The Upcoming Realogy FWD Innovation Summit — Advice for Participants, an Overview, and the Upcoming Live Blog

Realogy is holding its second FWD Innovation Summit the coming Tuesday. It’s a really cool event.  Fifteen technology companies make a pitch before a live audience, and answer questions from a panel of judges.  Then, the judges pick finalists, who are then presented to the audience, which votes on the winner of the $25,000 grand prize.

Last year’s event was spectacular, introducing me to some great companies, including (but not limited to) Floored (which won the grand prize), HomeZada, BuyerMLS, Updater, Lumentus Social, Onvedeo, and a host of others.

This year’s event is also shaping up to be a terrific demonstration of some really interesting technology companies that are invigorating the real estate space.  Congratulations to Alex Perriello, who had the vision to see the potential of bringing these cutting-edge companies to an industry audience, and to everyone involved in putting it together.

I’m really excited about it. I was one of the judges last year, and from that experience wrote up some advice for this year’s contestant, which was published today at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate’s Clean Slate Blog.  And I’m also working on an overview of all the participants, which we’ll be publishing here on Monday and could be useful to anyone who is interested in finding out more about some really cool technology startups in real estate.  So check check back here on Monday for that.

Finally, I’ve volunteered to write a live-blog of the event on Tuesday, providing a running commentary on each presentation.  It should be a lot of fun.  We’ll be doing that here, so again, check back.

Again, my thanks to everyone at Realogy for allowing me to do this and to Sherry Chris and her team for publishing my advice piece on Clean Slate.

If Technology Disrupts the Real Estate Business, We Only Have Ourselves to Blame

I have not been writing much recently on this blog, but Brad Inman contacted me this week asking me to contribute a response to a piece that he wrote for Inman News entitled “Real Estate Disruption May Not Be What You Think it is.”

In his piece, Brad questions suggests that disruption in the industry might not come at the expense of the agent — i.e., a for-sale-by-owner model that actually works and eliminates the agent from the transaction.  Rather, he thinks that the online portals (Zillow, Trulia,, or one still to be launched) could disrupt the agent-broker relationship, displacing the broker but retaining the agent at the center of the transaction.

It’s an interesting and provocative argument, and Brad asked me to respond because he wanted to see what a broker had to say about it.

You can read my response, “No One Can Disrupt our Industry Without Our Permission,”  at Inman News, where I argue that if the real estate brokerage industry is disrupted, it’s our own fault for not refining the value proposition that we give to agents.  But I point out that technology might not be the disruptive force that technophiles might think it is, and that even if the industry is disrupted, it’s likely to come at the expense of companies that shouldn’t be in the business in the first place.

Take a look. If you have any thoughts or comments, feel free to make them at Inman.

Book Review: Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life (1998).

I blame Who Moved My Cheese for the slew of copycat animal parables that followed through the last decade. I also think that Cheese is a seriously overrated book, not only because the message is simple – not deceptively simple, just plain simple.  I also found the parable itself confusing and poorly written, trying to figure out which were the people and which were the mice (seriously, the mice!).  Nothing I’m going to say is going to bother authors who’ve sold millions of these books, but the bottom line is that Cheese is really a terrible book that somehow caught a headwind and became an undeserved business classic.

So Who Moved My Cheese? has become a staple in modern management bookcases, a parable about management inexplicably involving a maze, some cheese, some mice, and some people. The whole fairy tale is distracting and strained – it doesn’t really work to explain the concepts of the book, so I’m just going to ignore it in this review.

The purpose of the book is to educate the reader on the choices we have to deal with change in our lives.  The concept is fairly obvious, namely that we become attached to the status quo, particularly where a particular methodology has been successful for us.  Therefore, the more successful we become, the more attached we get.  The more attached we get, the more we resist the possibility of changing – “why change something that’s been working for me for so long?”  Moreover, we become blind to the need to change, because we view new experiences through the prism of our past experiences.

How to avoid this?  The authors suggest the following:

1.  Accept that change happens, and that it’s unavoidable.

2.  Anticipate potential changes, by keeping your eyes open and avoiding becoming blinded by your own success.

3.  Monitor change, by carefully attending to signs that your way of doing things is becoming outdated.

4.  Adapt to change quickly, and take control of your reaction to change.

5.  Change when needed, and don’t let your attachment to your old ways inhibit your ability to change.

6.  Enjoy the experience of changing.

7.  Repeat the process.

That’s it.  Those are the lessons.  If you can read through those seven bullet points, I just saved you from having to read the book.


Even though I don’t like the book, the lessons are valuable for real estate agents who confront massive technological change in their business every year.  Essentially, the book tells us that we have to adapt to changes in our business, and that we can’t be tied to the old ways of doing things. I’m not sure that’s a lesson that people haven’t learned, but maybe it’s worth repeating.