Standing along Pine Street in St. Louis, watching a pop-up bike lane in action, I struck up a conversation with a 64-year-old MetroBus...
General manager (taking over a co-ownership role in January with Matt Beckett), Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Years lived in Columbia:
All my life, although I spent 6 years in San Diego, California.
Tell us about your job:
A big part of what I do is agent support. Think agent pit crew. I make it a point to ask our agents and teams daily, “What can we do for you today?” A lot of our agents have come from other offices and aren’t used to management and owners taking an active role in their success. I love that. Helping clients navigate large transactions is very much a relationship business, and agents need to focus full-time on the client. So if you’re going to hit a home run, you need back-up. Helping them with technology, digital and mobile advertising, video, professional photography, staging, training, and overall cutting edge marketing tools is where the rubber meets the road. In our experience, in order to exceed expectations, you’ve got to focus on the details — the small things, and that takes a village. Anyone can sell a house (eventually, or for a lower price). We just prefer to sell it quicker for the most amount of money possible. If you’re going to do that consistently, you’ve got to have back-up. You’ve got to have people behind the scenes that are going to bat for you. Right now, I’m working on a new position for our company called marketing concierge. Agents can, at any time, collaborate with our in-house marketing expert on ways to make a home pop online, in print, and in person. Together, they can ensure they’ve got an unbeatable marketing strategy for our BHHS listings.
Being that this all started as a family business (my mother and I), I’ve never thought or referred to what I do as my job — which is a great deal of why I love what I do. It’s not a job. I think most people that are in family businesses feel the same way: it plays too much to their identity.
Who is a mentor in your life?
Bruce Beckett. I lost my father early in life. Bruce probably doesn’t know it, but he’s kind of taken on the father/mentor role for me in a way. I know if I go to him with a problem of any kind, he’s going to deliver sound, unabashed advice. He’s made a living helping people navigate this nuanced world, and when he gives you advice, you’d better take it. He also tells stories and jokes like my father did, and I’m grateful for that.
What are some misconceptions about your job?
Some misconceptions might be that we’re just like any other real estate company. We’re far from it.
What is the single best thing about your job?
Our culture. It’s cliché, I know! But it’s true. Our agents and staff have shared values and goals, and we have a team, family-like vibe, which is rare. Our office has a modern, hip aesthetic, which makes it a fun place to go. Plus, our office backs up to 44 Canteen (I eat there a couple times a week!) and The Blue Note. Now that’s culture!
What was the last professional goal you accomplished?
Buying the company from my mother with my business partner, Matt Beckett. That goes into effect January 1.
What motivates you?
Forward motion. I don’t like sitting around waiting for things to happen.
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
You don’t often contemplate this while working in the family business, but I reckon I’d be doing something entrepreneurial for sure. Selling something you’ve made with your bare hands has got to be extremely satisfying. I have a few ideas of what that would be, but I’m not tellin y’all.
Which accomplishment are you most proud of?
Well, I did see Corey Haim live in concert, swam the Missouri River, lived in Uma Thurman’s old apartment, and survived an 18-hour bus ride in the Congo with only beef jerky, but I’d have to say my kids are the biggest. Ada, 5, and Miles, 4. They make me pinch myself every day.
What’s your favorite community project?
Right now, I spend most of my free time as a board member and volunteer with Global First Responder. It’s a local nonprofit that arguably isn’t a “community project.” But I can say, first hand, that we’ve had a ton of local volunteers that come back from our trips around the world as better people. I think that’s a pretty great thing for our community. I genuinely believe that, in order to truly appreciate where you live, it’s paramount to see firsthand how other people live around the world. We are so lucky to in Columbia.
What is the single biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Listen. Serve. Repeat.
What is your favorite business book you’ve ever read and what impact did it have on you?
“Excel for Dummies,” has had a pretty large impact. Kidding. Actually, I’ve always hated this book’s title, but, man, “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie is a timeless classic for business. He believed success is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people, and for a book written in the ’30s, I was amazed how applicable it still is today. It’s a book I’ve got to kick myself to re-read again as new challenges arise.
If you had unlimited funds, what is the one specific thing you would do to improve Columbia?
Buy the empty lot at the corner of Broadway and Providence. I’d Steve Wynn the heck out of it.
What is one goal you have for 2017 and how do you plan to achieve it?
Continue to showcase the key differentiators that the all-new Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand brings to the Columbia marketplace. We have an unrivaled toolbox, and it’s my job to make sure people know about it.
What trait do you most want in a co-worker or employee?
Integrity, drive, and positive energy. That’s three. But I think it’s more about the combo rather than a single trait.
If you could improve one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Patience with myself. I’m always striving to be the best version of myself that I can be. I’ve failed many times before, and I’ll fail again. I welcome those experiences as lessons.
What do you do for fun?
Remote control cars with my son Miles. I love to cook (believe it or not), talk politics with pals next to my fire pit, ride the trails with the kids, draw with my daughter, Ada, travel with Global First Responder, nerd out on the latest gadgets and gear — oh, and long walks on the beach.