If Brad Inman was the brains of Inman Connect in San Francisco, Billy Ekofo was the heart.
His message of MOYO, his surprise family visit and his genuine enthusiasm for helping real estate professionals do better and be better had everyone moved, merry and motivated.
But truth be told, we do not like him. And neither should you. Here’s why.
He has “lead” in his job title but doesn’t believe in leads.
Billy is Director of Leads Management for Century21 Redwood Realty. But he says that’s not what he really does.
“I’m a glorified matchmaker,” as he put it. He fields the calls from buyers and sellers and finds the right agent to help. He pointed out that real estate is a service business. And real estate professionals are, in fact, serving people. So he doesn’t like it when the people who are trying to buy or sell a home are reduced to mere leads.
“How do we see the people we are trying to help?” Billy asked. “If we say we help, but we don’t actually see them as people, then those are two ships crossing the night.” He notes that real estate clients don’t care about an agent’s training, certifications, or commission structure. They want to know they will be seen and heard as human beings.
It’s a topic Billy and Adwerx CEO Jed Carlson covered together during a recent Inman webinar. In that same webinar, Jed shared the Adwerx Lifetime Value Calculator, to help agents see behind the transaction and look to the overall value of a relationship.
Oh, come on. Who thinks like that?
He answers the phone, replies to your email or engages with you on Facebook.
“My job requires that I pick up the phone,” Billy said. But he doesn’t try to sell — he tries to help. If someone calls about a property, it is his job is to answer their questions. By answering those questions, he isn’t “finding a lead” as much as establishing credibility. And that matters in real estate now more than ever.
Billy cites a 2015 report on social responsibility by Forbes. And you know which industry wasn’t represented on the list? Real estate. So even though many companies talk the talk, few walk the walk.
It’s all about making connections. Making time to sit down and really connect with people, beyond the work and the money. That’s when good things tend to happen.
“The moment you grasp how many things you can do for good and still leverage your business for the betterment of a neighborhood to society at large, that’s the moment you become socially responsible,” Billy said.
That brings us back to his MOYO mantra.
In India, people say, “Namaste,” to communicate they see the god in you. In Israel, people say, “Shalom,” which means peace. And in Congo, where Billy’s family is from, there is a greeting of “Moyo!” that means life. When you greet someone with it, you see life. You see possibilities. And for Billy, his work and his life are all about possibilities.
Even when he picks up the phone.
“My goal isn’t to sell. It’s to set an appointment. I’m a facilitator. Of course, when you think about lead gen, the faster you get to the prospect the better.”
Can you believe this guy?
He doesn’t have all the answers and is the first person to admit it.
“Do I have all the answers? No. Can I help everyone? No. Can I be a conduit for good? YES.”
For Billy, the power of real estate is in its opportunity to impact people. Until you see that as your worth as an agent, you’re not going to help lift up the industry.
On top of all that, he doesn’t have a personal agenda when he meets you. When you reach out, he is wide open to the possibilities of the connection. He’s not going to sell to you or use you for who you know.
Oh, good grief.
So those are three reasons you should not like Billy Ekofo. Because, in fact, you should admire him. You should respect him. And you should get to know him as soon as possible. Because you won’t like him, either — you’ll love him just like we do.
Watch Billy tell his story.
Billy delivered a powerful speech to a packed house at Inman Connect in San Francisco on August 4, 2016. Born in the United States to Congolese parents, Billy tells his amazing story that takes him from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Virginia, where he obtains master’s degree, gets married, starts a family of his own and touches many lives with his incredible positivity. Billy sees every real estate prospect as a person and that makes all the difference.