Marketing

Kenneth Jenny: ‘Not everyone appreciates an outside opinion of the future or the need to change’

Real estate leader says transaction management is overrated and talks about industry change

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Kenneth Jenny is the managing director and CEO of TranCen.com.

Describe what you do in one sentence: I help others see and understand opportunities for change way above what they cannot see because they have their heads down everyday running their businesses.

Age: Old enough to know better.

Degree, school: Bachelor of biological sciences and biochemistry, California Polytechnic State University

Social media: LinkedIn

Ken Jenny sailing.

Ken Jenny sailing

What’s your favorite activity outside of work and why?

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I find great peace in writing; it allows me to express my thoughts and convey something that might benefit someone else.

What’s your favorite classic piece of literature and why?

Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” It is so telling in so many ways.

Are you the first entrepreneur in your family?

Yes. I come from a family of many airline pilots and teachers.

Why’d you decide to join your company?

I didn’t join my company, I created it. As a consultant, I wanted to add a new perspective to mature businesses.

Describe a time when you felt particularly insecure about the future of your company. How did you bounce back?

Not everyone fully appreciates an outside opinion of the future or of the need to change. Rejection of my ideas can be tough to manage, but I always try to remember I am there to help, not to force change.

What would you describe as your company’s biggest victory?

There are many. I look for a victory for my clients in each engagement. Since I founded my consulting company, my hope is that I have helped other companies and their people achieve a greater degree of success.

What’s been the biggest obstacle your business has encountered, and how have you dealt with it?

My business essentially operates on a 30-day basis. I tell people that I am a 30-day wonder. Every 30 days, I wonder what I will be doing. I deal with that by setting the expectation from day one that I will work with a company for as long as I can deliver value. And then I simply go.

What puzzles you most about the industry?

There is so much talk of the need for change, and so little actual change occurs. I see change as an opportunity not to survive, but to thrive. Because the industry is so slow to adapt and change, those who find a way to make that happen have an incredible opportunity to succeed.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about building a business?

Some say to walk before you run; I say, don’t forget to crawl before you walk. Mistakes are easily made when a business runs right past an opportunity on its way to somewhere far less important.

What’s the most overrated real estate technology?

I think it may be transaction management. It is duplicative — the closing and escrow companies already do this; it is difficult to fund — no one wants to pay for it; and few agents really take the time to keep the systems updated — because they are rightfully fully engaged with the closing and escrow companies and keeping those sources that really matter to the closing updated and satisfied.

How will the role of the real estate agent change over the next five years?

I see the most change impacting the listing side of the business and the role of the listing agent. Much of the marketing can be and is formatted now. And soon, other parts of the transaction that take place later or behind the scenes will be brought to the front of the transaction to avoid the creation of a frustrating consumer experience.

What motivates you more: power or money?

I look at these things as progressive. If you are given power, you should always use it to create opportunities to make innovative things happen. And when those types of things happen, usually the money follows. For me and my clients, I am motivated by being trusted enough to be given the power to apply resources to make change happen.

What is your biggest professional fear?

I have none.

What is your biggest personal fear?

Being taken from this earth before I can do everything I want or have dreamed to do.

Whom do you respect most in the industry?

The people of the industry. They are each so unique and all so resilient.

Would you like to participate in Inman’s leader profile series? Email contributors@inman.com.