30 Days and Counting

by Kevin Hawkins on October 29, 2014

clock“How do you like your new gig,?” asked Lew Sichelman, perhaps America’s most ardent and prolific consumer real estate columnist and my dear friend of nearly 30 years, by phone the other day.

“Unbelievable!,” I answered, wanting to forget that I learned that automatic response from a Tommy Hopkins sales training class I took a dozen years ago.

But it’s an accurate description of how it’s been to join a team that is clearly among the most revered and respected professionals in real estate.

On September 23, Victor Lund and Marilyn Wilson told the world that I was joining their team to head up a new division, WAV Group Communications.

The last 30 days have been humbling, hectic, humorous and utterly exhilarating and has included jumping. I’ll explain that later.

In a word, it feels great.

The Pace

I’ve always thought of myself as a hard worker, because I am. Throughout much of my career during the last 25 years, I’ve often been the last worker standing: The one who locks the doors and shuts off the lights, or sets his wastebasket outside his desk area so the night cleaning crew can empty it, while I could continue to plough away.

After all, I’ve worked at some intense places that expected nothing less: With Brad Inman in the earliest days of HomeGain and through the first Real Estate Connects; at Fannie Mae with a PR A-team under the leadership of John Buckley (nephew of William F.), assigned such daunting tasks as getting the page-one lead story in USA Today for our $1 Trillion initiative; and even at far less intense places, but that have incredibly high standards: With Renwick Congdon at Imprev, who eats, sleeps, breaths, expects and delivers quality in all things.

I also have been known to crank out work product so fast that I have a tendency to fill portable hard drives: I’m on my third terabyte in less than three years, and a lot of that is from just writing.

Imagine how I felt when I started working with Victor and Marilyn and found a work ethic, pace and proclivity to crank out work product that exceeded my own.

That was a humbling revelation.

The People

The WAV Group had almost been an enigma to me until I worked with them on a consulting project at Imprev. That experience resulted in an instant kinship with anyone who has worked with them: They know their (stuff) solidly.

Yes, Victor Lund really is THAT smart, and fast, and, well, fun.

He’s the real deal, lives by the Golden Rule in the actions he takes, and not just the words he says. He cares. I mean really cares about every client. They are, as he explained to me early on, not just clients: They are his friends. They trust him implicitly and he trusts them explicitly. It’s truly remarkable what Victor is able to do when you ask to pick his brain. Suggestion: Turn on your smartphone’s recording app, you’re going to need it.

Marilyn Wilson? I fear if I sign her praise too loudly, people will think I’m kissing up.

I’m not, and just ask anyone who has worked with her: She is wickedly bright and insightful. She has a quality that can be jarring, but that I value almost more than anything else: She is blunt. Not in an unkind way at all, but in an honest, “I am going to tell you the truth even if it hurts, because it’s going to help” kind of way. She has been there and done that so many times, nothing is really new. The value of her perspective from her experiences combined with her skill set makes Marilyn truly incomparable and invaluable.

And then there is Nicole, their project-manager-super-coordinator-expert-assistant who does it all with a happy disposition and a smile that warms your soul.

Having said all that, can you imagine how I felt joining this team?

It’s been, at times admittedly, a bit intimidating, but in a good way.

They’ve raised the bar for me.

It’s a kin to playing tennis every day against someone you can easily beat: You will never get better. Start playing every day against someone who can kick your butt, and you will get better, a lot better.

I also think I’ve found the secret to their success: They live what they do. It is very difficult to see where their professional and personal lives begin and end, because they are completely interwoven.

Now you might think this could be a bad thing, and for many people, it indeed would be. But once you realize they love, with a capital L-O-V-E, what they do, you understand. They have done what most of us dream about. They have made their work their hobby.

Now I’m not suggesting that they have found Utopia, because every client, at times, can have their challenges, and some can have them more frequently than others.

Yet they are closer to achieving what Confucius said – “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” – than anyone I’ve met connected to the real estate business.

The Prospects

Real estate lives by leads. I have joined a lead machine.

But they really aren’t leads. Business prospects that the WAV Group cultivate have largely been developed from long established relationships: Talking one-on-one with people, getting to know them, drilling in deep to understand their business, their pain points and what their goals.

When someone recommends the WAV Group to a technology startup, or a state REALTOR® Association, or an MLS, or a real estate brokerage firm, they do it with gusto. The reputation of the WAV Group is stellar.

My proof: I received over 100 emails and phone calls after the Inman News and GeekWire stories broke that I was heading up WAV Group Communications, including some from the ‘Who’s Who” of real estate.

There was not a single person who had a negative thing to say about the WAV Group, not one. The vast majority took time to tell me how lucky I was to join Victor and Marilyn, and extolled the virtues of my decision.

Since then, I feel like I’ve saddled a rocket. In just 30 days we’ve been asked to prepare communications proposals and marketing strategies for MLS firms, technology firms, trade associations and more.

The coolest part: The WAV Group now brings to the table the ability to provide execution resources to take a strategy and deliver the resources to make it real. This is going to solve a very big pain point among many clients the WAV Group serves.

And there has been jumping.

As part of the WAV Group culture, tradition dictates that when you confirm a new client, you jump – literally – up and down. Already I have begun jumping several times.

With these new clients have come communications strategies that are as diverse as the markets they serve: Driving consumers to work with local Realtors; Reaching IDX vendors to accelerate industry adoption; getting the press in local markets to start paying more attention to local experts and rely less on the spoon-fed information from national portals thousands of miles away, and more.

All of this has happened in just 30 days.

To be precise: It has been unbelievable.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joelle Goodman October 29, 2014 at 9:45 am

Congratulations!

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