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Lab Coat Agents’ founders accused of violent, sexist comments during Inman SF

(REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY) “Hell yeah… who’s the hottest girl you have ever screwed off of Tinder?” women allegedly hear during a luxury shuttle at a San Francisco real estate conference.

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The story begins on August 4th, 2016. The opening scene is a private luxury shuttle where a group of men and women boarded to be whisked from the Inman Connect San Francisco tour of a posh mansion to the Inman Innovators Award event. On the ride over, something went awry.

The men believed that just a few rows away from the women, they could have a private conversation. Locker talk, if you will.

Three men allegedly said the following, which three women claim to have heard clearly:

“I swear, I would have punched that bitch if I knew I could do it without fucking killing her.”

“I mean, I know how to hit a cunt so that she can hide the bruises.”

“Now I’m back on Tinder just hitting that shit — I’m still married but fuck that cheating bitch.”

“You guys know what I mean — fuck all the bitches, amiright?”

“Yeah, man… you had every right to fuck that bitch up.”

“If my girl ever did that to me she would fucking regret it for sure.”

“Hell yeah… who’s the hottest girl you have ever screwed off of Tinder?”

One of the women began to recognize the voices. The women were then addressed directly. “Are you ladies learning something up there?! Don’t ever cheat on your man or he has every right to fuck you up.”

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None of the women shared their story until Thursday, October 13th when Stacie Perrault Staub outlined the encounter in detail, never naming the men or offering hints as to their identities.

The three men implicate themselves

All three men implicated themselves on Friday, October 14th, posting on Facebook that they were on the bus, but claimed they never said anything to that effect while they privately discussed a crumbling marriage.

Ronnie George, Real Estate Agent and Team Leader at Keller Williams Realty CENLA Partners in Louisiana, was allegedly one of the commenters on the bus, along with Lab Coat Agents founders Nicholas “Nick” Baldwin (the COO at Lab Coat Agents and Listing Specialist at The Baldwin Dream Team at Keller Williams Realty in New Jersey) and Herubay “Tristan” Ahumada (CEO at Lab Coat Agents and Real Estate Agent at Keller Williams World Class, Tristan & Associates), who were on their way to find out whether as finalists, Lab Coat Agents had won Inman’s “Most Innovative Technology” category (which Cloud MLX ultimately went on to win).

The morning after the bus ride in question, this picture was posted on Instagram:
instagram-screenshot
The three men have not responded to our requests for comment, but our email tracking system confirms they have opened the emails.

On Monday, October 17th, a Keller Williams spokesperson said, “Derogatory statements and actions have no place in our Keller Williams’ culture. We take these matters seriously, and have taken immediate action.” We have asked for clarification as to what actions have been taken.

Throwing gasoline on a fire

On Friday, the three men called Staub (as well as witnesses Valerie Garcia and Nikki Beauchamp) liars, even making videos on the topic to defend their innocence and subsequently deleted the videos from the “closed” Lab Coat Agents (LCA) group on Facebook. Anyone that watched this group today saw threads deleted in front of them.

While the videos, self-implicating status updates, and references to this incidence have been scrubbed from LCA, we have hundreds of screenshots as well as shared videos, just as countless private Facebook groups and real estate practitioners do.

For example, the deleted videos have since been uploaded to YouTube (courtesy of Rob Hahn):


People offended by the scrubbing efforts have re-posted screenshots of others questioning the LCA founders. Those have also been deleted by LCA.

Group members have gone as far as finding old tweets from George as far back as 2015, asserting that they depict an ongoing misogynistic attitude.

ronnie george on twitter

Another group member confronted Baldwin directly, alleging that moments after meeting, Baldwin bragged to him about having sex with one of the event hosts. That post was removed (and was defiantly reposted by other LCA members).

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A source close to the story tells us that this is far from over, and one of the women tells us she is “terrified.” Another source indicates the witnesses are upset at being named by blogger Rob Hahn, although many people have publicly tagged the three women in Facebook status updates to show their support. Several people have told us that there are private backchannel conversations going on that are being perceived as threatening.

The allegations have led to respected industry leaders to leave the Facebook group, along with others that are purportedly blocked from seeing or returning to the LCA group. Many have left, some have been banned by LCA administrators.

The three men have confirmed they were on the bus, had a personal conversation, and they have called the women liars, and apologized if anyone was offended, but have yet to recount what exactly their conversation entailed (which at this point is irrelevant, as they continue to deny the account of that day).

While numerous sources are speaking to us off of the record for fear of retribution, New York broker, J. Philip Faranda had intimate knowledge of this encounter prior to Staub’s original post being published and he opined brashly.

Faranda calls this “a brand-killing event” for Lab Coat Agents.

Moving forward in a post-Inman-bus world

According to Inman, Lab Coat Agents’ Baldwin and Ahumada are “de-facto consultants” for real estate tech firms in exchange for equity. Further, Ahumada told Inman he had been flown in by the VP of realtor.com to consult on various Move, Inc. products. Previously, Baldwin told The Real Daily that they were being brought in by realtor.com to take over the still defunct Tech Savvy Agent blog.

Move and realtor.com have not responded to our request for comment, although the email request has been opened 13 times as of publication. The National Association of Realtors has verified with The Real Daily that they have no affiliation with Lab Coat Agents, financial or otherwise.

In full disclosure, leadership at The Real Daily was previously invited (and we ultimately declined) to speak at the first LCA conference by Baldwin, who by all standards has maintained a professional tone during all of our interactions.

Ultimately, this is a black eye on the industry as Staub’s original blog post has been shared across social networks in front of endless consumers.

At home or at a conference, Realtors are held to a Code of Ethics, a Code of Excellence, and to higher standards of behavior. The egos of a few won’t be allowed to damage the reputation of 1.2 million Realtors in America. The real estate industry continues to protect consumers (and to an extent other agents) from this behavior; for example, NAR amended the CoE to protect LGBTQ couples from being discriminated against while the federal government continues to deliberate.

Consumers would not expect any other industry to tolerate even a hint of bullying, intimidation, sexism, or indirect threats of violence. Even from real estate vendors.

Since publication, Valerie Garcia and Nikki Beauchamp have both put forward statements corroborating Staub’s account of the incident.

This is an ongoing story and we will keep you updated.

UPDATE: Industry leader Jeff Lobb reportedly left the group and was blocked prior to this incident and for separate reasons.

UPDATE: October 17th, 2:18pm cst updated the story to reflect Beauchamp and Garcia’s public statements, and to add Keller William’s statement.

UPDATE, October 17th: Lab Coat Agents’ LCA Live speakers backing out

#LCAccused

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The Real Daily and sister news outlet, The American Genius, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Real Estate Brokerage

Brokerages rarely write an internal communication strategy, here’s how

(BUSINESS) Almost no real estate brokerages have an internal communication strategy, but absolutely should.

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internal communication strategy

It’s still early enough in the year that you can start fresh personally and professionally. Help your organization start fresh by taking into account what’s happened in recent history and where you want to go. From there, you will determine what steps are necessary to achieve your goals.

Writing an internal communication (IC) strategy can be the first step in mapping your goals and is virtually unused in the real estate industry. According to All Things IC, an “internal communication strategy is like a map, an outline of your organization’s journey. It’s the big picture of what you want to achieve.” This can be done by a brokerage, or an independent agent alike.

Great! So, where do you start? First, know what an IC strategy needs to address. This includes the where, how, what, and why.

Write down the current state of the company, then state where you’re headingm or where you’d like to be. Create a list of objectives to support this.

Then break into your “how.” Explain how you are going to get to where you want to be, as well as how long it will take and why.

You’ll then venture over to a “what” by outlining what is involved along the way to your goal. Then, throw in a little “why” by explaining why this approach is the best for the job.

Go back to “how” and tell how you’ll know when you’ve reached your destination. This part will require tangibles, measurements to support a change in reaching your goal.

Finally, give one more “what” and address what will happen if you don’t change the way you’re currently operating. If things are working for your organization, that’s great! But, there is always room for improvement.

For an internal communication strategy, it is important to include the following: a title, an issue/purpose, structure, executive summary, audience segmentation/stakeholder mapping, a timeline, channels, measurement, communication objective, approval process and responsibilities, key messages, and an appendix.

Now, what was missing from the initial inclusions was a “who.” So, who should be the one to write this document?

Well, it needs to be someone with a strong understanding and implementation for internal communications. This can be done internally by someone on staff who is an expert; or, it can be outsourced to an expert. Regardless of who writes it, make sure it is clear and concise for the audience at hand.

What is most important to remember is that writing an internal communication strategy is just half the battle. Your work is not done once this document is agreed upon by the leadership team. And finally, you must be willing to enforce what’s written on these pages and be ready to make the changes you’ve outlined.

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Real Estate Brokerage

How to achieve a winning business culture

(BUSINESS) Achieve a winning business culture by checking in on four important categories that are time-tested and proven to improve your company.

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winning business culture

When it comes to the term “business culture,” we all have a tendency to throw it around without a precise definition that fits our respective companies specifically. It can be argued that some type of culture will form, regardless of the emphasis you put on it – that’s just human nature. But, how can we check in to make sure that the business culture we’re exuding is an effective one?

A few months back, I was told about a simple way to test your business culture, in a method developed by Franklin Covey. In order to have a winning culture, a culture must have organizational focus and execution shining from great leaders and effective individuals.

With this, there are four categories which contribute to a winning culture. These include: distinctive contribution, engaged team members, loyal customers, and sustained performance.

You may be reading this and going, “well, no duh,” but let’s think about this for a second. Even if you can explain the factors that would make up a strong culture, does that mean that your company has them?

In terms of distinctive contribution, it’s important to look past what your company does on a day-to-day basis and see what you’re doing to make a difference in the world. Does your company give back to the community? Does your team feel proud to work for a company that does good for others?

Speaking of your team members, do they seem to be engaged? So many people go into work with a lackluster attitude and that has a poor effect on their output.

Are you doing things within your culture to make your team feel engaged and productive? This can range from weekly meetings designed to brainstorm and hear everyone’s opinion, to programs that award hard work with fun incentives.

When you have team members that are engaged and hardworking, they will display this to the public and will likely help in attracting loyal customers. Customers can tell when a company and its team are being genuine, and that carries so much weight in terms of retention.

This leads to the final aspect of sustained performance. You must be present and consistent with your customers in order to give them repeated satisfactory performance time and time again.

It’s likely that our business cultures can all enhance in one or more of these categories, and, what better timing than going into a new year?

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Real Estate Brokerage

How JetBlue earns undying loyalty, and how you can too

(BUSINESS NEWS) Getting people to remember, let alone love a brand is near impossible, but JetBlue shows a promising path forward.

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jetblue

As customers become increasingly aware of marketing techniques and underlying motives for brands, it becomes more difficult to sell to them. Luckily, there are still a few brands whose techniques you can learn from – and, perhaps surprisingly, one of them is JetBlue.

JetBlue, a major airline, sees their customers as individual people, not just numbers. This “human” aspect of JetBlue’s branding is their most important trait; especially in the airlines industry – a market oversaturated with stale experiences (and peanuts)—it’s crucial to stand out. JetBlue does so by going the extra frequent-flyer mile to make customers feel at home through genuine, human interactions.

Another interesting JetBlue method is categorizing their customer engagement.

There are two different categories of interaction – micro and macro – that refer to small, one-on-one encounters and the big picture, respectively. With an emphasis on making the individual experience as pleasant as possible without losing sight of the forest in the process, JetBlue creates an atmosphere that balances hospitality and efficiency.

One of the most oft-overlooked aspects of customer engagement is that it goes two ways. Responding to customers is objectively important, but it’s an exercise in futility if you aren’t also listening to what they’re saying in the first place. Too often, a customer service team’s first response is to address comments or concerns with damage control in mind; instead, have a dialogue with your customers.

If the interaction doesn’t feel like a conversation, you’re doing it wrong.

JetBlue also has a profoundly healthy response to crises. Where others merely apologize, condescend, and/or brutally drag people off of the airplane when faced with an overbooking or a late departure, JetBlue bends over backward to ensure that their response is both heartfelt and actually useful to those affected.

This is something with which I actually have experience – at one point, JetBlue had to delay one of my flights for several hours, a circumstance to which their response was complimentary drinks and $75 vouchers for future flights. There’s no replacing convenience, but JetBlue did their damnedest, and that’s what I remember about them.

As you approach this year’s customer encounters, remember the two-way approach and avoid falling into the trap of talking rather than listening.

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