Good morning — how is everyone? I hope you’re all doing great. You should be. Today is a brand-new day.
Filling the cup bone dry
I trashed my original opening statement, the one I worked for a week to perfect. The speakers who addressed the crowd prior to my keynote managed to slide their straws into the half-empty cup that was this audience of 400 Realtors and suck it dry.
The agents were in attendance as a course requirement — credits towards yet another designation. Each covered a different real estate subject: title, the economy, mortgage, investment strategy.
Gloom, doom and the apocalypse. And then me. I was tasked with filling the empty cup with sweet, energizing nectar.
Each speaker went overtime driving home the “realities” of the industry today. As the minutes ticked away, my worst fears tocked. My stage time was 12-1 p.m. At 1 p.m., the course would officially end. A hard stop.
At 12:25, I prepared to take the stage. The attendees were returning to their seats from the last and final break. I could sense their exhaustion. Dread. I reached into my sweater pocket and fumbled for the little purple vial. I popped the cap and removed my second Nexium of the day.
The crowd, quelled by the MC, listened as he called me to the stage. “He’s a guitarist-turned-consultant, please give a warm welcome to…”
My career, slashed to its most unimpressive nugget. What a way to begin. I moved to the center of the stage, 800 pounds of concern caked to my Adidas. I gazed out across the audience, the grand majority that filled the tiered-seating theatre.
The old guard.
I crumbled up my opening remarks and decided to abandon nearly my entire speech. It was time to think on my feet. I adjusted the poorly working lavaliere and began:
“You’ve heard many opinions this morning about the industry. About the economy. About the mortgage crisis. About the state of affairs of real estate. For some of you, these opinions might sound frightening. Ominous. Too much to bear. But I see things differently. I don’t see fright. I see opportunity. I don’t see ominous. I see brilliant light. I don’t see too much to bear. I see give me more.”
I offered this analogy: “If a baseball player goes from hitting 20 home runs a year to hitting 80 home runs for five years in a row, and then in his sixth year he hits 60, do we call that a bad year? A disaster? Sales are down this year. Prices are decreasing. But historically, real estate is still having a hall-of-fame year. With the right approach, you too can have a hall-of-fame year.”
From every struggle comes transformation
Sensing the audience responding, I continued: “Perception is what decides fate. The ones who just get by or fail are those who see things as black or white. The most successful among us see everything in color. And given the vibrant nature of real estate today, with its surfeit of innovation and rainbow of technology, I challenge you to start seeing things in Technicolor.
“You need to believe that anything is possible. No roadblocks. Endless opportunities. If everyone is struggling, it means everyone is doing something wrong. Given the fact that real estate is afflicted with a copycat mentality, this is more than just a possibility. From every recession comes innovation. From every struggle comes transformation. Out of millions of losing lottery players, one multimillion-dollar winner emerges.”
I went into high gear, “What if Starbucks offered listing downloads onto your iPod? What if there was such a thing as a holographic home tour? What if every new home built in 2008 and beyond included flat iMac panels in every room with an iPhone interface that allowed the homeowner to speak to anyone without holding a device in their hand? What if each monitor had iChat with a wide-angle lens so the home could be viewed by anyone, anywhere? Steve Jobs has already changed the music industry forever; is it impossible to think that he isn’t considering an application for real estate?
“Great things are being decided. The future is surely calling us to run to it.
“What if each of you decided today that you were going to do one thing you thought was impossible? What if all of you who don’t blog decided to build just one around your next listing? You already do it now with each and every property description. What if you decided to take one simple leap and redo your business card to get rid of the characteristics that makes yours look like every other Realtor’s? What if, today, you began to believe that what you thought was outside the box was really the shiny new wrapping paper you need to make your old box look new and interesting?”
I was just getting warmed up. I had 40 minutes left. I had a crystal-clear vision of the industry, and a fun PowerPoint created on Keynote. If I had a license right now, I’d be overworked. I just know it.
Then the commotion started. Dozens and dozens of agents folded up their folios and stood up. Synchronized. Making calls on their way out. The clock struck 1. Time to go before they turn to pumpkins. They got what they came for, a few more acronyms for their black-and-white business cards. Their required participation ended.
Mine had only just begun.