This week my travels find me in San Diego, attending the T3 Summit at Loews Coronado Bay Resort. The T3 Summit is an invite-only mastermind and think tank for residential real estate industry leaders. The lineup of speakers and session topics is always excellent year after year, and surprisingly, kept under wraps until the very day of the event.
“We don’t want to headline one individual person over another person,” explained Stefan Swanepoel, founder of T3 Sixty and the T3 Summit.
This year’s T3 Summit featured an impressive lineup of industry leaders, including: Ron Peltier, executive chairman of HomeServices of America, Inc.; John Peyton, CEO of Realogy Franchise Group; Gary Keller, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Keller Williams Realty; Glenn Sanford, founder and CEO of eXp Realty; Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin; Richard Barton, co-founder and CEO of Zillow Group; and Robert Reffkin, co-founder and CEO of Compass.
In a room filled with such revered, renowned and recognized leaders, you might be surprised to learn that one of the central themes of the 2019 T3 Summit was humility.
“Real estate can make you humble,” said Swanepoel, describing how the challenges leaders face over time inherently promote humility because they become humbling forces for growth and change. (As I always say, once you think you know it all, your slide to mediocrity has already begun.)
Speaking of change, I was particularly inspired by a keynote delivered by Mitch Lowe, co-founding executive of Netflix, former CEO of Redbox and current president of MoviePass. Lowe shared the complexities and struggles that come with disruption and change, as well as his advice for creating a winning culture that fosters innovation.
When Netflix began in April of 1998, it started by mailing DVDs to its customers. In the late 1990s, the digital revolution had only just begun; about 50% of the people in the U.S. owned a cell phone. It was also a turning point in history marked by rapid change. As Lowe points out, the rate of change is accelerating. While leaders used to comfortably take a year to make a big decision, today they must be quick and decisive or face the wrath of new technology that can near-instantaneously change an entire industry with the release of a single app.
The rapid pace of change forces us to be humble. Amid the chaotic swirl of digital transformation, Lowe says we may make decisions that are sometimes wrong. It also means we may make decisions that are right, but that conventional wisdom deems to be wrong. This is what Lowe defines as disruption. (Netflix disrupted Blockbuster with its mail-in DVD model, then disrupted itself by streaming content, and then disrupted the entertainment industry by creating content to stream.)
Lowe defines innovation as consistently making the tough decisions that scare us as much as they excite us. Some leaders, he explained, are afraid of innovation because it means trusting our instincts and going against the grain of society. Very few people, he says, are born leaders. We have to learn how to effectively motivate and lead.
So, what’s the message? The idea of learning to lead with an innovative, disruptive and humble mindset is incredibly timely, especially as Mother’s Day approaches this weekend. It’s true nobody is born a leader but it’s also true that from birth, we’re guided by the ultimate leader in our lives … our mothers. With unseen pen and paper, mothers draw the matriarchal blueprint for the values and ideals we’ll follow throughout each and every day. A mother’s support gets us through the inevitable mistakes and mishaps, just as her encouragement champions our wins as if they were her own. While the challenges of change make us humble, mothers make us strong.
On behalf of our entire organization, I want to wish all of the mothers reading this a very happy Mother’s Day and send my gratitude for the true leaders you are and the examples you set for the leaders we hope to be.