As everyone knows there is a plethora of industry conferences these days. Some serve as open markets for industry programs, products and services, while others serve as cultural gatherings for specific industry communities and yet others serve as destinations for those whose annual budgets provide for a wide range of discretionary travel. Each services the needs of a specific industry constituency.
Over the past three years Stefan Swanepoel has become the Michelangelo of the real estate conference circuit and his T3 Summit has become its Sistine Chapel ceiling event. Swanepoel has achieved this status through innovative program design, quality production, the right attendance mix and attention to detail.
This author has had an opportunity to be involved in the production of all three T3 events and is in an excellent position to share the wonderment of the “inside track” that makes T3 an astounding experience.
Anyone who has ever experienced a Swanepoel presentation, publication or analysis can testify to the thoroughness and expertise that goes into its design and substance. The T3 Summit is the flagship of this standard. Swanepoel and his team spend months designing the T3 experience. By way of example, going into the initial planning for the 2015 event last fall the Swanepoel team was tracking 23 specific and unique game changing issues. Over the three days of the 2015 T3 Summit at the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas participants and attendees had an opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge about the historic basis of each of these issues, plus another five that didn’t even exist six months ago, their up-to-the-minute status and their likely destination over the next year. Each of these discussions incorporated the expertise of its own “recognized” industry thought leader(s), from a cast of 29 such experts, as well as the benefits of a superb facilitator who was responsible for the full range of each subject being developed.
But it is not the mere substance of the program that is the centerpiece of the T3 Summit but, rather, the insights of its participants. The 2015 experience was shared with 288 registrants, the vast majority of which were both recognized industry thought leaders as well as leading industry “C” level executives. The T3 experience is commercial free, without the pressures of sales pitches. The CEOs invited to participate don’t tell stories about what they have heard about specific events or give their canned speeches you hear everywhere else. Rather they share their actual personal views because they were there, they were the decision makers and they caused the events to happen. No format, short of sitting in these executives’ offices and conference rooms, could duplicate the quality and depth of the knowledge and information imparted during the conference. A few more examples;
- Zillow is, at this moment in time, arguably the most impactive force in the North American real estate marketplace. Stefan’s interview of Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff provided a treasure trove of invaluable information for those who will be sharing a market and/or competing with Zillow over the next year. How does it matter that Spencer’s father spent his career as the CPA for the Rolling Stones? What is the relationship between Ivy League schools like Harvard and the Wall Street institutions? What is a “Wiggle” and what does that have to do with Zillow? The interview started with Spencer as a disrupter and ended with him as a genuinely nice guy. Only Stefan can do that. Perhaps most important of all, what will it mean to the industry when consumers have the ability to “triage” listings. Stefan got Spencer to tell us how Zillow will impact the future role of the real estate agent.
- Alex Perriello, CEO of the Realogy Franchise Group, shared a very recent and horrifying story about a head-on crash with an ammunition filled truck being chased by police including being in exploding vehicles, experiencing live ammunition “cooking off” and a hospital confrontation. That was only the first ten minutes! Then things settled down and the discussion ranged from his grandfather the barber who always wore a three-piece suit and taught him about customer service, to what current events are shaping the future of the residential real estate brokerage. Stefan is then able to masterfully bring relevancy to these stories and show how Alex’s work is shaping the future role of the real estate agents. Most interesting was Alex’s discussion regarding the similarities between Zillow and Realogy, go figure! How will NRT and its upcoming Zap store impact the industry? What three cycles does he see as being responsible for the industry’s future? Alex’s comments about the immediate future of the real estate brokerage were an experience in and of themselves.
- Budge Huskey, CEO of Coldwell Banker International gave a Stanford Business School quality presentation about the realities of the current real estate franchise world. He discussed the changing world of the real estate brokerage and the challenges of operating within a global frame of reference. Budge’s comments were nothing short of amazing as he identified the current status and future challenges of the real estate franchise sector.
- NAR President and CEO, Dale Stinton, brought the audience to the edge of both their seats and collective consciousness with his discussion about NAR’s soon to be released A.N.G.E.R Report (Definitive Analysis of Negative Game Changers Emerging in Real Estate). Imagine retaining, without restraints, industry chronicler and custodian Stefan Swanepoel to candidly interview some 100 contemporary industry leaders about what they see as the significant risks, threats and dangers facing the residential real estate industry moving forward? Imagine putting all of these comments regarding agents, brokerages, MLSs and associations (Yes, even NAR) into a detailed 160-page report that will be presented later this spring, with no censorship. It is the closest the industry has ever come to an industry audit of itself. Stinton also made a number of very pointed comments about NAR’s Core Standards program and the very real possibilities that “failure to comply” could result in REALTOR® associations losing their charters.
- Pam O’Conner, CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, provided an in-depth view of the realities of the independent real estate brokerage operation including insight into the probability of a new order of roles regarding brokers, management and agents. Always the insightful leader and executive, Pam brought to the attendees a much need “reality” gained from the lessons her members have learned over the last few years. It is not our parent’s real estate marketplace and it will not be a parental solution that takes it to its next level.
On and on it went. Hour after hour of amazing substance and new industry realities.
- Glenn Kelman, the new business model innovator and emerging genius of the Redfin model, talked about agents as employees.
- The battle scared wisdom and new insights of Errol Samuelson.
- Marvin Stone and Jared Conaway prepared the attendees for the upcoming and probable “epic” struggle with the CFPB.
- Matt Krebsbach, Director and Analyst at Bazaarvoice, brought agent rating and ranking alive with information regarding what it really means and how to use it effectively.
- Move’s new CEO Ryan O’Hara discussed his first 100 days in office and set the stage for how he will bring REALTOR.com to the forefront.
- A brilliant panel of “under 40” industry CEO’s demonstrated how they not only think differently, but lead differently.
Stefan Swanepoel was in Las Vegas last week to meet with 288 of the real estate industry’s highest leaders. It was CEO nirvana and he has become the industry’s de facto facilitator and diplomat. Even by Las Vegas standards, T3 was astounding. For those who were there, real estate wisdom now has a new definition.