• Simon Deen

Moneyball

The title of this week’s blog was going to be “We’ve always done it this way”.


But then last Sunday night, I sat down with a tub of ice cream and a bar of chocolate (don’t ask*) and turned on the TV.


And much like estate agents who promise that you can trust them, when it comes to deciding on a movie in 2022, there’s a lot of choice.


For someone who can be prone to indecision, it can be a little paralysing. I often end up watching 30 minutes of trailers, before giving up and going to bed.


But on Sunday night that didn’t happen.


Mostly because I’d spent the previous evening watching 30 minutes of trailers, before giving up and going to bed.


Moneyball is a 2011 film starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, a true story based on Michael Lewis’s 2003 book of the same name.


It focuses on an underfunded and unfashionable baseball team, the Oakland A’s. Their three best players have left, and there’s very little money for new ones.


But instead of resigning himself to a disappointing season, the general manager (Brad) decides to do something about it. By putting his reputation on the line, and turning the status quo on its head.


The other teams in the league have been busy relying on the same method of player recruitment since the early 1900’s. An ageing bunch of former pros, following their gut instinct.


But Brad employs Jonah instead. Jonah is an economics graduate from Yale, who doesn’t really fit in.


Rather than making decisions based on impulse, Brad and Jonah go deep on statistics, analysis and an unwavering belief that their new way of doing things is going to work.


Mostly because instead of worrying about how they look to the outside world, they’re relentlessly focused on achieving their goals.


Almost twelve months ago, I was introduced to the owner of a truly spectacular Penthouse apartment. It’s located in the recently named Knowledge Quarter, an amalgamation of Euston, Bloomsbury and Kings Cross.


Which compared to its more prestigious neighbours, Regent’s Park, Marylebone & Fitzrovia, is a bit under the radar.


So it wasn’t for everyone, but it was definitely for someone.


Despite the owner entrusting the process to an organisation eminently capable of doing the job, they’d only managed one viewing. In a year.


So there I stood, less than six months into my new business, with everything to prove. There was a lot at stake for me, and a lot at stake for the vendor too.


Thankfully, a couple of weeks before Christmas, after twenty-seven viewings and one abortive sale, we agreed a deal.


Before you think that this is a trumpet blowing exercise, it’s really not. And I hope it doesn’t come across that way. Because despite what my Mum might think, I’m really not a genius.


But I do care. A lot.


About different things, but in my professional life at least, about estate agents’ reputations. And doing a good job. And trying different things, on the premise that something will work eventually.


But not in a scattergun way. Because as long as you’re measuring the effectiveness of your strategies, you’ll be able to make decisions based on statistics, not subjective analysis.


So through a collaboration with a home stager, we were able to maximise the space. A talented photographer created some beautiful images. Finally, a very patient filmmaker directed my on screen debut.


Jenny, Tony, Edward and myself spent a lot of time thinking about who our potential buyer was going to be, how we wanted them to feel when they first entered, and what living in the Penthouse might be like.


And then we pushed the content far and wide, through digital channels, email campaigns, social media and dare I say it, good old fashioned agency.


After all of that hard work, and with some help from two other agents, we found our buyers.


And this week, they exchanged contracts.



 

Things I’ve Been Inspired By This Week


Two articles from the Harvard Business Review.


The first is about designing offices that people want to come back to.

“For knowledge workers, the office shouldn’t be a place to tackle a to-do list. It’s a place for collaboration, creativity, and learning, where an employee feels nurtured and a sense of belonging”

The second is a little deeper. How will you measure your life?


People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and over invest in their careers. Even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.
If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavours that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.

*Hackney Gelato & Tony’s Chocolonely, since you asked.




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