Host: Ronn Ruiz and Martin Canchola
Guest:Tony Sousa, VP of Marketing Relations at RPM Living and Paris Granger, National Sales Manager at ApartmentSEO
Martin: All right. Welcome everyone to another episode of The Multifamily Podcast with Ronn and Martin. Now today is going to be a really fun and insightful episode with a major mover and shaker in the multifamily arena. Having a meteoric rise from a humble company manager to executive VP of operations in San Antonio, Texas for RPM living. We’re going to deep dive into how he got started in the multifamily industry. Being a brand evangelist, finding and being a mentor, work life balance and how to be a change agent for your company. It is my great pleasure to introduce the most interesting man in property management, Tony Susa, VP of RPM living for San Antonio, welcome to the multifamily podcast.
Tony: Hey guys, good to be here. I’m excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Ronn: I love it. The most Interesting man in property management. I love it, I remember that video. So Tony, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. I remember the video because we’ve known each other and I’ve followed you for over a decade. And I again, I’ve seen many, much of what Martin mentioned, from your humble beginnings. I was really excited for the audience today to really dive in and hear a little bit more from the man that we don’t know. So here we go.
Tony: Yeah, I’m excited.
Ronn: So we actually have another special guest who, by the way, for ladies and gentlemen who are listening, I realized that we’re not doing this via video. So they don’t see that we’re right here. But on the other side, she helped make this podcast happen. So excited. Thank you Paris. She is one of our newer national sales managers, Paris Granger for those that don’t know, and we have asked her to join us to help us with the discovery round of this episode. So welcome.
Martin: The first of its kind.
Paris: Thank you. Thank you. Thank You so much for having me. I honestly, I feel so honored to be here on this podcast and contribute with three of my favorite guys in the industry. So let’s do this.
Martin: All right, let’s have some fun. So Tony, can you give our audience a quick high level overview of your career into multifamily from Community Manager all the way up to VP of RPM living? And then if you can highlight any adversities that you had overcome along the way?
Tony: Yeah, well, I’ll tell you way back, I started as at least consultant and working on a book from LC to VP. So I’ve been on the leasing floor and started there. And I just, you know, wanted to figure out what this business was about, what I was good at. At the end of the day I was just trying to make a little commission and save for my upcoming wedding. And, you know, here we are. So as Ronn mentioned, it’s been, you know, 15 plus, I won’t overly date myself, we’re him. But we’ve been in the industry for some time. And yes, giving the opportunity, I think to start on the leasing floor and working my way up and through, obviously, you know, to the community manager role that you just mentioned, in and through many other roles as well, from regional manager to regional marketing and training and social media manager, obviously, now in a vice president role here at RPM, you know, you mentioned a few points of adversity, you know, probably too many come to mind to even list. We are in this business, the property management business that I think if we didn’t have adversity, or issues or problems or the property wasn’t falling down, or appliances weren’t breaking, we wouldn’t have jobs. And so, I learned, you know, how to problem resolve all along the way. And ultimately, I think what I learned most along the way, especially on, you know, on site was how to take care of customers and take care of residents and really to be empathetic and understanding and really put myself in their shoes if my appliance was broken, or my H fac was not working and it was you know, 100 degrees, 90 degrees inside my apartment. So, I think I did a good job of that as a young onside associate. And I’ve tried not to ever to lose sight of that, or that experience or that empathy, even in a corporate role or executive role that I sit in as well. So I think that for some successful leaders, many of which that I learned from to this day, you know, I think they’ve done a great job sort of continuing to cultivate that. That empathy for the resident and for their customer. At the end of the day that’s what we do.
Ronn: That’s awesome. Yeah, I too started in the leasing side, temporarily leasing agent to be exact. And I remember throughout my career site, I used to say we manage people’s lives more than we manage apartments. And so, if you can understand that conceptually, you’ll know that you are ultimately responsible for their life.
Tony: Yeah, I mean, we know way too much about our residents. We play park lease consultant, office manager and therapist as you know.
Ronn: Yeah, no doubt. So, I remember again when I started following you, you were at Sequoia and probably different but how did the most interesting man in property management come to life? I’d love to hear the story from you directly and I’d love for our audience to hear it.
Tony: Yeah, yeah, I don’t think we’ve ever talked about this probably. So that was shot in 08, 09. That still sort of lives on YouTube today. It probably is like the video that I’m most known for. I’ve done a lot of different videos and different shoots. But that’s really one that I think gave me legs, as they say, in this industry. And to this day, obviously, I still get sort of coined this most interesting. Now, like Gen Z and millennials, like most of them don’t even know like the dough Sankey’s commercial that is referenced from. So, it really does date me when I mentioned that to anyone younger than I don’t know, 30. They’re like, what’s most interesting about you? But anyway, how this idea came to be is, it really came after a corporate dinner, we were having a dinner amongst colleagues, Lisa Trapp, who I think you know, who’s the CFO now at CWS was the Mirage. Yeah, she’s still a good friend of mine and mentor. And, you know, we were talking about a lot of my life experiences, you know, Ronn, I lived in Southern California, I was an actor, I was a journalist, I was a lot of different things, you know, before coming into this industry, and she just, you know, sort of would always chuckle and say, you know, you just have the most interesting life before you came here. It’s just so you know, interesting and intriguing, and whatever the case is, and then I just remember sort of that look in her eye, like I have an idea. And you know, and from that dinner, we started to put the pieces together on the back of a napkin, and you know, how those ideas sort of go and then, you know, you get monies allocated for a production crew, and we shoot in Southern California, and we have a lot of fun and production quality for 2009 was, you know, I look back on it today, and I think that’s pretty well done, you know, for the most part, good Vo, good intro. You know, I looked much younger, as I see that video on occasion, even to this day, better hair, even thicker. But you know, and that was not a real beard, some ask like, you know, is that a real beard? No, I cannot grow a real beard like that. But that’s how it came to be. And it’s given me legs through this industry, kind of a, you know, a talking touch point, if you will and it’s been fun. Now that I’m a little older, you know, do I get a little sort of blushed when someone calls me the most interesting, man. Yeah, you know, because it’s, you know, it’s kind of weird. But I think I see it as a compliment.
Ronn: You’re like there’s so many more layers of me since then, guys.
Tony: Right. Let me tell you how deep I am.
Martin: My favorite part of the video was when you’re just a lumberjack. You like you’re looking for gold and getting the gold coin. So, if you haven’t checked it out, just go on YouTube, you can always put the most interesting man in property management.
Ronn: Literally, that’s goo gable.
Martin: One still till today.
Ronn: That’s why we wanted to talk about it because we did.
Tony: It has that organic SEO, right?
Martin: On the comments and keep it going, right? Keep talking.
Ronn: Celebrate that daily around here. Right?
Martin: Okay. So, Tony, so being a brand ambassador for RPM living, how do you stay present and continue inspiring your team on your company’s vision and overall growth?
Tony: Well, I think it stems from my proactiveness to stay present in life. And what I mean by that is, stay present with the people around me both personally and professionally. And obviously, my family is the personal side, my friends and family, I try to stay present in their lives and be engaged and in, you know, listen and be involved both as a husband, as a dad, as a friend, as a brother, as a son. And for me that’s just how I live my life. And so, you know, in living my life that way, I’m also without a lot of effort able to live my life as a professional that way, as a leader, that I am interested in what’s going on in my team’s life. There’s someone on my team today, you know, going through, you know, medical procedure, and yeah, you know, I sent them a text, how are you feeling? How are you doing? You know, because that stuff matters. And I have to remember, if I’m that person going through a medical procedure, or something’s going on with me, I would appreciate the occasional check-in. And so, I tried to do a good job of that with my friends that are both near and far. And frankly, I think a lot of friends, even family sometimes do a really poor job of that. And I think we all get kind of inspired when we see those posts about, you know, call your mom, call, you know, call a family member and tell them you love them. I think that reminds the majority of us that really get caught up and swept up in sort of that busy life that we think is most valuable. I think as you get older you realize just being busy for busy sake is not productive and it’s not fruitful. And so, I’ve tried to slow down. You know, I’m from California, the west coast of big cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco and, but you know what I learned about life a bit coming to Texas. I had a West Coast life, a pace, and everything was fast. And I remember moving to Texas, specifically San Antonio, where I reside today. And I’m thinking, why is this grocery line taking forever? And why is the cashier talking to everyone when this line is five deep? Like what are we doing, and every line is five deep, I can’t even jump to another line. And I remember that moment thinking, hey, kid, you know, you’re really a city slicker here, you need to slow down a little bit. And so, I’ve been here for, you know, eight, nine years now, it’s almost a decade. And I think the slower pace of the South in some ways, and even specifically, I think San Antonio, because I think Austin and Houston, Dallas still have, you know, pretty quick pace. But you know, San Antonio is a little different. But it’s been good for me, it’s been a good game to the Yang that I brought to the state, I think and being a city slicker, and in a fast pace, you know, urban kid. So, it’s been a good, you know, it’s been a good balance for me. And of course, as many know, you know, I have three children as well, that will slow you down and definitely refocus you on the things that matter.
Ronn: That’s brilliant. So, this is going to be great for the young professionals listening in. I know we have a whole new generation coming into multifamily, right. We’re kind of like the older guys. Just kidding. But what are the key challenges that young professionals face today? And what would you say your suggestion is on how they can overcome them?
Tony: I really think the biggest challenge that I hear from many of them, and a lot of them, I feel lucky, some may sort of say this is lucky or unlucky. A lot of them are in my DMs, right, a lot of them are saying how do I, you know, how do I get from where I’m at to where like you’re at Tony. And my first piece of advice to a lot of them really is and you know, Paris and I’ve had conversations about different things as well, the best piece of advice I can really give them, that’s probably the hardest thing for them to hear, is to be patient. And, you know, Ronn, you know, I know, I see you shaking your head and Paris and Martin, of course, I mean, it’s easy to say that now when your career is maybe more established, and you’ve done some things and you have some confidence, and you got some gray hairs, right. And you know, it’s a lot harder to serve or embrace that message of patience when you’re 25, 26, 29, 30, 31. Because you feel like you don’t have enough time. And you know, I think the older you get, I’d like to think the wiser you get. But what you what you get is just a more of a respect of life in the process and how things need to unfold in the way that they need to, for you to get the experience you need to have when you’re in the positions you are. And so, I think oftentimes you see people in positions, maybe that shouldn’t be there, because they just maybe got accelerated a little too fast, right. And some of these important positions, you know, whether it be VP or C suite, or owning your own company, as you know, Ronn, you know, you daily have to tap into a wealth of experience that, you know, sometimes you just can’t learn on the job, you have to tap into decades of experience. And really what experience really is, you and I both know is mistakes, right? Of doing things the wrong way, and then hopefully learning from them, and then correcting your steps and proceeding forward. So, the best advice I can give anybody sort of, you know, emerging in their career is to be patient, be ambitious. I think patience and ambition do not have to be in contrast or juxtaposed to each other, I think they actually can live, you know, in harmony together. It’s just, you know, you have to have that mindset of patience, but at the same time in every opportunity where you can push or challenge the status quo, you know, be as ambitious as you can there. And as you know, you know, I think that’s much of what I tried to do in this industry myself, is to try to push the envelope in a respectful and productive and constructive way.
Ronn: I think that’s a brilliant advice, because I see it also like, you know, having a smaller company. And you know, seeing people wanting to grow their own careers, and I love it. I love any kind of, I love anybody inspired. Life inspired isn’t one of my favorite exclamation points, right? And sometimes the inspiration can be like, I’m just I’m beyond this, next, what do we do next, right. I think our generationally we’re there again, are more and more because of everything’s on demand, like our entire life could be on demand, right? You could ask Siri, you could ask Alexa, you could ask you know anything. But I think that there’s something to say about really given its due process, respecting your time as well as, you know, what you’re putting into something. And I believe that if you truly focus on living your life by design, like design it well, like make sure you’re in the right place and be patient and let the process follow. And raise your hand, you know, the front row center and active in your in whatever the goals are. And I think that that’ll buy you time so you’re not so impatient, you’re actively participating in the growth.
Tony: Yeah, you know, I just put together a meme or a post, but it was, you know, create your own luck, right? I mean, to the point that you’re making is put yourself in a position to be lucky. If it goes your way. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t, but you still positioned yourself well. And you know, but that takes a little time to even know where to put yourself in that position. You know, I think a lot of people are scrambling to get in the right position, you don’t even know where you’re supposed to be. And you’re really kind of forcing the issue.
Ronn: Yeah. So, you spoke about the DMS, and I love that and because everybody wants to know what’s in every else’s DMS, right. Obviously, you’re an active mentor in our industry. But who was your biggest mentor or who made the biggest impact that is, and on your life, and maybe even one life lesson that still resonates with you today?
Tony: Yeah, I’ve had quite a few. So really, I think my perspective as a mentor to this industry really stems from the fact that I feel indebted to pay it forward, from people that have paid it forward to me. You know, a handful that come to mind, you know, there’s been a lot. And really, at every organization I feel as though I’ve had somebody who’s been willing to kind of bring me and take me under their wing, and, you know, teach me the things that they want me to know. And frankly, I’ve come to realize, I think they taught me the things that they made the most mistakes on. And I didn’t always realize that at the time. I just thought, you know, unsolicited advice. Awesome, thank you. But in time, I grew to really appreciate that. You know, Lisa Trapp, you know, was mentioned earlier, she was one early my career at Sequoia, just one that really thought outside the box and really challenged status quo and was really an innovative thinker and really, you know, continue to keep me kind of in my place and keep me humble at the time. Now, she’s the best and one of my biggest fans and she is somebody in, you know, my text box, not even DMS. Text is kind of a next level in my opinion as friends and associates. And so, you know, she’s somebody I still correspond with very much, someone in Texas that took a chance on me, Miss Cindy Yash. You know, the president of Embry management, she’s now retired, doing well, but she took a chance on a kid from California and put me in a position to be successful. I like to think I took that baton and just, you know, full sprinted. But you can’t sprint until you have that opportunity. And so, I appreciate, you know, every opportunity I get, whether it be then or today and the opportunity to be a part of RPM living. I’m grateful for so many that have put me in this position today. And I’m excited for what the future holds here at RPM.
Ronn: So, one more question from Ronn Ruiz. What would you say, I’m taken over here, guys, sorry, you guys get a chance to talk later. Okay.
Tony: Friends are chatting, right?
Ronn: That’s it. I know. We can just have like a one-on-one exchange. So okay, with that, what would you suggest those professionals who want to find the right mentor like for them? What do you, how do they do that? Like how do they ask?
Tony: Well, I think, yeah, I think there’s, yeah, you’re right. I mean, I think there’s a couple different ways you can go about it is, but what I would say to them first is the question to any and all associates, I think you need to have peers that you’re sort of able to link in with and you know, share thoughts and collaborate and vent. But you also need to be, you also need to have people you’re mentoring, right? I think a lot of people want a mentor, right? And I think sometimes it’s almost selfish in some ways to say I want to mentor; can you be my mentor? And, and all of those things, and that’s okay. But the question that I often have people because, you know, speaking of DMS, I get randoms throughout the country, often asking me if I can be their mentor. And so first and foremost, I’m flattered that you would like me to be your mentor based on what I think you perceive that you see. No, I can’t be because there’s only 24 hours in a day and I have a family and I have a busy job, I have people I am trying to mentor, I have people mentoring me. But the point that I’m trying to make is, I think it’s important for you to be mentoring others in sort of giving it back or paying it back as we talked about, as a paying it forward perspective. And I think, you know, the universe will sort of honor you and give you the opportunity to find a mentor. And I think you’ll respect your mentor even more when you’re mentoring somebody else. I think it gives you a better perspective of some of the advice you may be getting from your mentor, when you’re mentoring someone else as well. But you know, to answer your question directly Ronn, you know, be bold, be versatile, you know, feel free to directly DM somebody I guess, but, you know, try to fight find somebody you know, within your inner circle that you think you admire. And you’ve vetted that relationship that it’s, you know, that it’s healthy and not toxic, and there’s not other intentions involved. And then, you know, just try to learn as much as you can from them. And a key point that I do want to say to somebody that’s looking to be mentored. Please be responsive to your mentor, please show up for the times that work for them not you. And please make time for them, not them have to make time for you. There’s a lot of people that still sort of just want to get and not give. That’s a big, that’s a biggie. And I’ve been in situations as the mentor to where, you know, no call no show, or sorry, I’m late, like you know, that’s pretty close to me cutting you off pretty quickly.
Ronn: Yeah, that’s fine. Those final words were priceless. Because I think that there is that element of risk. Everybody’s busy. And if you’re looking for the right mentor, that person is probably like, super busy, they got there somehow, so respect their time, right? That’s awesome.
Martin: So Tony, I know you’re a family, man, you’re a high level executive, you’re a man of faith. What words of wisdom would you give the career chasing professionals and executives in our industry, who really don’t have that work life balance? You have anything for them?
Ronn: Good question.
Tony: That is a good question, Martin. You make time for what’s important for you. And I wish I could sugarcoat that more for someone. But if your family is most important to you, you make time for them. If your faith is most important for you, you make time for that. If your work is most important, and you make time for that. If working out is most important, you make time for that. So, there’s no secret sauce to balancing it all, you have to prioritize what means the most to you. And if your family falls, you know, sort of fifth, sixth, seventh, wrong. Hey, I’ll see you when I see it. But if they fall, you know, in that top, one, two, or three categories, which, you know, listen, I’m not going to sit here and tell you when they should. But what I will tell you is that, you know, having a strong inner circle of support, friends and family will help you get through the tough times of your life, and sometimes an often of your job. And if you haven’t poured into that, you’re going to have a difficult time getting out of those tough times. So that’s what I’ll say to that. It’s a simple process of prioritization. And for those that are having trouble doing that, I think they need to take some quiet time to probably write down their priorities and how they want to allocate their time.
Ronn: Thank you. Yeah, brilliant, I think again, anytime, you can do it anytime, right? I think the other thing is, so people are listening, and they’re, you know, bashing their head on the wall, like, yeah, I gotta do that. Like for me, it’d be more like I gotta make time a workout. But you can do it at any time. So just start, make a change. Yeah, speaking of changes, like what does being a change agent to you mean and how can others emulate this? I love this question and I personally want to know as well.
Tony: Well, I think being a change agent. Well, what I’ll say is, I think the pandemic showed who was true change agents, and who had a really difficult time with change. And I think I realized, although pre pandemic, I thought, you know, I’m pretty good with change and adjustment. The pandemic showed me that that’s my middle name, I can adapt to a crisis situation better than anyone. And I proved to myself more importantly than anyone else, that in the midst of that, you know, 12-to-24-month crisis situation, the most innovative, the most creative, the most adaptive associates, and professionals and I gotta be careful to use the word survived. I don’t mean it in a life-or-death situation. But I think from a business standpoint, we’re able to not only survive and keep their business afloat, and you know, Ronn, you had to do that for you. It probably served your business well, if I was to guess during that time, because, you know, obviously online and SEO. But, you know, as a business professional, you had to not only survive, but you had to figure out how to thrive and so being a change agent is a mindset. So those who are listening are like yeah, I’m gonna change agent, awesome. Continue to put yourself in situations to where you’re challenged by change, that will really test if you are a change agent. Now, if you or you have changed agent quality, shall I say. Now if you’re somebody who doesn’t like change, which I think are a lot of people in this business and really across industries, you know, change can be abrasive for a lot of people. I think the reality is, and what’s important for you to know is a, you need to be aware of your perfectionism and your want to control. Okay. Those are the two biggest items I think that change agents have issues with, is they’re trying to make everything perfect, and they’re trying to control all the circumstances. Change doesn’t allow for you to do that, especially if the change is prompted by something bigger than you or a boss or a situation. And usually change in our business is prompted by market conditions, or something affecting a property or the market or an economic sort of shift. And those who are able to sort of shift, you know, kind of like water, like fluid, I think Bruce Lee has some quotes around this, you know, just be like water, right, you have to just be adaptable and move, so that you can be the most effective in the new circumstance. You know, so to go back to those who are not the best change agents, you really do have to take a self-assessment of why you need everything perfect, why you can be rigid at times, or why you try to control things, you probably have to do some personal sort of unpacking, to find out why you have some of those qualities, and try to improve upon them because change is inevitable. And so, you have to be a successful professional and frankly, a successful person in life. You have to learn how to become good at changing with what’s happening. Because life is evolving, life is moving, life is ever changing. And you know, I would hate to see anyone, you know, not change with it, or grow or adapt or become wiser as change sort of attempts to, as change attempts to teach you lessons.
Martin: Yeah, change is going to be constant and always there. So well, that was a power stuff. Thank you for that, Tony. All right. So, we are getting ready to go into the first ever discovery round and it is with Paris. And she will be asking Tony some of her questions that she had prepared. So, take it away.
Tony: Paris, no hard questions, young lady.
Paris: I’ll try not to, well, Tony. So, I mean, obviously I’ve known you for years, personally and professionally as a mentor. And I watched you and I see you on your socials. How do you do it all? I mean, balancing being a VP, and traveling and speaking engagements, being that family man, amazing husband and father to your three kids. Can you just sum this up? For me, what’s your secret? What’s your secret of staying on top of, you know, it all and keeping it balanced?
Tony: The three steps are and buy my book. I think it stems from a lot of things we talked about guys, I think for me, a couple of things that I’ll point them out is, I am willing to change, adapt and learn. So, if that means I’m not the greatest professional or my boss is gonna give me some feedback, constructive feedback that I need to focus on this or get better at this. I’m willing to listen, I’m willing to also shift priorities, to focus on feedback, especially if it’s coming from someone I admire or a mentor, you know, a supervisor that’s there to give me honest feedback. Same goes for people in my life, my wife often keeps me very accountable to all sorts of stuff, that I need you to be more locked in, put your cell phone down. I need you to, you know, do the dishes, put the kids to sleep, I need you to, you know, all that other work stuff. And, you know, you’re admired out there, but you know, listen, you’re admired here, but we don’t really care about what’s out there. I need you to change a dirty diaper. I need you to take the garbage out, you know, my car’s not working I need you to look at it. You know, so, you know, and many of you guys know my wife doesn’t do social media. And I think that’s good for her. And it’s probably good for me that she doesn’t really care about what’s going on in my career other than good job, honey, keep it up, it seems like you’re doing well. But that’s good for me. And I think she knows me. A young Tony was, had an issue with vanity and arrogance and ego early in my twenties as a young actor, and I met her then. And so, she didn’t like that young Tony. I think she likes the man that I’ve become. But I’ve also become that because she’s helped me get there. And I’ve strived to become more mature and have better perspective and realize it’s not just about me and that’s good. So, you know, to answer your question in a very long-winded way, I have people in my life, close family and friends that help keep me grounded, helped keep my perspective and I do a really good job of prioritizing what’s most important to me and my family. And at the end of the day, I do pride myself on my ability to work 160 to 200 miles an hour. I can move very quickly, I think very quickly, I could speak sometimes very quickly, I try to be as efficient and effective with what I do, either in my communication, or in my work projects, or my focus is. I told someone today via text, I’m still on pandemic speed. So, I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. But for me I have to be here eight to six, eight to five, for the most part mentally locked into what I’m doing. Now, there’s some flexibility, sure, I can go pick up the kids and come back. But you know what, you know, the company pays me to be locked in during the height of business hours. But at the end of the day, the reason why I’m going 200 miles an hour, a, I’ve locked into that speed from three years ago, and I don’t have any plans of like slowing down. Secondly, I have to work that quickly because I have a lot of responsibilities after five o’clock, after six o’clock, that I can’t forego. A lot of people in my type of position can sometimes have either older children, or no children at all. And sometimes it’s easier to work all night, I don’t have that luxury. And I haven’t really had that luxury for much of my career. Most of my growth in my career over the last 15 years, I have a 14-year-old, so I’ve had a kid the whole time. And I’ve had responsibilities at home that my wife, and my children expected me to be present. So, it’s a long-winded answer. But I have a lot of people and a lot of, you know, sort of structures in place in and around me, that helped keep me accountable, but at the same time helped me understand my purpose. And that’s what helps me keep my speed at 200 miles an hour because I gotta get home and I gotta focus there. And so, my goal is to wrap up every project I possibly can, you know, by the end of day, or at least, you know, make great progress, so that next day I can come in and make great progress there.
Paris: I love it. Thank you for that. So, you’re a big fish in this pond with networking and you live in San Antonio, Texas, yet you’re traveling all the time. Which events do you prioritize and why?
Tony: It’s good question Paris. I moved to Texas as I mentioned 9 years ago, I didn’t know anyone in Texas, right? I knew everybody in California, and I think Ronn that’s where reenacted right, all my connections are more regional based. And so, I get here, and I have to figure out the apartment association and now I’m overseeing Houston and I have to recruit in these markets. And so, you know, from a networking standpoint, I had to figure out how and where do I fish, where the most fishes are, right? And ultimately what I quickly realized, and you guys know this better than anybody from an online SEO standpoint, they’re online. The fishes are online. And so, you know, to answer your question about networking, and I’ll talk about how to prioritize where you go. For me, you know, the network has, I spent a lot of time and I have an event tonight that I sort of make appearances here locally and shake some hands and high fives and folks here locally in town. But, you know, my network has now grown nationally in a way that I still get to interact with all three of you guys. And you guys are all in separate cities. What cities I’m not sure precisely, you know. Ronn is a global traveler. So, I don’t know where he’s at today. But you know, so you know, expanding your network and being willing to sort of interact, you know, with anyone and everyone across the country. The only way to really do that is LinkedIn is a great resource for that and there’s other resources of course, other social platforms. And then of course, you know, early first half of the year, there’s conferences and for our business. And so, I think being strategic with what conferences you attend, participate in. There’s some big one, there’s some, you know, smaller sort of niche conferences as well, depending on your business plan and what you’re trying to, the relationships that you’re trying to foster. I think that it’s important for you to determine where you should be, and how long you should be there and what interactions, you know, would you categorize as successful, leaving things after the conference and say, what can you learn from that experience? So, but I think you have to be really decisive. I think you have to say no more often than you say yes sometimes, you have to be mindful of the dollars you spend on conferences. But a great way to sort of stay connected is this online world that we’re all connected in, and ultimately, it’s sort of this virtual reality.
Paris: Okay, thank you for that. I appreciate it. I know I’ve seen you at a lot of the national events, like AIM, and NAA, and TAA and all that. So just for those listeners who maybe haven’t attended those events, I know that they can definitely do some deep dive and figure out which ones are gonna be a priority for them based on their regions and locations. So, you know, from the outside, Tony, it looks like you’ve accomplished a lot, which I know you have, but for all of us dreamers and innovators, what can we expect from Tony 2026?
Tony: Well, that’s a good question, right? I don’t want to give too much away about too much, but as an entrepreneur minded professional myself and frankly, as a creative and an innovator, also someone who sort of has the analytical operation side and experience there. You know, this answer is a little contrary to I think a lot of people that are very sort of analytic, analytical and pragmatic, similar to the content that I post on social, it’s not as contrived as people think. And I also, surprisingly, you know, contrary to like vision boards, I don’t have one. I allow the inspiration of the moment and of the day or the time or the quarter of what’s happening to sort of lead me to the next steps of what’s forward. So, when you ask sort of like, what’s three to five years out, three to five years back from where I’m at now I would have never thought that I’m making the impact that I am now in the industry, to be honest. And so, when I look back and think dude, there’s no way you would have guessed that you’re here, all you did was take small steps that led you here. And so, what I tried to do using that analogy is really kind of focus and be very present in every step that I take. And what I mean by that is sort of be aware, you know, I think the quote is sort of be where your feet are. And I think I’ve done a good job in my life professionally and personally to be where my feet are. And I think when you do that, you’re listening, you’re in the room, you’re paying attention to what’s happening and you’re able to sort of respond in the present moment, versus always looking ahead or worrying about, you know, the past or worrying about the future. So, where I am in three to five, what I hope to be doing is just the continued work that I’m doing now and making the biggest possible impact I can, have my company within my family and I love this industry as well. So, I just hope to be making sort of astronomical impacts in this industry, potentially, you know, leaving, you know, my own conference or something of that, you know, I love thought leadership and moving the industry forward. So, you know, Gary, you know, guys like Gary, Vee and others, you know, V con, you know, have, you know, I’d be lying if I never said that I flirted with the idea of Souza Khan or something of that sort, to be sort of a conduit to thought leadership in multifamily in the future.
Ronn: Sign me up.
Martin: I love it….
Tony: We got you a sponsorship, Ronn.
Ronn: I bet.
Paris: I love that so much.
Ronn: Yeah, that’s awesome. I love the discovery round by the way, Paris. Thank you for joining us and I’m so excited to have this. So, let’s talk more about that. So obviously with that being said, multifamily obviously has evolved over the years and particularly with the years that we’ve been around. What trends do you actually foresee for the future, really disrupting our industry?
Tony: Well, I think the elephant in the room is something you and your team are probably very much aware of. I know Martin had a chance to briefly chat with him, you know, very, very skilled and understanding the future is machine learning artificial intelligence. And I think that is going to disrupt all industries, including ours. And so, it’s exciting and it also plays a big opportunity for a lot of people in our industry to really familiarize themselves with the technologies. I think the great things of technologies, but also, I think the things that, you know, need to be sort of watched and monitored in some ways. We’re not a watchdog agency. So, you know, what roles do we have there? But I think it’s technology that’s going to change all industries. And I do think it’s going to automate a lot of things that are currently being done in our industry and that ranges from probably marketing to accounting to customer service to, you know, a lot of sorts of just basic services that are provided. Is that a good change? Well, I you know, I don’t know, it depends on who you ask, right? A senior leader of an organization, does it cut overhead? Sure. People are the most important and also the most expensive. As you know, Ronn, running the company. And so, you know, sort of there’s a balance there. So, I think it’s exciting, but I think, you know, I think it’s also a time that we need to be, you know, I think we just need to be prudent and vigilant in this process that to find this nice balance of, you know, machine learning and artificial intelligence and delivering on the technical and technological side, but also at the same time, like what role do humans play today and for the future, and to continue to find ways to provide, you know, of course, people and humans and professionals jobs and job opportunities, so. But yeah, I mean, you know, am I teaching this to my gen Alpha kids, that this technology is going to be here and you’re going to have to figure out how to live alongside and in harmony with it. Yes, be aware of it, but also learn how to leverage it as well.
Martin: Yeah, that’s some good stuff right there. I mean, you have to experience it. You have to at least try it out. I mean, just utilizing Bing and trying their new conversational search, you know, they’re growing and the amount of users are already getting, right? Google has always been king, but now they’ve actually grown so much since launching with Chat GPT. So, the game is shifting a little bit, so I feel like Bing is more of an underdog now. And they used to talk a lot of smack on it. But now I think multifamily needs to kind of wake up to being almost building that multi-platform SEO strategy, and making sure it’s not just about Google, it’s about Bing, it’s about Tik Tok, it’s about reels and YouTube shorts as well. So just being able to, you know, experience it and be familiar with how these technologies work, what’s the good, what’s the bad, and, you know, really just try it out. That’s the only way you’re going to learn it by actually doing it. So, keeping on the digital front, Tony, you’re super active on LinkedIn. And I love all the posts, by the way, and I try to you know, I engage, and I get so much from them. It’s obviously a powerful tool for apartment marketers to actually utilize. So, how can multifamily professionals make an impact on their network and grow professionally within this particular platform, which is really built for expanding their own network whether they want to grow or reinvent their whole careers?
Tony: I think it’ll start, Martin it’s a good question. I think it all starts in this question I get asked a lot, because it’s a space that in some ways, I feel like I’ve hacked. But you know, it’s gonna be, you know, continual sort of platform that’s changing an algorithm and formula in the future of course, and so we’re all trying to adapt to that. So, any piece of advice I would say to any marketers or anyone trying to grow their company’s exposure on that particular platform is to give the most value with the absence of expectation as much as you possibly can. Someone made this analogy recently. There’s a lot of I think, leaders within companies that get afraid of providing an online platform like LinkedIn, any information of your company or trade secrets. And I actually have sort of the opposite view of it. I think the more information you can give there about who your company is and what you guys are about and what you believe. Isn’t that someone’s going to steal this idea, because the analogy that I heard recently was, I can give you 1000 Lego pieces, but I’m not going to give you the instruction book on how to put it together. Right? Like that’s where you’re going to pay me, right? That’s where you’re going to join my company to help you put it all together. You’re not going to know what to do with 1000 Lego pieces. You can put something together, it’d be Mickey Mouse because you don’t have experience in that space, you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t have, you know, the infrastructure in place. So, I think when a lot of leaders are nervous about going there and sort of being vulnerable with information and abundant information, you’re not giving the instruction, you know, template away. You’re just giving sort of the results away and as we all know, any successful company you know, Ronn, you build multiple successful companies, it’s in the execution. It’s not in anything else. It’s in the execution of building the infrastructure of those companies, in building that Legos, you know, to something really, really successful. You can give anyone pieces. I mean, you could probably do that today, Ronn, right. Here’s all the pieces I started with, go build it like I did. Good luck. Right?
Ronn: That’s how you feel with SEO too.
Tony: Yeah, it’s the same thing. So, that’s what people are paying for. They’re paying for expertise. They’re paying for experience, all of those sorts of things. That’s what they pay you guys for to do a brilliant job. That’s what they pay RPM to manage their assets for, right? If they could do it on their own, they would have already. And so, you know, so that’s something I would say to those sort of investigating like LinkedIn and social platforms, you know, just give and give value and give insights and give, you know, information that’s behind the curtain and don’t be afraid that someone’s gonna steal it because the reality is, they may take some bits and pieces of it, but they’re not going to know how to execute on it like you because they’re not you and they don’t have the same experiences and infrastructure that you do. So, that’s the best advice I can give and just continue to give, and you’ll see in time, you know, a reciprocity of return and you know, your company in time will be blessed by that.
Ronn: The best thing is that you’re very transparent on it too. And I actually enjoy them as well. Yeah. So, with that being said, going on the social side, what platform do you think is most underutilized in apartment marketing in particular?
Tony: You know, I don’t think we’re playing on YouTube shorts really all. I think, you know, the Tik Tok revolution, glorious era.
Ronn: Preach brother, preach.
Ronn: All the time.
Tony: Yeah, I’m raising Gen alphas as I mentioned, and you know, they live on YouTube shorts, so you know, as they become teenagers in the renting population in their 20s. You know, that’s a probably, I don’t know if it’ll still be YouTube shorts at that time, but it’ll be it’s probably a short term. And media consumption, that they’re going to be sort of digesting somehow, someway what it is in 15 years. I’m not sure. That’s a long way to go with how quickly technology is moving. But, you know, today, you know, is that something we’re taking a look at, especially in my new role, you know, creating content and distributing that content and repurposing that content and all sorts of fun ways to do what you guys know how to do best, is create attention and SEO right. So, you know, so that’s also I think, what a lot of marketers and marketing companies, if they’re not paying attention to that, that’s where they need to be in the future.
Martin: Tell me I would love to collaborate on some YouTube shorts with you for any of your communities. So feel free to just hit me up and let’s do some tests. And I I think it will be so important in the future because YouTube shorts right now is so underutilized in the multifamily arena where if you start building out these organic place videos now, you’re gonna get that placement, they’re going to rank in Google, they’re already starting to be indexed by Google. So just having that placement for those really high-volume keywords Google’s, especially with discovery and SGE with Google’s new search engine coming out, those YouTube shorts are going to have some prominent placement and they’re obviously Google assets. So of course, they’re gonna be placed.
Tony: I think a lot of marketing companies especially multifamily and Ronn, you could probably even speak to this. And you know, I think they’re nervous to get in what’s hot today because they’re like, well, what’s gonna be hot tomorrow? I don’t know. You’ll figure that out when you cross the bridge when you get to it. But, you know, jump on what’s happening now or what’s the trend for the future. And maybe, as you said, Martin, most companies aren’t even there yet. So, you’re already ahead of the game. Don’t be worried about what’s after this. You’ll figure out a lot of lessons through your spend and your strategy here on different platforms today, that will help propel you into the future of what’s next. And that at the end of the day is an innovative mindset, innovator mindset, right? Not to be afraid of the future. And, you know, obviously, we talked quite a bit about that today.
Martin: Well, I can’t believe we’re getting close to the end of the podcast, but we have one last question for you, Tony. On your perspective, what’s the biggest challenge facing the multifamily industry today and how can we, as an industry come together to solve it?
Tony: Well, I think the cliche answer, and one that is often probably answered but with this is, you know, how to integrate technologies better. But I think actually what the biggest obstacle and the biggest challenge that we face in our business today is the inability or the lack of ongoing talent that we’ve recruited throughout the country and throughout different industries. Unfortunately, property management is not widely studied in college, or you don’t even know about it in high school. You just all of our stories, if I was the guest, all four of us were I just sort of fell into it or I had a family member that was a part of it, and they told me about it. So, I think there’s a huge opportunity and I think this can be done through short form media, maybe long form, of course, you know, as you attract them through your short form media opportunities, to tell more and more of our population what a wonderful industry this is and how you can grow a tremendous career here, both as, you know, an innovator on the supply side, start your own company like Ronn did, and others have or, you know, work your way up and through on the management side. I think it’s a wonderful industry that can really benefit from additional talent throughout the country in a way that can provide sort of dynamic and unique perspectives in diverse perspectives from across the country. So, I think that’s the biggest opportunity and one that I, you know, sort of, you know, try to play a part in a lot of what I do, you know, on LinkedIn and other is to try to attract eyeballs that maybe aren’t in our industry to say, hey, you know, we’re a part of this industry that you may, you want to consider being a part of.
Martin: That’s great. I think that hit spot on and definitely a great perspective to have because that is true. Every time I hear stories of how people got in the multifamily industry is because it was by accident. They wanted a cheap place to live, you know, and then they stay in it forever, you know, in most cases.
Tony: I think there’s something really to be said about this industry that they stay forever. I don’t think it’s just because they can’t get another job in another industry. There’s a warmth to this industry, and I think there’s a collective support of each other. Of course, there’s a percentage of haters that are always out to get you, you know, sure. But I think in large percent, this is an industry that we try to support and love on each other and love to see each other succeed. And frankly, I mean, I’m an example of that, you guys have me here because you guys, you know, are enjoying seeing some of the successes that I’ve had over my career and you guys are, I know, you know, sort of clapping in the background for me and I for you guys as well. So it’s amazing to see your company grow and you guys come together to be, you know, continually successful company as well.
Martin: Great. Well, we’re getting into our closing thoughts. So I’ll let Paris lead it off.
Paris: Well, thank you again, Tony. You have given us so much great insight and you’ve got loads of experience and you are a wealth of knowledge, which we can all hear and I just want to say we’re deeply appreciative for the time that you took today and sharing your expertise. You know, it’s all about giving back and that’s truly what these podcasts do, you know, really showcase the leaders and grow professionals through this digital presence. So I just want to say thank you so much.
Tony: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
Ronn: I thought I was on mute. Well, Mr. Tony, thank you again for sharing all the greatness today. I’m so proud of you, buddy. I just want you to know that, I don’t know if I say that often enough. But you are truly living your life intentionally. And I think that there’s so much greatness that you shared today. It gives me, I mean, half this time you can see me ever thumbing up and cheering, virtually clapping for you and everything you just share. There’s so much nuggets in this podcast that I cannot wait for people to hear and put on repeat, a lot of life lessons. Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing. It truly is no as a part of why I was celebrating you, is it’s no surprise why you’re so successful. So blessed and you’re thriving in the game of life and obviously in business. So with that I want to say keep doing you brother and inspire, continue to inspire those around you because you’re definitely a change agent. So thank you.
Tony: I appreciate that, Ronn, means a lot coming from you.
Ronn: Yeah, for sure.
Martin: Any closing thoughts Tony, to wrap it up.
Tony: It’s great to be here with you guys. And I’m excited to see you guys impact the industry in such a big way. And Ronn, you’re a staple in this industry and you have a wonderful team and Martin and Paris and others on your team as well. So I just you know, again, I’m honored and appreciate the opportunity to be here with you guys.
Martin: Cool. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Tony. It was such a pleasure to spend this time with you. So for our community, please take the time to check out RPMLiving.com And look out for Tony’s marketing magic to take place and really bring the company to new heights again and again. So I can’t wait to see some of the content and some of the new webinars and sessions that are going to be put out. I really look forward to watching those. I look forward to seeing you at all the upcoming multifamily conferences and maybe one day we could actually collaborate on one as well. So remember everyone, don’t forget to subscribe to The Multifamily Podcast at MultifamilyPodcast.com And be sure to get your Free Marketing Analysis from ApartmentSEO.com Also one quick plug for Adz Manager that’s AdzManager.com, which is Apartment SEO’s latest technology, bringing the power of Google Search ads to in house apartment marketers, providing an AI powered easy to use product to easily launch new campaigns with these, help you save time and money with our latest prop tech innovation. Make sure to set up a full demo with Paris Granger of Apartment SEO, who’s on this podcast today as well and see the product in action. All right, so until next time, bye everyone. Bye all.
Ronn: Bye guys.