Business innovator Michael Jalbert talks about the untapped “power of we,” big data, and the future of real estate.
Michael Jalbert knows how to successfully scale business organizations, drawing on thirty years of experience in corporate management, strategic leadership, international business development and team building. He is particularly adept at helping companies navigate large scale international expansion initiatives. To date, he has successfully engaged in projects in Europe, Pacific/Asia, North America, and South America across various business sectors, including consumer products, industrial goods, and professional services.
Prior to co-founding his own consultancy, Michael spent 14 years with PepsiCo in a variety of assignments, leading to his role as Vice President of National Sales. Following that, he was recruited to AlliedSignal (Honeywell), where he joined a new leadership team at the Automotive Aftermarket Division and successfully restructured this $1 billion division to profitability. Shortly after, Cendant Corporation recruited Michael to their Real Estate Division as EVP to lead the growth, acquisition and administration of Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and ERA real estate brands globally.
Michael’s career then took an entrepreneurial turn when he joined the ERA Europe Company, first as chief development officer and later as vice chairman and partner of this 17-country, 1,500-office network across Europe. After this successful relationship he was asked to lead Management Recruiters International, a division of the human capital company CDI Corporation, as President and CEO. Michael is currently a director at Chestnut Hill Partners, a New York based investment boutique, and co-founder of Omega Management Group Advisors, where he helps companies with strategic growth and international expansion.
Placester’s Seth Price caught up with Michael to chat about his latest venture, change management, and the state of the real estate industry.
The agency of the future will give their agents world class tools and insightful data to help them better serve the customers. Those that succeed in the decades to come will figure out how to truly empower and compensate their agency force.
Placester: What are you working on right now?
Michael Jalbert: Omega Management Group Advisors is currently working with several international firms, helping them expand their businesses globally.
P: What does your typical day look like?
MJ: Most days, I spend the majority of my time on the phone with clients and customers across many time zones. Once or twice a quarter, I’m usually on an extended, often international trip, following up on current business and always with an eye out for new opportunities.
P: What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
MJ: I was hired by a multinational corporation to turn around a significant division, which had $1 billion in sales, but did not make any money. I learned that you need to keep true to objectives and continually work with your team to decide what’s critical and what needs to become a secondary priority. I also learned that you should never underestimate the fear that senior management can have of change.
P: Now that you’re not running multinational real estate firms, what wrong with real estate in the U.S.?
MJ: Regarding the current crisis, I truly believe you need to start with the lenders. Without a solution to attack the mortgage crisis and work homeowners through the underwater values, the market is not able to right itself. When we think about the agency model, I’m convinced that the brick and mortar agency increasingly become less important. The agency of the future will give their agents world class tools and insightful data to help them better serve the customers. Those that succeed in the decades to come will figure out how to truly empower and compensate their agency force.
P: How should real estate professionals be thinking about their competition?
MJ: You should never underestimate your competition, and run your business every day as if a competitor is doing something smarter, faster, and more effective. The result of this should keep you leading the market, as opposed to reacting to it.
P: How do you bring ideas to life?
MJ: Information is the key. Be active with your customers. Ask and listen to why they chose you, what they did and didn’t like about the job your team did. Do the same with your competitors’ customers. The answers are always there. I’m also a big believer in effective leadership. Information is power, and great leaders are always sharing what they know with their teams, as well as listening to them to ever improve their business.
P: What inspires you?
MJ: Professionals that just get on with doing business everyday and don’t waste motion and energy on negative issues. That said, we always want to know how to get better.
P: What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
MJ: I’ve learned that a leader needs to always remain active in the business and be focused on growth. I’ve learned not to become complacent based on what’s been accomplished. While we need to celebrate successes, we also need to make sure we don’t ever think the job is done.
P: How do you measure success?
MJ: By results, versus what we set as goals. People should track every metric possible, but focus the majority of their efforts on activities that lead to positive results.
P: How do you help companies think strategically?
MJ: I find most leaders, and therefore companies, struggle with strategy and how to effectively bring their unique value to market. Strategy should be thought of in the context of where you want to take your business and what you want to accomplish. If you can clearly articulate and set those goals over specific time horizons, then you are thinking strategically. We help companies sort through the distraction in creating those goals, then lay clear steps, or tactics, for the daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly work necessary to achieve them.
Unlike cars, which are truly a commodity, homes are unique, and you need a professional to create context for the information surrounding a particular home.
P: If you had to buy some real estate today, what would you want that experience to be like?
MJ: I would want to be able to leverage technology to be informed, and partner that with a real professional to make the process come together. Buying real estate is typically one of the largest financial decisions in a person’s life. Therefore, most people want an informed, trusted advisor. Also, unlike cars, which are truly a commodity, homes are unique, and you need a professional to create context for the information surrounding a particular home.
P: How do you see technology shaping the business of real estate in the future?
MJ: Technology is a great enabler, helping both the customer and real estate professional be better informed and make better decisions faster.
P: What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
MJ: Find a way to really enjoy what you do, and if you can’t, look for another job. Your customers can tell if you are passionate about what you do.
P: What do you read every day, and why?
MJ: Wall Street Journal editorials. I find that typically they are leading indicators of what will often be in the headlines the following few days.
P: What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
MJ: The Game of Work, by Charles A. Coonradt. It fosters communication, alignment, results, and fun in an environment where everyone is treated as an adult.
P: What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
MJ: I really love my Samsung Android phone. It’s very fast and has great apps.
P: What real estate expert would you love to see us interview?
Richard Smith, CEO of Realogy. He is the most informed industry expert, period.
P: When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
MJ: Recently, with family at a birthday party…mine!
P: How can people connect with you?
P: Where are you located?
MJ: Providence, Rhode Island.