This April, one of Inman’s most popular recurring theme months returns: Back to Basics. Throughout the month, real estate professionals from across the country share what’s working for them, how they’ve evolved their systems and tools, and where they’re investing personally and professionally to fuel growth in 2022. It’s always smart to start with back to basics Inmann.
IPOs went oh so wrong. Romantics who are not at all what they seem. Companies operating in secret while playing a shell game with consumers. Recently, there have been a huge number of television shows dedicated to scammers and scammers of all kinds.
Maybe it’s because we’ve all been locked away for two years and are now wary of the outside world. Maybe it’s because we all spend so much of our lives online these days. Whatever the reason, the entertainment world seems to be becoming more and more focused on true crimes and the truly horrible things people do to each other.
Is everything fair? Schadenfreude, or can something be derived from these stories of not good, lazy, very bad actors and their deeds? We looked at four of the most popular documentaries of recent times to see what they might teach us about being smarter, both personally and professionally.
What is it
Anna Delvey (real name: Anna Vadimovna Sorokina) moves to Paris to work purple Magazine and is sent to New York City, where she stays and deceives a multitude of victims by claiming that she is a German heiress. She uses this cover to attend exclusive fashion shows, gallery openings, restaurant openings and more. The more she rises in the ranks of New York society, the more legitimized she becomes and the more plausible her newly adopted identity becomes.
By growing a wrong identity She steals more than a quarter million dollars and disappears as her lies begin to be unraveled. She then moves between a series of luxury hotels with no money due to her history and imaginary financial backing.
Many of the people on this list start out by subscribing to the “fake it ’til you make it” principle, but end up taking their charades too far. While the concept can be helpful – allowing you to move forward with confidence early in your career or in a new initiative – you can end up in a downward spiral if faking takes over and making never kicks in.
A believable story and a pretty face can go a long way and deceive many people. Put systems and processes in place for the way you run your business and finances, and don’t deviate from them just because someone is attractive or seems to move in illustrious circles.
Before you start working with someone, do your due diligence, check financials, background and other things to make sure they are who they appear to be.
A scammer can waste more than your time; They can cause you to rush into an investment or sales process that will end up costing you both money and damaging your reputation.
What is it
Elizabeth Holmes founds Theranos, a health tech startup in Silicon Valley, after dropping out of Stanford after her freshman year and using her remaining college tuition to fund her business. The mysterious Holmes claims that Theranos has developed a technology that will revolutionize blood testing by making it possible to test for a variety of diseases easily and quickly with a single drop of blood. The problem? None of this is true.
Part of the credibility of Holmes – and by extension Theranos – rested on her personal connections and her ability to convince influential people that she and her company were equals. Political and military leaders in particular, including Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, Jim Mattis, and Betsy DeVos, were among those who invested heavily in Theranos technology.
Like Delvey, Holmes gained credibility from those she had on her side who validated her claimed competence even when they had no evidence to back it. Although she also deceived some people in the scientific community, many of her biggest supporters came from outside the medical or scientific establishment.
They had no real way of knowing whether their claims were true or not, as they were dealing with a technology and business that existed outside of their normal jurisdiction.
Be careful when entering a new investment, market segment or strategy. Speak to those who are already experts and ensure you have the insight and information you need to make good decisions. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. An unprecedented opportunity backed by those who do not have the expertise to properly assess it may not be all it promises.
What is it
WeCrashed tells the story of Adam Neumann and his wife and inspirational muse and sorceress Rebekah Neumann. The two preside over the astronomical rise and eventual financial demise of We workone of the most valuable startups in the world, which finally collapses under the weight of its own hype during an ill-advised IPO.
What is essentially a commercial real estate company that sells coworking spaces eventually grows into something of a cult. Its hard-working, partisan corporate culture, financial gimmicks, and massive IRL expenses later lead to huge sell-offs and layoffs, as well as a reputation as one of the most overrated companies in history.
Corporate, broker or team culture should be more than matching T-shirts, chic offices and ill-advised parties. If there’s nothing that underpins your business – competence, solid service, a great reputation according to your customers – all those flashy extras won’t support you or your business.
Innovation is important, but there are business fundamentals that must be followed. Make sure you seek good advice and take that advice when it is given. Don’t surround yourself with “yes” people or fellow campaigners; also cultivate those who tell you harsh truths.
Make sure the people on your team are there first and foremost for the good they can do and the value they add. If all your recruiting is based on superficial criteria, you will end up with a business that is only a facade and not a foundation. Hype is no substitute for solid financial and operational management along with employees and agents who can get the job done.
As an agent, be careful who you follow and make sure it’s someone whose values and vision align with your own. Don’t let the smoke and mirrors fool you; Make sure you’re working for and with people you can be proud of — and won’t dump on your bad behavior.
What is it
Poses as Simon Leviev who was born in Israel Shimon Hayut travels Europe presenting himself as the heir to Russian-Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev. He connects with women through the dating app Tinder and asks them to loan him money, essentially creating a ponzi scheme of scammed women while luring new women with gifts and experiences paid for by previous victims.
To create a greater sense of urgency, Hayut later sends messages claiming to have been attacked and claiming that his bodyguard was injured.
Women take out bank loans and open credit cards to help, and Hayut sends fake documents as proof of bank transfers for repayment. Although he abandons some victims, he manipulates and threatens others to get more money. His total earnings from around the world are estimated at $10 million.
The prevalence of online communication and relationships, virtual transactions, and faraway, invisible real estate sales and purchases is breeding ground for scammers and scammers of all kinds. From fake texts to cloned Instagram accounts, you don’t always know who you’re dealing with on social media or online.
Be even more careful than usual when working, collaborating or communicating with customers and colleagues virtually. Turn to your trusted professional network for referrals and testimonials, or work within your brokerage firm to find referral partners you can trust.
Take a careful inventory of financial documents, money order instructions, and other statements to ensure they are what they say they are.