What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about building a business?
You cannot do it all, and your people are way more capable than you could ever have imagined. Trust your staff and delegate, or you will never grow.
What puzzles you most about the industry?
A lack of standardization. I’ll never understand why the technology and organizations (MLSs, for instance) are so fragmented and inefficient. I understand needing local expertise and guidance and the need for the MLS — however, I don’t understand why they don’t come together in a more cohesive way to optimize business practices and customer service.
Describe a time when you felt particularly insecure about the future of your company. How did you bounce back?
Like many entrepreneurs, maintaining a work life balance is a great struggle. I was married, and it ended (the pressure of being successful and my drive to make that happen was a large part of its demise). It was when my marriage ended that I felt the most insecure about the future of my company.
I bounced back by taking a step back and focusing on what was truly important — my children. I did my best to “maintain” while I worked through what was a very hard time for me. I felt I had failed, and I don’t do failure.
I made sure to focus first on my children and second on making sure the families that we supported by our company would also be secure. Once I knew that healing was well under way, and as my children got older, I was able to refocus some time and attention on the business, and I now have a new drive to push the company to even greater heights.
In hindsight — it was this trial that probably helped me the most.
What’s your favorite activity outside of work?
Spending time with my children and my dogs on our farm. Because they are the things I love the most in this world, and making them happy makes me happy.
What’s your favorite classic piece of literature?
“Gulliver’s Travels.” When I was very young (two to three years old) we lived on a light house in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. “Gulliver’s Travels” was the very first book I remember my mother reading to me. It’s one of my earliest fond memories.
“You cannot do it all, and your people are way more capable than you could ever have imagined.”
Are you the first entrepreneur in your family?
That I know of, yes. My family is quite small and fragmented — but I am currently the only one I know of.
Why’d you decide to join your company?
I actually founded the company — I did so because I identified a great void in the real estate technology and marketing side. I love innovating and generating results for my customers, and I saw an opportunity to do that at scale in a way that had never been done before.
How will the role of the real estate agent change over the next five years?
As technology does more of the process-type work, agents will become more consultants and trusted advisors than paperwork people. Not that they are not now, but I see the shift continuing to even greater consultancy — adding “personal” value, not just real estate transaction expertise.
What would you describe as your company’s biggest victory since you joined it?
My company’s biggest victory is the fact that we have been profitable every single year of our existence while maintaining a culture of awesomeness, innovation and customer success. So few tech companies can grow like we have (51.5 percent growth just last year) and maintain healthy profitability and culture.
What’s been the biggest obstacle your business has encountered, and how have you dealt with it?
Being on Vancouver Island, our biggest early obstacle is attracting talent. The pool of “digital” talent in Nanaimo is very limited as such; our task to find the best developers is likely considerably more difficult than it would be if we were in a major metropolitan area or tech hub.
What’s the most overrated real estate technology?
What motivates you more: power or money?
Money — but not for the reasons you might think. I love to absolutely crush my goals, and financial goals are one of the most attractive metrics. It’s not about personal money — it’s about helping raise enough capital to reinvest in my companies and push them to even greater heights.
“It’s not about personal money — it’s about helping raise enough capital to reinvest in my companies.”
What is your biggest professional fear?
That the industry will become institutional and stifle innovation.
What is your biggest personal fear?
The safety and well-being of my children.
Who do you respect most in the industry?
Jay Thompson — he has an incredibly hard job (managing Zillow’s reputation online can be a confrontational task at the best of times) — he’s been a friend for many years and is not only bright, but he truly cares about the industry and the customers he serves.
Describe what you do in one sentence: I bring awesomeness and innovation to my customers in order to ensure their success.
Location: Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada