The world lost an innovative giant when it lost Steve Jobs. For more than three decades, he has been the force behind many of the major advances in personal computing and consumer electronics.
In reading over the story of Jobs’ life, I was struck by how much real estate professionals can learn from him. Consider the follow:
He knew how to brand himself. In his later years, his black turtleneck became his trademark. Whenever we saw him in that shirt, we knew he was introducing a new product or a new service—something what would delight us or improve our productivity in some way. He, himself, became synonymous with the quality and originality of Apple products.
He was a leader, never a follower. Job’s accomplishments include a slew of firsts: the first commercially-available personal computer, the first easy-to-use operating system, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. Other companies always find themselves playing catch up or trying to duplicate something that Apple thought of first.
A difficult situation didn’t seem to slow him down. In the 1980s, Apple’s board of directors fired him from the company he had founded. That might have been a blow to many people, but Jobs used his talent to create success elsewhere. During his hiatus from Apple, he bought Pixar Studios and turned it into a filmmaking powerhouse by showing the world that computers could be used to create animation for movies.
He insisted on quality and service. We know when we buy Apple products that the quality will be there, and that the product will work well. We also know that if we need help, the people at Apple will offer knowledgeable, enthusiastic assistance. Who doesn’t love visiting an Apple store?
He kept it simple; he made it fun. Lots of other companies build products for consumers, but Apple’s products are successful because they’re easy to use. Jobs’ was a master at identifying what the people wanted, and then figuring out a way to give it to them to in an elegant, simple-to-master package, that was fun to use.
Here are the take-aways for real estate:
Branding: Consumers seldom see a different between real estate companies and often no difference in individual agents. That’s because few companies and agents know how to set themselves apart the way Jobs’s did. Figure out a way to stand out from the crowd so people can purposely choose you.
Leadership: Are you a leader or a follower? What can you do to become an innovator in your market?
Thrive in tough situations: The situation probably can’t get much worse for real estate professionals than it is right now. So how can you refocus your thinking and use what’s available to you to thrive anyway?
Quality and service: Find ways to build both into everything you do for every client.
Keep it simple; make it fun: No one likes to deal with the details of buying or selling or renting a home. Your job is to make the process as easy and painless as possible. Do that well, and people will beat a path to your door.
*Tribute image designed by Jonathan Mak.