My First Forbes Column: A Writer’s Journey

by Kevin Hawkins on May 28, 2018

It was exciting to be invited to interview to become part of the Forbes Real Estate Council last year. The biggest attraction for me was the opportunity to be published on Forbes.com. Forbes, for me, is the gold standard when it comes to business publishing.

I have been writing for decades. I love to write, and so blessed to have a career that involves writing. A lot of writing. And I’ve been lucky. The vast majority of my writing since I was in high school has been published. I seemed to always find a way to write and get publications to use my work.

For example, when I was a teenager, I was selected to write a column for my high school that appeared in our local newspaper’s weekly “Teen” section. I also had more than my fair share of cover stories because the editor liked my work. I also called in statistics and reported on the game highlights for our high school basketball teams for the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. They paid me $5 a game.

In college, I interviewed a super brilliant and budding writer at the time, the late Jeffery Weiss, who went on to be a top journalist for the Dallas Morning News. Jeff gave me my shot writing for the University of Miami Hurricane. It was a full-size, twice-weekly campus newspaper that was printed at the Miami Herald. I ended up as the Entertainment Editor there for three years.

I wrote dozens of reviews of movies, plays, concerts, books, and albums (and gained access to all of them for free). I also penned a weekly column called “Culture Vulture.” Talk about being pushed by your peers to write better: My music editor was Tom Moon. He went on to work for Rolling Stone magazine and became an author. I’m glad I gave him all the best albums to review because he was a music junkie.

In grad school, at the USC School of Journalism, one of my two electives was Magazine Production. For the class, we created a real magazine that we published called Rock Magazine. I wrote the cover story, “The Devil in Rock.” It detailed backward masking claims by the religious television evangelists from Trinity Broadcasting Network.

The magazine spun off from the class and survived on its own for a while. I thought no one would ever remember it. But during my recruitment interviews at Fannie Mae years later, my future big boss John Buckley, nephew of William F., remember the magazine and my feature story. It taught me what you write can follow you forever.

In grad school, most students struggled to get published in a professional journal, a requirement for those of us on a thesis track. My first query letter to PRSA Journal about my thesis, the “Impact of Narrowcasting on Public Relations,” was accepted and published before my thesis was finished.

Best Gig Ever

At Great Western Bank, I did a lot of ghostwriting for our top executives. I even wrote a chapter for the head of our lending division for a consumer book on home buying. One year, our annual report was produced like a magazine. I was assigned to write the main feature story on our mortgage business – and the industry. The report won many awards, and that was a writing highlight for me.

The satisfaction I felt was eclipsed only by the two brochures I wrote while I was at GW: How to Shop for a Loan and How to Shop for a Home. There was nothing like them in 1989 when they debuted. They would be requested and distributed to more than 3 million consumers.

But my all-time favorite writing gig – so far – was writing for Anne Framroze at the California Association of Realtors. She was the Editor of California Real Estate magazine and its once quarterly sister publication, Real Estate Technology magazine. Anne gave me the best assignments ever, including profiles of industry leaders. I wrote for the magazine for several years on the side as a freelance writer.

The first significant interview I ever did for CRE was Stuart Wolf, head of Homestore. He was the king of the hill of real estate tech and was seen as invincible. No one was going to ever overtake Realtor.com. Stuart was also my first cover story.

I did profiles on so many leaders, including Gary Keller, Dave Liniger, Alex Perriello, Richard Barton and Lloyd Frink, Ann Bailey, Ron Peltier, Robert Moles, Richard Mendenhall, Earl Lee, David Cobo, Cathy Whatley, Bob Becker, J. Lennox Scott, Jim Gillespie, Jill Jacobi-Wood, Larry Knapp, Craig Newmark and many more.

I also interviewed Top Producers throughout California each year for an annual feature. That was really a blast. But my favorite assignment was for the 100th Anniversary issue. I had two huge features: “The Early Years” (my favorite) and “A Century of Innovation.” That issue was a huge award winner.

I really miss Real Estate Technology magazine. It was so ahead of its time. Joel Singer at CAR gets kudos for bringing that to fruition. I wrote so many features, but my favorites were probably “Clicking for Cash: Online Mortgages” and “Millions to Be Made: The Growth of Real Estate on the Web.” I clearly had a typo on that last headline: it should have read “Billions.”

Now Forbes.com

Until I joined Forbes Real Estate Council, most of my writing that has been published over the last decade has appeared with someone else’s byline. That’s never been a problem for me. I actually get a kick out of seeing a half-dozen stories online at the same time scattered among different media outlets for various clients all with different bylines. I am the only one who needs to know that I helped craft these pieces. That’s my job.

I also have helped several friends write and publish their first books. The most recently became a client and wrote an award-winning book (NAREE Silver Award), Dylan Chalk’s “The Confident House Hunter.” That’s something I am good at doing: helping others find the right hook and give them a push to go all in.

But Forbes has given me an excellent opportunity to share my own knowledge directly. In the last several months since I joined, I have only found time to contribute to the Q&A. Fortunately, Forbes has liked my Answers 10 times and has published all 10 that I have submitted.

Four weeks ago, I finally found the time to write a column. The writing coaches all say write about what you know, and that’s what I did. It was inspired by an email from a former client and brilliant industry visionary, Randall Standard, CEO of VoicePad.

Here’s my first Forbes.com piece and hopefully one of many for this writer’s journey, “This Real Estate Inventory Shift Could Resuscitate Mortgage Lending.” As a business colleague of mine who works in the mortgage industry commented after reading it, “You did not hold back!” No, I did not.

I would love to hear your comments.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

David Charron May 30, 2018 at 7:08 am

Congrats Kevin. I enjoy reading your posts. Well done!

Reply

Kevin Hawkins May 30, 2018 at 7:57 am

I am deeply appreciative David. Thank you for your kind words.

Reply

Ken Jenny May 30, 2018 at 8:07 am

Kevin since the days we sat with Brad and Chris to envision what was then to be, “HomeSave”, I have known you to be nothing less than a true professional. Here’s to your continued success. And to many great adventures ahead.

Reply

Kevin Hawkins May 30, 2018 at 8:23 am

Ha! So few people know that original name…truly privileged to have known you and worked with you throughout these many years. Your words are truly great praise and extremely appreciated Ken.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: