November 2017 newsletter Disrupters have more fun

Are you a disrupter? Would you like to be one? Maybe the word disrupter sounds like an insult. Well, in the business world it’s quite the opposite, and in my world it’s a compliment.

Disruptive innovation is a term used in the field of business administration. It refers to an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances.

My personal definition of a disrupter is someone who changes things for the better— someone who blazes a new trail instead of doing things the same way they’ve always been done.

One of my favorite descriptions of a disrupter comes from a speech by Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple:

Here’s to the crazy ones — the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.

At this point you might be asking, “Van, what makes you a disrupter?” I entered the real estate industry in 1983, and once I learned the fundamentals of the industry I realized I didn’t want to be categorized as one of thousands of real estate agents all conducting business the same way. I wanted to be different, unique, and everything but ordinary.

Want to change the world? Upset the status quo? This takes more than run-of-the-mill relationships. You need to make people dream the same dream that you do.” Guy Kawasaki

In 1983 I was one of the first real estate agents ever to plaster my face on billboards with bold quotes bragging about my services. I raised a lot of eyebrows with my unique marketing. I would call it “unconventional,” to say the least. In 1993 when I opened DEEB Realty I implemented programs and procedures that disrupted the industry by changing the way Realtors did business and the way brokers treated their agents.

My company received lots of attention very quickly. Why? Because we did things all the other brokers were afraid to do. Pure and simple, we allowed our agents to do what they wanted to do — to conduct business their own way (within reasonable and ethical limits), and we also treated our agents like they owned the company. Believe it or not, those two innovations totally disrupted the real estate industry.

Those who disrupt their industries change consumer behavior, alter economics, and transform lives. Heather Simmons

You can’t be a disrupter at the very beginning of your career. First, you need to understand the ABC’s of being successful in your chosen field. Then you can decide what kinds of changes you want to make.

Are you ready to become a disrupter in your industry? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are you doing to stand out from the crowd in your industry?
  2. When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and tried something new?
  3. Are you willing to become an expert at the fundamentals of business, like returning texts, emails, and phone calls promptly and being a rock star at customer service?
  4. Are your goals too easy to obtain — are you challenging yourself enough?
  5. When your competitors are asking “Why,” are you asking “Why not”?


When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” Elon Musk


In order to be a successful disrupter you must have a disruptive attitude. My philosophy was that if something made sense for my employees and my agents and made it easier for them to be successful, then I was going to do it. If it was good for them, it was good for me. You must be confident in what you believe in, and you must be driven to see it through. I didn’t look for approval from anyone to change the way real estate was sold in Omaha, Nebraska. As long as it was legal and we didn’t break any ethical or state laws, I was going to do it. My attitude was and always will be “If not now, then when? And if not you, then who?”

I wanted my business model to stand out from what my competitors were doing. Surprisingly, I discovered that being unique and a trendsetter was less work than the traditional way of doing business. Why? Because it made sense!

Most disrupters agree that a disruptive business is likely to start by either satisfying the less-demanding customers or creating a market where none existed before.

One problem with identifying disrupters is that often they need lots of time to make a real impact. The process is long; we’re not talking weeks or months but years. Often a disrupter’s business model looks completely different from what’s already there, so it can be hard to recognize a disrupter in the earliest stages. It took my company a couple of years for agents to see what all the excitement was about and even more important, to confirm that it was real!

We disrupted the real estate industry by treating our agents like they were our customers — like they mattered. We made them feel important because they are. None of my competitors were doing that, and frankly, I don’t think they knew how. I believe there is true brilliance in being a successful disrupter. Our blueprint was not easy to copy.

Are you a disrupter? Would you like to be? If so, contact me and let’s get you on a coaching schedule.


 Life is not a dress rehearsal!


                 If not now, then when? And if not you, then who?

What People in the Audience are Saying…

With Van's passion, humor and experience you can be assured of one thing- your audience is going to get fired-up, built-up, and fully charged –up. As an entrepreneur at the top of his game Van is in the unique position of being able to "talk the talk" because he has "walked the walk". Over the years he has been a great inspiration to me and my staff. Van is a speaker with charisma, humility and impact and he's a difference maker in the lives of the people he touches…"

—George Akers // President, First Mortgage Corp.

I wanted to thank you for coming and speaking with our company today. I thought your presentation was awesome! I was really motivated and inspired by your thoughts and ideas. I will use this motivation to grow my business and my personal life.”

—Justin Pauls // Realtor, Tampa, Florida

We are delighted you will be accepting the award for Omaha’s Top 25 fastest growing companies. Congratulations on your outstanding growth and we wish you continued success.”

—Tracey Fortina // Omaha Chamber of Commerce

Thank you for running such a class act company. It is an honor and a pleasure to be associated with someone such as yourself. I know you are probably one of the most respected businessmen in the region.”

—Dustin Talacko // Realtor, Omaha, Nebraska

Congratulations on writing “Selling from the heart” and thank you for sharing a copy with me. Your class has been one of the most enjoyable classes I’ve ever taken. Your enthusiasm and passion for your work are awesome. But the most refreshing part of the class was your delightful sense of humor. Thank you again for being a fantastic teacher.”

—Linda Reismeiler // Student at Randall School of Real Estate, Omaha, Nebraska

Kudos to you, Van, for reaching a major goal. But more than that...For successfully building one of Omaha’s best companies from scratch and making it thrive even in less than ideal market conditions. You have realized the American Dream...And brought it home to many, many others. My best to you!”

—Todd Andrews, Anchor and Producer, KETV Omaha

Having you here again was such a blessing to so many! As I looked at the pictures, I could see just how interested each and every person was in what you had to say!

This has been such a gift to our agents when they need it the most. The fact that you come, you are so genuine and caring, you are so honest, you are not trying to sell anything and your passion to help each and every person believe in themselves and become the best they can be is HUGE! The timing is perfect for us all helping and caring about each other, so, thank YOU from the bottom of my heart for giving of yourself to help all of us!”

—Carolyn Summerton // First Mortgage Company of Idaho

I enjoyed your seminar and its focus. I was on the fence whether or not to attend and decided why not? I could have sat through an all day session if there was one, usually I end up at the seminars that start with a focus and quickly go astray. I found with yours time flew by too fast and it was already time to go but I wasn’t ready to go.”

—Scott Asbill, CDPE // Associate Broker, Realtor