Do you want to thrive? Then you need to learn how to talk to people. Bill Risser sits with Stacey Soleil, the Head of Community & Industry Relations at Follow Up Boss. Stacey shares how social media changed her life because it taught her how to be a connector. You have so much opportunity and power to stand out and connect through these online platforms. Digitize your real estate transactions, and remember to partner up with older real estate agents. Want to hear more? Tune in as Stacey shares more wisdom and insight on thriving through social media.
Stacey Soleil, Head Of Community And Industry Relations, Follow Up Boss
I'm back after a brief hiatus. I took a little time off through the end of the conference season to recharge my batteries. I'm now back with new episodes and I'm starting off with a bang with episode 317. We're going to be talking to Stacey Soleil. She is the Head of Community and Industry Relations for Follow Up Boss. She has been in the business for a long time and has done a lot of different things. I'm talking about working with tech startups, sales, marketing, sales training with brokerages, and contributing writer for news. She has done some great stuff and doing a whole lot more. It's going to be fun to catch up with her. Let's get this thing started. Stacey, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me.
It's going to be a lot of fun. We're Inman buddies. I think that's a safe way to put that. Katie Lance got me involved in the Inman world back in 2010 and I've been connected to it ever since. You're now deeply connected here. Not only being an ambassador multiple times, but the WomanUp group does some great stuff at Inman as well. Tell me what it is like and why the Inman community is so important to you.
I was thinking you have probably seen so much change, fun and drama in all the events if you started back in the day. I want to come back and ask you questions. It's funny because people will say to me all the time, "What is that ambassador anyway? What does that even mean?" It means different things to different people. For me, it's way more than a social influencer position. Originally, when Katie had created this role, it was a way to amplify the community, connect people at the events, and try to bring more awareness using the tools that we have in social.
For me, it's even more than that. The reason why is the way I look at everything that I've had the opportunity to connect the dots with inside the industry, everything that has been an open door moment or an opportunity, I take it very seriously. Sometimes people will laugh at me because I take things so seriously. If I say yes to a volunteer opportunity, I go in all the way.
I am that person who's like I'm getting paid $1 million to do this role. I'm a very enthusiastic ambassador. I love connecting with people. In fact, when we were in New York, the very first evening before the event started, there were lobby cons. We all know about that. Everyone is hanging out in the lobby bar area, catching up with each other after post-pandemic craziness.
I was scanning the room. I knew pretty much everyone, which was so fun, but then there were these people that were in between the tables. They didn't look like they knew anybody and they were watching. I got up from the table and excuse myself. I said, "Are you here for Inman Connect by any chance?" They're like, "Yes." I said, "Do you know any of these crazy people talking or is this your first time?" "This is my first time."
I was like, "Okay. What's your goal? What made you decide to sign up?" They told me about what they were doing. I said, "I'm going to introduce you to a few people. Are you ready?" I took him and introduce him. By the end of the thing, I saw them all over the place. Long story short, they got opportunities to move their business forward. That's the Stacey energy right there.
In my opinion, that is the definition of an ambassador. I've taken multiple people to lunch. I headed out to lunch and you see a person standing by themselves in the lobby and you go, "Are you here with Inman?" "Yes." "What are you doing for lunch?" "Nothing really." "Come with us." It's the best way to meet these people. That's part of connecting. It's awesome.
[caption id="attachment_4240" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Social Media: The more you surround yourself with different cultures, the better connector you become inside your community.[/caption]
I feel like you sympathy lunch to me once too. I appreciate you.
It's a connection lunch but that's great. I want to go back to the beginning. You live in LA and lived there for a long time. Are you a native of Southern California?
No. I don't live in LA but I have lived in LA. I live in Temecula which is more inland from San Diego. I have my daughters go to school in San Diego. I'm closer now. I'm not even from California. A lot of people don't know that about me. I am a military brat. My dad was in the United States Air Force and I grew up traveling all the time. I never had roots anywhere. I always tell people that I'm like a gypsy nomad.
Honestly, I have lived in so many places. That is what has helped me to be a social butterfly because I learned at a very young age. You're showing up new to a small town in Ohio or you're over here living in New York, or wherever it is you are, and everyone is already established and has their people. If you want to survive, you had to figure out how to talk to people.
Give me the year in high school that you had to relocate. How tough was that? What city did you move to?
I remember when I lived in Beavercreek, Ohio. I was a beaver. My school mascot was the Mighty Beavers.
Beavercreek Beavers, everybody has heard of them. It's awesome.
It wasn't like Oregon Beavers. When I was in high school, it was the late '80s or whatever. I had this boyfriend. I thought my life was so great because I was going to have a date to the next dance and all the things, and then dad got relocated. I was devastated. "I can't leave. My life is never going to be the same." We relocated to Northern California and I had an accent. Did you know that people in the Midwest apparently have accents?
Ohio is generally pretty bland, but if you get a little bit further north of the Midwest or you get towards Michigan or Wisconsin, there's definitely some accent.
[bctt tweet="When you say yes to an opportunity, go all in as if you’re paid a million dollars to do the role. " username="billrisser"]
Apparently, I had some farmer girl accent which is Northern California. It’s funny because if you live in Southern California, you say that Northern California people sound like farm people. I must have sounded country girl. When I got over there, they said, "What is this girl from Beavercreek, Ohio doing over here?" I had to figure it out and I auditioned for the cheerleading team and that helped.
Somehow, we got to get you to Southern California. Eventually, you ended up living in the LA area region, now in Temecula. How did that happen?
Over time, I did end up getting married and starting my family. My husband at the time got relocated to Southern California. We were living at the time in Portland, Oregon and the relocation happened. I worked in real estate in Portland, Oregon. I worked in a real estate office up in North Hill. For anyone who's reading that is from Portland, you know how the West Hills up in Portland was the old money area.
I worked for the Windermere office. I was the person who would create the ads for the newspaper every weekend when we had the open houses or the new listings would hit. I was doing that old school newspaper stuff way before the internet. That's how it started in real estate for me, but then we got transferred to Los Angeles. My husband's job was moved over there. I found myself living in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles right next to the CBS Studios and right by The Grove.
It was an Orthodox Jewish Community. At first, I had no idea about moving here. It was fascinating because I look around and everybody has a very specific look. I was like, "This is crazy cool." I didn't know that you're not supposed to shake hands. It's against the cultural norm. There was a park across the street from the house and I was trying to meet new people. I walk up to this Orthodox family and I stick out my hand. I'm like, "Nice to meet you. I just moved in." They backed up and it was like, "Do I smell? What's going on?" I then learned that you got to figure out people's cultures before you jump in, but I loved it.
When you think about real estate, you have to connect with everybody. You never know who your client is inside your SOI. The more you're able to surround yourself with different cultures and understand what makes someone tick or what is acceptable and not acceptable, it makes you a better connector inside your community. I'm grateful for those moments. I've been working with real estate agents for so long, helping them to grow their businesses. I always say, "I've made all the mistakes ahead of time for you so that you can avoid them yourself. You're welcome."
You have been in the marketing game for a long time. Marketing was one thing in the early 2000s and it was going to quickly change. It seems to me that you quickly embraced the digital side of marketing and that's carried you well throughout the last several years easily. What was that first gig or first job in the marketing arena?
Do you remember Myspace?
Of course, I do. I let my eight or nine-year-old son have a Myspace account.
[caption id="attachment_4241" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Social Media: You have so much opportunity and power to stand out and connect through social media.[/caption]
I remember when Myspace came about, I started messing around. If you knew simple basic HTML, you could do what was called Pimp My Myspace. I made my page fun and interactive. Soon all of my friends were like, "Can you make mine look like that?" Suddenly, I was helping people pimp their MySpace page. At the time, I had a lot of friends that were up-and-coming musicians. They were playing shows, postering for their shows, and doing all the things in Los Angeles.
I thought, "What if I do a side hustle where I do digital postering for your concerts?" I did it for free for a couple of my friends. I came up with my proof of concept which was to create these interactive digital posters, help them grow their MySpace, and get the word out about their shows. It worked so well that they started telling other people. The next thing you knew, I had this small business running where I was now working with musicians helping them to digitize their show process. It started off as fun and then it became my business. That's how I got my foot in the door with marketing and digital marketing.
I've talked to a few guests that have been in the music industry. Amy Paternite, Marc Davison, and a few other people come to mind. There's got to be a story or two about working with bands, especially up-and-coming bands. Anything you can share?
The first rule of working inside the music industry or with any celebrities whatsoever is you have to know when it's okay to share and when it's important to keep your mouth shut. With that being said, I can share a fun inspirational story. I'm going to keep the crazy ones to myself because those fall in the category of when to keep your mouth shut.
I remember early on I was working with an indie label and they were a subsidiary label off of a major label. They had an artist that was called Saving Jane. Saving Jane had one Top 40 hit with a major label, but then they were dropped because the follow-up didn't do anything. They got dropped down to this next-tier indie label who I happen to be doing digital marketing. I thought there's got to be a way to get this band back up because she was this amazing songwriter and she had this fun energy. It was just a hard time to get that going.
I started to put my marketing hat on. One of the songs that she had was called Supergirl and it felt very empowering like a female mantra. I started thinking about what girls out there would be inspired by this song. At the time, we were getting ready to have the Olympics. One of my favorite parts of the Olympics is the gymnastics.
I went to Twitter and I started to see if any of the Olympic gymnasts that were coming up for that year's competition were on Twitter. I found Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, and all these different players. I dropped in their DMs and I'm like, "I'm so excited that you're going to be representing the USA. I know you're going to get gold, so I have a question for you. When you get gold, do you already have your theme song picked out for when you go on all the talk shows? If you don't have one, I have an artist that has an amazing song that I would love you to hear. It would be such a great anthem for you."
I heard back from both Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin. At the time, Shawn was super sweet. She's like, "I don't know. I have to ask my manager," and then it never went anywhere. Nastia said, "Talk to my manager." I talked to her manager and became friends with him. She ended up winning gold for the country. The next thing you know she's going on talk shows. I got a chance to be in the green room with her for Jay Leno when she had her words. They played the song, Supergirl, and she walked on stage. I have a picture where I'm wearing all of her medals and I'm standing with her. It was cool.
That is inspirational. That is one you can share and not get in trouble for. Music was fun as it was. We have to get you into the real estate space because that's where you've taken off. What was that first gig? You mentioned you did some work up in Portland. After the music industry stuff in LA, how did you get drawn back into the real estate space?
[bctt tweet="If you want to survive, you have to figure out how to talk to people. " username="billrisser"]
It's so funny because I never thought that I would find myself back in the real estate space because ever since coming back in, it was just being in the music industry. What happened was because I was an independent contractor, I was doing my own hustle and doing my own thing. After five years of me doing my own thing, every label, touring company, and everyone had their own digital department for social media. I was no longer a person you could hire.
At that point, I couldn't go and work for any of these companies because I was doing it my own way. I was used to working my own way. I was like, "What now?" I pivoted and started working with startups. Through that whole transition, I met this woman who said, "You work with startups. I'm getting ready to join this new brokerage and this guy is very tech startup savvy. He wants to digitize everything in real estate and you know how real estate is old school. You probably would get along well with him and maybe you could help him figure out how to make his whole business thrive." I'm like, "Let's talk."
I ended up talking with him and then we partnered up and I started working. That was a RE/MAX office, and I worked with them for 3 or 4 years and helped modernize and grow the brokerage. I did everything from operations to recruiting, to marketing and social, and all the things. That's how I got myself back in the mix.
Was this during the late 2000s as we're heading into the dark days? Is that about the right timing for you here?
Honestly, everything is a blur. I think it was after the dark stages, but it was when we were trying to figure out how to get everything back to a high-performing place. Starting from there, helping them to build up their business, and then consulting, doing that with many different companies too. I have been doing this for so long now that I can't even remember what year was what.
I talk to people who are involved in the marketing side of things. By the way, I have a lot of respect for creatives. I'm going to call you a creative. People that can look at something and then maybe tie something else to it, and then come up with a concept. I'm Mr. Operations guy. That's what I'm good at, the execution, logistics and that sort of thing. I always have to have somebody else that does this wonderful hard work of coming up with the stuff. Because you've been in the marketing world for so long and talk about the massive changes we've gone through, what for you was the thing that made everything different. Can you pick one?
For me, it's social media, especially where we are right now with a lot of people pushing back and being tired of social media. I understand that. We've gone through so much with Facebook and Twitter. Everything has been crazy, but I always tell people that I can't turn my back on social media because my life changed. Because of social media, there were opportunities and doors that opened. There is no other place where you could be a nobody and then have a conversation.
A nobody from Beavercreek has an idea, use social media to reach out to people, and you have celebrities that respond to you. You have gold Olympians that respond to you. It was this conduit of opportunity and that to me was life-changing once I realized that there was so much potential there. Those are big examples. If you think about it from a smaller impact scale that has a bigger feel to it, if I can connect to a celebrity and create results, "What can I do inside my community? What can I do inside of somebody else's business?"
I always tell real estate agents that it's not to be wasted. When you think about it, you have so much power and opportunity to stand out, connect, be memorable, and be something that somebody else would have never thought of. It's you showing out there. For me, it is social media. I'm a diehard. I can't stop myself.
[caption id="attachment_4242" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Social Media: It's wonderful to have an empowering and supportive community that helps the younger generation.[/caption]
You now work for Follow Up Boss. I...