The Real Estate Sessions: Molly McKinley and the fine art of building a brand
Bill Risser is always curious about people in real estate, which started him on the path of his podcast, The Real Estate Sessions. Recently, he sat down with our own Molly McKinley to learn more about her background and the path that brought her to her role as VP of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Adwerx.
In the spirit of full disclosure, Adwerx has long supported Bill Risser and the Real Estate Sessions, as you’ll hear from Bill’s introduction.
Molly grew up in Dublin, Ohio, which is just outside Columbus. “I’m proud of my midwestern roots,” she told Bill. But Molly’s path took her all over the US, including Chicago, San Francisco, Florida and now North Carolina. And she appreciates having the experience of having lived all over the country with different types of people.
Molly was a dual major in art history and fine art from Kent State. At the time, she wanted to be a fashion designer. Then she thought perhaps a career as an art teacher. But soon enough, Molly was one of the few people who used their art degree in the professional world, working at a gallery in Chicago and as a dealer in San Francisco.
A career shaped by sliding door moments
How did Molly go from representing artists to public relations? It happened during her time in the Bay area. She was out at dinner and found herself distracted by another group of diners. Were they friends? Were they workmates? It wasn’t clear at the moment. But whatever they were, they were very excited.
After the meal, one of the party members came over to apologize to Molly for the noise.
“I found out it was Bob Angus of A&R Partners, a fast-growing PR firm in Silicon Valley,” she said. And two days later, Molly was hired on and learning tech PR on the job.
This is one of what Molly calls her “sliding doors moments,” where an opportunity presented itself briefly, and she had to move fast. And the result was a life pivot. “All good things in my life have happened that way,” she told Bill. “I trust that. I need to be an observer so I’m more present and aware of that moment when it comes.”
The same goes for her partner in love and life. Molly was raising her three children with her ex-husband when she found her soul mate at the yoga studio. “Love is love,” she smiled, thinking of the deep connection she has with her wife, Stacey. “When life gives you a gift, say ‘thank you’ even if it’s not what you’re expecting.”
For Molly, happiness is the alignment of thought, deed, and action. “When you have a disconnect of any of those things, it comes out. So I’m aiming for radical truth.”
Why should Bill try yoga?
Yoga isn’t just where Molly met the love of her life. It’s where she goes to “quiet the crazy monkey mind,” as she calls it. She is a yogini, aka a female yoga practitioner while a yogi is a male practitioner.
“Ten years ago, I did yoga teacher training to deepen my own practice. Teaching is very natural for me when I’m very passionate about something. I just want to share it.”
Molly finds that yoga grounds and centers the practitioner unlike anything else. “Lately, I’ve been away from my own yoga practice, mentally and physically,” she lamented.
And how did she come to Adwerx?
Adwerx CEO Jed Carlson was one of the earliest guests on The Real Estate Sessions. And Molly had connected with him originally in a consulting role.
“I slowed down my consulting PR work while raising my kids, taking on one or two clients at a time,” she told Bill. “A friend of mine heard of a new startup called Adwerx that needed marketing assistance. So I pitched Jed as a client, but he offered me a job.”
And here she is, two and a half years later.
Molly runs the corporate brand side of the house. She and her team are in charge of storytelling. They create the advocates for the Adwerx brand, as well as the content and public relations strategies.
So what makes Adwerx a unique startup?
“Jed is a dynamic leader,” Molly said. “The Adwerx mission is to level the playing field for the very small business. What I love about that is that it’s inspired. Ad tech is complicated. The ability that the development team of Adwerx has done hyper simplifying something that is complicated is hard to do. It’s hard to simplify, it’s easy to complicate. Adwerx is remarkable at that.”
Adwerx is pure digital advertising. and that’s different than lead generation. In order to do lead gen for real estate, you need the entire cycle. Digital ads can be part of a lead gen system. The landing page is what needs to be lead capture or engagement-focuses. “Adwerx delivers impressions, and that’s what you want to look at with advertising: reach. But it’s a hard thing for many people who don’t understand marketing.”
What has Molly learned about real estate in her time with Adwerx?
She loves homes and interior design already. But overall, Molly has learned something she didn’t expect.
“I’ve learned that the industry of real estate pros may be the most warm-hearted, kind people that I’ve ever met. To have so many connections so quickly and take me in and teach me the ropes has been remarkable.”
Molly outlined the roadmap for Adwerx in 2017. “We’re launching in mortgage and insurance, bringing the same ad tech to those verticals. We’re also going into Canada and Australia,” she said.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new agent, what would it be?
“For me, as someone who likes to build brands, you have to find something real and authentic. Don’t emulate what works for someone else. If you find the authentic voice for yourself in your own business, you’ll magnetize the right people your way and that’s how you will grow. Find your own path and roll with it.”