Fonville Morisey (Cary, NC)
Institute member Kelly Cobb builds success through giving
By anyone’s estimation, Kelly Cobb has had a successful, fruitful career in real estate. It’s a career based on equal parts entrepreneurialism and hard work that spans more than two decades. But what distinguished Cobb from her colleagues is her equally impressive career in the non-profit sector – an addiction to altruism that began just after college and hasn’t released its grip for nearly forty years.
“Good things happen when you take care of good people,” says Cobb. “If you take care of people, the money will take care of itself.”
For Cobb, it’s more than lip service. It’s a mantra that permeates her approach to real estate – even at the highest levels. And she found a kindred spirit in the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (ILHM). One member benefit she is sure to take advantage of each year is ILHM’s Leaders in Luxury conference [the invitation-only ILHM meeting for agents who work in the million dollar plus market].
“Since joining, I’ve only missed one of the annual Leaders in Luxury events, and that was because of my brokerage company retreat!” says Cobb. “I have been hugely impressed by the quality of, well, everything! The exposure, the networking, the information – even the opportunity to be part of a group of such great people.”
This year, one of ILHM’s Leaders in Luxury speakers was Frank McKinney, who became a home builder shortly after he graduated from high school. “He builds multi-million dollar homes, then takes a portion of the profits and uses them to build homes for people in Haiti and in other underdeveloped countries,” explains Cobb. “He said, ‘I think God taps certain people on the shoulder and gives them stewardship of special gifts so they can share with others.’”
“It was life-changing for me – it recommitted me to volunteer service and to improving my community for those who are of lesser means and deserve a better life. It’s one thing to be a luxury agent and sell multi-million dollar homes and associate with the people who can buy them – but I think it’s important to remain grounded and remember that we came into this world with nothing and will leave with nothing. It’s our job to make things better while we’re here.”
That theme of altruism is something ILHM takes to heart. Our research, information about luxury home buyer habits and preferences, the “leg up” we give our members – it all underscores the desire to understand the needs and do what’s best and what’s right for those we serve. In this same spirit, we made a contribution to McKinney’s foundation and built two homes in Haiti.
If you aren’t familiar with McKinney, he is known around the globe as a real estate "artist," and the creative building force behind some of the world's unique mansions. A true maverick with a charming flair, he is an author, speaker, and a daredevil in the risky world of speculative high-end real estate. McKinney is nearing completion of "Acqua Liana," an opulent eco-friendly "green" mansion priced at $29 million and "Crystalina," a $30 million Polynesian green home. Another current McKinney project is a $135 million spec home, The Manalapan Residence.
Although McKinney builds new dream mansions, he lives with his family in an historic 3000 square foot home, offices in a 150 sq. ft. tree house, and is committed to his Caring House Project Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating self-sufficiency by providing housing, food, water, medical support and opportunity for the desperately poor and homeless around the world. It is this passion of McKinney’s that sparked Cobb’s desire to increase her efforts to give back to the community.
--Author, Julia Kennedy Jayes
How to make Kelly Cobb’s Success Your Own
Research tells us that eight out of ten of the wealthy are involved with non-profit organizations -- often as major donors, committee members, or members of the Board of Directors.
Getting involved with non-profits, from cultural organizations to charitable groups, allows you to give back (and that’s important), but it is also good business. If you have a cause or group you wish to support, get involved. This doesn’t mean go to your first committee meeting and hand out your business card. Instead, work hard, establish your professionalism, create relationships, and over time, you will establish rapport and credibility that will lead to business. Here are some specific ideas for the “good business” of giving back.
- Buy a table at a charitable fund raising event and invite past clients and customers. A great way to stay in touch in a significant way with those most likely to give you repeat or referral business. They appreciate your “buying a chair” at the event in their name. While you are there, network with others.
- Donate a small portion of each commission check to charity in your buyers' or sellers’ names. You can do this with each closing or all at once at the end of the year. Choose a cause you can be passionate about.
- Create a social card – an elegant, slightly oversized card containing only your name and basic contact information (phone and email). Use this card in your volunteer activities. This allows people to get in touch without your being viewed as inappropriately pushy.
- Even if you don’t get involved as a volunteer, compile a prospect list of boards of directors of cultural and charitable organizations in your market. These folks are generally affluent and may be good prospects. Put them on your list to receive your regular Market Update Reports and begin to position yourself as a luxury home expert.
In short, as you work to give back to the community, you will also interact with those who will appreciate your willingness to give your time and energy and will be impressed with your professional approach. Over time, this can lead to the added value of generating business for you. As Kelly Cobb believes, generous giving of yourself seems to create more abundance for you as well.