worth looking at what has worked for some businesses that didn’t have to completely shift their strategies in 2020. It is likely that they had to adapt but maybe not a ridiculous Ross-type “pivot” that resulted in a complete failure of the mission.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) shared an incredible article, “You Don’t Have to Pivot in a Crisis” with great insights about what to consider if you think you need to make changes or if you want reassurance you are still on the right track.

HBR shares a powerful thought:

“The lesson here is that when a crisis hits, it pays to resist knee-jerk reactions on how to handle external shocks and ask what is going to work best for your company, based on the particular realities of its business. Ignoring the playbook of rapid cuts plus strategic pivoting can be the smart move… However, staying the course doesn’t mean inaction.”

Here are three thought-starters you may want to consider for your business:

  1. What product line or service is best serving your customers right now? Is that one of your strongest and/or could it use some attention?
  2. What product line or service is not quite meeting your needs or customer demands at the moment that had seemingly always worked (not forever! Just right now)? For example, in-person gatherings and promotions like events, conferences, trade shows.
  3. Is there something you’ve always wanted to explore? And could now be a great time since people want things more virtually? Examples: Selling branded swag, workbooks, content subscriptions, educational webinars.

These are three simple things but could help point you in the right direction of where to focus your time and energy – at least for now. You may not need a complete re-design or to take a new road, it might be some tweaks and adjustments to hang on to what you’ve worked so hard to build.

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