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Fall 2012 • Volume 6 / Issue 2

Game On! When faced with adversity, each of the amazing real estate professionals we interviewed stared down life’s challenges and came out on top. Their “Game On!” tenacity continues to get them through the highs and lows.

In this Issue: The Thousand: Competitive and Determined Rebuilding in Joplin Extreme Team Building Hope for Homeless Children Your Garagenous Zone

We want to help make your client’s homeownership dreams a reality. Citibank offers you: n

The confidence of a SureStart® Pre-Approval1. Your buyers can shop with confidence, knowing their financing is secure.


Our On-Time Closing Guarantee2 proving our commitment to quality service.


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To learn more about working with Citibank, please call 877-847-2484.†

Terms, conditions and fees of accounts, programs, products and services are subject to change. This is not a commitment to lend. All loans are subject to credit and property approval. Certain restrictions may apply on all programs. Offer cannot be combined with any other mortgage offer. † Calls are randomly monitored and recorded to ensure quality service. 1 SureStart is a registered service mark of Citigroup Inc. Final commitment is subject to verification of information, receipt of a satisfactory sales contract on the home your client wishes to purchase, appraisal and title report, and meeting our customary closing conditions. This offer is not a commitment to lend and is subject to change without notice. There is no charge for the SureStart pre-approval, but standard application and commitment fees apply. 2 If your client is purchasing a home, we guarantee to close by the date specified in the purchase contract, unless prohibited by federal law*, and further provided that the date is at least 30 days after the application date and the date of the purchase contract. If the loan fails to close on time due to a delay by Citibank, your client will receive a credit towards closing costs of $1,500. Offer not available for refinance loans, co-ops, unapproved condos, residences under construction, community lending loans, and government loans. In Texas, the credit may not result in your client receiving cash back. (*Federal law requires certain disclosures be delivered to the borrower at least 3 business days before consummation. The guarantee to close does not apply if such disclosures are required and the closing is delayed due to the 3 business day waiting period.) © 2012 Citibank. Citibank, N.A., Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC. Citi, Citibank, and Citi with Arc Design are registered service marks of Citigroup Inc.

Fall 2012 Volume 6 / Issue 2

2 4 16 20 26 28

Letter from the Publisher Americans love winners! Steve Murray talks about the common thread that binds successful real estate professionals.

COVER STORY: Cream of the Crop Meet the 2012 REAL Trends/Wall Street Journal The Thousand and hear their stories of resiliency. From car accidents and caretakers to businesses lost to the economy, this group of No. 1s has endured tragic loss and life-changing experiences, and they came out on top. We Are Family When the deadly Joplin tornado hit, the Keller Williams crew did the only thing they knew how to do—race in to help.

Extreme Team Building Forget the traditional team-building exercises, this Canadian management team chose the ominous-sounding Canadian Death Race to boost team unity.



Helping Homeless Children With small and large donations, here and there, this broker has improved the lives of Central Florida homeless children.

Your Garagenous Zone Who thought designing a garage could be so fun? This Colorado real estate professional, that’s who!


Letter from the Publisher Game On! Americans love winners. Americans also love true stories of great come-from-behind victories and stories of people who, despite hardships, came out on top. In this issue of LORE magazine, it’s game on in life and

business. The stories of the four sales professionals who led the

Steve Murray

nation in sales for 2011 are striking examples of those who dealt


with a huge variety of challenges, but persevered and achieved the pinnacle of success in real estate. Read about how real estate leaders put themselves on the line to help the families of Joplin, Missouri after the devastating tornados of 2011. LORE focuses not just on successes in real estate but successes in life. The stories in this issue offer only the slightest hint of the great works of real estate professionals throughout America. Since 2004, LORE has brought to life how those who call this profession their home bring their skills in real estate, their leadership and their caring for others together. It’s a great pleasure to be able to tell the stories of those who are the most successful at their craft such as the four great professionals covered here. It is every bit as enjoyable to bring to life those who care for others and exhibit the kind of selflessness that also characterizes so many in the real estate industry. Warmest regards,

Tracey C. Velt Editor-in-Chief David Grassnick Graphic Designer Travis Saxton Webmaster Doniece Welch Advertising 303-741-1000 Lore magazine is published online via Issuu four times a year—in February, May, August and December—by REAL Trends Inc., 7501 Village Square Drive, Ste. 200, Castle Rock, CO 80108 Free Subscriptions: Click Here

Stephen H. Murray Publisher



Lives of Real Estate

or call 303-741-1000


The #1 Real esTaTe Team in The naTion! For The 2nd Ye In A Ro ar w!

The Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster...Always There For You! Recognized in 2011, and just announced for 2012 by

According to 2011 Closed Transaction Volume

Your New Address Starts With Ours | 410.531.0321office

Cover Story

Cream of the

CROP Meet the 2012 The Thousand and hear their stories of resiliency. 4




Lives of Real Estate

From car accidents and caretakers to businesses lost to the economy, this group of No. 1s has endured tragic loss and life-changing experiences, and they came out on top. Meet The Thousand No. 1s in their prospective categories: Ken DeLeon

No. 1 Individual by Volume DeLeon, a brokerassociate with DeLeon Realty in Palo Alto, Calif., knows two things: tragedy and how to analyze the market. The first shaped his business; the second pushed it to profitability.

John Murray

No. 1 Individual by Sides Murray, president/ co-owner of Realty Pilot and broker of Key Realty in Rockford, Ill., fell into real estate after leaving a career in technology to care for his sick parents. But, it was his knowledge of technology automation to provide real estate solutions that drove his success.

Ronnie and Cathy Matthews

No. 1 Team by Sides The Matthews, sales associates with RE/MAX Legends of Houston, had a successful plumbing/ utility company in Houston that fell to the economic crash of the 1980s driving them to consider a career in real estate. This business background gave them the thrust they needed to build their team.

Creig Northrop

No. 1 Team by Volume Northrop, a team leader of the Creig Northrop Team of Long and Foster Real Estate in Baltimore, credits his passion for competition and his love of sports for driving his career success. From his team-building flag football games to his personal United States Tennis Association (USTA) tennis competitions, this theme bonds his team.

Lives of Real Estate




Ken DeLeon DeLeon Realty • California A slew of tragedies inspired this broker to make the most of everyday.

Survivor: Palo Alto 6 LORE


Lives of Real Estate

Photo by: Drew Altizer Photography/SFWire

When Ken DeLeon, broker of DeLeon Realty in Palo Alto, Calif., was 15 years old, his older sister committed suicide. When he was 26, he was walking on a sidewalk with his father when a drug-crazed driver hit him. DeLeon crashed through the windshield and was driven three miles before the driver, who thought DeLeon was an attack demon from the sky, was stopped. When he was 35, DeLeon was diagnosed with cancer; by age 39 he beat it. But, don’t feel sorry for him because he sure doesn’t feel sorry for himself. “I’ve used all of this as a springboard to happiness,” he says. “I believe strongly in evolution and change. Having come so close to death, I realize that it’s essential to be passionate about and love what you do.” That’s why after spending four years as an intellectual property attorney, he switched gears to get into real estate in 2002. “I was always drawn to real estate as an investor, and I’m very analytical,” says DeLeon. “I saw a lot of inefficiencies in the marketplace and felt I could fill in a lot of missing pieces,” says DeLeon, who is adamant about improving the real estate process at the national level. “My first eight months, I had zero sales,” laughs DeLeon, who closed 97 transactions worth more than $274 million in 2011. DeLeon took a close look at the Palo Alto market, which had over 600 real estate professionals and only about 550 homes to sell per year. “If I wanted to sell more than one home a year, I needed to stand out,” he says. So, he started a unique ad campaign aimed at capturing his target audience and reflecting his personality. “I dressed as a 70s rock star and posed as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Anatomy of Man sketch, although it was the Anatomy of a Realtor. I dressed as all four Village People and instead of

YMCA, I did SOLD,” he laughs. “I figured that half the people who saw the ads wouldn’t want to work with me, 30 percent wouldn’t care and 20 percent would love to work with someone who thinks outside the box. I wanted the people who were charismatically drawn to me,” he says. DeLeon looks at leading indicators, rising rents, where the buyers are (for his area many come from over-seas), what they’re looking for and where the best investment properties are. Right now, he’s doing a lot of advertising targeting buyers in China, India and Russia and using social networking and Facebook ads to reach buyers. He also hired a concierge. “Her full-time job is to find the best service providers, contractors, roofers, movers, etc., in Silicon Valley.” Now, however, the majority of his sales are listings. The key to DeLeon’s success, he says, is that he fears a mediocre life much more than he does death. “When you stop caring about what others think about you, they tend to want to be around you more. If my sister’s suicide taught me anything it’s that you have to accept yourself, take risks and create your own life.” It’s advice he instills in his four children as well. And, he’s using it on the motivational speaking trail, which is a path he hopes to pursue nationwide. Practicing real estate in Silicon Valley, he says, “I’m surrounded by brilliant people and risk takers. It drives me to experiment with different business models and pick myself up after I fall. Fail fast, fail forward, learn and shatter self-imposed limits. True genius is actualizing your potential.” Lives of Real Estate




John Murray • Key Realty and Realty Pilot • Illinois Forced from an IT career by family responsibilities, this broker ended up with a top-notch real estate career.

The Reluctant Realtor® 8 LORE

n Lives

of Real Estate

“I’m a systems guy, not a real estate professional,” says John Murray, broker of Key Realty in Rockford, Ill. “I built the machine and started feeding it. The result is large volumes of transactions,” says Murray, who only lists properties and works with asset managers in the REO field. “Don’t get me wrong, I love turning houses back into homes, but I feel my greatest contribution is to further real estate through technology.” It’s easy to see why Murray would feel that way. After all, he left a career as an executive in the information technology sector to become the primary caretaker for his ailing parents (both have since passed). “It was both the hardest and most rewarding challenge I’ve ever faced,” he says. Due to his parents’ demanding schedules, Murray needed a flexible job. He found that in 2003 when he started in real estate. “I identified the emerging foreclosure market during the ephemeral boom,” he says. “Real estate caught my attention, but I knew that if I was to engage in it, I had to figure out where it made sense. I analyzed the market for over a year and identified this real estate bubble,” he says. Murray was able to see it so clearly because several years before he learned an expensive lesson during the bubble burst. “I saw my net worth spiral downward. I learned about bubbles and tried to figure out how to monetize the real estate one.” Once he got his license, he followed the same path he did in technology. “In tech, I knew I wanted to be an executive, so I worked in all the different areas. I worked every field long enough to understand what it was and figure out the strengths and weaknesses of that vertical,” he says. For real estate, he went from executive leadership in multiple private equity funds to asset management, to servicing, to loss

mitigation—concurrently whenever possible. “After that it was time to improve the industry with my passion—technology. That’s where Realty Pilot came into play.” About a year and a half ago, Murray joined Realty Pilot as the president, all while listing, doing bulk sales and serving as president of a hedge fund. Outside of real estate and technology, the 40-something Murray is passionate about being “the best father for my 5year old twins (Madison and James, named after James Madison, the fourth U.S. president and Murray’s favorite) and best husband for my wife, Tina.” Seeing his own parents pass away spurred Murray to think seriously about his health and start competing in triathlons. “In high school I earned my letters playing varsity chess,” he says. “Sports are new to me. It’s really about inner strength—mind over matter—so I find it enjoyable,” he says. “Business is all about inner determination.” And, he says, “I draw upon my parent’s faith in God and faith in inner strength constantly.” Murray also uses that faith to help others. “I do a lot of loss mitigation work pro bono,” he says. “I recently met this sweet 65-year old lady who had a 40-acre farm. She lived there her whole life, and her scale was tipped because they had to reassess the value of the land. She couldn’t meet her new tax obligation and went into arrears. She was working as a third shift security guard two hours away just so she could keep the property. After several years of trying to get the lender to modify and get her into a reverse mortgage, I finally jumped on a plane and met with the lender’s executive vice president,” says Murray, who refused to leave the office until the case was settled. “That’s the kind of stuff I like doing,” he says. Lives of Real Estate




Ronnie and Cathy Matthews RE/MAX Legends • Texas With a strong family culture, the Matthews hope to create lasting relationships with employees and customers.

Family Ties 10



Lives of Real Estate

Ronnie and Cathy Matthews, team leaders of the 25-member Ronnie and Cathy Matthews Team at RE/MAX Legends in Houston are accidental agents. “We had a pretty large plumbing and utility company in Houston, when the economic crash of the 80s hit Texas. We learned quickly that when developers go out of business, they beat you out of big money,” says Ronnie. So, they shuttered the utility company and less than a year later decided on a career in real estate. That was in 1988. Now, the team has 25 team members selling residential properties—five buyers’ agents, two listing agents and the rest serve as support staff. And, they closed some 939 transaction sides in 2011. However, Ronnie is quick to point out, “Our structure is different than most. We have no independent contractors. They’re all employees,” he says. And, that move was calculated, says Ronnie. “From a business perspective, everyone is on the same team. I can give direct instructions and things happen.” He also provides a 401K, salary and incentives, medical benefits and paid vacations. “It’s all part of our culture,” says Ronnie, “We want everyone to feel like family. We were raised to do the right thing, be honest, treat people fairly and work harder than the next person,” he says. Not only that, but an impressive six team members have been with the team for the past 15 years; one for 20 years. “Two thirds of the team has been with us for more than 10 years. We just hired five team members this year.” That family culture is important to the Matthews who make it a point to get to know spouses by having events that include the whole family. “We recently had a big party at Main Event, a bowling alley that has laser tag, pool tables and more. We want

the spouses to know we’re taking care of their significant others,” he says. But, more than just parties, the Matthews extend that family culture into so many facets of the business. “Some of my younger people have had car problems. I’ve helped finance cars and a few have even leased homes from me. Of course, I charge them rent far cheaper than they would pay for a comparable property,” he says. “We have a lot of people in their 20s and 30s,” says Ronnie. “We encourage them to participate in our 401K, and we allow them to bring their kids to work on weekends should they need to tie up loose ends,” he says. With this culture comes responsibility, says Matthews. “During the downturn, we didn’t lay off anyone. We didn’t cut

any pay or benefits,” he says. “We went from closing 1,000 transaction sides to 600 in 2008 (they were back up to 900 in 2011). I took less money, but it was important that my employees had peace of mind. It’s not just about making money, it’s about doing a great job for our clients and creating a great place to work. It’s the right thing to do.” Lives of Real Estate




Creig Northrop Long and Foster Real Estate, Metro Washington, D.C. A passion for sports and competition drives this team leader to be the best and inspire his team to be great.

Game On! 12



Lives of Real Estate

If the Baltimore Ravens are playing, you better believe Creig Northrop is watching and probably at the game. Tennis? Yep, he’s the one competing at a Level 4.0 (the pros are rated at Level 7) on the United States Tennis Association (USTA)-sponsored events. For Northrop, it’s game on in life and in business. “The power of a team is very strong— everyone challenges each other,” says Northrop, team leader of the Creig Northrop Team of Long and Foster Real Estate. “I’m a big sports enthusiast. And, sports relate to business. You have to be mentally prepared to get through the cyclical markets, and you have to be in it for more than the financial rewards— you have to be prepared to battle for the good of the team,” he says. And, his sports-competition team culture is working. Northrop now heads a team of 65 members that includes an executive team, 18 administrative staff and 41 full-time agents. His wife, Carla, is the vice president of the company. “I’ve always been a competitive person and find many parallels in my business and the sports I love to watch,” he says. “You can’t just show up at a game or a match without having trained and practiced your skills. I strongly believe in being prepared and that comes from doing your homework —research and training. I prepare all of my agents for success, giving them the tools they need, the education they need, the coaching they need, to be successful.” And, he brings sports into a lot of the team-building activities that he organizes. From Purple Fridays, where everyone wears a purple shirt to support the Ravens football team to his annual Thanksgiving bowl touch football tournament, Northrop encourages friendly competition and

positive energy. In fact, he even buys television advertising during sporting events, such as Monday Night Football and the U.S. Open tennis tournament. “I expect everyone on my team to want to be the best they can be and dedicate themselves to that,” he says. “It’s our culture. Confidence can be built through sports.” He also has an Hour of Power with sales associates before each team meeting where they “learn from each other, inspire each other and lean on each other.” Off the business field, Northrop spends his free time playing tennis and being with the family. “Family first is important to me and my wife, Carla,” he says. “In fact, I got started playing tennis because it was something that our entire family could continue to do as the kids got older.” Northrop and his wife have four children: Kristin, 26, William, 23, Victoria, 19, and Jake, 16. Northrop now competes locally and travels for tennis tournaments and uses those images to inspire his sales team. “I use stories about how I found a way back to win a tournament or how I didn’t give up and relate it to business,” he says. “I get truly inspired by comebacks, when a player thinks he’s out of the game but finds the strength to rise above and win.” And, like all great athletes, Northrop is passionate about what he does. “I’m an optimist and have a passion to be the best,” he says. “Winning isn’t everything; it’s just what we do.” L Lives of Real Estate




Team Iuliucci | Seybert Team | The Brett Tanner Team | The Scott Smith Team | Kenny Klaus Team | The Jesse Herfel Group | Ben Kinney/Home 4 Investment Team | The Mark Spain Team | Harper Sells Houses | Rick Hale and Associates | The Leo Pareja Team | Carol Royse Lifestyle Team | Joe Rothchild Realty | Advantage Home Team |Kevin Blain Team | The Hardy Team | O’Brien Team | The Monaghan Group | Christine & Walter Delgado | The Kendra Todd Group | The Graham Group | The Buehlers & Associates | Big City Properties | The Tello Team | Rhodes Team | Kirby Properties, Inc. | Brenkus Team | Estrada Home Team | Mercury Alliance Colorado | Jennifer Young Team | Charlotte Thomas Team | Philbeck and Associates | Austin Real Estate Experts | The Got Real Estate Team | The Marshall Group | Mark Zawaideh | Chiodo Team | Olsen Team | The Nicole Philbeck Team | Real Estate by Design Group | Lentz Team Associates | Jeff Glover & Associates | Claudia Restrepo - Legacy Group | The Rugolo Team | Barbados Holdings, Inc. | Owen & Associates | Mandi Ross Group | Bishop Team | The Cope Team | Rob Kittle, Inc. | Valerie Hunter-Kelly & The Air Assault Team | James Silver Team | Bonanza Team | The Helen Oliveri Team | Casablanca Group | Real Estate Solutions Group | Butler Team | Elite Properties Team | The Stephen Cooley Team | Bonanza Team | SLKM, Inc. | The Bigelow Group | The Group | Courtney Carter Team | McKissack Group Realty | Adam Merrick | The AZ Real Estate Team | The Kristan Cole Team | The Kelly Group | Goodwin REO Group | The Lockhart Team | Lowden & Associates | The Levanson Team |

They’re No. 1 in our book too. The William Bustos Team | Lysi Bishop Team | The Fauscett Team | Ryan Rader Team | The Duncan Duo & Associates | The Roy Group | Doris Carlin Team, Inc. | Group 46:10 | The Jeff Bird Home Selling Team | Bouma *URXS_0D\7HDP_*ULIÀQ3URSHUWLHV_7KH5LGHU(OLWH7HDP_3URSHUWLHV_=5HDO(VWDWH*URXS_6RHQHU Real Estate Inc. | The Duff Team | Jeff Paxson Team | Nick Shivers | Tom Daves | Juliana Lee | Chuck Allen | Steve O’Brien | Lisa Blake | Ben Kinney/Home 4 Investment Team | Rhodes Team | The Kendra Todd Group | Joe Rothchild Realty | The Mark Spain Team | Jennifer Young Team | Harper Sells Houses | The Leo Pareja Team | Sue Adler Team | The Heller Real Estate Group | Seybert Team | Century Westgate | The Brett Tanner Team | Kevin Blain Team | The Belt Team | The Buehlers & Associates | Team Iuliucci | McCormick Team | Austin Real Estate Experts | Lysi Bishop Team | O’Brien Team | The Kink Team | Steven Cohen Team | Sharon Ketko & Associates | Eng Garcia Properties | The Jesse Herfel Group | Charlotte Thomas Team | Kenny Klaus Team | Noel Team | Mercury Alliance Colorado | Carol Royse Lifestyle Team | The Hardy Team | Bizzy Blondes | Kent & Associates | Rob Kittle, Inc. | The Jan Richey Team | Steve O’Brien | Tom Daves | Raquel Quinet | Lisa Blake | Marcus Edwards | Nick Shivers | Peter Drossos | Sara Guldi | Jim Hadden | Rob Kittle | William Betzner | Libby Sosinski | Paul Boudier | Tina Marie Curtis | Andrew Duncan | Bill Allen | Diane Donnelson | Courtney Newton | Steven Kubon | Michael Soares | Luigi Caprio | Jay Heckendorn-Telenda | Joshua Shemtov | Judy Kunzman | Josh Mente | Walter Hotzman Teams Ranked by Sides

Individuals Ranked by Volume

Teams Ranked by Volume

Individuals Ranked by Sides

Congratulations to each and every Keller Williams Realty associate and team featured in REAL Trends’ ‘The Thousand.’ Keller Williams Realty is proud to be the No. 1 brand in Teams by Closed Sides.

To find any one of our talented real estate professionals and search all properties online, visit

Join us this October in Lisbon, Portugal!

2012 REAL Trends

Leadership Institute

24-26 October 2012 A Conference for Leaders in Residential Real Estate Housing markets across the globe are struggling with oversupply, price declines and sluggish economic performance. Residential brokerage firms are caught in the crossfire of market conditions and the impact of online portals and other technological challenges. The REAL Trends Leadership Institute is a longrunning series of programs focusing on brokerage fundamentals. This year, the first such program in Europe will take place in Lisbon, Portugal, 24-26 October, 2012.

Call for more information: 303-741-1000

Sponsored by

The Institute will offer content specific material in: • Web analytics and how to invest wisely and compete effectively for the online housing consumer • Creating profit from alternative revenue sources • Developing effective strategies for competing in the luxury market • Lessons from top performers from across Europe and the world • A review of global economic trends • Housing recovery impact & timing

Click Here to Register

Joplin’s Deadly Tornado

We Are

Family When the deadly Joplin tornado hit, Keller Williams agents from around the country did the only thing they knew to do—race in to help.




Lives of Real Estate

Photo: Dustie /

Joplin Timeline The Joplin, Mo., tornado on May 22, 2011, was the deadliest single tornado since modern recordkeeping began in 1950. It had winds in excess of 200 mph and a track lasting six miles. Yet, Mary Tennant, president and COO of Keller Williams International in Austin, Texas, while on vacation in Arkansas turned her RV around and headed right into the heart of the disaster area. “I was traveling with some couples on a RV in Arkansas. We got word of the tornado, and I immediately got on the phone with some of our offices in the area to find out what they needed,” says Tennant, who cut her vacation short and started shoring up supplies for those impacted by the tornado. Within days, Tennant and other Keller Williams professionals close to the area filled a truck with generators, water, groceries and more. “We went to several towns and basically bought out the supplies from their Kmart and Walmart stores,” says Tennant. “We found someone who could get us into the affected area (which had been closed off by the National Guard as a disaster area) and the outpouring of love was amazing,” she says. Even those agents severely affected by the storm were at real estate offices waiting to help unload and get generators and supplies to the families that needed them most. “We had one of the few offices with electricity,” says Doris Carlin, operating partner of Keller Williams Realty of Southwest Missouri in Joplin. “We welcomed all real estate professionals to come to our office,

May 22

Tornado steamrolls across Joplin and touches down at 6 p.m.

May 23

KW Cares Executive Director Kathy Neu reaches out to Joplin OP Doris Carlin and Team Leader Vicki Christensen.

May 23-May 27 KW Cares staff and volunteers launch effort to call every KW associate in Joplin to assess their wellbeing, need for assistance, and to provide emotional support. May 23-31

KW Cares wires $66,000 to displaced families.

May 24

KW Cares and KWRI Events Team find hotel rooms for displaced KW families.

May 28

KW’s Mary Tennant arrives in Joplin with water and supplies.

May 28

The body of Will Norton, son of KW agent Mark Norton, who had been missing since the tornado, was recovered from a pond.

June 1-30

KW Cares provides $120,000 in assistance to impacted families.

June 1

Twenty-four families have been adopted by caring market centers from all over North America.

June 1

Fundraising begins in Market Centers from Maine to California and beyond for direct assistance to KW families in Joplin.

June 1

The first of many OPs, (Judy Johns) TLs, and other KW leaders arrives to assist with managing the market center in the midst of chaos. Others follow in the coming weeks.

June 1

KW Cares provides $40,000 in assistance to members of the Joplin real estate community.

June 30-Aug. 24 KW Cares provides $16,500 in assistance to impacted families. September 10

KW Cares Party with a Purpose raises $130,000 for the Will Norton Memorial Fund.

December 2

KW Cares provides $5,455 in assistance to a family that was impacted by the tornado.

Lives of Real Estate



We Are


charge their cell phones and pick up supplies,” she says. “People needed everything—clothes, jackets, shoes. Many left their homes with what they had on and that’s it,” says Carlin. Regardless, “They came with a positive attitude and appreciation,” says Tennant. “It wasn’t a situation of martyrdom; it was a testimonial to resiliency.” Founding KW Cares And, it was a testimonial to the power of Tennant’s team who unselfishly give to those in need. “I started as a brand new agent 20 years ago with Keller Williams,” she says. “One thing that separated our company from others is the way we respond to fellow agents in need. Long before there was an organized effort, if an agent was sick, the entire office was preparing meals, helping him or her get kids to activities and more,” she says. “It was our mind set, simply the way we did business—our culture.” Finally, in 2003, Keller Williams leaders decided to give it a name and form a charity that would sustain the culture of giving and support. Thus was born Keller Williams Cares, a non-profit that works to train sales associates on how to respond to emergencies and offers help to KW sales associates in need.




Lives of Real Estate

Along came Hurricane Katrina, and KW Cares collected $5.3 million to support KW team members in New Orleans and the hardest hit areas. “When a market center sponsors a family it’s all inclusive,” says Tennant. From food and clothing to computers and books—anything to get the family on track and back to work. “Because of an IRS ruling, we started out helping anyone who was a direct part of the Keller Williams family,” says Tennant. “It’s now expanded to anyone who has a trackable family relationship with a Keller Williams professional, such as second cousins and in-laws.” Joplin Humanitarian Efforts “In Joplin, we did the same thing,” says Tennant. “We supported any real estate agents in need—and not just Keller Williams agents— with cash donations. Any agent who lost a home or had a home damaged received a check from KW Cares,” she says. All told, Keller Williams monetarily helped 43 KW agents and family members and, through support from the local KW office, helped another 20 non-KW agents in the Joplin area. Some 27 market centers (KW’s lingo for offices), adopted Joplin families in need. They helped with housing, bought them cars and gave them money for supplies. One story that struck Tennant particularly hard was that of KW agent Mark Norton and his son, Will. “We were missing one KW agent’s son. He was coming home from his high school graduation and in the car with his father when the tornado hit.” Will and his father, Mark, were racing home

hoping to beat the storm. They were seconds too late and the storm hit them. Mark came away with injuries but Will wasn’t so lucky. They found his body five days later not far from the car. “What people don’t understand is that this area gets 15 to 30 tornado warnings a year, yet not one has touched down,” she says, thus explaining why the Norton family would choose to drive home rather than seek shelter. “Mark’s daughter was in the car ahead of him and made it home safely,” she says. In addition to helping the family, KW Cares raised

“We welcomed all real estate professionals to our office—to charge cell phones and pick up supplies,” —Doris Carlin, Keller Williams Realty of Southwest Missouri, Joplin

$130,000 for a memorial park for special needs children. The park is dedicated to Will Norton and the other 160 people who lost their lives in the tornado. “He was an extraordinary young man who helped a lot of people in his short life, and we wanted to do something to memorialize this cool kid,” says Tennant, who says the area was like a war zone. “It was tragic.” Says Carlin, “Mary exemplified everything I would like to be as a leader. She didn’t have to do anything yet she came anyway.

She encouraged people with a kind word and a friendly face.” But, Tennant is quick to point out that it wasn’t just her immediate

Surviving a Tornado There’s no such thing as guaranteed safety inside a tornado. Freak accidents happen; and the most violent tornadoes can level and blow away almost any house and its occupants. But, those violent storms are rare. Want tips for surviving a tornado? Go to Norman, Oklahoma’s Storm Prediction Center for more. help to the area that made a difference. “Doris Carlin is the operating partner of our market center in Joplin. Her son knew Will. She showed amazing strength. She and I went door to door to agents’ houses to find out what they needed,” she says. “Doris’ home was OK, yet one block over homes were completely destroyed. Sadly these memories will stay with me the rest of my life,” says Tennant, who is quick to downplay her unselfishness during this tragedy. “It’s who we are. It’s more important to us than selling real estate,” she says. “Our profits are about more than agent development. These agents are our family and by doing what we’re doing with KW Cares, we’re supporting a community that supports us.” L

Lives of Real Estate



Bonding Through Training

t e m e r ExTeam Building Ray Stader at Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Forget the traditional team-building exercises, this Canadian management team chose the ominous-sounding Canadian Death Race to boost team unity.

It all began as a joke.

another event, think again. Sure, they all kept in shape either by running, “Last spring, a few of us decided it biking or hiking, but the longest race would be fun to have a CIR running any of them even ran was a 10K. club,” says Ray Stader, co-owner of “Initially Kirsten and I were running CIR Realty in Calgary, Alberta. “It about 5K, then we started running for was a horrible failure,” laughs Stader. longer and longer periods of time just Originally six of CIR Realty’s 150 agents went running each Wednesday to see where it would go,” says Smith. Eventually he and morning, but after six weeks only Bartlett ran the Lindsey Smith, professional developDoctors Without ment manager, and Kirsten Bartlett, marketing manager, remained. “But, it Borders 10K, then Stader joined got a lot of buzz,” says Stader. So, them for another when Bartlett was working on a race on St. marketing piece for the company Patrick’s Day. website, she ran across a 125km “This was a large (almost 78 miles) all-terrain extreme commitment for adventure race called the Canadian Death Race and jokingly forwarded it me,” says Davis. “I’m 57 years to Branch Manager Tom Davis. The old—considerably race is over challenging terrain older than anyone including three mountain summits on the team. I’ve always enjoyed and 17,000 feet of elevation change. Davis called Bartlett’s bluff and said it cycling, curling, hiking and camping. And, when I was 19 years old, I would be a great teambuilding event. cycled from Moose Jaw Saskatchewan “I told him I was in,” says Bartlett. to St. John’s Newfoundland, a And, soon they formed a 5-person distance of 3,100 miles—but that relay team composed of Stader, was a long time ago!” Smith, Bartlett, Davis and a real For the Canadian Death Race, each estate sales associate, although at person chose a leg of the race that press time, the sales associate had to was best suited for his or her drop out due to injury. “We’re all in different offices around the city, so we strengths. Because Stader hikes and does trail runs several times a week, don’t talk as much as we’d like,” says Smith. “This type of training brought he felt he was best suited for the leg that has a lot of hill climbing. “I us together so quickly. It’s amazing picked first and everyone assumed I what you have when you have multiple minds working on a task,” he picked the easiest leg,” laughs Stader. “Then, they looked at it and all the says. hill climbing and changed their minds.” Training Time Smith chose the second hardest Before you think this was a team of leg—one that had a lot of hard ups elite athletes deciding to do yet

As part of their training, the group frequently takes hikes. (From left: Ray Stader, Tom Davis, Kirsten Bartlett and Lindsey Smith)

Ray Stader running the St. Patrick’s Day Marathon

Lives of Real Estate




and downs. Bartlett will be running 23K (about 14 miles) over city terrain and the last leg is about the same (23K or 14 miles of city terrain) but it is at night. “You have to run with a head lamp, and I have the world’s worst balance, so that leg wasn’t for me,” says Bartlett. Davis, who has the least amount of running experience, chose the first leg, which is half-marathon length running through the city. In addition to adding different types of running to their workouts, such as trail and hill running, each weight trains several times a week. For Davis, it’s more about “getting more active, more fit and stronger. This involves trips to the gym, long walks, hiking and better nutrition. The mental and psychological part of this preparation has been a challenge—the internal mind games are quite interesting,” says Davis. Both Bartlett and Smith swear by the book, “Born to Run.” “It’s the ultra marathon runner’s bible,” says Smith. Both he and Bartlett have signed up for a marathon and several road races before the August Death Race.

“Our whole office is interested in our training. They cheer us on when we do something particularly challenging.” —Lindsey Smith, CIR Realty, Calgary, Alberta (pictured here with Kristin Bartlett at the top of Ha Ling Peak in Canmore, Alberta.)




Lives of Real Estate

Team Building So, how does all of this build the team? “Entering a race like this makes you accountable to your team mates,” says Stader. “If someone doesn’t finish a leg, the whole team is disqualified. In comparison, the success of a company is tied to the management team, not one person, and that team must be willing to give 110 percent effort,” he says. “Failing or letting my teammates down is not a part of my make up,” says Davis. But, more than bonding the management team members, the race has had an unexpected side benefit of motivating sales associates as well. “We share our running progress on Facebook using the Nike Plus app,” says Smith. “Sales associates will “like” our status and cheer us on. At our Monday meetings, people want to know how we’re doing and let us know that they support us. In fact, they say that we motivate them,” he says. In addition, it’s encouraged others in the office to start running.

The Canadian Death Race: Are You Tough Enough? That’s the motto of the Canadian Death Race. The race was designed to ask one question and one question alone, “Are you tough enough?” The race is over challenging terrain including three mountain summits and 17,000 feet of elevation change. For more information go to: Canadian Death Race.

Lives of Real Estate




Born to Run Interesting in reading Born to Run? The book explores the life and running habits of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, arguably the greatest distance runners in the world. Find the book on Amazon.




“People want to find that balance between work and play and this has encouraged people that it’s possible,” says Smith. Bartlett also finds it powerful. “Participating in these activities teaches you to cooperate. Everyone has a different gift and ability. We’re all starting at different places, yet we’re a team and there’s a lot of give and take,” she says. At a recent conference both Smith and Stader went out for an early morning run. Smith ran about 20 miles, and Stader ran about 10 miles. “I have the Audible app that allows me to listen to books on tape,” says Smith. “You can listen to them at triple speed, so when I came into the first session I said, ‘It’s 9 a.m. and I just ran a 30K and read an entire book. What have you done with your morning?’” he says. And, while the CIR management team hasn’t used that to motivate

Lives of Real Estate

sales associates, they do talk about how things can get accomplished by building good habits to which you’re committed. “Doing things like this gives you confidence and motivates you. You can take that and transfer it to other aspects of your life,” says Bartlett, who hopes that’s the takeaway for other sales associates. “I think most people overestimate what they can accomplish in the short term but underestimate what they can do in the long term,” says Stader. “When you first start out everything seems so hard, but if you find your pace and train properly, you’ll go far and that’s not just in running, it’s in life too,” he says. The point Smith drives home with sales associates is that small, consistent actions lead to huge results in the long term. “I said I’d never run a marathon and now I’m using one as a training event,” laughs Smith. Whether your office chooses to run an ultra marathon as a team or to support a charity, the mere act of committing to an activity and supporting each other each step of the way can go far in making your team more cohesive and committed. “With everyone working toward a common goal, you have a bond and a feeling of accountability,” says Davis. “It exposes your strengths and your weaknesses but makes your business stronger in the long run.” L

Bags of Hope

Helping Homeless

Children With small and large donations, here and there, this broker has improved the lives of Central Florida homeless children.

For the past two years,

Janice Petteway, broker and co-owner of EXIT Real Estate Results in Orlando, Fla., has been a silent angel for Bags of Hope and the Bags of Hope Kid’s Club in Central Florida. The Kids Club meets every Friday offering a safe place for almost 300 underprivileged or homeless school-age children to play, read and get tutoring. Each child gets a book and a bag of food and toiletries to bring home each week. The grassroots Longwood, Fla.-based charity was started by a fellow real estate professional, Mark Santolin, and his wife, Rhonda, and brings food, water and other necessities to homeless people in Seminole County. “Many of these children wouldn’t have much to eat if they didn’t have these weekly food bags filled with peanut butter, bread, toiletries and more,” says Petteway. While Petteway isn’t able to volunteer each Friday, she contributes financially. “I would love 26



Lives of Real Estate

Janice Petteway (left) with Bags of Hope Founder Rhonda Santolin.

to show up, but this is just as important,” she says. Through donations from each transaction she closes, Petteway’s goal is to help BOH Kid’s Club to eliminate the waiting list. ““There are 40 children on the wait list,” she says. “It costs $400 per child, and they can’t add another child until they have that money.” Petteway hasn’t kept track of the dollar amount she’s given, but even in tough times, she’s found something to offer this cause. “I’m taking money out of our transactions and issuing a check. It’s done privately with the sales associates, it’s not mandatory,” she says. “But, if Bags of Hope finds its supplies low or needs school supplies, I start collecting,” she says. Petteway also raises awareness for the charity by holding garage sales, with the proceeds going to Bags of Hope. In addition, her EXIT office holds toy drives and book drives. “It’s amazing the difference you can make in a child’s life with just a little love and attention,” she says. “If [the charity] gets into a situation where they don’t have enough food, I will clean out my own pantry,” she says. “It’s a personal thing, but this is such a good cause that I want to help get the word out.” L

Your Garagenous Zone

Who Thought Designing a Garage Could

be so fun?

Bill West, CRS, has seen literally thousands of garages in his life but it wasn’t until he started organizing his own garage did he have an epiphany. “In 1998, I had an idea for a garage workbench design and as the carpenter was designing it, ideas kept pinging in my brain,” says West, a 35-year real estate veteran with The Group Inc. Real Estate in Fort Collins, Colo. On the spot, West decided to

write a book—literally—offering tips for homeowners on how to increase the use of 28




Lives of Real Estate

West has seen all kinds of garages in his career. “Most look the same but I’ve seen a few innovative ones,” he says. Take for example, the one pictured above. Fort Collins resident Bob McIntosh was inspired by “Your Garagenous Zone” to finish his garage to fit his passion for fly-fishing. “He routinely has Friday Afternoon Club with wine and beer for his buddies and neighbors along with the requisite big screen TV hanging from the garage ceiling,” says West.

their garages. In 1999, his first book came out and sold 3,000 copies over the Internet. According to West’s research, he was the first to publish a book about garage organization. This was confirmed a few years later by Independent Publishers Group in Chicago, a company that helped West self-publish his second book. “My book basically created the category,” laughs West. In 2004, he self-published “Your Garagenous Zone: Innovative Ideas for the Garage,” which he calls the “real book.” It’s sold over 11,000 copies and is available at, Barnes and Noble, as well as a host of other bookstores. “Writing this book was seamless—home improvement and real estate go hand in hand.” The book features more than 150 pictures offering ideas for organizing your garage. From useful products to design ideas, West covers it all. Not only that but he did all the research himself. He was not paid to endorse any products in the book. In addition, he’s been featured in everything from Business Week to the New York Times. He’s had radio interviews with Martha Stewart Living and shot videos with CNBC. “I’ve literally done scores of interviews nationally and internationally.”

With all of that publicity, you’d think West would change careers and launch a professional garage organizing business, but West says he loves real estate too much, although he does offer some garage organization services. “I’ve been hired as a consultant to help people start a garage organization business, but I haven’t done it myself, nor do I want to. Real estate is my career.” West offers the book as a closing gift and offers tips to customers on how to get the most efficient use out of their garages but that’s as far as he wants to go with garage organizing. Overall, says West, it’s been a fun ride. “Finally the garage is receiving the respect it deserves. For too long it was the dumpster attached to the home!” L

Find “Your Garagenous Zone” ($19) online at Your-Garagenous-Zone-Innovative-Garage/ dp/0967587506

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LORE Magazine - Lives of Real Estate Fall 2012  

Welcome to the second issue of the new LORE magazine! If you liked the amazing stories of the lives of real estate (LORE) professionals in o...

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