Sept. 27 was a new beginning for me. It was the day I walked into Inman News to start my new position as social media director, and the day I met my new teammates. Katie Lance had just come off an extremely busy week of travel, and like old friends she welcomed me with a warm hug. With a deep breath, we were off.
Katie introduced me to everyone, and I received my first tour of the offices. In the back of the main office, something caught my eye: a row of vintage typewriters placed neatly next to one another. When I asked Katie why they were there, she said they belonged to Brad Inman.
Brad is Inman’s founder, and right away I wanted to know more about not only where I was going, but what got Inman News HERE. So much has changed in the years since Inman News started, so I asked Brad if I could get a starting point, a foundation. I wanted a place to spring from, in context, history, and Brad’s personal story. Every business starts with a vision, a passion, a need to serve, the love of someone or something. I asked Brad to add some of his words to my story. I asked the questions, and Brad shared his answers. The result is a connection, and an understanding.
A Beginning – The Love of a Craft … and Typewriters
Q: The typewriters: What do they mean to you?
A: “The vintage typewriters are beautiful, and, for me, symbolize the craft of journalism. I watched my father type in his retail store and wanted to be everything like him. I was a self-taught typist by about 6 years old. My dad’s typewriter is in the collection plus the one I had in high school when I wrote a weekly sports column for the local newspaper. My calculus teacher was the football coach. In 1968, he had a losing season and hated what I was writing about his lousy team. Though I was pretty good at math, he gave me a bad grade. It was my first lesson with angry story subjects. Now, what does that have to do with typewriters? Nothing.”
A Middle – Journalism Meets Real Estate
Q: What came first: the love of real estate or writing?
A: “Writing, then real estate. In the 1980s, I was part of a band of writers including Ken Harney, Lew Sicheleman, Bob Bruss, Corrie Anders, Bruce Koon and many others who were working to make real estate sections credible with serious journalism about a serious subject. Before that, real estate sections were often held hostage by advertisers who provided content in the form of advertorials. UGH.”
When asked about what triggered him to create Inman News, Brad said, “There was no big vision. I was a consumer real estate writer and stumbled upon a tech mess-up at the National Association of Realtors just as the commercial Internet came out in 1996. I began posting stories about these events at NAR on Inman.com. I even had a secret source inside the ranks of NAR’s leadership. Suddenly, I had industry readers on this free site and I was in the online trade publication business without any real plan. I got lucky. My continuing inspiration came from my industry readers who were starved for a new voice around technology and innovation and a publication that had no fear about covering whatever I came across. As Inman News rankled many, we were cheered on by many more.”
Technology moves fast. I believe that humans don’t. We’ve moved well past typewriters, but we hang onto the things that are important to us. They remind of us of who we are and what we love most, and remind us that nothing ever stays the same. The stories that connect us are important to listen to and to share. The technology we use to build and advance the real estate industry, and our businesses, are simply the tools we use to make those connections to consumers.
For me, what’s next is refining and perfecting the craft of building businesses that are custom made for your consumer. The differentiation we can provide in mobile, social media, and technology strategies must communicate with and anticipate the consumer’s needs. Adopting and implementing these strategies are skills that we can all work on together. My hope is to continue to build a community that is ready to do just that. I’m looking forward to what’s next, and to joining you in that journey. I’m ready to dig in.
“The real estate industry is a very important industry that needs to be taken seriously and must be encouraged to do right by the consumer.” -Brad Inman