Change is always a part of life, whether in our personal lives or in our careers. But when it’s time to make that change, the attitude we take is going to make all the difference. On today’s show, real estate advisor Fee Gentry shares her message of hope for the people that want to get from who they are to who they want to become – never be limited by other people’s limited expectations of you. Tune in and discover why this real estate agent is also an agent for change. Listen and be inspired by her story as she unpacks her journey from being influenced to becoming an influencer.
1:29 – Introduction of Fee Gentry. Advocate for Diversity and Inclusion building an Equitable Real Estate Industry from the Inside out. Board of Directors at eXp Realty.
4:47 – Who was your influences? Wilma Rudolf(?). Gold medalist.
7:13 – During your sports marketing, were you ever able to interact with and who grabbed you with their attitude? George Foreman was impactful. Charles Barkley was interesting. Kenny Smith and his basketball camps. Kim Pruett.
10:34 – What was the attitude you took when it was time to make changes in your life? Being whole and complete with yourself and moving forward. Don’t focus on your mistakes. Be present and forward-facing. Being an asset. First day at VCU met Michael Brown had heart attack 15 minutes later and died.
12:30 – Who were the coaches you had in your life. High school basketball coach helped me get clear and help me understand my role on the team. You can’t lead from the back. Pat Summit during Adidas basketball camp.
14:41 – Who have been the teammates that have affected your life with their stories? Lisa Wright. 5’2″ point guard and the way she game back from an ACL injury and being the daughter of a coach who went on to be a sheriff’s deputy.
18:03 – What’s the best thing you learned from MBA school? Crunch Time Vending taught me about passive income.
20:30 – Moving in to the real estate place was plan F.
22:41 – Being the Co-Founder of ONE eXp. What is the mission and vision and why is it so innovative? Glenn Sanford wanted to create an environment in which people could succeed. The mission is to become the most diverse real estate brokerage in the world and understanding that we have an obligation to create a path for EVERYBODY in the industry not just race and gender but with perspectives.
27:29 – What’s your biggest challenge in doing this? I have more vision than people. Need more like-minded people to come forward.
29:45 – African American home ownership. What was the impetus? Education. Training. Awareness. Age and attraction.
32:39 – Sports Entertainment Influencers Network. The SEIN.
35:11 – A message of hope. Never let anyone limit who you are or what you want to be.
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Bridging The Gap From Influenced To Influencer With Fee Gentry
After I get out, my degree and background are in rehab. I started working with sports performance rehabilitation. I worked with athletes in the NFL, NBA and all these things. Because my MBA is in marketing and entrepreneurship, I started creating sponsorship packages because people were like, “How do we create value with the athletic world and the business world?” I started putting those together for personalities like retired athletes, current athletes and professionals.
I founded a company that’s called Hometown Sports Network in Houston. I was the first female to start this innovative company that was pre-online. We were doing fundraisers and then working with NFL Combines, WNBA pre-basketball camps, and tennis events. We’re working with police departments to bridge the gap between police departments and the youth. We used athletes and sports to help bridge that gap.
The most influential person with that was Wilma Rudolph. She changed track and field. She changed the sports for women, especially women of color. For her to be a gold medalist and go through all the things that she did, she set that precedent for me. She’s always been my most inspirational athlete in that time, and that was a great influence. There were all kinds of other athletes that I could go on from Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant in the sports world.
Did you ever get to speak with Wilma or ever interact with her?
With Wilma Rudolph, I did not. I didn’t get to interact with her but I see her as my favorite one.
What she did was monumental, influential and innovative. Many people would say so. During your sports marketing time, were you able to interact with any professional athletes? If you did, who grabbed you emotionally with their attitude where you said, “I would have never expected an attitude like that. That’s something I learned.” Maybe you got a story about somebody that had an impact on you that you were able to talk with.
I love the attitude of George Foreman. He was at the end of his career but he kept on coming in and coming back out. He was impactful because he understood that after being on the other side of his sports career, it was 30 or 40 years of boxing, he was able to give back to the industry. He understood what being an ambassador was and bring responsibility back to the industry. Charles Barkley was interesting. Kenny Smith was interesting too. He was very influential in terms of being a role model. He was about academics, entrepreneurship and business. He understands that part of it. Kim Perrott is one of my favorite. Before she passed away, I had the opportunity to work with her. Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson, there are a lot of Houston Comets that I worked with in the Houston marketplace. They got it at a high level.Never regret making regrets. Click To Tweet
You said that Kim was your favorite. What was it about her?
She was a great ambassador for women’s sports. In her years when she was battling the disease of cancer, she brought it publicly. Even though she was dying, she kept on encouraging a lot of people to go forth and live their life to the fullest. She did that every single day. She inspired a lot of young women.
When you met Charles and Kenny, was that at a basketball thing or were you interviewing them? We don’t need any bad stories. I’m just curious. How did you come across Charles Barkley? He’s still very entertaining.
When he was in Houston or Arizona, my sister was working with the Phoenix Suns at that time. She was working with them somehow, so I met him. I know Kenny from basketball camps from the Rockets. I always hung out with those athletes a lot in events and stuff.
Where did you play your college ball?
I played at Long Beach and then Virginia Commonwealth University.
What happened? Why did you switch? Did it have to do with attitude?
Yes, probably so. We’ll use that.
There are people who are reading this that not only are switching basketball teams but maybe they’re switching careers. They’re in the same career switching companies or they’re switching husbands or wives. What’s your thought or what’s the attitude that you took when it was time for you to change not only in the basketball scene back in college, but with all the different things that you’ve started and have created throughout your past years?
Attitude has always been about never making regrets. Being whole and complete with yourself and then moving forward. What’s next? It’s having that attitude of expectancy. If you make a mistake, you can’t focus on that as your last plate because when you have that next shot that’s coming up, you have to pay attention to that. It is always being present and then forward-facing with that. That’s what I took away from those next moves, and being valuable and being an asset. Sometimes, you come in with a different attitude. You think you’re here and you think you’ve arrived but everything is earned. Don’t take things for granted.
On my first day at VCU, I never forget this. It was winter. I transferred mid-season. I walked into the gym and I met this young man named Michael Brown, who was going to be a first-round draft choice at VCU. I talked to him and fifteen minutes later, he had a heart attack and died. He was twenty years old. It was my first day of basketball practice. The man was in the gym and he was welcoming, “Welcome to the VC. I’m very glad to have you.” He was dead fifteen minutes later.
That will wake you up, give you a new perspective and certainly affect the old attitude on that. What a crazy story. Talk to me about the coaches you’ve had in your life in basketball. We can stay there and then we can talk about other coaches. Who is the best basketball coach you had? What was their attitude? What did they teach you most?
My high school basketball coach is probably one of my best because he helped me get clear on who I was and what role I played on the team. I always want to stand back. I always wanted to be lead from the back. He goes, “You can’t lead from the back.” He taught me that. He also taught me from being right-handed to left-handed. I was shooting with both hands. He made me decide. He was like, “You’re left-handed.” That was a big thing. One of my favorite coaches is Pat Summitt during Adidas Basketball Camp. I was coached by her in Santa Barbara Basketball Camp. I was at a blue-chip camp or something like that. She instilled a lot of confidence in us as young women. It was an honor to be coached by her.
I’ve heard that before. Her enthusiasm, encouragement, and belief in the players are one of her strong suits. Did she ever say anything to you or give you any message that stuck out or stays with you about life, attitude or how to look at things?
She said a whole lot during camps. I can’t think of anything right off the bat. As you said, it’s the same message. I still have a book that she autographed for me. I was a 15 or 16-year-old kid for her to autograph this book and to speak wisdom. She put me on the All-Star team when I think I didn’t deserve it. I remember that because she saw potential in me. The camp was achievers camp or blue-chippers camp. I thought I had a horrible camp. I did not play well but because she trusted me, either she or one of the coaches on the staff put me on the All-Star team for the All-Star game during that camp. That was memorable.
I played college football. As an athlete as well, there are people throughout your childhood all the way up to when we say we can’t do it anymore. There are teammates, and feel free to share their names, who affects you, brings you joy, teaches you things, and opens your eyes to the different lives of other people. When you think about some of your favorite teammates, best teammates or the teammates where they stick with you in your head where you go, “Your story is so unreal.” Do you have any teammates that come to mind when I bring that up? What was their story?
I’ve got a lot of them because I played with a lot of people over the years. Where do you want me to start?
Just the one that comes to your head. The one that you think might be the most impactful for the people that are here to try to become the person they want to become, or to go where they want to go. The easiest for you that comes to your mind. I’m sure they’re all good but I’d love to give them a flavor of what it was like on who impacted you.
I was going to say Lisa Wright was one of them. She’s a 5’2” point guard, played with zeal and fervor, and came back after ACL repair surgery. She taught me how to come back for mine. Being a coach’s daughter, she taught us about leadership, team and how to work as a team because she was the quarterback of the team. Those were some of my favorite times of working with someone like her. She then went on her career to become a Sheriff’s Deputy. She and her husband raised kids. Their daughters are playing college basketball. She passed it to three generations of players to watch that. I admire that story about Lisa. In college, I played with a lot of people.The more diversity that you have within a company and an industry, the better the industry does overall. Click To Tweet
I’m not trying to have you hang anybody. You must have had some rough teammates.
When you play with some people I played with over the years, yeah.
I can let you off the hook and we’ll keep behind that. Think about your time as a college basketball player and when you graduated. Did you graduate from VCU?
Yes, I graduated from VCU.
Did you get a Master’s, a Doctorate or anything?
I got my MBA. I got my Master’s from Our Lady of the Lake University. I graduated in 2000 with my MBA in Entrepreneurship. I also went to a physical therapy school. I did not finish my PT school degree because I was making money. I had already owned nine businesses. I was like, “Why am I going back to school to be a body mechanic?” I knew that I needed to do a higher calling.
Two interesting things. Number one, what’s the best thing that you learned at MBA school? Out of those nine businesses, what was your worst one and what was your best one?
The number one thing I learned in business school was about supply and demand. It’s learning that supply and demand chain, and price elasticity versus the demand. I know that people pay for anything they want, whether it’s toilet paper. It’s how you position it. Is it gourmet toilet paper? That’s one.
My favorite business of all things, I owned a business called Crunch Time Vending. It was a vending machine business. I had 50 something vending machines and we put them in plants. All these guys are eating popcorn, candy and gumballs. I was making a killer vending business because that taught me about passive income. You put in some product, you sell the product five times its value, and it’s passive. You don’t have to be there other than to have the machines reloaded and stock, and collect the quarters. That Crunch Time Vending was my favorite.
What was the worst business you ever created? You said you had nine. There had to be one where you’re like, “This isn’t good.”
Being an entrepreneur, probably the worst one that we knew we shouldn’t have done was a rehab business. It was working with post-rehab patients and getting reimbursed by health insurance. That sucked. We were thinking, “Okay.” I love working for populations with cancer patients, postpartum pregnancy, heart disease and all that stuff, but dealing with health insurance was the worst.
You’re never going to get your money. You need an MBA just to have that. Let’s talk a little bit about you moving in into the real estate space. You’ve had all these businesses. Have you been in real estate a long time?
Since 2004. Real estate was plan F. It started because my mom was building a house in Texas. I had crashed and burned in physical therapy school. My life was a relationship break up and there was a business failure that was not going well. I said, “I needed a win.” I kept on having loss after loss. My mom was like, “I need you to watch my house.” I’ll never forget it. On the 4th of July, my family was like, “You’re working your butt out. Come home. You stay home for six months. I need you to watch this house being built.” I was like, “Okay.” That’s how it all started, a real estate home being built.
The Real Estate Commissioner of Texas started talking to me and she was like, “There’s something about you. You could be in the top 1% in real estate.” I was like, “I didn’t get to go to school to become a real estate agent.” I didn’t think highly of real estate agents at that time. She was like, “No.” I remembered reading all the books with Kawasaki and Millionaire Next Door. All of them had their assets and starting their roots in real estate. I was like, “I’ll give it a try.” Honestly, I didn’t know a lock box from a listing, but I sold 39 homes my first year because I knew how to market it.
It’s every broker’s dream, “I just sold 39 homes.”
I had no clue. I thought I sucked and then they were like, “You won.” I won this little bronze medal and I was pissed because I was like, “There’s a silver and gold” I’m very competitive. I was like, “What else can I do?” I took my career from there.
Now, you have evolved into this major influencer in the real estate space with what you’re doing, which has probably a higher calling. It’s much more fulfilling than opening doors, going to closings, and putting signs in yards. As you probably know, we were fortunate enough that Jason and I were to be given the Communicator Award for Diversity and Inclusion. I’ve always respected and loved what you do. The fact that you were the cofounder of ONE eXp, which I speak to real estate companies all over the spectrum. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen anything like this. Let’s start with ONE eXp, the big thing, then we’ll go down to the Black eXp Network because I want to talk a little bit about that too.
Talk to me about this whole mission and vision of ONE eXp. What does it mean? Why is it so innovative? Maybe the people who are reading this have something inside of them and they go, “There’s more to my life than what I’m doing there. There’s more than this job that I have.” That’s what I want to hit on too. I know you’re going to tell me about it, but what was it inside of you that made you recognize, “There’s more to this than what I got to do?”
Let’s go back and talk about the eXp’s DNA. We have nine core values and principles. Our founder, Glenn Sanford, when he created this, had always envisioned in his mind a world where everybody had a place to belong. Our business platform was equitable. There were no side deals that were made. There is no good old boys network that could take a franchise. Within that, he also wanted to create a universe where everybody had the opportunity to belong and to have the equal opportunity to succeed. He understood that some people have different levels of participation in the industry and that real estate is not the same. The X’s and O’s of real estate are probably the same but everybody has a different experience with real estate where they come from.
I’ll give you an example. One of our colleagues was talking about farming. He said, “My family has farmed in this community for six generations.” Another agent who was sitting next to me who’s a Black agent said, “We did too but we were farming it.” They were working it as opposed to being at the farm. It’s those experiences that people have, redlining or somebody who’s a veteran, that they move all the way. There are all these different things that are different in how we experience real estate on a diverse platform of people who’ve been there.
Our mission is to become the most diverse and inclusive real estate brokerage in the world. We also want to change the industry where it is because we know that there are some huge discrepancies and disparities with real estate. Moving forward, we understand that we have an obligation as a company to lead and take the forefront on making sure that we create a path for everybody in the industry. That’s the only way this industry is going to continue to succeed and not making a difference.Never be limited by other people's limited expectations of who you are. Click To Tweet
People think about diversity as color, sex, gender and all that. We’re talking about different perspectives because that’s where diversity innovation comes from. We took it to a higher level, forgot about regular diversity and inclusion because people push back on that. If we show that there’s a business case showing that the more diversity that you have within a company and industry, the better the industry does overall. There are facts, science, research and studies that show that with women in leadership, people of color in leadership, and people living around the world. We do it in conjunction with our “straight White male counterparts.” People were pushing back against that. That’s who’s important. Those are the key stakeholders that we do in partnership to not exclude everybody. That’s what we do.
That’s such a beautiful mission and it’s never ever stated like that. To take that higher ground, to redefine what diversity and inclusion can mean, and what it should mean is a great step in the right direction. That’s got to be exciting for you to continue to state this over and over. My guess is you’ve been received extremely well. I’ve been in around and I’ve watched it, but that’s the first time I heard it explained like that. I do believe that is the future. Congratulations on that definition and that mission. What’s your biggest challenge in doing this?
I have more vision than I do people. Sometimes it’s brilliant. We have ambassadors and we need more like-minded people to come forth. We called it ONE eXp 1.0. Now it’s ONE eXp 2.0, which we’re taking global. It’s not even just a domestic vision. It’s an international vision. We need more people to help fulfill the vision. It’s taking leaders like yourself. I’m going to have you off the sidelines because you do a lot of work. We’re going to pull you in and have you participate. That means being an ambassador, that’s speaking, training, helping people with their production. It’s a repeatable process because people think diversity and inclusion are just like this program. It’s a repeatable proven process and a system on how we do it. There’s the personal part which is your personal finances and personal production, then there’s the community, where you’re responsible for helping to influence and impact your community, and then there’s the industry. How do we change the industry? How do we help get new thought leadership in? We all can participate in all three of those levels.
That will be ONE eXp 20.0.
Having an impact on income. Where we are in our careers, we’ve done the transactions. How do we have an impact? How do we change and work for the next generation? That’s what Glenn was talking about too, using our young professionals. Most people were like, “Why are there young professionals on diversity and inclusion?” Young people are our future and they understand the world in a utopic in a global society better than anybody else. Having young people lead the future is where it’s at.
No question that the twenty-somethings out there come from a completely different place, space and mindset than old dogs like us. To drill that down, which I’m passionate about is African-American homeownership. This gets into the 3,200 agents that we have at Black eXp Network. That started before ONE eXp. You were the founder of that. What was the impetus? Did you sit down and go, “We need to do this.”
I’ll tell you what happened. I joined the eXp in May of 2017. I’d be at these events and I’d be the only Black person in the room, or maybe Brian Russo. There might be 2 or 3 Black people. I was like, “There are decisions that are being made in the company. There are pieces of golden nuggets that are there but we weren’t in the room.” Jason Gesing, of all people, we’re playing golf and Jason was like, “You should start a Black network at the eXp.” We just had an election and I was like, “No.” He’s like, “There’s a difference to how the African-American community experiences real estate, especially in the overall community with fair housing.” I’m looking at Jason like, “What? I don’t know, Jason.”
Fast forward to December and he was like, “Fee, have you started the Black eXp Network yet?” Here comes Julie from the Pride network and the LGBTQ community. She was like, “Fee, you need to start it.” I kept on waiting for somebody else and I was like, “Why not me?” I made a commitment because be the change you want to see. I knew that was the change that I want to see. I created the Black eXp Network from the movie Wakanda or The Black Panther. I wanted to create a society for Black agents and allies like yourself who were in for closing the gap between homeownership, education, wealth, all of that through these innovative programs for African-American agents and allies. That’s what we did. It’s education, training and awareness.
We have our first event in Puerto Rico to teach about agent attraction. That’s one of the great things about eXp because our culture and community are always talking about, “We want to leave a legacy for our kids.” You’re not going to leave a legacy with your kids doing transaction after transaction. You need all three, which are passive, active and residual income. I believe eXp provides that platform, especially, it’s good for Black agents.
I want to hit on the SEIN, the Sports Entertainment Influencers Network. Talk to our folks about what that is? How can they get involved? Where can they engage and how may they benefit by checking you out?
Colin Jacobs and I founded it because we have the background and we love sports. We know one thing about sports. Sports brings you to the world, and the world back to you. That is the universal language in sports, entertainment and influencers. That’s a network of people in a special niche that is different. It doesn’t have to be a pro team. You’re not representing Jennifer Anniston and George Lopez. We knew that you could be the celebrity representative in your town, the Little League team, Disney World if you’re in Florida or wherever you are in your town if you’re working with coaches in your town as colleagues. The other part about it that’s more important than any of the sports, entertainment and influencers is being from transactional to transformative in changing people’s lives and giving back.
We have a responsibility globally and domestically as we go. As eXp goes globally, we’re going to be sponsoring agents over in South Africa to help them get their licenses. Not only that, but we’re also going to be setting up sports fields for kids. Were funding for the future. Other brokerages just go and take. We want to come there and set up sports fields, scholarships, and help other agents to enable them to get into the community.
The SEIN will be working in conjunction with eXp on certain initiatives, I would guess.
They’re under the ONE eXp umbrella as well. They go into eXp workplace and they can join. We’re also going to have live events around the country. As we’re coming out of this COVID environment, you’ll also get to see us and you’ll get to learn. You might get a certification on how to be a sports entertainment and influencer real estate agent, how to work in that niche, what it looks like for non-disclosures, a lot of confidentiality, and how to work in the concierge services, luxury investments, etc.
I want to respect your time but I do want to make sure that you have an opportunity to give a message of hope to our gappers and folks that are reading, who have come here, who have clicked on your beautiful picture that said, “I think I need to listen to Fee Gentry.” What is your one message of hope for the people that want to get from where they are to where they want to go, from who they are to who they want to become? What’s your one piece of Fee Gentry advice?
I always talk about this. Never be limited by other people’s limited expectations of who you are. Who you are and where you came from is not what you’re destined to be. What we think and what we believe is what takes us forward. We always have to be aware of that. A lot of times, people want to put labels on us. The only label and self-limitation are what we put on ourselves. Never let someone else limit who you are and who you want to be in your life. That’s my life lesson. Never be limited by other people’s limited limitations of you.
I can tell you that this lady does not put limitations on anyone that she’s around, especially herself. I cannot wait to see the accomplishments, the change, and the transformation that you make inside your company, but more importantly, outside in our world. Fee Gentry, thank you so much for being an honored and esteemed guest on the Good Attitude Podcast, and we will see you very soon.
About Fee Gentry
Fee is not only a real estate agent, but an agent for change. She understands the importance of home ownership in building wealth and for over 15 years, has been helping her clients discover smart real estate investments. Her passion for inclusion and unity both within and outside of the real estate world has led her to spearhead innovative initiatives, helping to create a real estate industry where everyone’s voice can be heard and valued. Fee is the founder of ONE eXp, an initiative within eXp Realty which supports career development, champions fair housing principles and provides networking opportunities that encourage cultural awareness in supporting diverse groups such as Veterans, Pride, LatinX, Seniors and more. Fee is also part of the Board of Directors for eXp World Holdings where she is helping to build an equitable real estate industry from the inside out.
Before immersing herself in the world of real estate, Fee began her career as a serial entrepreneur. She earned her MBA and founded several businesses in the rehab, fitness and sports training industries, including a post-rehab company working with a variety of athletes working clients that included athletes in the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NCAA, and the Olympics. She became a Realtor in 2004 with the mission to help her clients achieve what she believes to be a vastly important step in obtaining financial freedom: home ownership. Throughout the past 15 years, she has excelled in generating exciting opportunities for her clients, putting their needs first and foremost in helping them accomplish their home ownership goals.
While Fee has handled hundreds of transactions over her 15-year real estate career, she absolutely LOVES new construction. She has developed both a passion and expertise helping clients who want to buy and build a brand-new home. That means Fee knows the ins and outs of new communities (taxes, schools, and amenities), and the numerous builders — their floor plans, custom contracts, incentives, warranties, and reputations. This vastly helps reduce the legwork, confusion, and learning curve about the options associated with building a luxury custom home or buying an inventory home with a spec builder in a new community.
In joining under the umbrella of eXp Realty, Fee knew she had found the opportunity to connect with an innovative company that could support her growth professionally. Since joining with eXp realty in 2017, Fee has become one of the most sought-after leaders in the field. In 2020, Fee was selected to the eXp World Holdings’ National Board of Directors with the official role to help get agents’ voice, needs and concerns heard. Her leadership is nationally respected as a driving force behind the movement to create a more inclusive, collaborative and resilient work environment. Now her focus is on creating opportunities for others to thrive and achieve in a growth-minded environment where agents are valued for who they are and the unique perspective that they bring to the table.