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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

Is this the end of the Great American Commercial Office Building?

(REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE) Dell is the latest to join a trending game of commercial real estate hot potato by selling off 35 acres of prime real estate in Round Rock to Switch.

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Tall glass windowed office buildings, a part of commercial real estate

With people and companies realizing how viable remote work is across several industries, companies are re-evaluating the role of the in-office worker. Many large companies, including Dell Technologies, are starting to ditch their expensive investments, those big, shiny office buildings and, in some cases, even office compounds. The American Genius has learned from a Dell source that they’re lightening their commercial real estate load by selling off approximately 35-acres of their Dell Round Rock campus to Switch, who will build a 1.5 million sq. ft. building called “The Rock.” Additionally, they are leasing the third floor in another building to the Army Futures Command (AFC) for their Resource Operations Center. Dell seems to be making out well in these transactions, reducing their real estate holdings and repurposing the other space by leasing it.

Are these once-bustling business centers going the way of abandoned shopping malls and all those condos in Miami? Not exactly, but we are seeing a trend for businesses to rethink the space they need and what they should sell (or lease). “‘Remote work is really going to stay here,’ says Frank Steemers, senior economist for the Conference Board, in USA Today. “It’s probably going to be one of the main organizational legacies of the pandemic.’” It seems unlikely, although it’s unclear what this means for commercial real estate.

Dell did well, as the market in Austin is still healthy and is expected to stay that was. Other cities may not be faring as well. While some people want to go back to their offices for various reasons, few actually want to return to full-time cubicle or office life. Employers are making these decisions to move more employees to full time working from home status and to expand the job candidate pool by hiring more remote workers.

REI sold their brand new headquarters in Bellevue, Washington to Facebook in August 2020, before ever having moved in. They had to deal with layoffs last year, plus their office employees have been working remotely already. For months at the start of the pandemic, we saw businesses holding onto their real estate, expecting a return to business as usual sooner rather than later. When that didn’t happen, companies opted to make more permanent arrangements for remote workers. Selling off their office spaces means less overhead for the businesses with fewer day-to-day expenses.

Things started shifting when the tech giant Google said it would consider allowing employees to keep working from home until well into summer 2022, and predicted a hybrid work model in the future. Facebook and Twitter have indicated something similar, and regional offices of Ford (Michigan), Target (Minnesota), and Salesforce in California have all indicated they will be “giving up significant office space because of their changing workplace practices,” according to the NY Times in a recent article on the trend.

Businesses are off-loading their commercial real estate holdings, because with offices at half-capacity or less in many of these massive compounds, it doesn’t make sense to hold onto the properties. The basic cost of running and operating these behemoths, not to mention the abandoned meditation rooms and ping pong tables, doesn’t make too much sense now. It’s just paying for wasted space. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this trend as some workers return to their offices.

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Real Estate Brokerage

Don’t settle for mediocrity: How to be a better leader

(BROKERAGE NEWS) There tends to be two camps of leaders, those who lead from strength and those from weakness. But who says you can’t do both?

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Leader in a meeting

A lot of leadership literature has become “strength’s focused” – using inventories like StrengthsFinder (developed by Gallup). The logic in many ways, is sound. Capitalizing on your strengths as a leader and those of your team is significantly more effective than attempts to cover perceived flaws or weaknesses.

The business world has been cited for being too focused on weaknesses (and now parents are too). This a natural inclination for people. For leaders however, we should be bringing our strengths (and the strengths of our teams) to work and making “it” happen.

However, an over focus on strengths isn’t without its own challenges. Tony Schwartz writes for Harvard Business Review, a “well-rounded leader” has a greater opportunity to be more effective. As we seek to leverage our “strengths” let us not forget the complexity of our skill set and how those negatives we see about ourselves can become assets – resources – that we use to manage ourselves and our teams.

Metaphors are common in leadership articles, so I won’t break tradition.

Much like in physical exercise, poor form often causes the overuse of a muscle versus a group of muscles. Poor leadership form, while doing the lifting, leads to an overuse or over-reliance on what is good and comfortable for us.

A pragmatic leader may find themselves unable to make dynamic change move forward. Today’s leaders have to deal with a more complex environment in terms of technology, skills, and demographics. One style of leading will simply not be enough.

The big lesson here is to workout things you don’t think are your best strengths. What are ways you can take those weaknesses and utilize them? How do your rebranded weaknesses make you a good leader for a project or a team? Create opportunities to use your “positive opposites” – those weaknesses that you have rebranded.

PRO TIP: Find a mentor, find a coach, or keep reading about leadership.

You may never be able to develop those skills as strong as your primary, but you will have more leadership muscle to work with. You’ll be delivering a better leader to serve, build, and develop yourself or the organization.

Schwartz discusses the role of choices. We make a lot of choices as leaders – resources, people, what risks, what resources, what costs. When we make those choices working with clients or employees we are always using our mental tool kits.

It doesn’t hurt us to have more tools, most of the time, to allow us to handle situations.

SIDEBAR: It is important to recognize that we only have a limited amount of time. You’re still going to benefit more from developing your strengths – but don’t forget to work out those rebranded weaknesses (the triceps of leadership!). I love an 80/20 perspective – spend 80% of your learning time focused on building up those strengths, spend the other 20% on flexing those rebranded weakness.

A well-balanced leader is not a one-trick pony – they are leaders who can take an organization through many life cycles. If you seek to be some kind of leader, take some time to appreciate your own mix of strengths and weaknesses, and the unique qualities that you bring to a complex world of complex organizations.

Leadership is a whole person endeavor, and don’t skip those weaknesses (just like leg day!).

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Real Estate Brokerage

Entrepreneurs and techies, need motivation? Weekend Club is here to help

(REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE) Weekend Club gives you access to a support network of techies and entrepreneurs every Saturday to keep you motivated on your personal projects.

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Freelancers and entrepreneurs working together in a meeting room, two men and two women, discussing over a laptop.

If you want your personal project to succeed, you’ve got to work on it constantly. Jerry Seinfeld says to not break the chain, while Stephen King says to write every day. Getting better at something requires the motivation and discipline to put in a bit of work every day – to persevere through every setback.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Tech projects are especially notorious about this – the complexity of a new app’s design and code might hit a blocker at any moment, and that can quickly make someone walk away. There’s hundreds of dozens of little pieces all scattered around that require attention, and any single one of them might trip everything up.

It’s exhausting. Finding a solution might mean hours of Google and Stackoverflow searches, watching tutorials in hopes that someone ran into the same issue, or possibly tracking down someone to help. It could be days before you get past a specific hurdle, and even then, who knows how quickly a solution can be implemented.

This is where Weekend Club steps in. Every Saturday, techies and entrepreneurs gather in Zoom and Slack to offer up advice and guidance to anyone working on a personal project. With a group of entrepreneurs that includes startup founders, veteran coders, designers, and everything in between, Weekend Club works to provide a place of answers, help, and encouragement.

Much like a standard tech shop, each day begins with a standup, has office hours, and an end-day retrospective to cover your progress. There’s also access to a wealth of digital assets, including discounts on popular products such as Stripe and Notion.

The overall idea is to provide a place where entrepreneurs can flourish by surrounding themselves with knowledgeable and experienced veterans – people who have been in the same situation before, and can deliver their wisdom quickly. Of course, knowing that you’ll be using a part of your week to push forward on your project is meant to foster a sense of determination to get it done, which in turn can help fuel aspirations and get things completed.

A subscription is $49/month and grants you access to a wealth of useful resources, and there is a free 30 days trial as well. A quick glance at the testimonial page shows that this weekly meeting has been a savior for numerous people as they work to get their ideas into motion. By taking away the loneliness of a personal project and instead replacing it with a supportive group of like-minded individuals, Weekend Club provides a way to remain devoted and productive.

As one person mentions on Weekend Club’s Product Hunt Page, “Best thing about Weekend Club is that it gently keeps you accountable and aligned with your goals.”

In the end, if diligence is the key, then giving yourself access to a team of mentors and colleagues is an excellent way to continue your journey. Weekend Club might only be meeting once a week, but this could change in the future. And besides, at least one focused day is better than none at all, and that motivation can carry through an entire week.

It gets easier. Every day it gets a little easier. But you got to do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.

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