Steve Jobs famously referenced another great artist in a 1996 interview: “Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’ — and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
Recently I attended an event to allow others to steal my ideas, and to steal some for myself. I was invited to speak at the T3 Summit, an exclusive event for CEO’s in the real estate industry.
Before I go on, let me clarify something. I may be stating the obvious, but Steve and I are not talking about actual theft, but rather the practice of standing on the shoulders of great innovators, learning from their ideas, and ‘making them your own.’ Most innovation can be boiled down to the creative combination of two or more ideas coming together in a new way. Often those original ideas come from completely different fields and industries.
This is why the real estate industry was interested in learning how Boundless has been able to innovate in an industry that, on a whole, has been slower to adopt technology, and why those of us in the promotional product world should pay attention to the changes and trends in the real estate space. There are a lot of similarities between the two industries. Both are driven by relationship sales – sales professionals and agents who provide a very custom and consultative service. Both have been slower to change due to the rise of digital than other industries. Both currently see less than 15% of their transactions happening online.
The online shopping behavior experienced in a majority of industries simply has not become an essential aspect of either business model − at least not yet. Still, sales professionals, distributors, realtors, and agents all spend a lot of time thinking (and possibly worrying) about how online competitors will change their future. Real estate has seen the recent creation of billion dollar innovators like Zillow and Trulia making information previously only available to agents accessible to consumers. In our industry, many distributors and salespeople fear similar price transparency for supplier product pricing.
So, the forces and trends that impact our industries are similar, and the solutions may be too. I spoke to the audience about the two entrenched camps in our industry: the traditional distributor and the online e-commerce players, and how Boundless has staked a new path − leveraging technology to empower the sales professional. I talked about the importance of creating tools that i) create efficiencies for salespeople that make their lives easier, and, maybe more importantly, ii) help them grow their business by expanding their existing relationships and securing new customers. Many of the attendees agreed that realtors could learn something from what we have created.
As Tim Kastelle says in this blog post from The Discipline of Innovation, “the act of innovation consists of combining ideas in new ways, and then executing this new combination effectively.”
At Boundless, we don’t shy away from learning from others to create new powerful ways for our salespeople to beat the snot out of the competition and deliver more value to our customers. We are proud to be real innovators.