Leadership Lens: Charlie Young on playing offense, not defense

Coldwell Banker CEO Charlie Young shares his thoughts on what it means to be a leader in real estate

Inman is exploring what the future of real estate leadership should look like through a series of articles, Q&As with industry pros, and an upcoming 5-part series called Leadership Week. Please send your feedback to leadership@inman.com. If you’re a leader who wants to join us for our exclusive Disconnect in The Desert event on March 26-28, or want to recommend a colleague, send a note to brad@inman.com explaining why.

Coldwell Banker CEO Charlie Young first joined the Coldwell Banker brand in 2004 after an extensive career in business management, field operations, marketing and real estate operations. Initially, he served as senior vice president of marketing and later was promoted to chief operating officer.

Young spearheaded several innovative programs during his first five years with Coldwell Banker as it became the first national brand in the real estate industry to use video in marketing efforts, develop a Facebook app and a standalone luxury home website. He also guided the brand’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2006.

We recently got the opportunity to sit down with Charlie and pick his brain about where real estate leadership is headed in 2018.

As a leader, what keeps you up at night?

Overall, I think Coldwell Banker is well positioned to tackle future challenges. We have the right mindset and we have leverage that others don’t have — a great brand, unrivaled network and access to more data than anyone.

What keeps me up at night is execution. Are we properly leveraging all our resources and tools? Are we focusing on the right disrupters and ignoring distractions? At the brand level and the Realogy level, we need to put the agent first when thinking about these questions, while not losing sight of the consumer.

We need to position and empower our agents to meet the changing expectations of today’s consumer. A consumer that has come to expect instant, seamless, on-demand information and service from the likes of Uber, Amazon and Airbnb.

Charlie Young

If you could change one thing in real estate, what would it be?

The question I hear again and again is: “How is the real estate industry going to leverage big data?” At Coldwell Banker our belief is that big data is essential to empowering our agents. That’s why we created CBx close to five years ago.

I’d like to see the real estate industry as a whole leverage data streams more effectively — we need to make our data more accessible and usable, and we need to pay attention to the right outside data to benefit the whole real estate transaction.

In thinking about how we can use data to improve the whole real estate transaction we also need to push ourselves as an industry to become more user friendly. As an example, we need to shorten the amount of time from offer to close. Data and technology are critical to getting us there.

How have your expectations of your management team changed over the past two years?

My expectations for my management team both in Madison and the management teams of Coldwell Banker brokerages across the country haven’t changed dramatically over the past two years. I’ve always expected the best from myself and those around me. And as I’ve seen my team and Coldwell Banker offices across the country deliver again and again, my expectations continue to rise.

In addition, as a brand, we’ve focused on coaching and mentorship, which is occurring at the broker-owner and manager level across the country.

How do you keep your team competitive?

By focusing on big goals and holding ourselves to the highest standard both professionally and as people. We must also stay attuned to what our agents are hearing and seeing on the ground.

With so much disruption in real estate, what’s your best advice for managing change?

Play offense, not defense. We’re in the midst of epic change now — we’re beyond disruption. It’s happening. And I think it’s one of the most exciting times to be in real estate. So as for managing change, I say embrace it. Identify your strengths and leverage them in everything you do.

We focus on the size and scope of our network. Gen Blue has the highest quality agents in the best markets. We tout the value of our brand — a brand marked by all the right things: a focus on high-quality experiences, innovation, trust and integrity.

When we look at disrupters and new entrants, we consider the insight or outside perspective they’ve brought to our industry and then we think, how can we make this work at scale? What does our history, in terms of breadth and depth of data, and our years of qualitative experience teach us about how to integrate new tools or processes? Put simply, we want to focus on the data-driven insights, products and services that will empower agents to succeed.

Want to connect with Charlie? You can find him on LinkedIn.

Email Matthew Shadbolt