He (not Al Gore) Led the Team that Launched the Commercial Internet in the Early 90’s as 1 of the 9 Tech Startups He had Executive Involvement with and Closed Hundreds of Millions in Real Estate in his 2nd Career
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Myth of Technology
“Don’t Over Complicate — there’s a common misconception that things are more complicated which has been made worse as technology inputs increase. Instead take a realistic simple approach. My big mistakes were attempting to use technology or systems over basics like understanding the drives of people in my market.”
“Biggest Mistake — because I felt like I figured out a market I had a blind spot to warning signs about my team. Some members were the wrong fit others in the wrong role. Believing my ability to solve complex business problems crossed over to people problems hurt my business.”
When I got the most off-track…
“I got the most off-track trying to change people, their beliefs, their skill set or work ethic. People have their backgrounds and habits. You won’t fix that no matter how much effort you spend.”
Counterintuitive Tim Ferriss style
“Counterintuitive Tim Ferriss style — it’s not about filling up your 40 or 60 hours per week. It’s a matter of doing real well at a very small set of things that matter. For entrepreneurs it’s being laser focused on communicating with the right customers and assessing whether they’re a good fit for your business and you can help them at this time.”
How to Capitalize on Nightmare Clients
“Nightmare clients — we took an almost Sun Tzu approach to referring clients we could tell were going to be a nightmare to our next 3 to 5 able competitors in a market. This is the fastest way to muck up your competitors. We’d suggest the person should interview one of those 3 to 5 competitors.”
Why Listen to Kevin:
Kevin Cottrell coaches select Mega Agent clients and has his own real estate business in Austin.
Kevin has extensive business and leadership background from his experience as an executive for 9 start-up companies in Silicon Valley.
His team with Keller Williams in Austin, TX closed in excess of 500 transactions. Kevin’s real estate team – The Cottrell Realty Group was ranked #4 in St. Louis in 2008 based on closed transaction volume.
The St Louis Business Journal ranked Kevin #9 on its most recent published list of the highest-selling residential real estate agents in St Louis.
As we all know, 2008 is when the market sank all over the country. However, even in the middle of this recession, Kevin and his realty company were setting records and making tons of sales.
Kevin was an early pioneer of using Real Geeks IDX system to market his listings. This forward-thinking strategy led to his team closing hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate.
At 17, he volunteered with the Sheriff’s Department and was their youngest Bay area rescue swimmer.
Some Shareables from Kevin in this episode…
“I enjoy sharing my knowledge because I do have quite a different background than the typical person in the real estate or mortgage business. People generally come out of a different career but I went into it with an extensive entrepreneurial background.”
“From about 5 years old I’ve been in the Silicon Valley tech and entrepreneurial culture. Even after college I returned to my roots there. It’s in my family blood. My father built a successful consulting and accounting business. His specialty was real estate which blended beautifully in my adult life.”
“I received a commendation as a rescue swimmer from the California Highway Patrol after pulling up a 13-year-old boy who’d been immersed in the Pacific Ocean for over 17 minutes. We resuscitated him and he survived. This is still one of the records for longest cold water immersion rescue (full recovery, no brain damage) outside of the Arctic.”
“One of the positives of technology is it can handle all sorts of complex data and analysis. But often this clouds what’s most important. My experience has taught me the simple human drivers of supply and demand are the core factor to business success.”
“Many realtors are flipping out at Zillow and Trulia’s combo. They’ve created a way to get money out of real estate professionals based on fear. But when you look at the fundamentals, 125 million unique visitors per month and only a little over 400,000 per month are transactions…a terrible conversion rate. Pitch that conversion to a VC and they give you a hard ‘NO’.”
“Disconnect in business fundamentals — Silicon Valley and entrepreneurs in other places get all excited about technology. They see a big number of people they can attract to their website but if there’s very few or no transactional follow-through does it matter?”
“Biggest mistake — feeling like your ability to solve complex problems can make you overconfident where you miss the 3rd leg of the business stool. Building a team with complementary skills is critical to a business’ long-term success.”
When teams sour…
“With executives and entrepreneurs I’ve seen this over and over. They get addicted to growth while ignoring structural cracks or team members who aren’t a good fit. Lesson — go in with your eyes open knowing you’ll have lots of turnover in your team.”
“Be slow to bring people on whether it’s a virtual assistant or full time employee or partner. Then be quick to get rid of them if it’s a bad fit.”
“Be slow to bring people on whether it’s a virtual assistant or full time employee or partner. Then be quick to get rid of them if it’s a bad fit. If it’s a bad fit it won’t get better… it’ll get worse.”
Favorite part of the entrepreneur’s journey
“Favorite part of being an entrepreneur — Working with people to simplify their business to its core elements. Being or becoming an expert in the simple core elements allows you to overcome a wide swath of challenges that inevitably come up. This way you only focus on what’s most important.”
Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours
“Figure out the few simple core elements of a business then go 10 levels deep in those. Most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t have 10,000 hours in what really matters their 10,000 hours are in other things.”
“Many entrepreneurs run into trouble because their 10,000 hours of expertise is in the technology of CRM’s, coding or websites. Those are important but you won’t be successful if your 10,000 hours and your focus is on non-core activities.”
Weirdest thing during my business journey…
“Weirdest thing — this goes back to one of my very first technology projects. These were DARPA scientists looking to build a commercial business which they knew nothing about. The first 6 to 12 months were surreal because the first 60 minutes of every meeting was like being in a behind closed doors hackers’ meeting. The weird part was bridging my business world they knew nothing about to their hacker world which I knew nothing about.”
I, not Al Gore, helped start the commercial Internet
“I got to work with the guy who invented the modern e-mail format using the ‘@’ sign. He was part of the DARPA scientists group and business startup I worked with that led to what we know as the commercial Internet. I ran the team that sold over 90% of the commercial Internet connections in the early-90s.”
Counterintuitive Thing that worked
“Counterintuitive — you can be much more narrowly focused than you think to grow a large business. View technology as augmenting those simple core elements that drive your business’ growth.”
Don’t fall into this Conventional wisdom myth
“Conventional wisdom is technology is your panacea leading to a successful business. Entrepreneurs believe there’ll be market magic without having a wonderful team and sales strategy.”
“Tim Ferris style real estate — get very good at a small subset of things. Most agents are a hurricane of activity. They couldn’t figure out how I was making big money. I didn’t do those 80% of things that most agents fixate on.”
On Conventional Wisdom Myths
“Huge conventional myth: success comes from the amount of effort. Learning and doing only those activities that lead to profit is the key driver to success.”
“Second conventional myth: if I only had the right technology my business would be a success. Entrepreneurs miss the fundamentals of the core set of activities they must do to be successful. They spend too much time figuring out how to automate noncritical tasks.”
On dealing with nightmare clients
“Have a ‘NO’ strategy. Recommended to those problems/nightmare prospects ‘these 3 companies are top providers. You should interview them.’ It’s very effective eating up their time and customer service staff.”
To learn more about how Kevin’s coaching might help you go to:
News Media Kevin has been featured in:
– St Louis Real Estate Today
– St Louis Business Journal
– Austin Real Estate Today Radio Show
– Austin Realty Podcast