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Stop looking for examples of success

Posted by Adam

I talk to a lot of real estate professionals all around the country about technology. This means that I get a lot of questions. One question that I hear over an over again is, “well, do you have any examples of ‘thing X’ actually working for someone?”

I think this question misses the point entirely, and is a syptom of one of the biggest challenges that faces the long-term health of the real estate industry– the obsession with prior success.

I used to think that real estate professionals were obsessed with sales figures. I was wrong. We’re not actually obsessed with sales figures, per se; we’re obsessed with prior success.

For the most part, our industry lacks any real innovation. The vast majority of what we call “innovation” is really just the re-purposing of something we saw someone else do. Not only that, but we tend to re-purpose something only if it was somehow successful before, only if it produced tangible results.

This is why we are also preoccupied with “ROI.” I have come to loathe those three letters.

To me, the question “what is the ROI on something like that?” is usually just an attempt to make an excuse to maintain the status quo and not try anything new.

In my experience, it usually works like this:

Person A: “Here is an interesting idea that really changes the way we do business, and might yield great benefit for consumers and our industry.”

Person B: “Are there any examples of other brokerages or agents doing this and having any success?”

Person A: “Not that I’m aware of.”

Person B: Rolls eyes. “Well, what is the potential ROI on doing this?”

Person A: “I don’t know. Like I said, I not aware of anyone else who is doing this.”

Person B: “Well, then obviously it won’t work.” Shakes head in disgust.

I have witnessed this conversation take place more than once, either in this form or something that closely resembles it.

What do we do about it?

Since I would be remiss if I pointed out a problem without offering a solution, I am going to tell you how we should forget about looking for examples by, you guessed it, giving you some examples.

  • Columbus didn’t wait for someone to sail West around the world to make sure it could be done.
  • No one had to walk on the moon for the government to launch the Apollo program.
  • Everyone in America didn’t have a computer on their desk when Bill Gates started Microsoft.
  • Mark Zuckerberg didn’t ask for examples of successful social networks when he started coding Facebook from his dorm room.

Someone, somewhere in this country has an idea that will transform the real estate industry. To that person, I say:

  • Don’t wait for an example to follow. If you really want one, I’ve just given you 4. Go with those.
  • Forget about looking for examples in our industry.
  • Don’t let the fact that no one in our industry has joined a “Diamond Club” as a result of executing this idea stop you from making it happen.
  • Don’t listen to all of the naysayers who would really rather things just stay the way they are.

Stop looking for an example of success.

Be the example.

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