909: Inform, Educate, Empower: How Realtors Can Help the Nation Heal with Rod Watson

June 8, 2020
Protests have erupted in hundreds of cities around the U.S. calling for change. On today’s podcast with Rod Watson, we discuss what Realtors can do to help the nation heal. Rod gives advice on informing, educating, and empowering those who have been disenfranchised for too long. Rod also shares how agents should manage social media in sensitive times like these and why value-based marketing is the key to succeeding with today’s savvy consumers. Listen and learn what you can do to effect meaningful change as a real estate professional.
Rod Watson Listen to today’s show and learn:
  • Rod’s background [2:53]
  • What Realtors can do to help heal their communities [7:19]
  • Rod’s experience as a black man selling luxury real estate [9:41]
  • Rod’s start in real estate [15:02]
  • Ways for Realtors to empower those around them [20:01]
  • A real estate agent’s superpower [24:51]
  • A great way to change company culture for the better [27:40]
  • Rod’s advice for agents on social media marketing [33:57]
  • How to win over sellers with value, not a sales pitch [37:37]
  • Paul’s new marketing message [41:09]
  • Ways to lead as a real estate professional [43:34]
  • The People’s Alliance for Justice [48:57]
  • How to break through your goals.
  • Plus so much more.
Rod Watson

Rod Watson is an elite agent in every sense of the phrase. With a wealth of experience in finance, contracts, negotiation, and Southern California real estate, Rod skillfully structures deals designed to put his clients in their dream homes. Whether he’s assisting buyers in locating an ideal property that meets their emotional and financial needs or helping developers, professional athletes, business managers, wealth managers, and investors tackle their next pursuit, Rod offers his clients high-caliber service they won’t find elsewhere.

As director of sports and entertainment/founder of LA VIP Agent, Rod has closed nearly $100 million in sales since 2008. He was named one of the Top 25 Social Media Real Estate Marketers on Instagram by Placester in 2015 and Property Spark in 2018. A master at creating lasting relationships, Rod has earned his impressive reputation through a commitment to personalized service. While leading his buyers and sellers through smooth closings, he builds trust by offering them unwavering dedication and expert guidance.

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Aaron Amuchastegui: Real Estate Rockstars, this is Aaron Amuchastegui. Hey guys, we are going to record just a great podcast. I’ve got two guys on with me. I’ve got Paul Morris, who you guys have heard a lot of different times, and we’ve got Rod Watson. Rod, he’s got a really interesting company, I’m excited for you guys to hear about it. He has the LA VIP team. With that, he caters to high-end clients, really, really unique stuff, we’re going to talk all about that.

Right now, all you guys listening out there as you hear this, the world is also going crazy. We had a few months in a row where everything we were talking about was Coronavirus and shelter in place. I tell you what, with the news of the week now it’s like Coronavirus and shelter in place, we’re not even thinking about that right now. We’re thinking about everything else that’s going on in the world. Rod is working and living out in LA. I think he’s also going to give us a fresh perspective about what’s going on out there. I hope everybody just really looks forward to listening in. Paul and Rod, thanks both for coming on.

Paul Morris: Thanks a lot.

Rod: Thanks for having me.

Paul: Rod, I really appreciate you jumping on. It’s a great delight to be back in business with you. Rod and I were in business before we get into business again prior to all of the social unrest that’s taking place right now. I heard Rod’s scheduled to talk to a big group of ours about marketing because he does that so well and taking care of his clientele so well and I come to find out that Rod has a lot of expertise and experience in social justice and working on these causes anyway.

For Real Estate Rockstars, I think we would be remiss in not addressing what’s going on out there today with respect to real estate, and also just in our communities. Because the real estate community is a huge community. Actually, Rod, if you could tell us about your real estate just so that we have a sense of– so that the viewers have a sense of who you are and what you do.

Rod: Yes. Again, my name is Rod Watson. I’m the CEO and director of sports & entertainment at the LA VIP Agent team in Beverly Hills at KW Beverly Hills. We focus primarily on sports and entertainment professionals, that’s athletes in NBA, NFL, and then also entertainers in the industry of sports and entertainment. We assist them primarily with the development of their real estate portfolio.

If they’re looking to invest in real estate, whether that’s multifamily, single-family, hotels, commercial, I have a wealth of experience in those spaces. I’ve been in the business now 14 years, it’s my passion as a former athlete. I played in high school, collegially, and then professionally overseas for a few years, and I also coached in college.

Majority of my life, young adolescence, and adulthood has been revolved around sports and being involved in that industry heavily in developing relationships. I saw it only to be fitting once I got into real estate, I’ve learned that building a brand is one of the most important and valuable things you can do. Especially in niche markets, and I started in distress sales and then transitioned right into sports and entertainment because it was only natural with the relationships that I had developed, and the people I’d grown to know over the years.

That they, they invest and they buy properties and they also do that regularly. That’s the area that I focus on it. Like I said, it’s one of my passions and I’m very committed to this space. I’ve been working to build a brand and a reputation since I’ve started 14 years ago.

Paul: One of the things that, there is great overlap, I think there’s great potential overlap between what’s going on now today, and some opportunities that we have as realtors. It’s really always been a big part of the American dream is home-ownership. Talking to a large group of realtors, we have a tremendous following on this podcast of realtors all over the country, every race, ethnicity, everything. What can we do, what do you think we can do as realtors to differentiate ourselves from the pack and contribute to the healing that we have an opportunity to do?

Rod: I think it starts with awareness, really understanding regardless of where you are in the world, we all play a part in bringing about change. I always use this message, be the change you want to see in the world. First, start by really like I said, doing your research, reaching out, having empathy, communicating with those that may not look like you. Or do not live in the communities or reside where you live or share the same background and experiences. Have an open mind about engaging and educating yourself about what you can do first.

For us, as agents across the world or just here in the United States, one of the biggest things as you see these things unfolding before your eyes, you may have relationships with Black people are people of color that you value and that you’ve invested in. However, you ask yourself, what more can I do? How deeper can I develop these relationships? What can I do with the power that I possess and that I hold as an agent to inform, educate, and empower this demographic?

Like these demographics of Black people or people of color. Primarily Blacks, because we know that a lot of Black people faced injustice, disenfranchisement, have been denied access to wealth. With those relationships that you may currently have or currently, how can you plug individuals in that are in a position or are seeking information to empower them? To help them take advantage of the opportunities that are before us when it comes to developing and building wealth through real estate?

I think the biggest thing is just caring. Caring enough to say, “Hey, even though I’m comfortable, even though I may live in a good community, even though I may have a million or $100,000 dollars in the bank, there are other people that are out there that have been denied the opportunity to live and pursue this. To have a pursuit of happiness and opportunities to grow wealth and build it.” A lot of them lack information and knowledge.

I think a lot of it starts around caring and then being a tool or a vessel if you will, to start connecting those dots, and doing what you can within your communities or your organizations, and with the individuals you have relationships with to inform, educate, and empower.

Paul: I wonder just on that front of having awareness, I learned a lot, I learned a lot in the last couple of weeks for sure. I wonder, what can you share with us your experience as a Black man getting into a high-end luxury real estate practice? What was your experience, barriers you had to overcome? Was it easy or harder?

Rod: Well, I’ll start by first saying this, no matter what color you are, to get into real estate at the luxury level is very challenging. It’s very hard. It can be very cliquey. Oftentimes that demographic is controlled by white males and often in that demographic are older white males. A lot of these individuals come from wealth or have those strong relationships and ties.

Now when you take that into being someone that’s black, it’s even more challenging because there are fewer of us that even have been able to obtain that level of wealth that is required to even own a multimillion dollar property or portfolio of assets. For me, I found it to be very challenging one, because I didn’t know people in that background outside of athletes that had money and that were capable of affording a $1 million or $7 million property, multimillion dollar property.

The other thing that I faced was when being in companies, there was a lack of diversity. I remember just on one hand, I won’t name the company or the individual, but the same ideas that I had been working to present to you, Paul, I’ve always been a forward thinking individual and I had a business plan and I’m very goal-oriented. Because I’ve developed those skillsets as an athlete in my years of being involved in sports.

I wanted to present my vision to the founder of the company and he ignored me for two years after having a sit down face to face meeting. I took that personally but I also had to learn that everything starts at the top where individuals in these companies or agents that are in this space really wanting to care. I think there’s just been this culture where there has been this divide and this gap where there’s a lack of empathy. It’s really a primary focus on just taking care of us and ourselves and our families and the way we do business, and keeping those that don’t look like us out.

Whether it be intentionally, whether it be unintentionally, that has become the culture. That has become the norm that a lot of these privately held companies or even publicly held real estate companies when you’re talking about being at the top from a luxury standpoint. I also began to see that there is a direct intent of keeping us out, just by my personal experiences. I don’t have to dive deep into it, going into naming names.

I’ve been at several of the top companies from Pacific Sotheby’s, Compass, Douglas Elliman, I was recently at Revel Real Estate, and those are considered to be some of the top companies when you talk about luxury. One of the primary things I saw was a strong lack of diversity and a caring need or even a want to see more diversity within those companies, particularly when you start talking about luxury.

I find that to be, the luxury real estate, to be a very competitive space. Like I said, it’s hard enough just being a white person, I think others can attest to this and being in this space, let alone being someone that’s black. There are very few of us at the top and I found that that leadership when I was at these companies really didn’t care to engage or even to provide information or access on how we can grow in this space and how we can develop and build our businesses. The feeling I always received was that you’re not welcome here and this isn’t for you. Those have been my experiences thus far prior to coming to KW Beverly Hills.

Paul: Well, I appreciate that. I have to say that knowing you from work a couple of years ago, and then the reputation of what you built in such a small period of time, and now having the opportunity again, here’s a message to the other CEOs and other folks in those decision-making places. That is, your loss. Because if people would’ve been more open to Rod’s ideas, maybe we wouldn’t have had that opportunity. Now I don’t want that to be the case, but I could certainly say to other company owners, there is an advantage waiting for you. Just have open eyes and ears to ideas from all different sorts of people.

Rod: I agree and I appreciate it. I appreciate you making that statement and saying that I felt welcomed. Even when I met you a couple of years ago and we sat and had our conversations, I looked at you somewhat as more of a leader and not just someone that’s just, “Hey, I’m here to house licenses for agents and make money off agents.”

I really saw you as someone that genuinely cared and had a wealth of information that could be passed down. I just was in a place at that point where I felt comfortable because of my previous experiences at bigger companies, in the way I was treated, it really honestly caused me to be more jaded. I think for a year and a half, I went out on my own and I just stuck to myself and build my business that way because I was fearful. I had went through so many situations where I’ve been torn down and it was getting frustrating. That’s why I was more reserved and less open to even being in a bigger company because I just didn’t want to go through those experiences anymore.

Aaron: I just want to jump in for a second in the, Rod, you said you’ve been in real estate, was it 14 years?

Rod: Yes. That’s correct.

Aaron: Then when you first got started, did you go right into this kind of luxury niche? Because, you talked about how hard it was to get into? How did you make that transition?

Rod: No. When I first started, I started out as an investor. I learned how to buy properties. My wife and I, we did rehabs, and we sold and we held and put tenants in our properties. That’s how I first got started solely as an investor.

Then my wife got licensed and once I got my license, what brought me into the business is that I truly wanted to help people. I saw that the market was turning. I got into business when it was going to crap in 2008. Nobody wanted to be in the business, and I saw that doing short sales and handling REOs was my opportunity to break in and really learn the investment side, and also being in a position to help people.

Then once I saw that market changing after working in it for almost eight or nine years, I began to see that there was an immense amount of opportunity in the sports and entertainment space. Because I had one client who was a good friend of mine at the time, he played for Eastern Rockets and he needed to sell this property. He had shared his experiences with me that he had had with other agents that didn’t look like me.

As far as how to handle them and how they dealt with his business and the way they made him feel. Immediately a light switch went off just like it did when short sales was coming around, that this was a niche market that I knew I could thrive and do well in. That the majority of the clients that I was going to serve looked like me and I understood where they came from and what they went through.

At that very point in the 2011, really 2010 is when I said, I think this is a career path I can really lock into and do well. It still took me about three or four years after that acknowledgement and just becoming more aware to start locking in and developing a brand for myself. Meaning really building out my name and developing my relationships even more so than I had with my current friends and associates and then really trying to figure out ways to connect really. I think that’s really what it comes down to, is making meaningful connections.

Once I’ve figured out how to effectively do that, the rest was history. I just stay focused from that point and just really went all-in on building my brand out and making sure that people knew who I was and knew what I was able to do when it came to providing a service to them. From that point on, I’ve never looked back. That was like I said, around 2010, and here we are a decade later. My brand, I feel like is one of the most recognizable brands in this space. I’ve done an immense amount of body of work that very few people do in our lifetime in a short period of time.

Aaron: Something Paul, said at the beginning when you talked about the guys that you were working with that didn’t give you credits, like, “Their loss.” You did the same thing with your niche really. Your clients were people that weren’t getting treated the way they were supposed to get treated and you were able to say, “Hey, that’s their loss. I’m going to do everything I can for my clients.”

Rod: Yes. It took me, even going through those experiences, I’m thankful because what it is, is showing me, first of all, everything’s about timing. I also had to learn that don’t take everything personal, and this business is super competitive, and oftentimes it’s more territorial. You’re dealing with wealth and massive amounts of money. People, they take that seriously. There are a lot of individuals that are in this field, primarily in the luxury space that have been doing it for years, and they’ve developed a lot of relationships.

For me, when I was being treated like that in most companies, I said, just be patient, you’re going to find your place. You’re going to find out, you’re going to find a place that’s going to value what you’re doing. Just keep building, keep working on perfecting your craft, keep working on providing value to the clients that you serve, for one day, everyone’s going to know your name and they’re going to know what you’ve done in this space.

That became my focus rather than focusing on what had been done to me or how I’d been treated. As you stated, I looked at it more as their loss, and one day this company is going to realize they made a huge mistake in treating me the way that they did.

Aaron: One more, and then– Sorry, Paul.

Paul: No. Go ahead.

Aaron: with the– Rod, one of the first things you said, when we said like, “What can we do today? What can everyone do today to try to fix things?” You said it was inform, educate, and empower. I can say so many people over the last week have been educating themselves.

Rod: Absolutely.

Aaron: They’re being forced to educate themselves and forced to question, and people are becoming brave and sharing stories, and then it’s helping inspire others to go like, “I really never saw that sort of perspective.” The inform and educate to me, seems like a simple equation. Like this is what empowers that hard one. That’s like the next step. The next step is the, “First, we need to become aware. Everyone needs to become aware so we can make change and then empower.”

What advice would you give to somebody that says, hey, I want to empower someone? Or what could someone have done for you earlier on in your career or what are you trying to do out there that really helps empower people?

Rod: I’ll give you an example. I sat down with Paul a couple of years ago and he asked me a question. He was like, “Are you comfortable with having an unfair competitive advantage?” At first, I was like, “What the hell is this guy talking about?” It took me a while and I understood it that we all possess a gift, we all possess superpowers if you will.

Paul’s uniqueness is that he had the ability to share with individuals how to build wealth, he possessed that ability from his experience and his knowledge.

When you talk about empowering, it’s that moment that, Paul, sat down and he took time to explain to me that I had a unique skill set and a different gift than most individuals that look like me or even operate in the field that I’m operating in. I had to embrace it and harness that and really dive and lean into that and be okay with having that unfair competitive advantage, and using that in a positive way to empower.

Meaning, the athletes that I serve, even though they have money, they have no clue about investing, most of them, a large majority of them, or how money works when it comes to investing in real estate. How to structure deals, how to structure those deals in a position where it’s beneficial to them. Because oftentimes they’re led into situations that are not beneficial for them, it’s beneficial for those that are making money off of them.

By giving them some, not just giving them the information, but showing them how to utilize the information, you’re empowering them to then take that information and use it to their benefit. Use it in their benefit to grow wealth, use it to their benefit to make change within their communities, for themselves, and for their families. When you talk about empowering, it’s just that, it’s being comfortable enough to sit down with someone or to share with a group of individuals, “This is how you build wealth. This is how you grow your real estate portfolio. This is how you make changes within your lives with this information.”

Then being comfortable to allow them to go and figure that out, or even giving them the steps and the guidance to figure it out to where they are in a position now to live a better life. To create opportunity for others that look like them or people that they serve or people that are within their community. When you talk about empowerment, that’s how I look at it.

It’s just about when you possess the ability to make change when you have that information, or you have access to it, and you’re willing to share it. We call it passing the plug where I come from. That means being able to pass that opportunity of knowledge or wealth of information on to the next, without any strings attached or trying to exploit someone or take advantage of someone and lead them in a situation that may not be beneficial to them. Empowering is just that, giving someone else the power to do great things and to be able to build on that.

Paul: That’s super cool. Thanks for reminding me of that moment we had, which was really cool.

Rod: I’ll never forget it.

Paul: You know what, we’re going to take it to the next step for sure.

Paul: One thing I love about the podcast, of course, is we get to talk to– it gives me the opportunity to have a chat with super smart people like Rod in their different areas. It is something that I talk about with realtors and people all the time, is identify your superpower. I did an interview with a guy who sells real estate in Bel Air named Jeffrey Saad. I did it Real Estate Rockstars podcast. One of the things that Jeffrey said was the upside of your upside is always greater than the upside of your downside. That’s just, to me, that’s a cool different way of saying, “Hey, work on your superpowers. Figure out what you’re great at and work on it.”

When I talk to the Real Estate Rockstars community, I know that this community, they know real estate. Probably what they know is they know real estate in their area, the best. Sometimes we undervalue that thing that we know so well. I’m going to tell you, from my experience doing masterminds with very high net worth people, much wealthier than me, I was always shocked that, and I’m taking this back to your athlete, talking about helping athletes, even super-wealthy people in certain areas of their life, I was shocked to figure out how little they knew about other areas.

Let’s say I’ve got a super-wealthy friend in that mastermind that did a product development. Two guys I can think of that do product development, they took a product from zero to selling their company for a couple of hundred million dollars, and it’s over a lifetime of doing all that business. Yet you’d be– I was shocked to know that they know absolutely nothing about real estate, they know nothing about real estate investing, they know nothing about the stock market. Then we’ve got the guys in the group that are stock market experts, and they know nothing about products, they know nothing about real estate.

Even these people, they’re smart business people, they don’t understand the areas that– It is a form of wisdom to say, “Hey, I don’t know this, and I’m going to go to an expert.” To all the people at Real Estate Rockstars that are listening, one of the things that you can do, just in your business in general, is make sure to view your superpower as I have massive market knowledge beyond what other people know about this small area, and I can use that to help people invest in real wealth.

I’ll say this, one of the questions that Aaron asked was, “What can we do?” Then there’s awareness, but the last step was empowerment. One of the things that I thought about, I mentioned it to you just while we were texting, getting ready for this interview, is I’m sitting around and I’m thinking, I always want to bring an action step to the table. Because you can listen to this podcast and be like, “I’ve got awareness. This is cool,” but what do we do next?

I’m going to tell you what I’m doing in my company, is implementing something called the Rooney Rule. It comes from the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’m from Pittsburgh, so I like that. What the Rooney rule is, is it’s a NFL league policy that requires leagues, the league teams, to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs. What I find very interesting about it, it’s not a hiring quota, it is not even Affirmative Action. All it says is you have to have a minority in the mix.

One of the things that happens with me is when I’m out looking for senior positions, and I just say this from my own experience, I look around my team and I go, “Hey, why aren’t there more African-Americans on my team? Why aren’t there more minorities on my team?” The real true answer is like, “Oh, well, Hey, I interviewed four people and I just didn’t have an African-American in the mix.”

What this does is it forces you, it would force me, that’s how I do it, just myself, it would force me to look a little harder, look a little further, reach a little further, and then just look at all the candidates equally and take the best one that’s there. Now I’ve got five candidates, one of them is an African-American, four of them are not, at least I have it in the mix. That over time has created change in the NFL. That’s something I can start that I can start and I plan to, I already talked to my business partners, I’m going to start that on Monday morning.

Rod: That’s awesome. I like that. In addition to what you’re stating, as far as the question, one of the questions asked and sorry, I didn’t answer that, but this is what I would add on top of what Paul, is sharing, is that whether it’s the Rooney Rule, or whether you’re really taking a step back and looking at the culture within your companies, it goes back to what I’m saying. Educate, ask questions, and really take a look at what is the culture, what have I fostered? What have I developed? What is our company like?

If we have a lack of diversity that starts at the top. The tope has to have enough awareness and compassion to say, all right, what can we implement to bring about change, that’s going to create opportunities, that’s going to allow us to engage?

Because there are a lot of talented black people out there in various positions that carry just as much knowledge and a wealth of income that can bring value to companies. I feel like for so long, we’ve been devalued just simply because it has become the norm for a lot of companies, from a cultural standpoint to exclude us. Very few people are afraid to ask questions or to make that change because of the fear of being ostracized or being looked at differently by their peers or receiving a lack of support, whether it’s from their donors or whether it’s from their investors.

I think what you have to first say, is what is our culture? What do we stand for? Paul, you’re taking the lead in basically stating that, hey, I see the necessary change and these are the actionable steps we’re going to take. As you share it, it starts with questioning, taking a deep look within, and saying, “All right, I see these problems are here, I see these need to be addressed and this is how we’re going to address them,” and make that announcement company wide and then put action behind it.

Paul: I see that as a first step, it’s not the end of the journey for me and my company at all, but I was like, “I want to do something other than raise awareness,” which I know is important, and have these conversations. And still be like, “What’s one action step I can do right now?” That one’s so easy. We don’t have an opening right now, as soon as we do that, that’s going to be in play.

Rod: The other thing to that too is that companies, businesses, institutions can look within and say, who do we already have that’s here that may be being overlooked? That we have not either acknowledged or properly promoted or put them in positions that they truly deserve? Because we see a lot of politics regardless of whether it’s banking, whether it’s real estate, whether it’s private equity, whether it’s technology, whether it’s development, business, et cetera.

We see a lot of politics within these industries where individuals at the top are putting people oftentimes into positions of leadership of power that really haven’t either earned it or do not possess the necessary skill sets to be leaders or to truly bring value. It’s based upon a relationship with someone, etcetera. I think if we take a step back and really look at that and say, are we putting the best people in position of power, are we putting the best people in these positions to lead our companies?

It shouldn’t solely just be on the color of someone’s skin, however, that has become the way of life for us, here in America. I think across the world when we talk about being in positions of leadership, we really have to look within and say, “Who have we overlooked?” Because I think within companies, institutions, businesses, et cetera, there are people there.

It may not be black, maybe they’re Latino, maybe they’re Asian, maybe they’re Middle Eastern, however, they’re people of color or some other form of diversity outside of being white. Companies and institutions need to take a step back and say, “Who do we already have that’s here that may have been overlooked or haven’t been given these opportunities?” Then put actionable steps in place to ensure that those opportunities are given.

Aaron: Rod, for a lot of our Real Estate Rockstars listeners out there right now, one of the articles that came on in yesterday or the day before, this is not a time for marketing as usual. It was telling the real estate agents like, “Hey, you can’t go do your normal marketing. Go do this in building your business.” Right now do you think that the, and a lot of our agents, a lot of our listeners, do a ton of stuff on social media saying, hey, I’m listing this house, hey, I’m doing that– promote themselves very well. Would you say, right now while everything’s happening, should they completely take a break from social media?

If not, what is the way that they can market their business properly? I don’t know the right way to ask it but people are trying to figure out like, “Hey, do I just not do anything on social media right now or not?” I don’t– What do you think about that?

Rod: I don’t think someone should stop. I think business does need to carry on. As long as they’re aware and sensitive to what’s going on around them, and they’re doing their part to engage and make the change or be a part of the solution, I don’t think someone should stop marketing or doing business. Let’s start with marketing on the internet or doing business. Maybe there are certain things they need to be cautious or aware of as far as their messaging and what they’re putting out but I think people can be creative and be unique in their marketing to show support, as far as unity and solidarity, as far as addressing and dealing racism in our society.

However, from a business standpoint, we still have to try and provide for ourselves and our families regardless of what we look like or where we’re from. As a real estate community, the more that we show we are in support of what’s going on, I think that brings a lot more visibility and transparency to the fact that our industry is very diverse. If we can show unity within our industry, we can be a part of leading the change on the forefront.

Because think about how many people own homes and reside in properties. A home is a safe haven for a lot of people right now, and has been for the last several months, because we’ve all been locked inside of our homes. That brings an opportunity for agents to have the discussions about what’s going on, and on top of that, some of the changes that people may be making in a near future in regards to where they reside, how they live. Answering questions around our industry, and particularly when it comes to homeownership. Guiding those that may not have access to the information that can lead them to wealth building.

I don’t think we should stop marketing in any way, I think we have to find more creative ways to market that are impactful. If you feel led to do so, that provides value to the audience. I think that’s the most important thing that in the past, a lot of the marketing is just kind of just put out, put out. I think you can really go to a value-based marketing strategy and you’re going to have more success, especially during a time like right now than ever before. It’s just harnessing the opportunity and really channeling your efforts and energy into the message that you’re putting down. I think it should be a value-based message.

Aaron: We’ve seen some big companies saying, some people are saying, hey, some big companies are posting on social media or sending out letters in their website just saying, “Hey, we hear you, and we understand what’s going on.” Other people are saying, “Hey, we hear you, and we’re standing with you.” Other people are saying, “We’re standing with you and here’s some action that we’re going to take.” Like Paul’s example. I think there’s three different versions of that.

I think what you’re saying is, people are going to find what stage they’re in. Everyone’s stages are going to be a little bit different but first like, “Don’t just be quiet. Say something. Say whatever your acknowledgment is, wherever you’re at in that stage because everybody’s allowed to be wherever they are in their stage.” Then being able to figure out a way to be creative with that.

Figuring out that we’re already coming out of this, hey, quarantine is starting to be over, we want real estate agents to go back into business, back into the boom, and then there’s this. Being able just to acknowledge, “This is what’s crazy, what’s going on. We’re still trying to do this, this, and this.” During the quarantine, Paul and I would talk a lot about policy doing the I Care message. It was calling people not saying, hey, I want to buy your house, I want to sell your house, I want to help you. It was just saying, “Hey, do you need anything?”

Rod: That’s one of the messages, I Care. I got away from more or less chasing and the commission breath type sales to when I talk to people, I’m like, “Here. I’m here to provide value. Is there anything I can do to help you at this time?” Case in point, if I call the seller on an expired, rather than just calling them and say, “Hey, interview.”

I can say, “Hey, our company is one of the leaders in the industry in helping people build and develop wealth. I’m just reaching out because we’ve had some success in your neighborhood and want to see if there’s anything I can do to help you at this current time. If there is, I’d love to have a 15, 20 minute conversation with you on how we can assist you. Is there anything you currently need help with at the time?”

That leads into a whole different conversation because when you use the word help, then people are like, “Mmh, let me think about that. I don’t need anything at the moment,” and that opens up the opportunity for dialogue to say, “Hey, well, perhaps I can follow up with you at a later date and time. We offer these services in the form of value, from a value-based strategy.” People are going to remember that. They’re going to be more willing to be engaged with that conversation than the 99th agent that’s called him about selling their property, especially during a time right now, like right now.

Aaron: It seems like the I Care message and outreach is as applicable or more applicable today as it was a month or two ago.

Rod: I think we have to be willing to evolve in our industry. As you said the I Care when you show that you care and you genuinely put people’s needs first, that separates you immediately from the masses. Because what the masses are typically being taught is just go after the deal, go after the transaction. I learned to change up my approach almost a decade ago as far as how I engage with people. I think in a market like we’re in right now, with all the changes and everything that’s going on, regardless if you’re in the luxury sector or if you’re a first-time homebuyer, everything goes back to how you treat people and how you deal with people.

So if you can really base your message around value and what it is you can do to help people and what it is you can do to play your part in making this world a better place, making our industry a better place, I would go all-in on that. Because I believe you’re going to have more success with that during a time like right now, regardless if you’re selling $50 million properties or you’re selling $500,000 properties. You’re going to resonate with people that are sensitive to the moment right now and the situation. Those are going to be people ultimately you’re going to want to attract and want to work with long-term.

Paul: I love the– One of the things, an update to the I care message was, I was advocating an I care message so that people, realtors, could stand out as vendors, could stand out as leaders in a time where initially in COVID we were just in shock. They were saying, “Put the economy on hold. Hit the pause button. We’re in shock.” Then I look at my phone, and I’m like, the only incoming message I’m getting are from family members and my closest business colleagues. I don’t blame anybody else because that’s what’s natural. People are freaked out. You could be a real– My chiropractor actually is one that was texting me, but other than him, I’m like, it’s crickets.

I know people do care. I was saying, “Hey, you can stand out by reaching out at that point in time.” Now I’ve changed my I care message, by the way, because now we’re looking at, “Hey, let’s restart the economy.” Now it’s, like, “Hope your family’s safe and let me know if you have any questions on real estate or whatever.” We would do as a way to do it. I have more from I care, definitely a value. I think Rod’s point, too, about value marketing. People are not interested in– Unless they happen to be interested in that one particular house that you are marketing, you’re wasting marketing time and energy rather than saying, like, “Hey, I’ve got this house and, by the way, here’s what I can do, here are the things I offer.” I think your value marketing message works anytime. We can through that, for sure.

Rod: Absolutely. I agree. I agree, 100%.

Aaron: Rod, how many deals did you do last year? Do you know what your-?

Rod: We did 13. We did 13. It’s funny, we did 13 and we did almost 14 million off that 13.

Paul: All right. His pipeline. I’ve looked at– Your pipeline’s insane, right?

Rod: Yes. We’ve got almost a hundred million in our pipeline right now, and that’s from deals that didn’t close last year and new deals that we brought in and listings that– I have five. Including myself, there’s five of us on my team. I’ve got two young rockstar agents that are doing really well. One has a $50 million listing and their partners, Jake and Enzo, those young guys, one’s 21, one’s 28. That’s the other thing. I’ve learned early in this career it’s important to invest in the young, and the millennial generation, I believe, is being ignored primarily by the real estate industry.

One of the things I noticed that KW Beverly Hills is that they are definitely making those investments into the younger agents. That was another reason why I chose to align my brand with KW Beverly Hills, because I felt they understood and they’re getting it right. We’re excited about the future, and we’re working hard and diligently to provide value to the clients we serve. We’ve built up a really nice pipeline. Our goal is 57 million for our full fiscal year coming back around June 1st next time this year. We’re on track to hit that goal, and I’m really excited about it, especially with the leadership we have and you, Paul, and Josh to help us stay on track and provide value along the way.

Aaron: You have those guys on your team close that big one, you’re going to hit those numbers pretty easily, man.

Rod: Real quick.

Paul: I’m definitely interested and invested in and doing that side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with you. One of the things that Rod was talking to me about, and there’s this thing called 360-Degree Leader. It’s a John Maxwell book. The idea of it is that you as a leader, we’re always thinking about, well, Rod is the CEO of his team and his company. We think about Rod’s leadership would be like, he’s going to lead the people on his team, but then that’s usual leadership. Then there’s lateral leadership where Rod is going to lead and teach agents of his own level. The way that he can do that is just lead by example.

Then there’s leadership up. I will tell you that being back in business with Rod, he’s leading me. If you think that you cannot do that because you’re a single agent in some firm or whatever, you absolutely can do that. He was giving leadership opportunity to the people where he was and they weren’t listening. I’m listening. One of the things that Rod did was to “Okay. Hey, Paul, let’s do some– Let’s use your superpower, and let’s combine that with mine, and let’s talk about wealth building to some of the folks that he’s marking his homes to.” That’s a win for him. It’s a win for me.

Another thing I was just thinking about is, and this is a challenge for us, Rod, that we can take, and that is, it’s another thing you can do. I taught entrepreneurship to minorities in Washington, DC, when I was in Washington DC. That’s a true statement. Now I’m going to tell you how it really happened. How it really happened was there was an agency that said, “Hey, we need volunteers that will tutor not the kids that are slow in class but the kids that are the top of the class in very underprivileged areas, because they’re not getting enough attention with all the too many kids in the classroom.”

That’s where I raised– It was already in place. I raised my hand for that and they go, “Okay, well, what are you going to teach? You’re going to teach English? You’re going to teach math. You’re going to teach–?” I’m, like, “Wait a minute. I’ll teach math.” Then I get these kids in front of me, and I’m going to try and teach them math, and I’m like, “Oh, it’s boring,” especially at the end of the day. Then I started putting it in the context of a business, like, “Hey, what kind of business do you want? Does anybody want to run a business?” One kid said, “Yes,” a ticketing, like a promoter. “I want to be a music promoter.”

I’m, like, “Okay. Let’s do the math on that.” I created a whole word problem with it. Maybe you and I could teach wealth building to kids that that would really resonate with. That’s another action step that would be phenomenal.

Rod: Absolutely. I fully support that because I believe financial literacy, not just in the black community but across the board in American society, is something that’s not taught in schools, which I think is a travesty because outside of the information that kids spend hours upon hours learning in secondary and college institutions, very little of that is applied in American society. We have to leave these institutions after graduating from college or finishing high school and figure out how we’re going to support ourselves and how we’re going to make money.

I think a part of making that change, especially in the black community, is really harnessing and leaning into providing access to financial literacy. A lot of kids don’t have access to that. They come from broken families financially, emotionally, and that’s something that is very rarely discussed. I’m all in for those types of empowerment solutions that can provide value back to the African-American community or people of color who choose to engage because it doesn’t get any easier for us out here in society as individuals, regardless of what color you are.

Things cost more money, and you have to be able to figure out how to provide for yourself. I think that that’s value, that’s a real value-based opportunity that would be offered for those kids and those families that want to learn how to be business owners and investors, because at the end of the day, that is the real access to wealth and that’s access to wealth and true freedom.

Paul: My challenge to our listeners is we’re doing this podcast to build awareness. There’s a lot of other ways you can build awareness. My challenge is to create some action step that you can do. I’m going to implement the Rooney Rule as a step one. I’m going to make noise with it so that we’re, like, “Hey, look at us. We’re doing this.” Then maybe our competitors will go, like, “Oh geez, we don’t want to be left behind.” If they do want to be left behind, then they’re left behind. Then I get to lead my co-owners, owners in different brands, even, to say, “Hey, that’s what they’re doing over here. We got to do that over here, over there over here.” Hopeful in either case.

Rod, you’re a board member on the–

Rod: People’s Alliance.

Paul: For Justice.

Rod: That’s right.

Paul: Tell us about that and then what are some ways that our listeners can help? One of the things that we’re going to do, Aaron, is we’ll put up links for places where people can get resources to get in the conversation and also to help out.

Rod: Well, first off, the People’s Alliance for Justice was founded by Reverend Shane Harris about two years ago. Initially, Reverend Shane Harris was under the National Action Network with Reverend Al Sharpton where he got– he was seeking mentorship and guidance from Reverend Al. Then I think he was in that position for four or five years. I met him when he was 23. He was midway through his experience and learning process and mentorship there under Reverend Al. He was more or less the West Coast director.

Then Shane, after being under that mentorship, him and I discussed launching his own foundation and the People’s Alliance for Justice, the name that he came up with. Shane has been very diligent in his cause for fighting for civil rights and also in the foster care system because there is a large amount of disparity that has taken place there in the foster care system in how African American kids are being handled and things that they’re exposed to, such as negligence, molestation. There are a lot of things that are going on that people are turning a blind eye and deaf ear to, and he’s bringing awareness to these issues that these kids are dealing with in foster care.

The other is social injustice, where we’re seeing officers killing black men and women. He away on Alfred Olango’s case here in San Diego who was shot and killed, and they were involved in bringing a civil suit against the city. The same thing with Stephon Clark in Sacramento. He was part of bringing that civil suit against the city of Sacramento that they won.

He’s been very diligent, and he stood behind his passion for making sure everyone, whether you’re white or black, their rights are being upheld, especially when it comes to civil rights. Shane was also involved in just the recent situation with George Floyd. He went out this past weekend. He delivered a check to the family, we donated money towards their funeral expenses. Obviously, if you guys are paying attention, the world’s really responded. $13 million, thus far, has been raised for that family, and that’s the most that we’ve ever seen for any African American or a person of color that was murdered by police officers, where their GoFundMe account received that much money. That was a record.

He’s also diligent in other causes across the city of San Diego and LA County in regards to equal rights and making sure that our local and state officials are being held accountable. For Shane, he is a one-man show right now, aside from the board members that are providing support to him, but to be honest, economic support is very much needed. If you guys can donate to the cause in helping Shane, there’s travel expenses, security that’s needed. That’s one of the main things we discussed on our last board, that he does need security traveling with him when he’s going to these places because, unfortunately, he’s received multiple death threats, which is crazy because Shane has basically worked for free majority of time he’s been in this position.

He’s lived and slept on people’s couches, and it’s not to put him out, this is what I’ve observed, while still fighting for these causes and using his own money, which you’re not going to find many people are going to try to stand up for someone that they don’t know, let alone for someone they do know that has been treated unjustly. He’s been diligent in doing that, so financial resources are very important in regards to the movement and helping him fight against the powers that be that are in these positions that are right now allowing these things to happen within our police department and also within our local state regarding to our state officials.

Economic support is important. Also, volunteers. Volunteers, if you’re available to volunteer time as far as organizing for our rallies or for any press releases that are going to be put out, there are a lot of resources that we need. Also, Shane is involved in the homeless in San Diego and LA. He raises money there to feed the homeless, to also provide housing and shelter.

If you’d like to get involved, you can definitely reach out to us or myself or Shane at thepeoplesalliance.com. We have a link there on the website with how you can get involved and you can go there and you can reach out or you can say, “Hey, I’m willing to donate.” There’s a link where you can go and donate funds to the organization. All the money that is donated will be used towards the cause of fighting against racial inequalities and injustice and also in support of kids of color within our foster care system because a lot of them are being neglected. They’re being abused physically and sexually, which is something a lot of people aren’t aware of, or not even willing to discuss or talk about.

He was one of those kids. Shane was a foster care kid because his mother and dad died when he was young. His mom died of a drug overdose, and his dad had some health issues that he passed away from, so he was left to be brought up in the foster care system. He’s a true believer of really giving back and he lives by that, so any support that we can give him is what we’re seeking. I think that the more support that he can receive and awareness around what we’re doing is going to help us be more effective in our efforts and pursuit in bringing about justice for these victims that have been murdered or mistreated by law officials.

Aaron: Well, Rod, you definitely have your hands in a lot of different things, and it sounds like a great organization. You’ll get the links over to us to put in the notes, but if somebody wants to find it right now, tell us again, what should they google to find you?

Rod: People’s Alliance for Justice.

Aaron: People’s Alliance for Justice.

Paul: Also, Rod, tell us youremail, if you want to share that, because you could get a lot of great inquiries from [crosstalk].

Rod: Hold on one second. My personal email or the People’s Alliance for Justice email?

Aaron: Oh, yours.

Rod: My email, you can reach me at rod@la, like Los Angeles, lavipagent.com. It’s rod@lavipagent.com.

Aaron: We always get a handful of listeners that they might reach out to you for advice on something, they might have a referral to send your way.

Rod: Absolutely.

Aaron: There’s all sorts of ways that people reach out, but we appreciate you being able to share your info.

Rod: No problem.

Aaron: The George Floyd GoFundMe had an absolute record for more donations than any other thing. More than 500,000 people went and donated, so it’s a great time where people are trying to get into action. It’s just another step in people’s lives

Rod: I think that’s signal a change.

Aaron: Yes, absolutely. That is a signal of change and awareness.

Paul: Here’s the other thing. Here’s another challenge, too, and that is, I have not donated to his GoFundMe. I hadn’t thought about it until we just had this conversation. I’m going to donate to it today, and here’s the thing, not only are the dollars going to make a difference to the family, but also the sheer number of people. If we got another 10,000 people to donate $1, yes, that would be another 10 grand but it would be another massive amount of people raising their hand and saying, “Hey, we hear this, and we understand,” and politicians do listen to that.

Rod: Absolutely.

Paul: When we had our conversation before, one of the things I encouraged people to do was send emails to their congressmen, to their senators, to their local politicians. There were people in the chatbox with a big live audience, there were people in the chatbox saying, “Hey, you know what, they don’t listen.” By the way, I agree, and I get it, and I’m also going to tell you, I was living and working in government, Washington, DC, and even if they don’t read it, they had somebody on their staff counting. They’re, like, “Hey, we received 1,000 emails from our constituents on this issue. That senator or whoever, they’re paying attention.

A little bit of action, actually, can do a lot. It’s another call to action for you guys, so really appreaciate it.

Rod: Absolutely.


Paul: Thanks so much. Aaron and I appreciate all the help that you’ve given to me and to us. Working together has been such a joy. The opportunity to get us on with Rod today, I really appreciate you, Aaron. Rod, thanks for the time. It was short notice and you said, “Okay, let’s do it.”

Rod: No problem.

Aaron: Really, really appreciate it.

Rod: It’s all good. I appreciate you guys having me on, and for those that find value in hearing this message, appreciate you taking the time to hear it. Wish everyone, wish everyone well and the best. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us coming up in the coming years, this isn’t going to be over in six months. I think if we all stay diligent in what we’re passionate about and what we believe in and we stay connected and unified, there’s progress in unity. As long as we stay unified, I believe we can start seeing the change that we want to see in this world and make it a better place for our kid’s kid’s kids that are coming into this world.

Aaron: That is so great, Rod. We’re going to fast-track this episode. As soon as we get this thing edited, it’s going to go live. Right now we have a few weeks of recordings, but this is the time that people need to be able to hear this. I appreciate you coming on and being candid, giving us some great advice and some inspiration for all the people out there, Rod, so have a great day. Thank you for coming on.

Rod: All right, thanks, guys. Much appreciated. Have a great day.

Paul: Thanks a lot, Rod.

Rod: No problem.

Aaron: All right. Thanks, rockstars.

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