September 25, 2017

At the Conference: #Visionaries

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At the Conference: #Visionaries

Learn about some of the inspiring speakers that will be presenting at the 2013 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

NAR welcomes celebrated business innovators and thought leaders to stoke your entrepreneurial fire.




Serving the New ‘Maker’ Workforce

Chris Anderson speaks Friday, Nov. 8, 11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. and 2–3 p.m.

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Are you prepared for the opportunities springing from the “maker movement”? Entrepreneur and author Chris Anderson is a pioneer in this visionary business sphere that relies on robotics to create products in fields ranging from synthetic biology to furniture. Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and best-selling author of The Long Tail, which looked at how the Internet upended retail business strategies, is the founder of 3D Robotics, a company that makes aerial robotic drones used for geographic mapping and photography.

The official hashtag is #NARannual.

At the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, Anderson will be talking about the evolution of manufacturing and the notion of “maker clusters,” as well as how real estate professionals can work with maker movement participants who are typically tenants in warehouse and industrial spaces.

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“These [start-ups] are not factories in the conventional sense; there are no smokestacks,” Anderson said. Maker movement businesses look more like Internet companies with a small number of people working from behind computer screens. Then the desktop businesses grow into robotic-based factories. Anderson, who houses part of his business in a converted copper factory in West Berkeley, Calif., encourages real estate professionals to work with city officials to create appropriate zoning to attract such companies.

The “maker” work force, he says, is a different breed from the past. “Fifty years ago, there were factory workers. Today, they’re PhDs and high-tech Silicon Valley engineers making 
stuff—same place, same physical location, but the companies have gone from low-tech to high-tech,” says Anderson, also author of Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (Crown Business, 2012).

At the Conference: #Keynote

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the General Session, Saturday, Nov. 9, 4–6 p.m.

World perspective: She’s one of the leading political figures of our time—and she’ll be at the REALTORS® Conference.

Hillary Rodham Clinton served as the 67th U.S. Secretary of State from 2009 until earlier this year, after nearly four decades in public service. Her “smart power” approach to foreign policy repositioned American diplomacy and development for the 21st century. As first lady of the United States and a U.S. senator from New York, she traveled to more than 80 countries as a champion of human rights, democracy, and opportunities for women and girls. Clinton also worked to provide health care to millions of children, create jobs and opportunity, and support first responders who risked their lives at the sites of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In her 2008 campaign for nomination as candidate for U.S. president, Clinton won 18 million votes.

Anderson sees this as a new American manufacturing boom that’s fueling a burgeoning real estate trend: Old factories in dying manufacturing areas being repurposed for digital start-ups. “The tide is turning, and people are shortening supply chains and bringing manufacturing back to the point of consumption for the sake of flexibility and cost savings. Nobody wants to ship things 9,000 miles around the world if they don’t have to,” he says.

Be the Spark

Luke Williams speaks Sunday, Nov. 10, 1:30–3 p.m.

No matter how accomplished you become, never become complacent. The risks are too high, says Luke Williams, professor of innovation at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

“Just when you think you’re doing everything right, and just when you’re at your peak of success, that’s when you’re most vulnerable,” says Williams. This applies as much to large corporations as to individuals. Kodak, for example, put too many eggs in one basket, he says. The company clung far too long to its film products as its bread and butter when rivals were focusing on digital innovations.

Williams will challenge REALTORS® Conference & Expo attendees to tackle situations where the customer has been neglected. For example, list the steps people take when buying a home, such as the home search, tours, and negotiation process. Then figure out how to do something on the list in a way your competitors don’t. Williams notes that the world is changing so quickly that business models rise and fall much faster than ever, from the explosive growth of Facebook to the near-demise of Blockbuster. This phenomenon has some people worried. “It’s harder to picture what future needs are going to look like,” Williams says.

That’s where the power of “disruptive thinking” comes in. “The first thing to do is a competitive audit. Look at direct competitors, and see what everyone is doing the same,” says Williams, author of Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business (Pearson Education, 2011). “In every industry, there are tried and true clichés that have been around for decades. Surface these and see if they’ve been holding your imagination prisoner.”

When considering new ideas, go beyond simply supporting the current product or business model, he says. “If your business resembles this, and you’re only embracing incremental change, then you’re getting yourself on a dangerous path because that path is getting narrower.”

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