Friday, January 26, 2007

Humble Pie is Best Served A La Mode

I just watched Serena Williams defy all odds as an unseeded player to beat the #1 competitor for the Australian Open. The first time an unseeded entry has done so since 1978. It was amazing, inspirational, moving.

How can we take glory on the sporting field and translate it to business? How can our execs and entrepreneurs and founders have the hearts of champions and the souls of winners? Well, we know what Warren Buffet would say: bet on people, bet on the leaders of tomorrow, because today they are humble, and they are hungry.

I tend to agree with that. Young up-and-comers have a lot to prove and the energy and desire to do so. Especially the ones who know you can’t be a home run champion right off the bat. You have to practice your swing, work for the singles, the stolen bases, learn the signs. A truly successful rookie is smart enough to know his strengths and humble enough to work on his weaknesses. Those are the competitors that rely on humility, honesty, and compassion to get the job done – and that’s why people want to work with them.

There are some Venture Capitalists that would agree with me – and just as many that wouldn’t. There’s one of the latter group that hangs out in a coffee shop in Queen Anne, near my home. Everyone – even the baristas – call him the Vulture Capitalist. Why? Does he work humbly and compassionately to win the hearts of his customers before winning their pocketbooks? I don’t have to name names. We all know who are the guys in the black hats and who are the guys in white.

I just want to reiterate to all those young, hungry bucks out there something that my boss at Gartner Group told me when I was starting out. “Do the best that you can. Be honorable. Be a leader. Winners always know who the movers and shakers are.”

So, young champions. Work hard. Get dirt on your hands and sweat on your brow. But most of all be true, be honest, and be fair – and one day you’ll find yourself at the top, surrounded by people who love, respect, and admire you, and who you can rely on in return.


The Underdog Story Once Again

I just watched the #1 seed Maria Sharipova get horribly upset by #81 Serena Williams, 6-1, 6-2 in the Australian Open. It was probably the worst loss I have seen in a major in 26 years of watching tennis. The experts did not give the underdog a shot against the frontrunner – a common mistake both in tennis and business. There is always that rare quality in the underdog that I, for one, just cannot dismiss. It’s the belief in yourself, belief in your ability to overcome any obstacle, cross any bridge, defeat any #1 seed.

So how does this fit into a real estate blog? Well, I know how tough this field can be. I’ve gone up against several #1 seeds in my time – sometimes you win, sometimes you lose – and there are lessons to be learned from both. But the most important lesson of all is trusting yourself enough not to give up.

Every agent I have ever known has meant seemingly unbeatable challenges. Many of them drop out when the road gets rough. But the successful ones I know – the really grit n’ gumption agents – believe in themselves, persevere, and beat the odds.

The underdog story is a famous one. Serena, for example, or the Boise State football team last season. The experts didn’t give them a shot, but they knew deep down that no wall was too high to climb.

I think real estate agents to take a cue from the sports underdog. Our motto at is ‘Go, Agent, Go!’ I want to be able to coach young upstart agents, to instill in them the belief that you really can do what you set out to do, no matter if you’re ranked #1 or #81.

No one believed in Serena. Except me. She should have made it out of the Round of 16, they said. But she did. She believed in herself. I saw it in her eye. And that’s what I’m looking for when I meet young enthusiastic agents that have yet to make their mark – the shimmer of ambition, of unbridled energy. I look back at them with a look that says, “Go, Agent, Go. Go be the champion your heart desires.”

Believe in Yourself.


If Einstein Sold Real Estate…

Shane Katsoolis, our resident holistic Real Estate philosopher at, weighs in about reverberations in his own crystal ball.

“The Future of Real Estate

Like Vipin, my crystal ball is starting to vibrate. When you feel what I feel, it will be like an explosion of magnificent wave particles passing through you, leaving you in either a state of enlightenment or completely dumbfounded.

I am very conscious of how this sounds. And now so are you.

The real estate industry is shifting in a way that is not comparable to the changes of the past. A random event has taken place – a mutation, if you will. This event came in the form of the Internet, and has shaken all corners of the world – not only because it has made the globe smaller, more dynamic, and homogenous, but because it has taken a linear system of thinking and changed it to a quantum-capable system.

Did I lose you? Let me repeat that.

The Internet has taken a LINEAR system defined by rules, precedents, traditions, and changed it to a QUANTUM-CAPABLE system that has no limit, no finite definitions, no end. It simultaneously touches innumerable points in time and space, allowing for elements that do not have to work or fit or fall into each other’s definitions.

The Internet has become a crude, but effective, model for how the universe deals with energy in a quantum fashion. The way it spreads, absorbs, and disperses information holds true to the laws of thermodynamics. Even its nickname, the Web, holds a decidedly physically theoretical tone.

Let me break it down like this: The collective consciousness (people – energy) provides data (information), which is then dispersed, shared, or deleted, thereby driving change.

But a parallel universe approach does not hold up in an online world. Just because information does not reach you, it doesn’t mean that it exists and is affecting other entities, perhaps even yourself, in unknown ways. The simple existence of a particle of information means that your world has been altered in some way.

And that is what we do not take for granted at That is what sets us apart. Old timers may see the Internet, the split and variance in the industry, and see chaos. But a fresh, clever mind sees the very opposite of chaos – we see potential energy. The question then becomes, who is the first to get the ball rolling? Who is the first to change potential energy into kinetic? Who is the first to take the reigns of this power and bend it, shape it, for the betterment of all?

My crystal ball may be blurry at times, but my vision of the future is clear. We are determined to change the universe – even if it’s just the Online Real Estate Universe – in a direction that is smarter, faster, more accurate and better for you, me, everyone.

Everything in the world may be relative, but change for us at, is definite.”

-Shane Katsoolis

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Conversation with Seattle Post-Intellegencer Part 2

And the conversation with John Cook continues. Like a lot of people in the industry, he's fascinated with our ideas and actions. The interview continues:

Were you the founder of UrbanTango and what happened to that company?

Ans. was never a company, that website is still around, it is something that we don't focus on. has gotten so much attention nationally, and as a technology that real estate agents and brokers want. UT is owned by MyTypes, Inc. and is really just a real estate agent website, suprisingly it has a brand that people like, you are even asking about it.

Q. Is Xoompad a spin out of that company?

Ans. No, but is the natural progression and was developed based on market demands, agents and brokers felt the pain from Zillow, Redfin, but most importantly real estate savvy Real estate agents/Brokers.

Q. Why do you think Realtors need this sort of Web site assistance?

Ans. A new breed of real estate agents and brokers will generate tons of leads and grow their business, or the anti-internet savvy real estate companies won't.

Real estate websites are just at the tip, they have to have systems and process to manage back-end functions, leads, escrow, paper work, oh that paper work. Most importantly real estate websites have to be local, people don't search for a home at a national level. Will continue to have all of the listings nationally from all of the MLS's? Or will it be the local real estate agents and brokers, who work that market, that know that street, that park, that value, they have the most info, how will they provide that to consumers? Will their be a ZMLS, i-MLS or will we call it CraigsMLS? Yes, maybe, but traditional MLS's and Realtors do a lot of good, they are getting better everyday, they will compete will with what I call- Z-MLS and CraigsMLS.

Back in the summer of 2004 at a outdoor wedding at a park in Seattle, I even told someone to start blogging and develop a real estate presence for his wife's business. The traditional methods did not work for her. Her husband caught on to what I said, he and his wife did better than I could have ever imagined. Maybe you know them, Dustin and Anna with The internet shift, real estate blogs, smart and super hard work worked for them. Last, I heard from them about Anna's website, last spring early, she got more leads than she knew what to do with. Dustin went on to become world famous, all because he caught on to the real estate tech and blog boom, and they worked very hard and smart via the internet. Does the average real estate agents and Brokers need website tools to compete with RedFin and Zillow, can they do it by themselves?

I am so proud of all of the pioneers, especially all of the real estate agents and brokers who care about the clients they work with. Internet is impacting the real estate business more than we could have ever imagine, and a lot of them across the country are pioneers too, the others are dwindling fast. They are making lots of money via internet leads, all sorts of real estate wanna be models are appearing. Who will make money, who won't, smart and nice people is my answer.

Sorry for the long thoughts, this business is complicated, and it's huge, trillions of dollars. The numbers shocked me when, I read the reports and research. And, It is changing very quickly a lot of money is being thrown at this industry via tech, as you already know.

What is your age?

How are you funded?
Angels, tech/real estate execs, and most importantly sales

Can I use your logo for my blog post?
Yes, please talk about XoomPad as it is the focus, thanks!

Our Actions Don't go Unnoticed - Look What the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Has to Say

Dear Friends, every day brings new surprises to our little project that could. To all those who are involved in creating a shift in the Real Estate industry, thank you for your support and hard work. This is just the beginning.
I guess the Cat is out of the Bag, so to say. John Cook of the Seattle P.I. and I have been discussing our project and the excitment is hard to contain. Here's our conversation:

Dear John, Thanks for the email again, we did discuss talking with you. I will also send this to my Blog and I hope you have a great day.

Our philosopy is that we let our actions speak louder than words. And, we want to support you for your request:

Question: What you can share at this time.

*** Answer:-).

We are all about helping leading edge real estate agents and brokers, while providing the best technology tools to consumers.

Question: At the very least, I would like to know how many employees you have, when you founded the company, the founders names and why you think there is room in this space.

Answer: We have 11 people in our team, and we utilize expert contractors often to supplement as needed. There are 4 co-founders, we founded the company in early 2006. We don't want to mention any names, as we have young kids and families, we want to stay low profile, thanks for honoring this. I have been involved with real estate technology with a very successful real estate website since 2003. And there was a lot of planning research done with the exciting technology of aerial maps, CRM, and SEO for real estate. I started to plan the offerrings back in the fall of 2004, with the success of At times was getting more traffic than some of the biggest real estate brokerage websites in this city. But, needed to keep up with the latest, and there really was nothing available on the market.

Questions: Any other details would be interesting as well. I would love to get your thoughts on entering a market where Zillow and Redfin play?

Answer: Gosh, I don't think we are in that market with Zillow and Redfin, thanks for comparing us to be in the market they play. Zillow and RedFin are run by some of the smartest people, and they have huge investments..

Zillow is just amazing, I told some of the real estate insiders about what they were up to prior to their major offerrings last year. We were all impressed that it happened so soon. I hear only good things about them from the inside, they are smart and nice people, Seattle is a very small town, as you know.

Come to think of it, I don't consider myself a new comer, I have been in the real estate technology business, before you started to write about it, before Zillow and before Redfin came to the scene. They really are the pioneers from a major shift though.
The leading local real estate and tech savvy people know about and my background.'s main mission is to help real estate agents and Brokers help the consumer win. We do this by making some of the worlds best technology accessible at a good value. We are in the midst of our national rollout, we have a number of major markets we are launching in, just rolled in to the 2nd biggest, 3rd largest in the midst, and hence have to get back to work. Thanks so much for writing about us, and being part of this real shift!

I look forward to discussing in the future.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Blogging via Blackberry - From SEA to DC, Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Looks like my Blogging via email strategy has caught on, even in Washington. What an amazing time when you can share your thoughts immediately with the world with the click of a few buttons. A Real Estate agent from Bellevue asked me, "Do you really write a blog via your Blackberry?" Well, yeah, I do. Ideas straight from the horse's mouth, no middle man, just stream-of-consciousness. Is there any other way to share truth? I've been doing this for over three years! What a medium for writing about experience and technology!
Look what our good friend, Dick Durbin (Senator - IL) has to say about the strategy.


Blogging my SOTU response

by Dick Durbin: <>

Tue Jan 23, 2007 at 07:25:08 PM PST

Just a few minutes ago we heard from Pres. Bush as he delivered the State of the Union.  Normally I would be heading for a series of radio and TV interviews.  This time around I've decided to try something different -- blogging my main response here on DailyKos.
I hope it's a good discussion and I want to hear what you have to say..
I'm just walking out of the House chamber on the way back to my Senate office. I am typing this on my blackberry, so forgive any typos. I've asked my staff to post this brief note firstn, and then I'll be back in my office in about 15 mins to respond directly to some of your questions.

Be a PS3 game guru.
Get your game face on with the latest PS3 news and previews at Yahoo! Games.: <*>