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Inman Connect San Francisco 2018 Top Take-Aways #ICSF

Another great Inman Connect San Francisco is in the books and I am excited to present to you my annual wrap-up article. Every year, I reach out to a few industry friends, Inman ambassadors and speakers to get their take on what Inman Connect is all about. Inman has become such a big conference that it’s impossible to “be everywhere!” I have loved compiling this post and I want to give a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who contributed and also a big ‘thank you’ to Brad Inman and the entire team for putting together a truly fabulous event and for inviting me to speak! (Psst…looking for my slides – here’s the link!)

It was an honor speaking to a packed house at Connect!

First, I’d like to share a few of my take-aways. Grab your favorite beverage – get comfortable and let’s dive in! In no particular order, here were some of my big take-aways:

  • I had a wonderful lunch with Sara Sutachan and Leslie Appleton-Young – these are two ladies I have

    Sara Sutachan and Leslie Appleton-Young

    known for a long time (disclosure: California Association of Realtors was a client of ours) – and I am so impressed with the WomanUP!® movement – I think this is going to be one to watch and I was thrilled to see them receive the Nate Ellis Innovator Award (along with my very deserving friend Jay Thompson who just retired from Zillow and is living up the retired life!) #goals #worhardplayhard

  • I loved listening to Kara Swisher on the last day of Connect. She is always one of my favorites to listen to – she tells it like it is, holds nothing back and is truly a beacon in the tech journalist world.  She confirmed what I have been saying about Instagram in that Instagram is the platform to be concentrating on! Side note – this podcast episode from last year with Tim Ferris and Kara Swisher is one of my all-time favorites – if you love podcasts, listen to this one.
  • During Connect I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Cara Whitley, the CMO for Century 21.

    Cara Whitley, Molly McKinley and I

    She comes from the hospitality industry and is super smart. I really enjoyed chatting with her backstage and onstage and is one to watch in this industry. Also, big kudos to Molly McKinley and Laura Monroe for doing a fantastic job leading the Marketing Track!

  • One of my favorite quotes was shared onstage: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Teddy Roosevelt
  • It was so exciting to see our #GetSocialSmart Academy members Katie Clancy and Sue “Pinky” Benson take the stage. Katie talked about relationships and she said, “Nobody wants to be closed. They want a relationship.” Couldn’t agree more. Sue shared her very personal story onstage of the loss her and her family went through with their young son and how that impacted her, and affected how she does her business and literally re-built her business after a big move.
  • I loved Shabnam Mogharabi‘s presentation (CEO of SoulPancake) – I just loved hearing someone talk about the power of positivity and bringing positive stories to the world. She said, “A shift in perspective is seeing something you’ve never seen before.” Loved that!
  • A favorite time at Connect is always hosting our annual #GetSocialSmart Academy dinner. I feel so

    Our annual #GetSocialSmart Academy member dinner at Roy’s in San Francisco.

    blessed to have such amazing people who are part of our Academy family – it is always such a blast to ‘break bread’ and spend quality time together. It was also fun to get some time with some of the folks who are attending our 1st ever Napa Mastermind in the Fall – so excited for that!

  • I also really enjoyed hearing from Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin. He used his time to really dive into diversity in the real estate industry. He said (paraphrasing here), “We tend to only work with people who look and sound like us.” He talked about the history of the Fair Housing Act and the affects redlining still have on our economy and in our neighborhoods. It was so impactful to hear him use his time on stage to address this important conversation and to put some of the responsibility back into the hands of agents and brokers. In fact, Redfin is hosting a symposium to discuss these issues more in-depth in the Fall.
  • I loved listening to John Cary‘s talk. Well worth listening to (here’s a similar TED talk he gave.) He talked about homelessness and how much dignity people have when they have something they can call their home. It was a really impactful message about what we can do in the industry to start to think about this issue – and not look the other way.
  • Of course a favorite of mine is always hearing Brad Inman’s opening presentation. This year he shared two very personal stories and really talked about the value of home and what it means to come “home.” It was such a reminder to me of why I love serving this industry. I also loved the story he shared of his editor-in-chief Carl Franzen who recently bought a house. According to Brad, during the process, Carls’ wife said, “Put away all the tools – let’s just get a Realtor.” Love that – that is what it is all about!

There is nothing like the connections and friends made at Inman Connect!

I know I barely scratched the surface here which is why I am excited to share with you some additional take-aways. Here we go!

Andrea Geller | Broker, HOT PROPERTY® The Chaz Walters Group at Coldwell Banker @AndreaGeller

It seemed like AI (Artificial Intelligence) seemed to be the buzz topic. It was thrown around in a variety of sessions throughout the week. To quote Marilyn Wilson of the WAV Group “If you don’t know about Artificial Intelligence you need to learn about it.”

There are now platforms and apps that tell us about the people we know and the people we don’t know. As ICSF concluded the question I had, which had not been answered, is how the industry at the agent and brokerage level will use this intel. Looking forward to ICNY 2019 for the answer. Food for thought: how do we take that AI and use it to cultivate these “most likely to move” into clients?

Annette Anthony | Vice President, Technology Engagement, EXIT Realty @AnnetteAnthony

My first take-away is to recommend you subscribe to Inman to be on the pulse of news that affects the real estate industry. If you are not a subscriber, for at least the next month follow the following hashtags for insight from the attendees. Although #ICSF was the primary hashtag promoted to use, there were a variation of hashtags that you may want to also pay attention to – #ICSF18, #ICSF2018

My second take-away from ICSF is to perfect your pitch! This is your opportunity as a sales professional to set the tone when asked what you do- Most will answer- “I’m a REALTOR.” Do more than that – when asked say, “I negotiate for my clients to make the real estate buying and selling process collaborative, transparent and stress-free.”

10 Daily Habits:

  1. Recite a daily mantra
  2. Focus & finish list- do the small things which roll up into the big things
  3. Read & re-read 20 minutes daily
  4. Eat the frog- do the difficult things first thing in the morning
  5. Humble yourself- ask, what can I do better?
  6. Fight through good to get to great- don’t get complacent
  7. Persist through challenges- learn through the difficulties
  8. Be a resource to others in your life
  9. Dream- but don’t daydream. Set action items.
  10. Eat well & exercise

Bill Risser | Vice President, Digital Strategy Fidelity National Title @BillRisser

My biggest takeaway was the focus on personalized follow-up with current, past and future customers. We’ve always known the importance of having as much data as possible on our sphere, but with advances in AI and machine learning, it is easier than ever to customize these important interactions.

Billy Ekofo | Director, Industry Engagement at Century21 Redwood @BillyEkofo

Short and sweet – my favorite takeaway from ICSF was this quote buried into SoulPancake’s Shabnam Mogharabi’s presentation:  “You don’t have to find out when you are dying to start living.” Aside from the deep emotional meaning of this quote, it was a gentle reminder to me that knowing when a transaction ends shouldn’t condition the way we service our clients.  We’re here to give them the experience of a lifetime. Let’s make every one of those memorable.

Chelsea Peitz | Co-Founder, The Agent Marketer @ChelseaPeitz

We CAN build trust through technology and by using social and tech, we can actually become more connected to our community and perhaps, even more human. Don’t fear it, leverage it.

Old school isn’t dead. Everything works if done with consistency, commitment and passion. From dialing to door knocking, finding your niche is what is the most important decision to make as soon as possible. You don’t have to do everything or even the strategies that the big players do. Simply committing to ONE thing over a long period of time (12-30 months) is a critical strategy to implement.

There really isn’t a whole lot of difference between relationship marketing, online marketing and social media marketing. It all comes down to talking to people and being kind. Actually caring about what they have to say. It’s more about dialogues than just data.

Debra Trappen, CEO/Owner, d11 @debra11

This year’s talks filled my soul-tank. I cried more this year than the previous 15+ events combined. There were not many dry eyes during a few of the talks. I didn’t realize how much I/we needed to see THIS side of the human experience embraced at Connect. It was magical.

SoulPancake’s CEO, Shabnam Mogharabi, was singing my favorite song back to me. Humanity was honored in such a beautiful way through her videos (we all have beautiful bodies!) and the company’s story of perseverance and tenacity she shared.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s cry to become the outbreak monkeys of positivity and embrace a spiritual {startup-style} contrarian attitude made me laugh and lean in.

The conversations between CEO’s were feisty this year! The one between eXp, PurpleBrick, and Trelora was a stand out for me. It was interesting and impressive seeing Glenn Sanford take on The Voice of tech merging with traditional in such a passionate, respectful, grace-filled manner.

To sum it up:

  • People matter.
  • Relationships matter.
  • Customer Experiences matter.
  • Tech supports what matters.

Finally, Sara Sutachan, Leslie Appleton-Young, and the WomanUP!® initiative that is part of my heart and soul being recognized and awarded the Nate Ellis Innovator Award – that was the cherry on top of a perfect week!

Jacy Riedmann | Vice President at Amoura Productions @SocialMediaJacy

Brokerages are no longer saying “Winter is coming.” It’s here, and who will survive and thrive in the new world of real estate is the current debate. There’s a lot of lip service over what idea is best from chat bots to smart signs to cloud data and how it’s utilized. “High volume, high complexity, high value markets” is where Clelia Peters feels traditional brokerages stand their best chance. Gary Keller thinks it’s in the tech, “You can either be an agent who is enabled by tech or you’re going to be the agent who is enabling tech. The real estate agent gets to vote with their feet. If a group doesn’t own it’s tech, they’re going to succumb to who does.”  Glenn Sanford says brokerages need micro-services to move things forward and stay the most relevant, “The cloud is important but it’s how to use it. Micro-services is seal team software, it’s small and works well together but you don’t need it to do everything.”

It’s exciting to see the shake up being discussed and to hear how different brokerages are implementing and blending tech, APIs, cloud, data CRMs, marketing and traditional tools with good old fashion customer service to stay relevant by evolving forward as the industry does.

Jason Frazier, Founder and Head Geek, The Agent Marketer @RealEstateCIO

Two things stood out to me from ICSF. The first is that we have a lot of distractions in the industry right now. From iBuyers to disruptors and shiny new tech to brokerage models. All are important to keep an eye on from a strategy standpoint, but ultimately irrelevant when it comes to how you build YOUR real estate brand. Be great, be unforgettable, and you will be just fine.

The second thing was that relationship marketing was an underlying theme with a lot of the sessions. Consumer experience mixed with creating long-term engagement never goes out of style and was at the heart of a lot of business models I saw. Tech is great, but by itself it isn’t a silver bullet. However, when you integrate quality tech into a strong consumer experience you are delivering on what the modern consumer is looking for in the social economy.  

Jay Luebke, Buyer Consultant, Mark Spain Real Estate @jayluebke

I think the takeaway that stood out to me most this year was that you can’t lose your main focus in the pursuit of growth. There are plenty of opportunities at the moment, but focusing on the core of your business is something that can’t be forgotten.


Jim Walberg, Realtor, The Bay Area Team – Pacific Union Real Estate @JimWalberg

Another week of serious conversations and deep connections around all aspects of the world of real estate. The mantra I will contribute for Inmanville to consider is, “Do not be fearful.” We are all figuring ways to help us continue to get better at our craft and thrive! The consumer’s experience of home buying and selling will continue to improve because of our commitment to excellence.

Julie Tambussi, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Savvy + Co. Real Estate @JulieTambussi

From the Teams Track: Today’s world requires us to stay connected and online at all times, so I was not surprised to see a packed room full of agents at the “How To Train Your Team So Well You Can Take a Real Vacation” panel. Effective leaders understand that they don’t have to be masters of everything.  Hiring the right people and fostering an environment in which they can shine is a critical part of successfully growing a team. You can train your team to be effective without you!

Kenny Fast | Director of Inside Sales at Climb Real Estate @FastAgent

My biggest take-away from Inman is that technology is great, but the agent needs to deliver a better consumer experience and focus on building relationships, better marketing and branding and being your authentic self!


Laura Monroe | Real Estate Brand Strategist | VP Growth & Partner Collective of Sequel @LauraMonroe

Wow! There are big changes happening in this industry. While Compass almost takes the oxygen out of the room – this beautifully branded brokerage is making every brokerage model stand up and take notice and look within to step up and make the changes necessary to compete – especially with technology. Agents, more than ever, should have a relational mindset, as consumers try on new ways of buying and selling. I feel buyers and seller will largely go to the agent they know, trust and know cares for them every step of the way. Gain all the knowledge you can on how to leverage AI, new iBuyer options- but throw your largest investment in your advocates and best VIP clients, and you’ll weather all the changes coming our way.

Laurie Davis |Broker/Owner, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Lifestyle Property Partners @LaurieWDavis

I’d have to say my favorite session was Shabnam Mogharabi – we could all use a little more joy in our lives. I loved her example of how “a small shift will allow you to see things you never saw before.”  Sometimes we just need to look at things from a different perspective. And of course I have a few thoughts on Gary Keller’s session; he had a huge opportunity to get in front of a non-KW audience and give them a chance to meet the man behind the Keller Williams empire. Personally, I think he blew it. But maybe that’s just me.

Lee Arnold | President/Brokers, Benchmark Property Management @BenchmarkSoCal

While I love a good comedy, I have more respect for confidence and class. The lesson for me was you could have built the largest and greatest of anything, but if you lack class and humility, my ears are turned off. I got major feels when Raj Qsar said that he still puts up his sold signs and gets excited about it. Here is a man who could outsource everything yet he still shows up.

Also, knowing your numbers means everything. When Joyce Rey and Jennifer Egbert were talking about being a fiduciary for your client, I was impressed that at the level they work at, they aren’t afraid to advise a client to not go through on a purchase. Egbert said to make sure and know your turn over rate, your competitors numbers and your own.

Molly McKinley | Vice President of Marketing, | @MollyMcKinley3

So many people I spoke to are tired of chasing leads. It’s exhausting and expensive. The tide is definitely turning back toward focusing on nurturing networks and finding creative ways to build new relationships authentically.


Sara Sutachan | Vice President of Industry Relations & Strategic Initiatives, California Association of REALTORS @SaraSutachan

The Soul Pancake CEO was epic! There is power of perspective. “These shifts in perspective allows you to see something that you weren’t able to see before”

I also loved how when she founded SoulPancake people would tell her “That’s a great idea but no one will watch. ” A billion views later. They are shining a bright light on other people’s stories. Stories that would have never been told.

For those of you who know me, know I’m super passionate about this inside the WomanUP!® movement. They were tenacious and they didn’t listen to the naysayers.

Another big take-away was listening to Glenn Kelman from Redfin. Everyone wanted Redfin to talk about Redfin, their IPO, their tech platform. But he opened and asked the question: “How can we serve real estate for everyone?” It was a quick history lesson in discrimination in housing and how redlining was a thing. Steering was a thing.

It was so cool – standing in the back of the room, was watching people stop leaving and start listening to his talk. He got us thinking about discrimination. Housing for all is also something we as an industry need to do more. This year was the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and it got me thinking, do neighborhoods still look like this? What does it look like in your neighborhood? It made me curious.

Human’s deserve respect because they are humans. Regardless of race, gender, or how they identify. We know that housing makes such a profound impact on the lives of people. Everyone has a story of how real estate made a difference in their lives. Who will own it? Who will ring the bell? If we don’t make a difference, who will? That’s what I took away from Glenn’s talk and it was remarkable.

Sean Carpenter, CEO/Founder, Sean Speaks @SeanCarp

In years past, it seems that Inman Connect’s main themes were about fear, disruption and change.  The funny thing is regardless of the “impending doom” the real estate industry has faced since I started attending Connect events in 2012 and still continues to face today, the industry has survived and in many markets around the country and globe, thrived. It thrives because of the people that find ways to leverage or harness the technology to provide better experiences for their customers, clients and communities.

It is those human connections that I return each year for. People I have know since my first visit and every year the relationship gets built deeper and stronger while each new Connect adds more people to that community everyone who attends seems to grow.

This year was a noticeable turn to the humanness of our industry. From Shabnam Mogharabi’s beautiful keynote on positivity to the louder voices calling for social justice and change, maybe we need to worry less about what’s “coming” to disrupt or change the industry and instead, heed advice from event host and founder Brad Inman that he shared in his opening statement. “Heaven is right here. Right now. Enjoy the now.” 

Stephanie Chumbley | Director of New Media and Education at Chicago Title Company of Oregon @depmodechick

In true Inman form, they listened to our feedback. They heard our voices. THEY STEPPED IT UP. The speakers at past ICSF conferences were mainly white men in nice suits. They were good speakers with brilliant minds, but the stage was lacking diversity on many levels. This year, there were SO MANY WOMEN on stage! As a woman, it was empowering to see women taking a strong leadership role on stage. I also loved that there were so many beautiful people of all colors, shapes, sizes, genders and not all of them were American-born! There is a lot of talent sitting in the seats of these conferences and it was so nice to see some of these longtime attendees take the stage and show us what they’ve got! This year the people on stage looked like the people attending the conference and it was refreshing. The beauty is in our differences and we can all learn from one another. Find the courage to be true to yourself and show the real you. Push yourself to take risks and get uncomfortable because that’s where the growth happens.

Another takeaway…when you fall in love with someone, you think about them all the time and do things you wouldn’t normally do because you love them. You show them you care in somewhat over-the-top ways because your love cannot be contained! If we truly fell in love with our clients and potential clients, we would find creative ways to show them that we truly care. Businesses that fall in love with their clients thrive because the customer feels valued. Being customer-focused will cause the business to continue evolving and adapting to their consumers’ needs and they’ll find new ways each day to show them they’re loved. What would our real estate businesses look like if we truly fell in love with our clients?

Sue Pinky Benson, Realtor, RE/MAX Dream @SueIsPinky

My first one! Wow! A business bucket list accomplishment for me. To be in a place with so many amazing masterminds, I can’t even come up with the words.

The real estate world is continuing to evolve and if we don’t want to dissolve we must continue to recreate ourselves in this new market. Stop arguing about whether or not things like Zillow offers is going to disrupt our industry. It is here, now how will you as the agent embrace it?

We have to become better marketers, we must teach our clients about our value, we must raise the bar to other agents in our industry and show them what the true meaning of Realtor is.

But we must remember that with this conviction to our business we have to take time to enjoy our lives and those that are in it. We must not be all work and no play. ‘Comparison is the thief of Joy’ as well pointed out by Shabnam Mogharabi. Stop comparing our lives to others and just live. Because ‘I have a beautiful body!’

Wendy Foreman | CEO, The Foreman Group, eXp Realty @405realtorwendy

While a lot is changing with our industry a lot stays the same, and I continue to believe that our success as practitioners lies in our ability to build relationships with other humans and no robot can do that as well as me.  I continue to stand behind the fact that our profession is dominated by women, but we lack women in leadership positions as a whole. So you will continue to find me pushing these issues and I’m just thrilled with what Sara Sutachan is doing in California and I will continue to support and participate in WomanUP!®.  The relationships I’ve built through this organization will last a lifetime, cheers to Inman on a conference that continues to improve each year.

Whew! You made it! Big thanks again to everyone who contributed and to the entire Inman team for putting on a first-class event. If you  were at Inman Connect SF – I’d love to hear your take-aways, comment below or message me over on Instagram! Hope to see all of you at Inman Connect NYC – or VEGAS next year!


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