Active Rain July 29, 2010

Sooner or Later, the Suits Come In and Ruin Everything

J Philip Real EstateEileen Kennedy has written a great series on why agents change companies which I have read with interest. Much of what is said confirms why I run my own firm, including the oblique references to an unnamed Corporation in the Northeast with high fees and claustrophobic regulations. It reminded me of a number of great enterprises which were ruined once the creative founder sold out to larger corporate interests. You see it in all industries. 


From 1995 to about 2000, AOL communities were like a Cyber version of Cheers. When Steve Case sold out to Time Warner it took a few years for the brand to be ruined beyond repair. I haven’t frequented an AOL message board in almost 10 years. Anytime the creative force and founder no longer guides the direction of the enterprise, the suits, the committee of mediocrity and short term profit over long term value start running the show, water down the brand and slowly excise the parts of it that were the imprint of the creator. I recall bartending at a well known franchise bistro when the manager who hired me and kept the staff happy and motivated was replaced by a hack sent in by corporate. I quit 2 weeks later. I saw similar stuff at a national pizza brand. 

This is one of the many reasons why I relish my independence. I am regulated enough by my board and the government. I would never be happy with some suit telling me that Corporate doesn’t like an idea of mine and would prefer that I stop. Nor would I like slicing off my monthly tribute the the corporate godfather in exchange for their branding all over my stuff. Every morning I have a board meeting with the boss while I shave. Every evening on my drive home I debrief with the head of operations. I can’t remember the last time I lost a listing because the people felt more comfortable going with a name brand- hell, I always said that if it made me more money, I’d join them. But the corporation that makes me the most is the LLC that is based in my basement. I own stock in me. That is my biggest asset and my most trustworthy ally. Most of my agents are ex-pats from larger firms and like it hear. Many people feel more at home with where they are, and that includes big names. Fine by me. Different strokes for different folks. All I know is that by the time I was 38 I was ready to pull my own strings, and I have never looked back.

J Philip Real Estate is a suit-free zone.