Top 10 Takeaways from the Last #WaterCooler Ever
“Ideas are shit.”
Chris Smith, referencing a quote from media supernova Gary Vaynerchuk about the importance of execution, epitomized #WaterCooler to a T -- unvarnished business insights in a relatable manner.
After four years, 116 episodes and over 8.5 million minutes watched, Smith and fellow Curaytor co-founder Mackin aired their last show on Feb. 1 (4 to 6 p.m. ET) with a lineup of marketers, real estate entrepreneurs, coaches and agents. As they announced in January, the duo is walking away from the successful show -- which brought Curaytor a third of its approximately 700 clients -- for something bigger and better.
They will pour their #WaterCooler energy into “Growth Rules,” a series of mini-documentaries on successful, fast-growing businesses around the country. The one-to-two-year endeavor will also be a tour and a book. The first episode will be out in 2017, but is months away.
“Growth Rules” will spotlight bootstrapped firms -- those like Curaytor (and the majority of real estate brokers and agents) who made profits as they grew (this excludes the venture capital-backed Zillow Group’s and Opendoor’s of the world).
The last #WaterCooler show was true to character -- Mackin giving play by play and Smith jumping in with color commentary -- as the two interviewed and talked with their lineup of guests, beers in hand (Smith an IPA, or two!, and Mackin a Guinness).
The show’s guests included:
- Leigh Brown, successful broker and real estate coach
- Tom Ferry, popular real estate coach
- Brad Inman, publisher of real estate’s preeminent media site, Inman
- Ben Kinney, real estate brokerage, team and technology pioneer
- Katie Lance, real estate social media expert
- Steve Pacinelli, chief marketing officer of video-marketing startup BombBomb
- Melanie Piche, successful Toronto agent team leader
- Scott Stratten, founder of popular marketing think tank UnMarketing
Curaytor organized all its past shows by subject -- most popular, thought leader, Facebook, lead generation, lead conversion, sales, growth, and agent interviews. You can access them here.
Smith also announced on the last show an exclusive 15-city speaking engagement with Homes.com for 2017, “Secrets of Top-Selling Agents Live.” The free events will be the only chance to see him speak live this year. Go here for more details.
Top 10 takeaways from #WaterCooler’s last show
Smith and Mackin designed #WaterCooler as an antidote to stuffy, unrelatable business advice, a place that captured the lively, takeaway-rich conversations that occur among peers in the lobbies and bars at real estate conferences. If nothing else, the show explored proven, actionable business advice from practitioners in an unvarnished setting and manner.
The series finale was no different. Below are the top 10 takeaways from the last #WaterCooler ever.
#1 Be Authentic
One of the core threads throughout the last show centered on the importance of authenticity. This should bleed into all aspects of business, not just in branding, but in content, social media, culture, hiring.
This was one of Leigh Brown’s key messages -- be who you are, be human while being kind -- and the subject of her book, “Outrageous Authenticity.”
This feeds into #WaterCooler’s own ethos: drinking beer and cursing might turn off some potential clients, but it’s true to Mackin and Smith and has attracted the clients they want to work with.
It’s one of the secrets of modern business -- be authentically who you are and deliver content that exposes it well and you'll attract clients who want to work with you.
#2 Find your North Star
A company without a clear mission is a ship lost at sea.
Toronto agent Melanie Piche, a long-time #WaterCooler fan who quintupled her business in the last three years, made finding her 12-person team’s “why” a big goal. They found it, and now it anchors everything they do, from content strategy and marketing to hiring. Her team’s why: “We want to be part of our clients’ real estate stories by creating remarkable experiences.”
Mackin asked viewers to compare their own missions with Piche’s and business heavyweights Microsoft (in the early years) -- “a computer on every desk and in every home” -- and Facebook -- “Connect the world.”
A clear why can guide business decisions and ensure a focused trajectory.
#WaterCooler’s ending but Curaytor’s not. Become a client and get #WaterCooler-level takeaways every week -- check availability here.
#3 Let the duck drown
If you’ve watched the #WaterCooler, or read or heard about Smith’s first book Peoplework, you know the value Smith and Mackin place on people.
They preach hiring the right people, but more importantly, that empowering employees breeds success.
As a business owner, you’ll always want to step in and fix the little hiccups that arise in the day, but if you back off and let good employees struggle and improvise their own solutions -- with coaching when appropriate -- they’ll become the engines your business needs to grow.
Ben Kinney, who runs a growing real estate, technology, and coaching empire out of Bellingham, Washington, gave additional advice here: hire smart, accountable ducks and you’ll avoid the headaches that come with disappointing, underperforming employees.
#4 Have something to optimize
It’s so easy to look at the shiny Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter world and get lost in the dazzle and possibility.
In addition to focusing in on just a few to do well, develop original, authentic content to share, social media guru Katie Lance said. You want to give consumers a feel of what it’s like to work with you through these platforms.
Mackin expanded on this point: systems are fun, solutions are enticing, but make sure you have the substance that justifies them. He referenced an Albert Einstein quote: “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”
#5 Know where your business comes from
The biggest mistake agents make is guessing where their business come from. Smith and Mackin shared this Tom Ferry maxim on the show. (Ferry couldn’t be on the show live as he had a speaking engagement; he sent in a recorded message).
It’s simple: to grow, you have to know your successful (and unsuccessful) channels, where to double down on effort, advertising and attention, and where the greatest opportunity to improve lies.
#6 Glitches happen, keep rolling
Life, as we all know, is not hiccup-free -- to thrive, you have to bend, adapt and keep rolling. The last #WaterCooler show highlighted this truth.
Ben Kinney had audio issues initially -- after trying several workarounds, Smith and Mackin went to the next guest. When Kinney called back in, they tried again -- still no sound. The last suggestion worked and show viewers got to hear the simple, profound lessons Kinney had to share.
(Brad Inman, who Smith rightly called “The Godfather of real estate tech,” called in with a sound glitch, too. That one didn’t come through, but the show kept rolling smoothly along.)
#7 Focus on what you really want
A few years ago, Kinney described how he woke up one day to a mid-life crisis -- his girlfriend left him, he was 260 pounds and wasn’t running the streamlined business he wanted. He recommitted to his most important values, turned off Facebook and found a peace of sorts, and business success.
He leaves work at 5:30 p.m. and does not work weekends, yet he runs one of the most successful real estate teams in the country, several brokerages and a suite of tech firms including popular agent blogging platform ActiveRain. How nice (and impossible?) does that sound?! Kinney shows it’s possible.
#8 Community is a verb
So many marketers out-think their core business-generating potential, Scott Stratten said during his segment on the show. Quite simply, be human and foster relationships, he said.
Instead of dreaming up an expensive new online marketing campaign, consider sponsoring a local soccer team or throwing a local event, Stratten said.
Everyone knows referrals are most agents’ No. 1 source of business. Find out where your clients, and potential clients are, and take steps to be a part of and enrich that community, whether it be participating authentically in Facebook Groups or volunteering at your PTA.
#9 Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
This is a corollary to many of the above takeaways -- focus on what works, what aligns with your brand and business strategy, and something you’re genuinely passionate about.
Don’t Snapchat or Tweet because you think you should, do it because you genuinely love it. That passion will come through and make it an effective connection tool.
This is perhaps the most important takeaway of all. Ideas and learning are easy and fun -- execution is where the rubber meets the road, where 5 a.m. meets a driven professional ready to make things happen.
That’s why Smith ended the #WaterCooler with the same sentiment he used to conclude his popular 2016 book The Conversion Code: “Innovation is rewarded, execution is worshipped.”
It’s not a smooth road, bumps are everywhere -- you have to intelligently try, fail, adapt and grow.
Steve Pacinelli, who hired Chris Smith at realtor.com years ago and now works with video marketing firm BombBomb as chief marketing officer, offered up a great, free video-editing tool: the "Assistant" inside the Google Photos app. Try it -- he swears by it.
#WaterCooler rides off into the sunset, but Curaytor’s not going anywhere
While the weekly #WaterCooler is ending, Curaytor’s not going anywhere. Each week for the next 10 to 12 weeks, the firm will release videos of top sessions from its annual live event Excellence.
For those wanting to get ongoing Curaytor insights, consider becoming clients. Mackin runs a live, weekly, #WaterCooler-esque coaching session. Click here to check availability (For February, mention #WaterCooler to receive a new-client discount).