Page 1

Spring 2016 • Volume 10 / Issue 1

Bill Martin:

A Real

Trooper

1

Newly appointed leader of Florida Realtors ÂŽ, Bill Martin is excited about the opportunities in the real estate industry. Lives of Real Estate

FINDING HOPE THROUGH LOSS The loss of a child is devastating. This family is working through its grief by helping others.


This issue of LORE magazine was brought to you by ERA and RE/MAX International

Spring 2016 Volume 10 / Issue 1

6 13

COVER STORY Bill Martin: A Real Trooper As a freshman legislator, Bill Martin found support from the Realtor organization. Now CEO of Florida Realtors®, he’s excited about the opportunities.

6

Feature: Sophie’s Run Finding Hope Through Loss The loss of a child is devastating. This family is working through its grief by helping others.

13

DEPARTMENTS

18 23 27 30 35 39 3

Brokerage Profile Fun with FRED This innovative brokerage is shaking things up in Bend, Oregon.

Industry Leaders: An Unconventional Path to Leadership Kartik Ramachandran has worked with everything from finance and private equity to operations and tech startups, yet his current position at Xome is perhaps his greatest challenge yet.

Personal Passions: Empowering Young Adults to Get Involved After meeting an ex-Green Beret on a young leadership mission in Israel, Josh Yeddis decided to make a commitment to encourage young adults to get involved in the international community.

Tech Leaders: Finding Their Groove Meet the four leaders of Dotsignal, who are collaborating coast to coast.

The Thousand Profile: From By Owner to Business Owner Rhonda Duffy built a business from the ground up and transferred it all to her employees. Find out more about this ambitious real estate professional and mom of two.

Personal Passions: Soaring Through Life Find out how this Florida sales associate stays grounded by getting his feet off the ground.

Lives of Real Estate


PUBLISHER’S LETTER

REAL ESTATE A WORLD OF

DIVERSITY

S

ome are technologists, others long-time real estate practitioners. Some have been at their businesses for a short time; others quite a while. Some are young, while others are, well, less young!

Read these stories and one thing they share is a passion for whatever they do. It comes through so strongly you can’t miss it. Mark Meinhardt directs his passion at keeping alive the dream of his daughter who died at a young age. Others concentrate on building cultures in their organizations and building up their teams. All share an excitement in what they are doing, every day. What a line up! A woman who built such a successful team that she was able to construct an Employee Stock Ownership Plan so the team can share the value in its growth. A man who served in the Army in the Airborne infantry, then as a state representative and now runs the second largest state association of Realtors® in the country. A couple who threw caution to the wind and started their firm in 2008 (yeah, that year!) and now run one of the largest brokerage firms in Oregon. LORE features the stories of the men and women in the residential brokerage industry. Anyone who thinks they are all cut from the same mold needs to read these stories. It’s incredible to think that such a diverse group of people can not only succeed in this business; but also contribute so much to their people and their communities.

www.loremagazine.com Steve Murray

Publisher smurray@realtrends.com Tracey C. Velt

Editor-in-Chief tvelt@realtrends.com David Grassnick

Graphic Designer chiefcreative@msn.com Bryan Warrick

Marketing Manager bwarrick@realtrends.com Doniece Welch

Advertising dwelch@realtrends.com 303-741-1000 Lore magazine is published online via Issuu four times a year—in February, May, August and November—by REAL Trends Inc. 7501 Village Square Drive, Ste. 200 Castle Rock, CO 80108 (303) 741-1000 Free Subscriptions:

Stephen H. Murray Publisher

4

Lives of Real Estate

Click Here or call 303-741-1000 psalley@realtrends.com


February 8-10, 2016 Fort Collins, Colorado ▪ Is your company soaring or struggling?

Larry Kendall Course Instructor

▪ Is your leadership team aligned, focused, consistent? ▪ Are you experiencing synergistic results? ▪ Are you investing in the development of your managers?

The Ninja Leadership System promises to improve leadership/management skills and profitability. Investment: $995 (Includes instruction, materials, and meals) www.NinjaSelling.com

"Installing the System" Optional 24-week coaching program Led by Peter Parnegg, Ninja Instructor and Coach. This program is designed to help manager and owners develop their skills to Install the Ninja Leadership system within their company. ▪ Twelve module program- Participants are given

Schedule of Events Day 1 "5 Keys to Leadership" The challenge, your vision and creating a high performance culture "Talent to Performance" Recruiting, interviewing and coaching techniques Day 2 "Success Systems" Hiring, training and retaining Day 3 "Sales & Staff Systems Checklists"

Assignments to complete every two weeks ▪ Ninety minute group coaching sessions every two weeks ▪ Two individual coaching sessions over the twenty four weeks Investment: $2,000

Questions?

5

Contact Lauren Roesener 970.377.6075 or lroesener@thegroupinc.com

Lives of Real Estate

2803 East Harmony Road Fort Collins, CO


COVER STORY

Newly appointed leader of Florida Realtors 速, Bill Martin is excited about the opportunities in the real estate industry.

Bill Martin:

A Real

Trooper


COVER STORY

I

f you ask his high school baseball coach, Bill Martin wasn’t expected to amount to much. “When I was in high school, my hometown of Ypsilanti, Mich. (just outside of Detroit) was divided East and West. I was an East Sider, which was the blue collar side,” says Martin, CEO of Florida Realtors® in Orlando. “My baseball coach told me that no one from the East Side ever amounted to anything. I never understood whether he was trying to motivate or discourage me,” he says. However, Martin always remembered it, and he says, “I used it as motivation.”

I SERVED WITH SOME REAL HEROES in the 101st Airborne Division and the 509th Airborne PIR. One platoon sergeant in particular stands out, Sergeant Pineau. He was a tremendous mentor who helped me mature as a man and understand personal responsibility.” — B i l l M a r t i n Obviously, it worked, as he has thrived. Immediately after high school, Martin says, “I wasn’t very mature, and wasn’t ready for college academically or otherwise.” So he joined the U.S. Army. “I served with some real heroes in the 101st Airborne Division and the 509th Airborne PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment),” he says. “One platoon sergeant in particular stands out, Sergeant Pineau. He was a tremendous mentor who helped me mature as a man and understand personal responsibility. He helped me become a leader of other men through his example, as I was promoted to Sergeant in my Infantry Platoon.” An Impressive Career Martin was the first in his family to graduate from college, attending Western Michigan University. Years later, he became a trustee of the university for eight years. “I went to school while waiting for the Michigan State Police to accept me into training,” 7

Lives of Real Estate


COVER STORY

he says. The Michigan State Police are known for their rigorous training. Of the 124 recruits in Martin’s class, only 63 graduated and became Troopers. That was in 1978. By 1986, Martin left the state police to run for the Michigan State House of Representatives, where he served eight years as a state legislator. “My last term, I ran unopposed. During that time, voters passed sixyear term limits for legislators. I had already served eight years, so I voluntarily chose not to run again,” he says. From there, he was appointed by former Michigan Governor John Engler as the Commissioner for the Michigan Lottery, where he worked for four years. Martin was then appointed by Engler to run the state’s correction system, with over 19,000 employees. He says that’s where he realized the power of having the right people in the right

positions. After all, you can have a top-notch employee who is in a position that doesn’t allow that employee to succeed. Moving that employee to another, more appropriate position can change the dynamic of the company in a positive way. “When I started, the Department of Corrections had over 1,300 active employee grievances. By the time I finished my tenure, it was below 100. We had to do it in a systematic way, getting people in a position to understand their responsibilities to themselves and to those they managed,” says Martin. “It was fun to see the entire culture change. It’s hard to do; we had to move a lot of chairs, but in the end it was very successful,” he says.

IN HIS DOWNTIME, Martin and his wife, Denise, try to keep things simple. “The more complex life is, the more stress and frustration. It’s the greatest thing I’ve learned over the years—keep life simple.” — Bill Martin

Caption to come

8

Lives of Real Estate


Transitioning into the Real Estate Industry In 2002, he was recruited to run the Michigan Realtors®. To Martin, it was like coming full circle back to the organization that had offered him support early in his career. When Martin was a state trooper, he was assigned to investigate a series of burglaries at real estate open houses. Through a lot of hard work, and even more luck, he was able to find the people responsible, make the arrests and get convictions. “We recovered almost all of the stolen property,” he says. That year, he received an award from the Battle Creek Area Association of Realtors. “Later, when I ran for office, I was struggling to get community support because I had no political experience. I couldn’t raise any money,” he says. However, just before the August primary, he was interviewed and endorsed by the Battle Creek Area Association of Realtors. “They endorsed me and gave me a $2,500 PAC check. Once I got the Realtor endorsement, things started rolling. So, Realtors have played an interesting part in my life.” In 2015, Martin was recruited to run the nation’s second-largest state Realtor association as chief executive officer of Florida Realtors, which has more than 150,000 members. Martin admits that his strength is in the legislative and policy area. While in Michigan, he had worked to prevent Realtors from having to pay service taxes, and in Florida, he spends a great deal of time working to ensure that the organization is on top of all legislative activities taking place. “I think that becoming actively engaged in this arena is one of the most important priorities that the head of a state Realtor organization can undertake. Whether they are issues impacting taxes, private property rights or any other initiatives or policies affecting real estate, I think Realtors expect their leaders at all levels, local, state and national, to identify those areas where government may negatively impact real estate and do everything possible to affect the outcome in a positive way,” he says. At Florida Realtors, he says, he can’t always satisfy each member’s desires at every moment. But, he says, “Our team works diligently to be the best at everything we do, particularly when it is delivering service to members. We have eight full-time attorneys manning our legal hotline, and have greatly reduced wait times. We operate the nation’s largest Realtor Tech Help Line, which serves more than 500,000 Realtors in 21 states, 6 Canadian provinces, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our Team is constantly working on ways they can serve members better and faster.”

9

Lives of Real Estate


COVER STORY

Peer Review Martin recently finished two days of having a group of his peers from around the country critique him and his team. REAL Trends’ Steve Murray was part of that effort. “According to his peers, Martin has one heck of a smart, motivated team,” says Murray. “Martin’s team said he was bright, decisive and caring, and while he has just eight months on the job, he’s thrown himself into getting to know members all over the state. He even told them he was prepared to ‘take the bullet’ when the team made a decision and someone disagreed.” “Whether you are a soldier, state trooper, legislator, head of a large state department or a state Realtor association, the most important thing to realize is that you can’t be successful without great people around you and that your number one priority is to support and recognize their contributions. It really isn’t more complicated than that,” says Martin.

I ONCE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE while in the legislature. I firmly planted my feet on an issue after hearing only one side of the argument. It was a tough, but good, lesson to learn, and it made me a better legislator. Never draw conclusions based on one side of an issue.” — Bill Martin

State Capitol Building, Lansing, Mich.

An Imperfect Leader Martin is quick to point out that he isn’t a perfect leader. He’s learned quite a lot from his past mistakes. “I once made a huge mistake while in the legislature. I firmly planted my feet on an issue after hearing only one side of the argument. It was a tough, but good, lesson to learn, and it made me a better legislator. Never draw conclusions based on one side of an issue,” says Martin. The trick, he says, is to never take yourself too seriously. “Sometimes you think you’re the only one who can answer the question, but you may have the wrong answer.” 10

Lives of Real Estate


COVER STORY

Future Look As for the future? Martin says he thinks that more will change around organized real estate in the next five years than in the past five years. “When you see what the portals are doing, the growth of new online real estate offerings, what NAR and Florida Realtors® are doing in forms and transaction management, and the Upstream (an industry-owned and controlled data management company that plans to develop a cross-industry, state-of-theart platform for real estate data entry, collection and distribution for real estate brokers.) development,” Martin says, he believes the pace will only speed up. “Our association is going to be challenged to continue to improve the services we offer and our effectiveness at government affairs like never before,” he says. “But it will also be a fun time because all of us will have more freedom to innovate than ever before.” In his downtime, Martin and his wife, Denise, try to keep things simple. “The more complex life is, the more stress and frustration,” he says. “It’s the greatest thing I’ve learned over the years—keep life simple. Your life isn’t a puzzle; it’s a piece. If it doesn’t fit in today, it may fit in tomorrow. People get caught up in the grandiose picture, and it gets complicated.” Martin loves to play golf, fish, bike, exercise and run. He and his wife Denise like to bike and exercise together. “My wife plays golf better than I do, but it’s not her passion,” laughs Martin.

In His Words: Bill Martin Three Things He Can’t Live Without (other than family and friends): Coffee with cream; Lay’s potato chips and a really cold beer after a game of golf

Greatest Accomplishment: Being a successful parent. In a very challenging world, our two girls are very happy and successful adults. Also, I’ve been happily married for 37 years. 11

Lives of Real Estate

Bucket List: Travel with my wife outside of the United States, visit as many national parks as possible, spend time with my daughters, Haley and Brittany, and visit the grandkids (Haley has three children).


2016 GATHERING OF EAGLES APRIL 20-22, 2016 FOUR SEASONS RESORT DALLAS AT LAS COLINAS 4150 N. MACARTHUR BLVD. IRVING, TX 78038 REGISTER AT: BIT.LY/GOE2016

12

Lives of Real Estate


FEATURE

Sophie’s Run

FINDING HOPE Through Loss The loss of a child is devastating. This family is working through its grief by helping others.


WHEN SOPHIE DIED, we we re together on a family va c a t i o n . We we n t o n va c a t i o n a n d c a m e b a c k w i t h o n e l e s s c h i l d ,” — Mark Meinhardt

S

ophia Grace Meinhardt was a typical little 18-month-old girl, full of energy and determination. So when she got sick while on a family vacation in Hilton Head, S.C., in August 2006, no one was seriously worried. “We took her to the urgent care and, then, the emergency room, where they diagnosed her with an ear infection and an upper GI infection,” says Mark Meinhardt, president of Star One Realtors Inc. in Cincinnati. The day her vomiting stopped, Aug. 18, 2006, “We noticed that she wasn’t fully using her left side. We started worrying then,” says Meinhardt. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The next day, she was medically airlifted home to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), and a few days later she underwent surgery to remove the tumor. “While in surgery, Sophie died. We buried her on her 18-month birthday, Aug. 26, 2006,” he says. “We learned that Sophie had developed a rare and aggressive brain tumor known as an atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor (ATRT). This tumor had grown rapidly within one to two months, and the only symptom Sophie had was vomiting.” Community Support The days and weeks after Sophie’s death were a blur to both Mark and his wife, Missy. The Meinhardts have three other girls, Olivia (23), Madeline (22) and Mia (12). “The one thing we weren’t prepared for was the support and compassion we received from our church, other parents and strangers in the community. We asked people to donate to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in lieu of flowers. We weren’t expecting to receive almost $17,000. We donated these funds to the Child Life Department at CCHMC to purchase musical instruments for the newly developed music therapy program and toys/ materials for the activity rooms.”

14

Lives of Real Estate


FEATURE

While Mark and Missy were grieving, they were also trying to find a way to memorialize Sophie. “On Sophie’s headstone, we had the following words inscribed: ‘If we could sit across the porch from God we would thank him for lending us you.’ We will forever be grateful that God chose us for Sophie’s family,” says Mark. That’s when they decided to do a run to raise money for the hospital and be used to fund pediatric brain cancer research. “The older girls ran cross country, and I had a double jogging stroller that I used to push Sophie and Mia in while I ran,” says Mark. “It seemed like a natural fit.” Thus was born Sophie’s Angel Run. Sophie’s Angel Run Each September, the Meinhardt family holds a memorial 5K Run/Walk in Sophie’s honor called Sophie’s Angel Run. “We wrote a business plan with four goals,” says Mark. “To raise awareness of lack of funding for pediatric brain tumor research, raise money for pediatric brain tumor research, keep Sophie’s memory alive through educational scholarships, and help our family and immediate community through the grieving process,” he says. For the past nine years, Sophie’s Angel Run has been meeting and exceeding those goals. Each year, the Meinhardts award seven or eight scholarships to 7th graders at one of the local Catholic churches. “We’ve given out $20,000 over the years,” says Mark. They’ve also raised more than $500,000 over the past nine years and had a record 2,400 people run in this year’s event. “One very important factor that helped us remain successful is that we tied it into our church’s Octoberfest celebration,” he says. Every year, the Meinhardts’ church has a fall festival. “We decided, with their permission, to do the run in conjunction with this event. They already have the Port-o-Lets and the tents. It’s a great full-day event. We

15

Lives of Real Estate

An Emotional Race Over the years, Mark Meinhardt has seen many families run for their children who have brain tumors. In fact, in 2015, two boys who are suffering from brain tumors attended the run. “Both had special T-shirts made and had a lot of support,” he says. The best part, says Mark, is that at the end of the run, “one boy, Josiah, 13 years old, was lifted from his wheelchair and helped across the finish line by his family and church community. He walked the final 20 feet to the finish line, and it was so emotional.” After all, only 7 months’ prior, Josiah was running track in middle school and a healthy student athlete. “His face started drooping and, boom, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. That’s how quickly this can happen.” To donate to Sophie’s Angel Run, go to sophiesangelrun.org.


start with Mass at 11 a.m., the race starts at 1 p.m., and then after the race, people can attend Octoberfest, have a beer, watch the Bengals game and hang out with friends,” he says. “We coordinate our volunteers with their volunteers and bring them a couple thousand attendees. It’s a win-win.” Sophie’s Angel Run is now an official 501(c)(3). It has no paid employees. “Everyone is a volunteer, and it’s crazy. Managing our 200-plus volunteers is a full-time job. We have a neighbor who was very affected by Sophie’s death who helps us with that,” says Mark. In addition, his five sisters each head up a committee, and extended family all play roles in coordinating the event. “The local Girl Scout troops and students from the local Catholic school fill goody bags. It’s a true team effort,” he says. “The success of it is that we have so many people who care.” According to Mark, “Knowing now that there was nothing that could have been done to save her life is devastating. No parent should have to go through what we went through, and certainly no child should have to suffer from this disease. The only way to end this disease is to support research to find treatments and hopefully one day to find a cure.” And the Meinhardts are helping to do that one step at a time.

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS When Mark Meinhardt first started raising money for the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), he wondered if it would even be enough to help. “When you look at their $30 million building, our $500,000 doesn’t feel like much,” he says. However, Meinhardt soon found out that research doctors need seed money. “We don’t put a lot of strings on the money we donate, so doctors who have a hunch or experiment that they can’t get funding for use our money,” says Meinhardt. “We trust them and have grown to be friends with several doctors.” And, in turn, the doctors run in the race, bring their families and promote it to the community. “Every little bit helps,” says Meinhardt.

16

Lives of Real Estate


B R O K E R A G E

P R O F I L E

Fun with

This innovative brokerage is shaking things up in Bend, Oregon.

17

Lives of Real Estate


B R O K E R A G E

P R O F I L E

W

hen you walk into FRED Real Estate Group’s Bend, Ore., office, you may think you’re in the wrong place. “We are noncorporate,” says owner and managing broker Fred Mannila. “You look like you’re walking into Google, with AC/DC blaring on Pandora, a keg of beer and a Ping-Pong table,” he laughs. However, for Fred and Keeley Mannila, coowner and chief creative strategist, real estate is anything but casual. “Don’t let our casual vibe fool you, as we consistently rank in the top 5 Central Oregon real estate firms (next to the big dogs), and we are currently the largest brokerage in Central Oregon,” says Keeley. Ups and Downs How they got there is a bit of a roller coaster ride. “In 2008, we decided to move from Portland to Bend, where I took a position as a team leader at a national franchise. After three months, I realized I was not wired for a corporate environment,” says Fred, the company’s namesake. So, they decided to branch off on their own and, on a whim, decided to name the company FRED Real Estate Group. When we did that, people laughed at us. We formed our company in the worst economy, in a small town where we were brand new, and we had an unconventional, nonbrand name,” says Keeley. “We were told numerous times that our name was dumb, our business model flawed and we’d fizzle out. That just made us work harder,” she says. They opened a tiny, 151-square-foot office in a local strip mall and planned to build a small team of a “couple of buyers’ agents,” says Fred. Within a few months, he says, “we brought on seven brokers and realized, ‘Wow! We’re a company now!’” Eight years later, they have more than 90 real estate professionals working with them.

18

Lives of Real Estate


B R O K E R A G E

P R O F I L E

Drama-free Business That business model was one where success was not defined by the dollar but by the success of the team and the experiences of customers. “We are modern, hip and forward thinking. We love technology, it’s at the core of what we do and we love that we can offer our team tools that they can use to propel their business,” says Keeley. That culture, where people go to work and enjoy what they do, is what the Mannilas credit with their success. “I don’t care if you sell 100 homes or one, as long as you contribute to the company in a

WHEN IT COMES TO HIRIN G, I wa n t people to succeed. I want them to be h a p py t h a t w h e n a t ra n s a c t i o n c l o s e s , t h e i r b ro ke ra g e h a s n ’ t n i c ke l e d a n d d i m e d them. — Fred Mannila

Caption to come? 19

Lives of Real Estate

positive way, are happy with what you’re doing and provide a great client experience,” says Keeley. Fred agrees, “It’s about people first. If we ever get around to writing a mission statement, it will be, “No drama, no ego and no holier-than-thou attitude. Other companies are always pushing quotas; but everyone is on his or her individual path. One person’s goal may be 50 transactions and another person’s five transactions. But, if the person with the lower goal doubles it, why shouldn’t he or she be rewarded?” According to Fred, that cultural mindset is what they use when hiring. “It has to be a win-win. You have to be confident in your business to turn people down who aren’t a fit. When it comes to hiring, I want people to succeed. I want them to be happy that when a transaction closes, their brokerage hasn’t nickeled and dimed them.” Tech Savvy As for their technology, the Mannilas run a BoomTown! platform, use a texting service, a call platform for listings and “a lot of social media, including Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, and we’ve dabbled in Vine,” says Keeley. “It’s so easy to be enticed by the dollar and all of these tech tools. We woke up one day and saw the team cranking away at their desks and thought, ‘It’s because of these people that we are here today.’ From that point on, technology became a way to help our team feel valued and heard.” In addition, in the last year, the Mannilas started offering profit sharing as a way to “reward brokers financially for helping the company grow.” In addition to running their brokerages, the Mannilas have three sons, 11-year-old twins Joshua and Gavin and 5-year-old Jack. “We live in our dream neighborhood and are proud to call Bend our home,” says Keeley. For the Mannilas, it’s been one heck of a roller coaster ride, but, says Keeley, “our quirky, little company now has an established brand in the community and owners who love what they do, a total win-win.”


‘tas’ tic

| fredtastic | (adjective) a state of mind -

a passion - embraces technology - provides unparalleled customer service - exudes awesome to clients, business partners, and in the local community - a Fredtastic agent

is

hardworking,

proactive - enjoys life.

20

Lives of Real Estate

focused,

smart,

tech

savvy,


Meet the Mannilas When the Mannilas moved from Portland to Bend, Ore., they “didn’t know a single person in town. It was such a different cultural climate from Portland, where corporate styles are huge. In Bend, if you walk around in a suit and tie, you look out of place,” says Fred.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE? We designed a yard sign (see page 19 for a photo) that was very different. There was a lot of curiosity about the look and vibe because it wasn’t traditional. But, being new to town, when he was scheduling showings, people asked, “Who are you?” We had to build credibility. It was very word of mouth. We had to shift our recruiting style in order to recruit agents who already had credibility in the area, and that helped.

LESSON LEARNED A few years ago, when we started working with BoomTown!, we decided to build four platforms in different parts of Oregon. We were spreading ourselves too thin as not every area was a fit for online lead generation. The expense wasn’t right for our model, so we scaled it back, and we have one platform now, and that platform is working well.

21

Lives of Real Estate


INDUSTRY

LEADERS

An Unconventional Path to Leadership

Kar tik Ramachandran has worked with ever ything from finance and private equity to operations and tech star tups, yet his current position at Xome is perhaps his greatest challenge yet. 22

Lives of Real Estate


INDUSTRY

LEADERS

B

orn in India, Kartik Ramachandran, COO and CFO of Xome, knows the importance of a house’s becoming a home. After all, he and his family moved constantly when he was young. “The story goes that my mom went into labor on the train,” Ramachandran laughs. “I moved to Colorado when I was 2 years old, then Brazil, Atlanta and Southern California, among other places,” he says. “My dad, an engineer, worked on large-scale projects, such as trains, so we traveled wherever there was an opportunity.” The one thing he did have, other than three different high schools in four years, was the way his mother made every house comfortable and familiar. Also, from that experience, Ramachandran says, he learned to be open to “the ambiguity and the opportunity to create and discover something new and exciting.” After all, buying a home is a complex transaction. “The technology and cultural challenges are great. Every experience that I had, moving as a kid and buying my own houses, is that people are warm. Real estate professionals really care.”

WE’RE SELLING SOMETHING PERSONAL, conn e c ti ng a provider wi t h a consu mer, and the thin g b e i n g co nnected is your home. That’s superpowerful.“ — K a r t i k R a m a c h a n d ra n

After getting degrees from both Princeton University and the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Ramachandra took an unconventional path. “I’ve done finance, startups and private equity. I’ve worked in operations. The consistent thread is that every project I worked on had a real consumer impact,” he says. However, his true love was architecture. “My passion in college was architecture. Right out of school, I interviewed with a New York City firm,” he says. The twist? Princeton is obviously a great school but, says Ramachandran, “the firm told me I needed a technical degree before they would even talk to me. Princeton is not that school.” Instead, Ramachandran decided to go to business school. From there, he held executive and leadership positions at companies such as Activision Blizzard Inc., Qualcomm Inc. and Bain & Co. Ramachandran also co-founded iSports Inc., a mobile gaming company before selling it in 2009. “We raised a seed round and scaled the business. It was the top entertainment downloaded

23

Lives of Real Estate


INDUSTRY

LEADERS

app in sports in 2008,” he says. The irony of being a part of a mobile gaming company, he says, is that “I’m not a gamer!” Because of that, he signed on with Groupon and moved (again!), from Los Angeles to Chicago. There, he worked with the company’s emerging merchant technologies incubator as its international CFO and, finally, president of Asian Pacific. Then, opportunity knocked. “I got a call from the CEO of Xome, who talked to me about the opportunities in real estate. It was conceptually similar to what we want to do in local commerce. I felt I had to come to Xome. We’re selling something personal, connecting a provider with a consumer, and the thing being connected is your home. That’s superpowerful,” he says. “We could make it more natural and work with the real estate professionals who know this business really well. They see so many types of buyers and properties; what if we could put a powerful, collective connector between them?”

surrounds himself with people who share similar work styles, it is easy to “presume trust.” Ramachandran is also passionate about family. “I had an incredibly strong family. My mom and dad always found time to be with my sisters and me. I can’t figure out how they did it, but as they get older, I feel very happy that I’ve been able to be there and provide for them,” he says. Ramachandran is married to Breeze, an interior designer. He says she inspires him because of her willingness to adapt to changes. “She’s an artist. She has this ability to re-create herself without ever being someone she’s not. She was an actress when we met. When we moved from LA to Chicago, she embraced Improv (A form of theater where most or all of what is performed is created at the moment it is performed.) Now, in Seattle, she’s taken advantage of her dad’s business,” he says. He rehabs and remodels houses, and Breeze decorates them. “She re-created herself in a new profession without losing her passion or creativity. Her passion reminds me to keep going.”

Taking the Transaction Online Xome connects buyers and sellers with real estate professionals. Consumers can both search for a house online and buy one online as well. Homebuyers receive a i n b u s i n e s s . Yo u h a ve t o minimum of 1 percent back on their purchase or sale. Real estate agents are build a great team. required to give up at least 1 percent of their commission, which will be paid to the customer once a house is bought or sold. However, Driven by his passion for people, Ramachandran they can agree to give up a larger percentage as an believes in empowering his team “Nothing additional incentive. Additionally, agents pay Xome meaningful gets done alone in business. You have a referral fee of $300 to $1,000, depending on the to build a great team,” he says. That’s something final price of the house. “This is a complex transaction. that is a work in progress. Xome is currently The technology and cultural challenges are great. looking for a replacement for CEO Kal Raman, Real estate is a caring profession,” says Ramachandran. who abruptly left the company after just 12 months. “There are a lot of great, passionate, Finding His Passion talented people out there,” says Ramachandran. The company is one that Ramachandran can put Building connections, that’s what Xome is all himself behind. “I am a superpassionate, hardabout, he says. “We’re trying to make this industry charging person. I will always have conviction in what easier to connect in, and that requires trust. I want I’m doing,” he says. He’s found that when he to build that trust.”

NOTHING MEANINGFUL GETS DONE ALONE

24

Lives of Real Estate


INDUSTRY

LEADERS

In His Words: Kartik Ramachandran Biggest motivator. The ability to maintain the purity and integrity of my approach within the challenge. There is always more. You can always improve. I grew up playing sports, and I’m very competitive. You don’t win them all, and I’m OK with that as long as my integrity stays intact.

Learning from failure. I was a competitive tennis player growing up and was selected to play on the Indian Junior National Team. I moved to India in 10th grade for a season. So many people are surprised to hear that when I was young, I lost my first 23 tournaments in the first round. That was pretty formative for me. I also played tennis at Princeton, was on the ski team and walked-on (joined the team without having a scholarship) the baseball team.

Three things you can’t live without (other than family and friends.) Pizza; Bayou, my dog; and the Denver Broncos

Dog trivia. Bayou, his dog, was chosen to be on the cover of The Bark magazine.

Bucket List. Heli-skiing, having children and being a part of building or creating something that is deeply integrated into how we live, something that transforms how we live. 25

Lives of Real Estate


ALL EYES WILL BE ON YOU

Whether it’s hearing a familiar laugh or seeing an old friend, recognition is powerful. With one of the most iconic logos in real estate and over four decades of brand reputation, RE/MAX gets recognized. Literally everywhere. Your career makes sense at RE/MAX. ©2015 RE/MAX, LLC. Each RE/MAX® office is independently owned and operated. 15_64728


P E R S O N A L

P A S S I O N S

J OSH Y E D D I S :

Empowering Young Adults to

Get Involved

After meeting an ex-Green Beret on a young leadership mission in Israel, Josh Yeddis decided to make a commitment to encourage young adults to get involved in the international community. 27

Lives of Real Estate


P E R S O N A L

P A S S I O N S

J

osh Yeddis lives by the adage, “If you can change one person’s life, you can change the world.” While that may seem like a lofty goal, to Yeddis it’s a life-long dream. A broker-associate with RE/MAX Masters Millennium in Denver, Colorado, Yeddis says, “I was raised in a family that was big into giving back to the community. I realized once I started working that giving back could fill a hole in my soul. I’ve been given so much that I wanted to make a difference in the world.” With real estate, he said, “I began to feel that all I was doing was helping people become more materialistic, helping them trade a million-dollar house for a two-million-dollar house. At the end of the day, I felt, what was I doing to give back? I couldn’t find it.” Empowering Young Adults All that changed when he met Ben Brettmann, an ex-Green Beret and immigrant from Germany, on the Allied Jewish Federation Young Leadership Mission. The two founded the Fulda Foundation, named for the town in Germany where Brettmann grew up. The non-profit inspires and empowers young adults with ideas to be more active in their communities locally and abroad. They are currently working to improve educational settings for students in Lod, Israel. “We took our first mission trip in December 2011,” he says. Their work, at a modern Orthodox high school for boys and an EMP center for girls in Lod, was dedicated to providing a place where the young people could go between the time school let out and their parents got home, according to an article in the Intermountain Jewish News. “It was to give them a place to get off the streets at night. Their parents don’t speak the language, and they don’t have any education, so they’re working two or three menial jobs. And Lod is a very high-risk area for these kids, especially for the girls.” The area has a high population of Jewish Ethiopians, who, according to the Denver Business Journal, “were airlifted to Israel in 1991 in a joint venture between the United States and Israel to relocate the Jewish population in the face of political destabilization.”

28

Lives of Real Estate

I BEGAN

to feel that all I was doing was helping people become m o re m a t e r i a l i s t i c , h e l p i n g t h e m t ra d e a million-dollar h o u s e f o r a t wo million-dollar h o u s e . At t h e e n d o f t h e d ay, I f e l t , what was I doing t o g i ve b a c k ? I c o u l d n ’ t f i n d i t .” – J o s h Ye d d i s


P E R S O N A L

P A S S I O N S

Moving People Up In partnership with the Ethiopian National Project (ENP), the group renovated one of their study hall rooms. The goal was to remodel an area high school to give at-risk youth more hands-on time with teachers who can help them score higher on the Israeli scholastic tests. “In Israel, all residents must join the Army. Your score on that initial test indicates where you go in life,” he says. Many in the poorer neighborhoods find that they are pigeonholed into menial jobs. “We want to give these kids the opportunity to increase their test scores and improve their quality of life,” he says. Since then, Yeddis and the Foundation have taken two more trips to continue the work in Lod. “In 2012, we renovated another room for ENP and took the kids on daytrips throughout Israel,” says Yeddis. His favorite trip was to a horse therapy ranch. “It was

an amazing day. While the ranch is meant for disabled children, it is also used for kids who have attention issues. Many of these kids had never seen or interacted with a horse before,” he says. The Foundation aims to take a mission trip every other year. “Our next trip this summer is to Germany. We are going to Fulda to meet with community leaders there to learn about how the Jewish community is growing.” Their next mission to Israel is planned for December 2016. “Right now, we’re working on a new partner affiliation with Derech Eretz, an Israeli program that is doing the same thing we are but through a six-month program to empower the children of Israel and help them get higher scores on their tests,” says Yeddis. To get more information or to donate to the Fulda Foundation, go to www.fuldafoundation.org.

IN HIS WORDS: JOSH YEDDIS Inspiration: The first year we went to Lod, we were remodeling the third floor of an Orthodox high school. It had suffered from water damage. The kids were helping us. I connected to one child, named Avi. He was “my” kid. The weekend came and we had a lot of work to do to have the rooms ready by Monday. No one wanted to work over the weekend. But, Avi took two busses and three bus transfers to get to us on a Sunday. His commitment was phenomenal. When I got back to the United States, he sent me an email and asked, “When are you coming home?” He told me that Lod is my home now. That was so impactful and cemented why I was doing what I’m doing.

On getting into the real estate profession: I come from a family of real estate agents. My mother has been in the business for 27 years and my father has been in commercial real estate for 30 years. There was a running joke about 29

Lives of Real Estate

who would join them in the “family” business. It wasn’t going to be me. Flash forward a few years and I’m in a job that wasn’t a good fit for me. I left, got my license and joined my mom. Three things you can’t live without (excluding family and friends): The Colorado mountains Bacon (Yes, a nice Jewish boy like myself loves bacon! It’s an obsession.) Helping people

Bucket list: I would like to open a bacon specialty store, travel the world (life isn’t meant to be spent sitting behind a desk) and make a positive impact on the world.


T E C H

L E A D E R S

DOTSIGNAL:

FINDING THEIR GROOVE Meet the four leaders of Dotsignal, who are collaborating coast to coast.

W

hen Matt Simons and Tim Street, co-founders of Dotsignal, which offers mobile solutions for the real estate industry, decided to merge with marketing aficionados Donna Freed, executive vice president (EVP) of sales and marketing, and Sandy Holmes, EVP of business development and operations, they had to figure out a way to collaborate across time zones. After all, Simons was in Michigan, Street in Florida, and Freed and Holmes in California. It’s not easy, says Freed, but the quartet found that video conferencing and constant communication were key. “We have an interesting and diverse management group,” says Holmes. “It speaks to the open-mindedness and flexibility that benefit a company like ours.” Their disparate personalities just “make it work,” says Street. Meet the leaders of Dotsignal:

Matt Simons, co-founder and CEO How he got his start: I’ve been a tech entrepreneur since I graduated from college, which was right around the time the Internet became mainstream. I was writing websites and building IDX solutions for brokerages. Then, Tim Street, who is a high school friend, got me involved in mobile messaging right when people were transitioning from pagers to text messaging. We spent about eight years providing text messaging service to enterprises, then decided to rebrand and apply my real estate knowledge to a new product. Aha moment: I grew up in metro Detroit, so a lot of people, including my dad, were working in the auto factories. He worked long hours and had an incredible work ethic. I realized that I didn’t want to work like he did, getting up at 4 a.m. and working until 6 p.m. That played a big role in my desire to be an entrepreneur. 30

Lives of Real Estate


T E C H

L E A D E R S

“AS YOU GET OLDER A N D H AV E A M O RT G A G E A N D K I D S , yo u re a l i z e h ow i t ’s i m p o r t a n t t o b e h a p py i n yo u r j o b . O n e of the things about b e i n g a n e n t re p re n e u r i s t h a t yo u m e a s u re s u c c e s s t h ro u g h building jobs and c re a t i n g reve n u e f o r s h a re h o l d e r s . I l ove t h a t c h a l l e n g e .”

Greatest lesson learned: In previous companies, I always had a local approach to building the business. I never thought building scale would be accomplishable. Then, I started working with a company that did it through acquisitions and mergers, and I realized that a lot of what they did could apply to Dotsignal. It helped take us from 20 people to 200 people. We realized that people are first and product is second. Personal passions: I’ve got three kids—Shay (9), Mason (5) and Grace (4)—and I love watching them in sports. Shay plays baseball, Mason is 31

Lives of Real Estate

getting into soccer and Grace is a gymnast. My wife, Sarah, and I also like to travel. I love to golf. What motivates you? There’s something about being on my own that drives me. As you get older and have a mortgage and kids, you realize how it’s important to be happy in your job. One of the things about being an entrepreneur is that you measure success through building jobs and creating revenue for shareholders. I love that challenge. Can’t live without: Coffee, the Drudge Report and being an entrepreneur Bucket list: I would love to see my kids grow old.


T E C H

L E A D E R S

Tim Street, co-founder and EVP, Product and Strategy How he got his start: After 9/11, I decided to enlist in the Marine Corps and served as a federal air marshal for several years before we founded Dotsignal. I got tired of the bureaucracy of the federal government and started talking to Matt Simons (co-founder), who was a high school classmate. We saw the importance of mobile and decided to build a company offering mobile solutions for businesses. Aha moment: My parents would easily rate as superheroes. My dad was a cop in metro Detroit, and at a young age, I was amazed at the heavy psychological load he had to bear. But he never brought that home. His courage at work and his kindness at home shaped who I am today. Greatest lesson learned: Treat others as you wish to be treated. Since becoming a dad, I spend every possible spare moment with my kids. In addition, I spent time at a company called Simple Wire. It was remarkable watching the founder operate. Even though we were small, he had a presence that made us feel very big. I learned it’s OK to be humble but have a bit of bravado. He taught me to present myself as I want to be seen.

Personal passions. I have a lot of hobbies. I love to fly, sail, spearfish, free dive, ride my motorcycle and more. My idea of fun is something that will leave me physically or mentally exhausted. I also love spending time with wife, Amy, and my kids, Allie (9) and Olivia (5). Who inspires you? Matt Simons, the CEO of our company. He was my friend before becoming my boss. He has this manner of thinking that I call three-dimensional. He’s always four or five steps beyond everyone else, figuring out potential pitfalls and solutions. Can’t live without: Family, church and my iPad Bucket list: Fly my own plane to every continent on the globe, circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat and ride my dirt bike across every continent except Antarctica.

Tim with wife, Amy, and daughters Allie (9) and Olivia (5)

32

Lives of Real Estate


T E C H

L E A D E R S

Donna Freed, EVP, Sales and Marketing How she got her start: I had a career in sales and became the vice president of sales and marketing for the Los Angeles Times. That is when my career pivoted. I then became president of an ad agency. Sandy Holmes, Dotsignal’s EVP of business development and operations, and I eventually started our own company and had a relationship with Matt and Tim. We would call them when we had questions or tech issues. So when they were looking to get Dotsignal going, we decided to merge our companies. Aha moment: My mother was born in Europe, and she ran away from World War II, living all over, from Romania to Palestine to Italy. When I was 15 years old, my family took a trip to follow her journey. It opened my eyes to the world. My family was very successful in Romania, but when they left, they took only a few suitcases. They never looked back to mourn the things they had left. They said that they were healthy and the family was together, and that’s all that mattered. It makes you realize what’s important. Greatest lesson learned: I have a motto: Dreaming is free. You have to go for it; after all, the worst thing

that can happen is that it doesn’t work. We all make mistakes; getting past them is the key. The other lesson is that you must surround yourself with people who have your same values and work ethic. Personal passions: I love to walk, hike and run a bit. I did the 60-mile breast cancer walk. I also love going to the movies. Put a bucket of popcorn and a Coke in my lap, and I’m happy. What motivates you? I am a very competitive person, but I am competitive with myself. I try to do more today than I did yesterday. What also drives me is being a mentor. I love to help younger people realize their full potential. I am currently helping a girl who has a 4.6 GPA but has struggled growing up. I am using my network to get her the scholarship she deserves. I love building a plan and working as a team. I am not a solo person. Who inspires you? My daughter, Amy, inspires me. She is 24 years old and was a water polo player. Her shoulders weren’t built for that sport and she’s had five surgeries on them. But it hasn’t stopped her. I am also inspired by my husband, Mike. Can’t live without: Coffee, friends and work. Bucket list: Hike the Inca Trail; spend one month a year in a different location—for example, rent an apartment in Paris for one month. I want to learn about the world when I’m not on vacation. I would also like to build a charity where I help families.

“ M Y M O T H E R WA S B O R N I N E U R O P E , A N D S H E R A N AWAY FROM WORLD WAR II, l i v i n g a l l ove r, f ro m R o m a n i a t o P a l e s t i n e t o I t a l y. W h e n I wa s 1 5 ye a r s o l d , m y f a m i l y t o o k a t r i p t o f o l l ow h e r j o u r n ey. I t o p e n e d m y eye s t o t h e wo r l d .”

33

Lives of Real Estate


T E C H

L E A D E R S

Sandy Holmes, EVP, Business Development and Operations How she got her start: Years ago, I was a niche radio broadcaster with an area of specialization with teenagers. I saw the erosion of watching television and the birth of the mobile phone. It dawned on me that you had to go where the marketplace was, so that was the impetus to start a mobile marketing company. Donna and I started our own company and then merged with Tim and Matt. Aha moment: Growing up, I went to an all-girls high school where girls were playing sports and in leadership roles. It didn’t dawn on me that in other schools, girls weren’t doing these things. Because I grew up in an environment of equality, it helped me assimilate into the business world. Greatest lesson learned: The key lesson I learned is consistency in style. By that, I mean that the response can always be appropriate to the situation but the consistency of approach and deliverables has to be there. I’ve worked with door slammers and screamers, and that caused chaos because employees didn’t know what to expect. My style is to stay in control and find a way to solve any problem we encounter.

I T D AW N E D O N M E t h a t yo u h a d t o g o w h e re t h e m a r ke t p l a c e w a s , s o t h a t wa s t h e impetus to start a mobile m a r ke t i n g c o m p a n y. — Sandy Holmes

34

Lives of Real Estate

Personal passions: I love to tinker in my garden. I enjoy being outside, doing yoga, reading and writing. I’m in the process of ripping up my garden and planting something new. My son, Mat, left his money tree plant with me to care for. It was dying when he gave it to me, and now it’s thriving. Who inspires you? My family inspires me. Many years ago, we were involved in a horrendous auto accident, and it impacted my husband, Herb, terribly. I’ve been inspired by the courage he brought to his recovery. What motivates you? I am motivated by a desire to learn something new every day, even if it’s a small thing. Can’t live without? The Sunday New York Times, coffee and a full-bodied, crisp Cabernet. Bucket list: I would like to learn how to weld, and make artisanal goat cheese. I’m not a big bucket list person; these things are on a to-do list.


T H E

T H O U S A N D

P R O F I L E

Rhonda Duffy:

From By Owner to BUSINESS OWNER

Rhonda Duffy built a business from the ground up and transferred it all to her employees. Find out more about this ambitious real estate professional and mom of two. 35

Lives of Real Estate

T

o say that Rhonda Duffy is a go-getter is an understatement. In 1993, she entered the real estate business, working at a by-owner company in Atlanta. “They were very hands off from real estate; they were an advertising company,” says the CEO of Duffy Realty of Atlanta. “I became a top salesperson and then manager. “I left in 1997 because I felt like my role as manager was a lot of responsibility but not a lot of authority,”


T H E

T H O U S A N D

P R O F I L E

says Duffy. She partnered with another agent and joined a RE/MAX office. “I handled buyers; she handled listings. She was a marketing expert, and we did a lot of volume,” she says.

WITH A BUSINESS MODEL IN PLACE, D u f f y d rew a l o g o o n a napkin and opened her d o o r s . “ We n eve r eve n had a formal business plan,” she says. However, w h a t s h e d i d h a ve i s d r i ve a n d a m b i t i o n .

36

Lives of Real Estate

Some Time Off After five years, Duffy knew it was time to stop working for a bit. “I had a rough pregnancy with my second child. When I told my partner I was stopping; she told me she was retiring. Unfortunately, she gave her clients to her sister because after six months of being home with two kids, I decided I needed to work again,” she laughs. Like most moms, Duffy struggled with that decision; however, she says, “My son is 16 years old now, and he sees my drive and all I’ve created and that’s a great feeling.” So after a brief hiatus, Duffy Realty was born. “A client told me about this business model where he would pay a flat fee to have a property listed in the MLS. We built from there, and it spread like wildfire,” she says. She built an entire process around eight points of marketing (it’s now 60 points of marketing), and added services through the years. “We now have a hybrid model. You can pay a flat fee to list with us. We still do the contract. We’re not a total discounter,” she says. A Company Is Born With a business model in place, Duffy drew a logo on a napkin and opened her doors. “We never even had a formal business plan,” she says. However, what she did have is drive and ambition. “I called a lot of people out of the newspaper. I had a hit list and would call people each day.” Her husband, Frank, then an executive with Morgan Stanley/ Dean Witter, would call people at night.


T H E

T H O U S A N D

P R O F I L E

“He built relationships and joined me full time in 2004,” she says. Even her kids got into the act. Her now 16-year-old son, Sean, and 13-year-old daughter, Ryan, would answer phones, file, scan and mail. Succession Planning Through the years, Duffy has tweaked her model, and her 29-person team runs off a team structure that Duffy invented. All that hard work is paying off. In 2015, Duffy Realty of Atlanta was named the No. 1 team in transaction sides and No. 10 team in transaction volume, as ranked by the REAL Trends The Thousand, as advertised in The Wall Street Journal. In addition, Duffy recently transferred her company to 29 employees through an employee stock ownership plan, where her company was valued at $12 million. See “Succession Planning Through an ESOP” (REAL Trends November 2015 newsletter) for more information. “I invested a lot of time in the people who work at Duffy Realty. If I sold to a third party, the new ownership might not see the growth

potential or positive qualities of the employees we have today,” she says. “So when I thought of an exit plan for myself, I definitely wanted to maintain the culture that I built. We wanted to maximize tax strategies and give people who deserve to have ownership in the company a way to make a real impact.” Duffy turned to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), an employee-owner program that provides a company’s workforce with an ownership interest in the company. In an ESOP, companies provide their employees with stock ownership, often at no up-front cost to the employees. As a follower of Tony Robbins, she had learned about the idea through one of his seminars. Coaching Extraordinaire “We are Platinum Partners with Tony Robbins, which means we can go to business mastery events and get special access to Tony for help,” she says. She uses the skills she learned from Robbins when interviewing new agents. “I host a group interview every Tuesday for 12 to 30 people. Obviously, I can’t hire all

Duffy with husband, Frank, and kids, Sean (16) and Ryan (13)

37

Lives of Real Estate


T H E

T H O U S A N D

P R O F I L E

of those people, but I use that time to teach them skill sets to survive in the business world. All of Tony’s information is so transferable into your everyday conversations,” she says. However, when it comes to passions, Duffy believes in spending more time helping others than helping herself. “I get really excited to take men and women in their 20s and watch them grow as businesspeople. It’s hard to to take men and women in watch them fail, but I get juiced when I see the light bulbs turn on.” In addition, her their 20s and watch them grow office is a drop-off center for Toys for as businesspeople. It’s hard to Tots. “Last year, people donated more than 600 toys, and we matched that watch them fail, but I get juiced number. Our whole foyer was stuffed with when I see the light bulbs toys. They had to send a semi here to pick it up,” she laughs.

“I GET REALLY EXCITED

turn on.” – Rhonda Duffy

“Go big or go home”—that seems to be Duffy’s motto, and it’s working for her.

GET TO KNOW RHONDA DUFFY Four things you can’t live without (other than family and friends): • Coffee • Lemon Ginger Cayenne Pepper shots • My dog Leo • Louisiana State University (LSU) football games.

What are three things on your bucket list? • Take a BBQ tour, where you eat BBQ three times a day. I want to do that with my son, and we’ll rate them. • Spend several days at the movie theater seeing every single movie out. I would love to do that on Broadway as well—a full immersion into musicals and movies. • Go on a food tour of places featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

38

Lives of Real Estate


P E R S O N A L

PA S S I O N S

SOARING

39

Flying High Lives of Real Estate

Find out how this Florida sales associate stays grounded by getting his feet off the ground.


P E R S O N A L

PA S S I O N S

F

lying has always been a passion of James Overton, a sales associate with ERA Davis and Linn in Jacksonville, Florida. And for awhile, after earning his pilot’s license at age 25, he flew fairly regularly for business. “I took lessons and was a weekend pilot. I bought a small plane and flew for work once I was a little older,” he says. But, says Overton, “It’s an expensive hobby, so many pilots fall out of it because of cost.” What Overton didn’t do is lose his passion for being in the air. “I still went to air shows and kept in contact with many in the aviation community,” he says. Thus, began his passion for soaring. “I was looking for a cheaper way to continue flying.” Different than gliding, says Overton, “If you’re soaring, you’re finding where the air is rising and getting into that air stream,” he says. “With gliding, you get let off at a certain altitude and fall slowly. On a great day, you can get off at 3,000 feet and climb to

7,000 feet when you’re soaring,” he says. Overton owns a sailplane— a standard Cirrus. He also owns a share of another sailplane, called a Scheibe. “I soar every weekend when the weather is good.” Because he feels so strongly about the sport, Overton is a member of The North Florida Soaring Society. “We have around 60 to 65 members. Most are [people] like me, pilots who got into this sport. We believe in having fun and promoting the sport, so we have displays at air shows and have demonstration rides.” For Overton, soaring is a fun way to spend his weekends. However, don’t think that he can just go up there and take it easy. “It’s very quiet compared to flying, but you don’t just cruise. There are times that you can fly alongside a flock of buzzards or with a bald eagle, but most of the time you’re struggling to stay in the rising air,” he says.

“DIFFERENT THAN GLIDING,

if you’re soaring, you’re finding where the air is rising and getting into that air stream.” – James Overton

40

Lives of Real Estate


P E R S O N A L

PA S S I O N S

IN HIS WORDS: J I M O V E RT O N Motivation: I like helping other people, and that motivates me. My greatest pleasure comes from helping someone work through a problem, or to help someone find the right house or sell a piece of property.

Personal life: I’ve been married since 1977 to Connie. Our kids are grown. Our daughter, Sarah, lives in Melbourne, Australia and our son, Will, is doing post-graduate work in Tennessee.

How he got his start: I am new to real estate. I was in the electronics business for the first phase of my working career. Then, I got into politics and spent 12 years as the property appraiser for Duval County. I knew Jim Linn personally and decided to join his brokerage. I have an advantage from my years as a property appraiser because I can recognize value, and I know where to look for accurate comps.

Hobbies: I’m a long-time scout leader, and was a committee chair for a scout troop. Backpacking is a hobby of mine. It’s just you and what you have on your back. I go a couple of weeks of every year, some alone and some with a scout troop. I’ve hiked a good chunk of the Appalachian Trail by myself. I also golf and sail.

42

Lives of Real Estate

Bucket List: I want to sail around the world, build a plane, buy a Sportsman and fly out west in it, and I want to break 80 in golf.

Aha Moment: When I was a junior in high school, I went on the Lion’s Club International Youth Club trip where we toured Lion’s Clubs around the Southeast. Half of the attendees were from Europe and South America. It dawned on me that we’re all alike. We may speak a different language or have different cultures and customs, but deep down, we have the same aspirations. We all want to find a mate, have a family, economic security, and shelter.

LORE Spring 2016  

Welcome to the spring edition of LORE magazine! We’re bringing you the amazing stories of the lives of real estate (LORE) professionals in a...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you