When we got into this industry 5 years ago, Paul Stine and I (Bill Svoboda), had no idea what to expect. Fast forward,
We have clients in over 30 states and daily are sending status update Text Message and Emails to an average of 7,000 consumers, Realtors and Mortgage Professionals!
One of the biggest things that we didn't expect was the amount of travel that we'd be doing. If you space it out between all of the ALTA, RESPRO, NS3, LTA's and underwriter specific conferences, it's not uncommon to be on the road for three, four or five weeks (Monday through Friday) in a row. As just one example, during the week of October 9th-13th, Paul Stine was in Colorado and I was in Ohio and South Carolina (the picture above is a quick photo snapshot summary of that crazy week).
Conference life can be fun, but it can also wear you out if you don't play it right.
So based on the amount of travel that "conference season" brings, here are 2 things I've learned amidst it all - and how you can stay productive and in the right frame of mind amidst all the busyness of business travel:
1. Control what you can control:
In my opinion, too many people view conferences as times to loosen up on a routine because they are on the road and it kind of feels like a vacation. While it may "feel" like a vacation, I've seen that the difference between the difference-makers and people just getting by are the ones who keep their focus on what matters most: keeping their business moving forward.
Part of that is keeping your routine and possibly adjusting it to the busyness of the conference lifestyle.
The most elementary aspect of keeping a routine is simple: Finding time to actually sleep.
No one likes to be the first person to leave the dinner or the bar for networking, so I'm not asking you to shut down at 8:30pm, but I am challenging you to consider how much sleep you actually need to effective the next day. I've seen too many people skip the first session or arrive late, because they had a little too much fun the night before. And while it may be hard to say "no" when everyone is pushing you to order one more drink or sing one more song at karaoke, the difference-makers know when enough is enough because they have the long-view in mind and can see beyond the fun of the night.
Controlling what you can control also can mean planning to actually eat.
After struggling to find the "right" kind of food to start my day, I've decided to stop allowing the conference or hotel food to dictate what/when/how I eat because I've learned that if I can control what I put into my body, I can better control what my body puts out in the form of work. This all begins with the first meal of the day, so while there might be a breakfast available, that breakfast might not be what you should be eating, so I've started to bring my own protein bars and supplies for shakes in the morning.
If you can start the day on the right foot - with a good night sleep and proper food in your body, it's a lot easier to push through the busyness that the day will bring.
Lesson # 1, control what you can control. If you can't control the basics, it's going to be hard to control the rest of what goes on at the conference. Take responsibility for what you can control.
2. Prioritize Relationships:
I frequently joke that the title industry is kind of like two things... first, like the Olive Garden, because "when you're here, you're family." It's amazing how no matter where I go in this country, everyone seems to know each other, and while they may be competitors, anyone would "take a bullet" for someone else in the industry, because it is such a tight knit network of people that actually care about each other.
This is a great transition to my second realization: The title industry is kind of like the mob, because once you are "in" title, you never leave title! But who would actually want to leave an industry like this where we can have such a dramatic impact on the consumer's experience of buying a home and creating a life that they've dreamed about.
All joking aside, relationships are key to title.
When my co-founder Paul Stine and I got into this industry we quickly realized how tight-knit the community was, but also how accepting the community was of new people, so we decided to be more than vendors trying to sell something, and actually get to know people in the industry - hear their stories, laugh when things are good, cry when the industry hurts and overall, be present in the moment. This meant seeing people as people instead of just as "the next sale," or as competition. We also took any and every meeting to "talk title" with anyone that could help us understand what we had got ourselves into. We opened our notebooks and took notes - not assuming that we knew everything, but became students of title.
The reality is that no one wants to be viewed as a sale... yet, so much of business is sales, and it's easy to default to "sales-mode" instead of student-mode when you are starting or scaling a business.
Choose to invest in relationships over winning sales because relationships will last much longer and go much further than winning a one customer and pushing away one hundred others.
One of the first people we met that made a big impact on us was Marvin Stone who is currently is the SVP, Industry Relations at Stewart Title.
Whenever we'd go to a national title conference we'd meet new people, but the one person we'd always see was Marvin (and if you look at the picture above, you will notice Marvin is in both). We shouldn't have been surprised to see him at nearly every event though, because he is one of the best networked people in the industry (with over 50k Twitter followers), but we were surprised that someone with his credentials would take the time to sit down with us. He not only sat down with us though, he poured into us - contextualizing how CloseSimple could help the industry and where we fit into the grand scheme of it.
Marvin Stone is just one of the people that have made a huge impact on us and CloseSimple. We could list every single one of them, but going back to how I started this point, if you want to see who's all impacted us, just look around, because this industry is family and so many people have impacted us and our business... and they will continue to impact us for years to come - because if the saying is true, we're never leaving title.
Lesson # 2, prioritize relationships. No matter what you are "selling," the one constant every business has is people. People are everywhere: Customers, Vendors, Employees, etc. etc. etc. Choose to value people for more than what they currently can offer you in their current capacity. You may be in business today and out of business tomorrow, but that should not impact the relationships you've made today. Invest in what matters most: people.
In an effort to prioritize relationships, we try to stay in touch with our network, so each month host a webinar where we take one topic and talk about it - hopefully adding value to the title industry. Our next webinar is October 9th and we'll be discussing how companies like Uber, Amazon, Dominos Pizza and Netflix have changed the way consumers expect communication... and what that means for the title industry and ultimately, your title industry. Sign up here: