Marketing

Leigh Canlis on the importance of authenticity

The W Collection executive talks about how to find those top-tier clients -- and keep them

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Leigh Canlis joined Windermere earlier this year to build W Collection, a full-service, top-tier luxury marketing division launching  in October.

Her background includes managing sales, events and VIP client relations for glass artist Dale Chihuly, 13 years as president of Canlis Glass and vice president-private banker at JP Morgan, as well as vice president-wealth strategist for Northern Trust.

Canlis will be speaking at Luxury Connect in Beverly Hills, October 19 through 20.

We caught up with her to find out what high-end clientele want most and her best piece of marketing advice.

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Your professional career has run the gamut, working with everyone from artists to investors. How did those roles lead you to your current position with Windermere?

It sure has been fun! Each role I have had in my career has had a major touch point in the luxury world.

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It wasn’t an intentional move on my part, but one that I have clearly gravitated toward throughout my adult life. I find ease with people in general, so while one person may be intimidated when meeting Bono or Jeff Bezos*, I just have general interest and curiosity as to who that human being is, aside from the recognition and fame.

Through the years, that trait has given me the opportunity to conduct business with some incredible people in the luxury world; it didn’t matter if I was selling art or advising clients, the necessary skills were the same.

When Windermere president OB Jacobi came to me with the idea of heading up a new ultra-luxury division, I knew it was a great fit.  My knowledge and understanding of the luxury market drew Windermere toward me, and Windermere’s success within the luxury market provided the platform on which I wanted to work.

In your time at Windermere, what would you say are the three most important things high-net-worth clients are looking for when choosing a real estate brokerage?

  • Knowledge
  • Integrity
  • Success

What is the best piece of marketing or PR advice you could give an agent who is trying to stand out in the luxury market?

This market is too individual to make that broad of a statement. Every broker is unique, and that is an important part of the equation.

If I had to choose one, it would be:  Be yourself. If you feel you need to be in the pinstriped suit, but you are really a Levis and white T-shirt guy, then you will not feel authentic.

Embrace who you are and run with it.

*Yes, she’s met them both, and she reports that they are both incredibly gracious and down-to-earth.

Email Kristy Hessman