ICNY 2014It’s been a week since I returned from Real Estate Connect (#ICNY), and after putting out all of the fires that arose while I was gone, I’ve had a little time to think about my experience.

There are few things more inspiring than being surrounded by heroes. The speakers at Connect may not wear capes or save damsels in distress, but these men and women are champions in the world of real estate marketing and technology. I was fortunate enough to attend, listen and spend some time with a few of them last week and the lessons I learned carry far beyond the reaches of real estate.

Background for those of you who are unfamiliar with this conference: Inman News is one of the best resources a real estate marketer has. It’s a regular source of industry news, technology reviews, innovative marketing ideas and top-notch educational events with a forward-thinking edge. The Inman team is awesome and the contributors are some of the brightest in the business. Real Estate Connect is held twice per year, in NYC and SanĀ Francisco.

My Biggest Takeaways

Be a great leader. Keynote speaker Arianna Huffington kicked off #ICNY with an inspirational talk on leadership and the benefits of sleep, exercise and good nutrition. The charismatic powerhouse said that every bad decision she’s ever made could be traced back to her being tired, stressed and busy. She reminded us all that moments of inspiration don’t come when when we’re deep into our inbox, but rather in moments of stillness and quiet. Breathe, laugh, show gratitude, and live in the moment. “To define a good life, start where you are.”

(These lessons really resonated with me, and readingĀ [amazon_link id="0062515675" target="_blank" ]The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny[/amazon_link] on the train home only reinforced the message. More to come in future posts about my new focus on reducing stress.)

Hire the best. Robert Reffkin, Founder of Urban Compass, says make sure you can answer yes to these four questions about a potential employee:

  • A+ test: Is this person good at what he/she does?
  • Airport test – Would you want to spend 4 hours stuck in an airport with him/her?
  • Shower test – Is this person passionate enough about the opportunities to be thinking of ideas in the shower?
  • Half-glass test – Would this person see a glass half-full as an opportunity?

Discover the new SEO. Thanks to Google’s Hummingbird update, search is less about keywords and more about high-quality content. It’s about the customer discovering the perfect opportunity. I think a big “a-ha” moment for many of those attending the SEO 2014 and Beyond session was when one of the panelists said “SEO is more than an hour a week or 20 minutes a day. Good SEO, SEO worth doing, can be a full-time job.” I’d like to thank the panel for pointing that out, because so many just don’t get it.

Be a people person. Most real estate professionals like being around people. Why would you get into the profession if you didn’t? But if you’ll remember, I am probably not what anyone would call a people person. I’m a process person – a super high C on the DISC assessment. But I think it was Tracy Sichterman of Berkeley Hills Realty who, in kind of a casual, side-note remark, said “Don’t call them leads. Call them people.” For those of us who caught it, it was a powerful moment and one that will stick with me. Even processes involve people… real people.

Ignore the noise. One of the most popular panels was about overcoming “shiny object syndrome.” Don’t get me wrong – there were some fabulous technologies showcased at Connect, for real estate and beyond. There were even drones. I’ll cover a few of these cool new technologies in future posts if I begin to implement them, but that doesn’t mean you should go grab them.

The panel, composed of some of the most tech-saavy people in the business, reminded us to take a step back. To think about how many new & snazzy apps you’ve downloaded and now you NEVER use. To think about the oh-so-cool-tech-based campaigns you now dread keeping up with. To think about what you REALLY do every day and what your customer REALLY wants. To look at the gaps and review the tech tools you already have to see if there’s a match somewhere. If not, THEN go out and grab something new.

So, 20,000 real estate agents and technology experts from around the world get together in midtown Manhattan for a few crazy days of non-stop sessions, working groups, networking events and tech demonstrations and the big takeaway from all of it is…

SIMPLIFY.

At least for me it was. It was a lesson about doing things that matter, doing them right and making real connections with the people who need your help.

Just like a superhero.

superhero