Mollie: What makes Brookfield different in that experience? I get the whole circle of amenities and all those parts and pieces. But is there something specific? We’ve talked a lot about different ways of how you would not only serve the customer but almost be a partner to the customer. But how is that really different than…any of the builders out there?
Adrian: I think this is where our industry needs to go or will go, and the consumer will see value in this rather than single, onesie, twosie transactions that they have with for-sale builders. Ultimately we’ve got to create this customer–for–life environment where every one of those transactions that customer engages in during their life, we have the ability to reduce that layer of cost. I bring in just the rental and the active adult and the senior housing components just as an extension of the experience. But when you add up through your life, what you spend on those transactions, it’s colossal. Actually having an environment where it was easier, frictionless for you to go in–and–out of homes, whatever that journey is, and where you didn’t pay 5.5-6 percent every time you wanted to trade in–and–out of a home—you know, the iBuyer processes is definitely doing a great job of removing the obscurity and creating more transparency around that process.
We think as builders. At Brookfield, we need to lean in on that exercise as well. But if you can look at compressing these layers through your life experience of living and have a partner that you trust, that isn’t just dealing with you on this one transaction then is never interested in seeing you ever again—that’s going to transform your choice. And you won’t just buy that home singularly for its location or singularly for its price, but you’ll actually care about who’s built it, or who the landlord is, or who the future provider might be. You’ll actually seek that builder out when you go to your new markets, if you’re moving from A to B, and it’s hugely beneficial to you, and it’s hugely beneficial to us. We spend $17-18,000 per customer today, it’s a colossal amount of money. You’re spending that (or more) every time you sell your home. We want to lower those, the friction, and lower the cost of those transaction layers, so we can really make your life more pleasurable and your experience of living more enjoyable.
We’re proud of the fact, and there are a few other builders who have done this, that we’ve recently launched our website with full transparency on pricing, and how the pricing relates to other prices in the neighborhood that you’re buying in. How about that? That’s huge!
Mollie: I hate the whole game-playing thing. Tell me the price!
Adrian: You mentioned other industries. The auto industry, I think, has done a great job of doing this gradually. Thanks to companies like Tesla and others out there who have really said, “This is a miserable way to do business.” Frankly, that’s not really where we make our money.
So, really creating an environment where the price of that home that we’ve arrived at, we share that logic with you. That actually you can buy that home online…other builders are doing this...We want to get the industry to the point where you can buy now and there’s full transparency. Not to suggest that brokers aren’t important and they don’t play a role, because they do. But quite frankly, this is not where their highest and best use is. We should be able to provide that broker advocacy to you as a consumer, by providing you with the information on this. These are the last 60 sales we’ve made this year though, why do you need any more advocacy than that?
So anyway, so it’s really changing that experience, creating an environment where once you do buy the home from us, we’re available to you to recertify that home when you want to sell it, even if you don’t want to buy one of ours, but hopefully, you want to buy one of ours. And if you want to buy one of ours, there’s a whole bunch of layers of cost in there that we can help compress, as I mentioned a minute ago. So really reengineering this whole experience. There are a few builders, ourselves included, that are on this bandwagon of really trying to change how our industry does it. I think it’s akin to the car industry where you had that sort of car salesman, negative connotation, where today there’s a little more honesty, transparency, and openness with that transaction. So we hope to do the same.
Mollie: When I think some of the things that you’ve shared with me in the past is that whole role or that whole human touch component, is incrementally so important to the process. We’re going to spend it in the categories where it counts and where it makes sense. It’s really sort of a transition of the role of that player is more of a concierge and an experience expert, as opposed to weeding through paper to get your answer because it’s so organized and easy to do today. Why not make it better? I agree with you…it doesn’t go away, they just transform into a better place.
What about the opportunity to actually grow with my home and trade my home in, as my family grows, I grow in the Brookfield family and as my family leaves, I change in the Brookfield family of home types and choices. Those are some of the things that we’ve tried too. I just think that’s brilliant. I would never buy another house from another builder, again, with that concept.
Adrian: It’s a natural evolution. The only shortcoming is we aren’t always where you want to be. So we’ve got to deal with the reality of that. But, obviously, in a lot of situations, we are going to be where you want to be. Especially as it relates to your expanding family—you’re family transitioning to a Brookfield student house, multifamily home, single-family rental home, or first home for sale—the opportunity is phenomenal. It’s really allowing us to have these conversations and opening up the mind of our own team to transform the conversation around single transactions into life-long experiences.
Mollie: Who are your top two inspirational leaders? Share a few characteristics of each you admire.
Adrian: I’ll go back to one of my British brethren, Richard Branson, who I had the good fortune of meeting maybe month one of moving out here. I did get the pleasure of meeting him. Richard Brandson struck me, as he spoke to me, similarly to the way Brookfield speaks to me. He didn’t come out of school as a phenomenally educated individual. He did grow up with a few shillings in his pocket, which, I didn’t. I wasn’t short on money but I didn’t have as much as he did. He left school relatively uneducated and is very much self-driven, but that’s part of what I love about Richard Branson. The other part is, he definitely always has a smile on his face. I try to do that on a daily basis. He’s the ultimate guy who’s pursued his passion and frankly is probably never worked a day in his life as a result. Brave, innovative, creative, a bit whacky. There are certain decisions that he’s made that I definitely wouldn’t have made—balloon flying across the globe being one. He optimizes the energy that you want to see in a leader, which is the whole point of this chat. The energy that makes you do what you don’t think you’re capable of doing. That is ultimately what we’re all about. We all want to be pushed. I have on my desk this, my good friend Bob White bought me this, it says, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” We all want to feel like we have the ability to do something that we aren’t going to fail at. Richard Branson epitomizes that to me. He is phenomenally successful, we’ve all heard the stories. He just made me want to be like him.
Mollie: He’s a passionate guy, for sure.
Adrian: For sure. Frankly, age is just a number for him. He’s just as passionate today as he was in his twenties.
The other would be a guy called Marc Benioff. You probably know Marc runs Salesforce. For a number of reasons, but at its core would be his leadership style within Salesforce imparts a certain tone. As a company, a leadership style for industries to follow. How they treat diversity, successful women in their business, their role in the community, and what they do to give back. I always go to Salesforce to steal their protocols with how they’re handling the pandemic, how they’re dealing with vaccinations, how they’re dealing with women in the workplace, how they’re dealing with diversity, equity, and belonging. I think as a company they are a really high watermark for companies to follow. Now, they’ve got some of their challenges too. But Marc himself, I follow him on Twitter, I’m an avid Twitter follower of people like him. I learn a lot from the Marc Benioff’s of the world.
Mollie: I think of Marc as a community builder in all things, which is really what Salesforce is about. And as it relates to Richard Branson, what I love about him is—so I have a fear of failing but I have a fear of not trying things due to the idea that I might fail. So you have to push yourself to still be competitive but push beyond that and say “If I fail, I get up again.” Like the saying, “Fight another day.” And he is definitely like that.
What are the three core values that you think are inspirational ways to look at leadership?
Adrian: I have such great role models at Brookfield. Bruce Flatt, Chief Executive Officer of Brookfield Asset Management, is the ultimate guiding light for our organization. He definitely imparts these principles. Brian Kingston who runs our real estate business across the globe. Just incredibly intelligent, thoughtful individual. Locally, my friend Alan Norris…All of which embodies these three traits we don’t speak about, they are just evident. One is humility. I think it’s at the core of Brookfield. The moment you think it’s all about you—this is not the place for you. Those who come into this company and struggle with that don’t last long. It’s because of all the reasons we’ve talked about. It keeps you in check. We’ve all got egos and we’re all proud of what we do and we’re passionate (that’s the second.) But we’re checking it at the door and we’re going to work together as a team. The second is passion. The saying goes something like, “I don’t think you can do anything successfully without being passionate about it.” Bruce Flatt is one of the most excited men on the planet when you’re talking about a piece of real estate that’s new and that’s going to be developed and we’re going to do financially well at. Brian Kingston, same, and Alan Norris. Just so passionate about the business—and people. They enjoy engaging and being a part of a team. The last is community. I think about the community of places that we build and create. I think about the community of our teams, our local teams. I think about the community of our organization. They make it a community. I’ve always said that as big as Brookfield has gotten, and it’s a big company, it still feels like a small company to me. It’ still feels like you could pick up the phone, which none of us do anymore, but you could definitely text or email any of those individuals and they’d be back to you in 15-20 minutes. That is what community feels like. I’m not a number here. You’re not a number at Brookfield. You’re not a number at Zonda. Mollie Carmichael is just as critical as the next person. So it just feels like a community and those three things are what make me connect all the dots at Brookfield.
Mollie: I think those are three pretty perfect qualities in an inspirational leader.
Thank you for joining us today. I am so appreciative of your time. I would say, those three qualities, I don’t think I could pick three better qualities to align with you, and certainly the whole team and Brookfield…the passion shows not just in working with your teams but certainly in the homes and communities you build. The community part of it speaks for itself. You can see it throughout the country as the largest residential landholder in the country, and the world. That is a story in itself.