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Rod Watson: Connecting Extraordinary People With Extraordinary Lifestyles

I'm here with an extraordinary guest with an incredible background.

He's an athlete having balled in college and a former collegiate basketball coach. He is a real estate dealmaker who connects extraordinary people with extraordinary lifestyles in LA and San Diego's hottest zip codes such as Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood Hills, Malibu, La Jolla, Del Mar and many others.

He’s working with professional athletes, entertainers, business managers and wealth managers along with investors and developers. Our guest finds income-producing properties or real estate with generous ROI and upside potential.

My guest is an influencer having one of the top twenty Instagram accounts to follow. He's a certified luxury home marketing specialist. He's the Director of Sports and Entertainment at Revel Real Estate in Beverly Hills, California.

He is the LA VIP Agent, Mr. Rod Watson.

Dustin
Welcome to the show. 
Rod
I appreciate you. Thanks for having me.
Dustin
I want to start off going back in the time machine. We're going 2006. At this point in your life, you have balled, you had done basketball coaching
Rod
Yes, that call prompted and motivated me to pursue real estate full-time. At that time, I was very new in real estate. I hadn't had my license yet. My wife was licensed and I was in the process of getting my license. She reached out to me because she knew I was dealing in real estate. My wife and I had been buying properties, rehabbing them and fixing them up. She was like, “I don't know what to do. I've got this notice from the bank letting me know I have X amount of days to respond to them. I’ve got to pay this amount that was past due or we have to vacate the property.” I came over and I sat with and I read the letter and I said, “I don't have all the answers right now but let me do some research and figure out what the solutions are.” I believe at the end of the day, we're problem solvers in this space as entrepreneurs and business owners. I went home, jumped on Google and started looking up what her options were. What I learned is that in every mortgage, there's a clause that gives a buyer or a borrower a way out which is either deed in lieu and foreclosure. A short sale or restructuring along, which is known as a loan modification.
At that point, I let her know what our options were. There were some downsides because the property has some deferred maintenance where there was a roof leak and then there were some plumbing leaks and sheetrock had been damaged at certain parts of the home. She had a flood where she had to pull up all of the flooring in the house. It made it impossible to be able to sell and get a market value for the home. In that situation, what we decided was a short sale was the best option for her. That was my first time putting together a short sale. I followed the instructions that were given, put together a short sale packet of 50 pages of documents that we had to fax. We had to fax that information over to the bank three times because they claimed that they never received it. That experience set off a light. It made me think like, “There's millions of other people that are in this situation.” From that point going forward, I said, “I see an opportunity here where I can get into real estate and thrive because there's less competition in this space.” It’s very little at that time, no one wanted to even touch a short sale.
Dustin
That would have been me. I'm amazed because like you had mentioned, you fax this 50-page doc over three-time. I would have thought, “What a headache of a process.” Did you saw opportunity?
Rod
I saw an opportunity there and people, at that particular point in time, were not thrilled about distress sales from a standpoint of dealing with short sales. Most distressed sales typically were REOs. In ‘06, the market was teetering and you could see where everything was headed. By the time we did in ‘07, the writing was completely on the wall. When we entered ‘08, it was like, “It's game time. This is real.” I was licensed by that point. I focused on creating a brand around helping people get out of that situation or solve their issues and exercise in the best option for themselves and their families to either be able to stay in their homes or leave their homes in a dignified manner. That is what set me up to be here because I made that decision to go all in and focus on a niche as opposed to trying to be an agent that serviced everyone on all demographics.
Dustin
Even though I'm sure it wasn't fun for godmother, that call set you in a direction because if you had gone into real estate as an agent at that time, that would have been hard. That was not a fun time for anyone to stay.
Rod
Believe it or not, I had a lot of friends in the business at that time. They were trying to get me into the business but when the market changed, all of them were getting out of business. They were telling me, it's not a good time. I had one agent that I was trying to get a lot of information from about the short sale processes. He's like, “You don't want to do this. This is something you want to do.” To me, I'm like, “This is something I want to do. This is something I want to learn.” I taught myself. I gathered all the information that was available on the internet, reading books. Short sales are obviously been around several years prior to that. 
The last market that short sales were seen it was in the Houston housing market which was back in the late ‘80s. I was a kid, I didn't know anything about real estate and no one was talking about short sales like they are. Fifteen years prior, there wasn't a lot of talks. There was a healthy housing market during those periods of time. For me, I saw that yes, this is something you can dive into. There's no competition, no one wants to do this. The downside was there was a long period of you have to wait to get paid. I've found a lot of fulfillment and being able to help families. We helped over a hundred families, either navigate the short sale process where they stayed in their homes for a loan modification or short sold at homes for sale.
Dustin
When people are thriving, it's easy to point the finger and say, “These people, they bought too much into their house.” You worked with these people, you heard their stories. What is the misnomer? What did you learn personally working from these people that were sometimes trapped in these homes and didn't see any options?
Rod
I saw a different spectrum. I saw wealthy people in the same situation. I saw people who were everyday people working, trying to make ends meet. It came down to information and how these people were informed about the process of buying a home. A lot of people weren't really aware of what they were getting themselves into, especially when it came to the creative financing loans. I still said, “At the end of the day, these are human beings. These are people that they need help.” I noticed that a lot of agents weren't willing to help. I thought that that is our responsibility as a realtor, to be there, to be available for individuals in the community, to guide them especially in a time of need. I saw it as my opportunity more or less to be a superhero, to be able to step in and got these people through these troubling times. I felt like, “I could be in that situation. If I were in that situation, I would be looking for help.” I felt like, “Why not me be the individual that could step in and help these people get out of this situation?”
Dustin
That's very noble of you and I'm grateful for people like you that have that and figure out a way to provide value to people but also make money. You're a businessman, you're an entrepreneur. You've got a family to feed. Creating these solutions is pretty powerful. I'm curious though, you work with celebrities, influencers, entertainers, what point into the process did you start transitioning away from short sales and deciding, “I'm going to go after this niche market sports entertainment.” When did that become clear to you?
Rod
Around 2011, we moved from Texas because I was licensed in Texas first and that's where we started doing the short sales. We came here in 2011. I had an opportunity to head up a Bank of America's cooperative short sale program initiative here in San Diego and parts of Los Angeles County. From 2011, I had one client who's a good friend of mine. He played for the Houston Rockets. He reached out to me because he was going through a process where he needed to liquidate some assets and one is his primary residence in Houston. He wanted to sell.
He and his wife were separating and unfortunately, the decision was made that they were going to sell the property. He called me one day out of the blue and I was living here at the time. I just moved and he's like, “I want to sell my house and I want to use you.” I'm like, “You know I'm in California, right?” He's like, “I don't care. I trust you. I know you're going to be able to help me get what I needed to done.” That was my actual first transaction with a professional athlete, which was in 2011. We sold his property. That sale led to me doing four more transactions with him on the other properties that he ended up purchasing after we sold his primary residence. That was my entry point.
Around 2011, which went off once again, I was noticing that the short sale market was beginning to change. Properties that were once underwater. The market was now coming back and people were beginning to get equity in their homes again. I immediately thought to myself, “You need to figure out your next move. Don't wait until the last minute.” Right around 2013, that's when I started focusing on developing a brand, a name and an identity. I was connecting the dots with the relationships that I had in that space from playing in college, overseas and summer leagues. I was getting to know different players and reaching out to them, letting them know I'm building a brand that's catered towards servicing you, particularly as the athlete, as the entertainer. By 2014, I had identified a logo, we had a brand and I formulated a brand strategy and after that, it was time to get to work. By the time we enter 2015, we were taking full action and directly focused on that demographic. 
Dustin
You gave us a little tale there. I don't have any friends that are Houston Rocket. You played it in the Summer League. You played ball so that is where you got this cup.
Rod
That's why I met my friend, Moochie, his name is Martin but he goes by Moochie Norris. I met him playing Summer League and competing. I met a lot of other players as well that played for the Rockets when I would come home and play in the summertime. It's easier to connect with guys that way because you're battling with them on the court. We all get to share our stories from college or whatever the case may be. From that, I use that unfair competitive advantage to my advantage to be able to build my business.
We all need encouragement, inspiration, and motivation.Rod Watson
Dustin
You also though, at the same time or right around that time you said, “I'm going to go and I'm going to get involved in radio. I'm going to start a radio program.” You got not just any show but a show on ESPN. I'm starting to wonder, maybe because it was your background but how did this happen and what has that done for your career?
Rod
I was fortunate. I was here in San Diego doing real estate. I had a particular listing, a property that I was marketing down in Chula Vista, a new construction property. I was in that caravan one morning and there was a gentleman there who approached me. He was like, “I have a radio show. I saw you were doing a different radio show and I think that you might be a great fit for what we're doing and I'd love to sit and talk with you about it.” I was like, “What show is it?” He said, “ESPN.” I was like, “You got my station.” I grew up watching Sports Center as a kid. My mom would always be like, “How do you watch that show over and over, they're playing repeats.” I'm like, “Mom, you won't understand.” We sat down and we talked about it. His name is Tim Garlin. He’s with Alliance Escrow. He pitched me an opportunity to have my own show. I'm like, “I'm all over this.” I got the opportunity and several years later, I took it and ran with it and produce my own show and content.
Dustin
What you cover on the show?
Rod
I've mostly covered interviewing former athletes or business owners and entrepreneurs, having them come in and tell their stories, their success stories, their triumphs, things that they were able to overcome. Their adversity that they had to face going through the process of being a business owner or athlete. You're letting them tell their personal stories. Using it as motivation for our audience because I believe, we all need encouragement. We all need some form of inspiration and motivation when we're trying to overcome obstacles in life or trying to get to that next level in business or just to be the best person we can be in life.
I brought those individuals on and interviewed them and all of the interviews went really well. That's how I establish myself here in California, in San Diego and Los Angeles because I then also went up to LA and launched a show there too on ESPN. That expanded my reach being able to get players from the Chargers. There are different players that had played for the Lakers and various other teams as well to come on to show, be able to interview and establish a relationship with them and also their agents or their publicists. Making that decision to take on that role and host my own radio show gave me a platform that I have that I've been able to grow from there and build up.
Dustin
You're making the switch though because you're not doing that show anymore but you've got grand plans for your own platform. What went off in your head as to why go create your own platform?
Rod
Ownership is important, being able to control your own content. After being in radio and big fan, ESPN loved it but I didn't own that. That wasn't my station. I didn't have control over content distribution. Even though I had a lot of freedom, I felt it would be more benefit to me to have control over my content and produce my show the way I want to. Not also be limited to the studio to be able to move around to different areas. I have a production team that I work within Los Angeles. It was really about ownership to me and having control over the content that I produce. 
Dustin
I can get that. I can relate. I've been waiting to ask you this question. During this time, you interviewed LaVar Ball, Big Baller Brand. I imagine an interview with him could go anywhere. Were you nervous?
Rod
I was nervous when I first reaching out to him to get the interview. Once he answered the phone, it's like basketball. Before you enter a game, you got those pregame jitters but when the ball goes up, it's game time. Once he answered the phone, I'm like, “This is your one opportunity. Don't mess this up. Make sure you're clear with your words. You get directly to the point. Don't jibber jabber just let him know why you're calling.” That's what I did. He was like, “I'll do the interview.” When his response was, “Sure, I'll do it.” It made it easier for me to be calmer and more relaxed.
He's a really cool guy. His intentions that he had for his family while in the right place. He executed his strategy brilliantly as far as the marketing and exposure and he brought to the brand itself. It was a good experience for me to be able to be in that situation and have an opportunity to interview him and get to know him on a more intimate level. We asked some time prior to the interview where we talked about the whole process that led up to the whole Big Baller Brand. Why he pushed his kids the way he did it, pertaining to the three sons in related to coaching and train them in basketball in his whole philosophy. It's not every day you get those opportunities. That experience as well helped propel me in the space of what I'm doing.
Dustin
The people that are podcasting is all deranged. Podcast or radio, a lot of people say why someone would like of influence when they could maybe go on at ESPN or ABC or whatever. Why did he want to come on your show and why do so many others want to come on your platform versus big national media?
Rod
We're in a time with independence. You're seeing it, it's a trend, entrepreneurship became sexy. Back in the day, when I was growing up, if you're an entrepreneur, you are broke and you are unemployed. Nobody wanted to be an entrepreneur. People are seeing that, “I can have my own radio show, I can have my own podcast. I don't have to wait for the big networks to contact me.” Players, they understand it as well too. If you have the relationship that's there or if you have a unique platform that they can come on and tell a story, there's value in that because it can be syndicated across multiple mediums. You're not just restricted to someone tuning in to Channel 13 or tuning in to 970 AM or FM and having to listen to it at that time. They can come and consume that content on podcasts.
There are platforms like iTunes, Spotify, whenever they want, while they're exercising, while they're working out. There's more value in that overall. People understand that and they get that. Going back to ownership and having control over your own brand, branding is sexy, it's cool. It's becoming more of a trend where you're seeing people stepping out and betting on themselves as opposed to waiting for a network to give you that call which may never come. Not everybody can appear on TV or on a national radio show platform. Anyone can start their own podcast. Anyone can start their own radio, even TV show if that's what they want to do. There are multiple platforms you can get your content all across.
Dustin
There are many athletes nowadays are becoming their own media. LeBron James is a great example, Jeter. Do you think that less guys and girls that are athletes are going to want to be on other people's show or are they going to put it all into their own platform?
Rod
There's going to be always a mixture of both. You're going to have those individuals that are going to be comfortable with being on someone else's platform and working with them and sharing their stories on their platform. You're going to have those that they're going to want to have all the content and everything going through their platform. It comes down to the relationships and the value that each individual has to offer. I don't think there's going to be a time period where someone says, “I don't want to go on this particular platform. I don't want to work with this person.” The collaborations are key. That's one of the things if you look at social media influencers. If you've looked at it like King Botch and a lot of these different influencers where they all were willing to work with each other to produce short skits.
They share those across each other's platform, help raise each one of their awareness and brand and their profile. The collaborations are key of making appearances on various people’s platforms, whether that's a podcast or whether it's a show like this, but it can be syndicated and broadcast and on multiple platforms. There's value in that. Because if you're restricted to making an appearance on ESPN, even though that's a national platform as opposed to making appearances across multiple platforms of different podcasts, the very well-known public figures, then you're seeing yourself everywhere. It's there for eternity as long as those platforms are up and accessible.
Dustin
You said the keyword, relationships. No matter what business people are in, it comes down. Even if you're an internet mogul. It comes down to relationships. I'm curious, how do you create new relationships with influencers? I imagine people reading this like, “This makes sense.” Go where the influence is, go where the money is. How do you make those relationships? How do you maintain those relationships? You meet so many cool people and you want to send them a birthday card. You want to do something nice for them. You've got 100, 300, 1000 people in the Rolodex. How do you manage them all?
Rod
One of the great things about social media is that, unlike before, you had email. You have to wait for somebody to respond or check their email or maybe that email went to spam. Whereas now, you can go DM someone and they're going to get that message instantly. The open rate on DM’s are still pretty high. Several years ago, it was like 95%. People are like, “Wait, I got other things going on.” When you're reaching out to influencers, it's about trying to find that connection. It’s doing your research on that person, seeing where you may have some things in common. It’s being authentic and reaching out to them. It’s being upfront and direct about why you're wanting to connect with them. From there, it's going to naturally take its course. For me, that's the approach that I've always taken. I would DM someone, find something that I feel like we have in common and then say “Compliment them on, whatever it is.” We both like the Lakers or I love that Nike or I saw you wearing the Air Force 1 Flyknit. Those are super dope. I've had a lot of people do that with me, compliment me on things and that creates an opportunity for us to have a conversation. What was the second question? 
Dustin
Maintaining those relationships.
Rod
Maintaining them is about follow-up. That can be through setting in systems where what we do is we send out birthday cards, anniversary cards. If it's a client where we've sold them a property, then six months anniversary, one-year anniversary from homeownership. The other thing is being yourself. If you know you have a good connection with that person, putting on your calendar, “Lunch with Dustin on the 29th.” Setting that where you're going to have so many touches with that person. Dustin is going to receive four items or something of value for me over the course of twelve months. You can decide what that is. I know Dustin likes Air Force 1s. A gift might be on his birthday. I sent him a pair of Air Force 1s.
It's $90 but that's an investment in the relationship. You get to pick and choose what you want to the value you want to offer or provide. It's about putting it on a calendar and making it a priority. It’s like you make the relationships with your wife, with your kids are a priority. You have to make those relationships with other people that you have connections with a priority and remember to try to take the time to check on them. It could be something as small as a text, we all follow each other, we all are busy throughout the day. You say, “I noticed that you guys just took a trip down to Hawaii with your family. Everything looked like it was a lot of fun. I’m just checking in. How's everything going?”
It's short, it's sweet and it's direct to the point. Those are ways to keep yourself in front of people from a social media standpoint. It's hard especially when you know a lot of people. I've come to learn when it comes to relationships, there are four forms of currency and I tell people this. There's knowledge, there's time, there's money and there are relationships. Most people chase money. Time is one of our greatest assets next to our health. Knowledge is very valuable. The relationships, ruling and trump everything. That's a high level of currency that I believe we overlook as human beings. What you invest in other people at the end of the day, even if it doesn't immediately come back to you, you always find a way to come back around in some form or fashion that's going to be of benefit to you. 
I learned early on from my mother that there are two things you want to invest in life. That's yourself and other people. That philosophy stuck with me and I watched her live it. I talk about it. She lived it in all aspects of her life. She always would pick up the phone and call people, checking on them, visit people, stop by and drop things off, cook a cake. I'd be like, “Mom, what are you baking?” She's like, “I'm making something for Mrs. such and such.” In my mind, “You should be making me a cake.” It's little things like that that when you value people and you value those relationships, you will find ways in time to connect with people.
Dustin
I love your marketing. I love your mission, which is connecting extraordinary people with extraordinary lifestyles. How are you doing that?
Rod
My background in sports has allowed me to interact with all walks of life all over the world. I know that from those experiences, we all like nice things. We all strive to live. Not an extravagant life but a life of quality versus quantity for most people. Fortunately, living out here on the West Coast, we have some phenomenal properties and we also get to live with a great and amazing lifestyle due to the weather. Also, the environment that we're in. When I was in Texas, I saw this as a great opportunity to move to California and sell the dream. Most people come to California, one, because of the weather, the job, the economy, and the opportunities that are here to build and to thrive. 
I saw it as the perfect product to package up and sell and build it around lifestyle and not just the properties. This is what this particular home offers in Del Mar, in Beverly Hills or in Hollywood. There's a particular type of lifestyle that comes with living within these communities. I found great joy and passion and being able to tell the story and curate content around what it's like to live here and selling the lifestyle of owning a property. It doesn't matter if it's a $20 million property or if it's a $500,000 property. Each property has something of value to offer. To me, it was about being able to figure out a way to craft the perfect narrative to be able to connect extraordinary people with extraordinary lifestyles.
Dustin
Real estate is competitive. Real estate is targeted to influence. There's got to be ultra-competitive because everyone wants to do deals like that. What are you doing to distance yourself from the competition? What are some ways that you're standing out so that people even notice you and your agency?
Rod
One of the ways we stand out is obviously being able to function and operate in a niche. Having a direct focus on serving as a distinguished clientele, the sports and entertainment. Going back to my core values as an athlete, work hard, be disciplined with your time. You value others, meaning those relationships, putting the time in to make those connections so that you can be able to connect the dots and pull and bring deals together has been something that I've always found as a priority. That's been very important.
Dustin
You have some incredible talents, skills, you've got some incredible relationships. A lot of people would like to know, what is a way for them to connect? You mentioned social media, you could DM. For those that are getting started that maybe don't have the basketball background or maybe they didn't play that sport, but they're like, "I really love sports. I watch ESPN growing up. I want to operate in this role." It's not in real estate but it's something like a wealth manager or some other related thing. What's your advice to them to break into this business or break into this close-knit community?
Rod
You have to be authentic. You have to reach out to people that you can find, that you have things in common with them. Work to build those relationships. Do your research on the individuals that you're working to connect with. Try to figure out a way to provide value to them. For me, the things I've done to separate myself in this industry is figuring out how to provide value to the clients that I'm serving, which is allowed me to separate myself from the competition. Meaning, we are professional athletes, they're busy, they have crazy schedules. They're used to individuals being able to cater to them and provide a high level of service.
I made sure our brand does provide a high level of service and in addition, provides value to them by offering them properties that particularly not everyone has access to like off-market properties. Being able to figure out what's going to give you that competitive edge to get that conversation or get that meeting with that gatekeeper. You have to be able to be creative. You have to be authentic. You have to understand who the demographic it is that you're serving and then be able to continuously put the time and the work in to make those connections.
In the beginning, it's not going to be easy. No one knows who you are. Typically they're going to say, “I'm busy or I can't take this call. I'm not interested,” or they're not going to respond to you. You can't take that personal. You have to be able to be persistent and stay consistent in your mission and making connections. The other great thing is that if you have already established relationships, you want to work those relationships to ask individuals to give warm introductions where they are willing to introduce you to those individuals that you may be trying to make contact with. 
The other is focused on establishing a brand that speaks to that audience that you're working to make contact with. In my case, it's sports and entertainment. It's natural for me as a former athlete. I understood how athletes think, how they move, the things that they liked, they don't like and authenticity. It’s being honest, being reliable and being someone that's going to do what you say you're going to do. All those things are important and necessary to have success in this space. I would tell an individual to make sure you do your research and have a game plan and then be consistent with it.
Dustin
You mentioned two things. I'm going to count on you to remember one of these so we can come back to it. You said gatekeepers but you also said branding. I want to start with branding. You have an incredible brand online and this doesn't happen overnight. You knew what it was like being an athlete. You know what they're thinking. How did you develop your brand? What was your first move and then how has it matured? How has it grown throughout the year? What's the future like?
Rod
The way I developed the brand was I was sitting one night with my wife and talking and said, “We know that athletes love high level of service. They're used to being catered to.” Immediately I thought VIP. Of course, the cities that we were in SD, LA. I'm an agent. I felt like those three correlated LA VIP for the service, agent as the real estate agent. We formulate it to a logo and then the rest from formulating the logo was, “What's going to be the brand strategy? How are we going to build equity, the perception is attractive to that audience? The message that we're sending out resonates with them. How do we connect the dots from that point?" I had to put a brand strategy together as far as the things I needed to be doing on a daily basis, which was doing my research on players that lived in a certain region or area. The amount of money that they make, understanding what their lifestyles are. Doing your research on M&D and identifying who represents them, publicists, agents, business managers, attorneys, and then working to make connections with those individuals and providing value to them which means we have a newsletter that goes out every week. I formulated a newsletter that things that I knew I could stay consistent with.
At that time, it didn't cost a ton of money for me to do that I could get these individual's information, have their email addresses and phone numbers. We did private events. I focused on how I provide value to the athlete or to the entertainers. I focused on certain players that I knew had passions or outside of the sport like philanthropy. There was one athlete in particular, we do a charity event for him right here in San Diego at the Bentley O’Gara Dealership and we connect Rady Children's Hospital. It was focused on a cause towards helping less fortunate kids that were dealing with health issues. We had to think outside of the box and come up with ways to bring value to the audience to connect the dots. From there, when you talk about growth going forward, what's the overall goal? The overall goal is to have market dominance. To be able to dominate this particular niche market and be a household name. I believe that's something we're starting to move towards. You do that just one client at a time. Also, being patient and positioning yourself and put in the work in. Everything I do is going to take several weeks or months to manifest.
It’s staying consistent with the value of work and executing our game plan just like in sports. You have a game plan, you can't go into a game and expect to have success if you have a scout at your opponent. You don't understand their weaknesses. You don't understand how to execute, certain plays at the right time. For me, it's like we have a game plan, let's stick with the game plan, no matter what's going on. You make adjustments. If it's necessary but overall you don't throw the game plan out at a window because you run into a few obstacles. We've had obstacles in business but the focus has always been, this is my dream, this is something that I believe in. I know that it's something that I can accomplish and remain consistent in my endeavors as I moved forward. The future for us is becoming a household name in this space.
Dustin
I want to go a little tactical here and it perfectly dovetails with my open loop questions. You identify an athlete like, "I'd like to work with him. Maybe he comes here or she comes to San Diego or LA." It's in the news. That's the marker. It gets on your radar. You said that one of the strategies, a business manager, a PR agent, and figure out who's their inner circle. Is there a resource or is it like, LeBron James' PR. Maybe he's a bad example because his inner circle is very well known. Maybe someone that's on the rise that's coming up, do you just go to Google and type in business manager. How do you get the details, the data?
Rod
That's what you're sharing how I started out. I said, “You’ve got LeBron James, you’ve got Kobe Bryant, you’ve got Dwayne Wade.” Most of these guys have been in the league twelve, ten or plus years. They have a pretty good foundation of individuals that if I need a house, who do I go to? If I need a car, who do I go to? If I need these particular services, they pretty much have those relationships intact. What we did early on is I focused on how do I connect the dots and get in front of the younger players that are coming into the draft, 2 to 3 years in the league, still in their rookie deals. They don't know a lot of people. They're trying to figure out who do I trust. Focus on making connections with their families.
I took a strategy where I focused on connecting old high school coaches that I knew from my recruiting days, AAU coaches which became a bigger part of influence in the culture of young athletes prior to going to college. Meaning they had a major impact on those players making decisions on what schools they went to. I focused on reaching out to AAU coaches that I built relationships with when I was on the recruiting trails. We speak to them because I had a rapport with them and say, “Do you mind connecting me with this young man and his family?” They would connect me with their families. That goes back to what I stated, get the warm introduction, get the warm transfer to that target that you're trying to make contact with.
That was one strategy that we took and it worked well because I knew that those players, being young at 19, 20, 21 years old, they don't know. They don't have a clue of who to trust, who to talk to and everyone that they're going to build relationships with typical people if they don't already know they're being introduced to. We focused on the younger players, the rookies there were in the NBA or NFL and making connections with them and helping them in. When those players would come to LA in the summertime and they needed housing, we would help them find short-term housing for the summertime and helped them get established and getting to those homes while they were working in training during the summertime. That led up to when they were ready to buy a property whenever they got their second contract or their third contract, they knew who to come to.
That worked in our favor because we had several players that came to us that we ended up assisting for short-term housing in the summer in Los Angeles that bought properties in Los Angeles. That strategy worked and improved. We focused on the younger talent players that weren't as established with their careers. From net, the agencies that I work with, they had players that were older and more established. We did such a great job helping their younger guys and assisting them, I started getting referrals with their players that were veterans in the league that were more established that had the income and the money to be able to have to afford larger scale properties. It worked out. I didn't necessarily have to go out and chase people. I focused on taking a particular strategy that ended up opening up the doors and led to us being able to have the success that we have.
Dustin
The big thing I’m getting is you're playing the long game. This is not like an overnight success. This is one step at a time. Being smart, be strategic and building relationships over the long run.
Rod
You have to be, in my opinion. Everything I do is for the long game because I understand in this business, it takes time for relationships to develop, to grow. It's like a seed. When you put it in the ground, it's not going to sprout up overnight. It's a process that it goes through. I do my job. When I'm called upon, I provide the best service at the highest level as I possibly can and make sure our clients are taken care of. I trust the process that they know because it's a small world. These players aren't looking for anybody to help them. They want the professionals, they want the individuals that they know are going to take care of them and they know when they come to us, we're going to take care of them. Their privacy is going to be protected. We're going to respect who they are as individuals and at the end of the day, it's just business. That's worked out in our favor.
Dustin
These are experiences that you're putting on. As a marketing strategy, I come from the event background but like seminars and education, you're doing these high-end experiences. One of those, I found online was a private invitation-only event for what would be the formation of the Freedom Football League here in San Diego. How did you get behind it? Did they approach you and say, “Let's get it together?" It appears to me that you did it in a nice house, you got cars there. Did you get these people to give you the place for free, the cars are free? What's the story behind this?
Rod
One of the founders of the Freedom Football league, he played for the Denver Broncos. His name is Byron Chamberlain, which you met. Byron had been seeing a lot of my other events that I was doing previously. On social media, he put two and two together and was like, “I'm getting ready to launch this league. I want to talk to you about consulting for the league and helping us with the events." He reached out. We talked before about playing golf and things like that. It started out with us playing golf and then he was like, “Here's what I'm thinking. I would like to talk with you about coming in and consulting with us and helping us formulate our event for our investors as we're working to grow the league.” I said, “I can help you with that." I had already done it previously multiple times for our other events that we were doing to promote and market the brand.
I reached out to some contacts that I know and they regularly list properties on a higher scale of $3 million, $5 million, $10 million, and $15 million. I said, “This is what we've got going on. There's some value here. Would you like to collaborate and participate?” They were like, “Absolutely.” We were able to get the properties at no cost. I have relationships with putting on previous events where we have drink vendors. I have a chef that I have a relationship with. I have a couple of them that we use for our events. If you ever want a great quality chef to host private events, Lauren's phenomenal. She's building her brand here in San Diego and Los Angeles. She does a great job. Lauren was the chef that we use for each one of those events.
It worked out because I'd already put the work in, my previous body of work. The great thing about social media is everyone sees it, they're watching. He saw events that we've done in the past and was really impressed with it and felt that it would be great for us to collaborate and help them establish more or less a presence for the league. Work towards them being able to raise the capital they need to launch the league. It was an honor for me to be able to step in and provide that level of service to them and collaborate and be able to help them put a nice event together that I felt at the end of the day was all of their guests were impressed. Byron was impressed by it as well too. We're going to be working together on more events as we go forward in the future.
Dustin
You're putting yourself at the epicenter, you're going in. If you get business out of it, you're not expecting business out of it but you're saying, “I'm going to put myself in that environment and create value.”
Rod
There's also perception too. You get an opportunity to be in a room with some very highly successful individuals, athletes, business entrepreneurs, people that have done really well for themselves and it's about making a connection. If all I make is one connection with one person, each time I host an event, which I have, there's value there for me. Regardless of what happens or when it happens, it doesn't matter because, at the end of the day, I've made a connection with someone. I have to obviously let it naturally grow and develop into whatever that comes out to. I trust at the end of the day the process. I will never go with being short or not having enough to be able to take care of myself, to provide for my family. I trust the fact that as long as I'm doing right by people and I'm doing the things that I'm passionate about that I love, everything takes care of itself.
Dustin
It sounds incredibly fun. This title also sounds fun, Director of Sports and Entertainment at Revel Real Estate in Beverly Hills. What exactly is the Director of Sports and Entertainment? What's your day-to-day look like?
Rod
A Director of Sports and Entertainment was like the CEO of a company. You got out how to get business. You’ve got to figure out how to develop a brand and have individuals that are operating in that space. The business managers, the attorneys, the agents, the publicists trust you, want to reach out to you, want to work with you and have you represent their clients when they have those real estate needs or transactions. My job is each day as we go, day-to-day working towards connecting the dots. We have initiatives that we're going to be working on going into 2020 as we work to expand the brand. The goal is to become a household name in the space of sports and entertainment.
it’s not just on a local level in Los Angeles but on a national level. In order to do that, you have to be able to have the right relationships. You have to be able to reach the right people and connect. There's a combination of marketing that we do with content, like the podcast, private events. There's the face to face meetings. There are the warm introductions that are created through other players, the referrals that we received from other players that we've serviced. I work constantly on a day-to-day effort in expanding in the reach of the brand and making connections in space, example LeBron James and Klutch Sports. That's one of our goals is to make contact and we begin to have some leeway there to develop a relationship and a rapport with his sports agency. 
It's not just LeBron. He's got multiple players on that roster. A large percentage of them spend time in Los Angeles during the summertime. It's being able to identify the relationships that we need to tap into in order to keep business coming in or have new relationships being established. That's mostly the role of the director of sports and entertainment. It's being able to make it rain. Being able to bring in the business and make sure that the brand is there to stay and that people know that we're the number one real estate agency for athletes and entertainers to reach out to when they have a real estate need. It's a lot of work. It's fun too because I'm doing what I love. Talking to athletes and entertainers and working to make those connections is natural for me.
I never feel like I'm out of my comfort zone. In fact, I have a lot of confidence going into those situations because I understand what they need. It's about can you make the connection with the person on the other side of the table that's representing them or can you make the connection with the player and have an understanding of who they are, what their needs are? Keeping it simple. Doing the things that you know and necessary to make sure that you're going to have success. To me, it's like when I played sports. You got to get up 4:00 AM, 5:00 AM, stretch, get into the gym, get your shots up, meet your goals and then come back the next day and do the same thing and be consistent with it. It's fun because you get to see the results when you step on the court. When I get that phone call, I get to see the results from the work that I put in up prior to that point to get that phone call.
Dustin
When you put all that effort in and then something manifest, something creates a text or a call that is exciting. Can we talk about the $94 million?
Rod
924 Bel Air Street is a property of our founder of Revel Real Estate, Ben Bacal, who's very well-known in the City of Los Angeles. He's done close to $3 billion in sales. Most of the sales have been in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the Bird Streets primarily. This particular property resided into the Bel Air area. It had been on the market originally for $250 million. Ben had the listing in the beginning. He communicated and tried to tell the developer that your pricing is a little too high. He didn't take his advice. Ben brought him a few offers that were higher than the $94 million during that period of time that he had to listing but he didn't want to accept them. Unfortunately, Ben ended up losing the listing. Due to Ben's persistence and of course his relationships with working with other developers and super high net worth individuals, he was able to bring in a buyer for this property and still get the deal done.
To me, that showed that not only is Ben very knowledgeable in the marketplace, but his persistence. The ability to stick and say, “I'm not throwing in the towel just because I no longer have this listing. I'm going to find a buyer for this property.” It worked out. For the developer, he's getting a lot less than what he had. It makes Ben look like, “He was right.” Had he accepted those higher offers, he could've gotten more money at that particular point in time. That's the way it goes. Ben sold it. He got the deal done. That in itself helped put Revel on a map, right out of the gate. It's like Mike Tyson punch to the gut. We're here and this is real. It's exciting because we all get to participate in helping them celebrate that success of selling that property. He put in a lot of work to make that deal happen. I believe as we go forward as a company, we're all going to benefit from it.
Dustin
That developer thinking $250 million, I don't want to say a handful. I'm thinking there are a couple of thousand billionaires. That's the buyer for that at $250 million. When it comes to deals of that size, what's different about deals that are that large, do you have to put more money into marketing? Do you have to get specific with targeting a clientele?
Rod
Ultimately, the number one thing is pricing. Understanding how to price a property right out of the gate, working with an agent and understands the market. Ben is one of those agents that truly understood the market and sales in that area. Being able to price it properly from the very beginning is going to determine how quickly a property moves a sale. You can market the hell out of a property. If the marketing can be phenomenal but if the price doesn't match up, then it's not going to move. That's the number one thing is how you priced the property. Second, as far as the marketing goes, you have to understand a property of that scale and as you shared, there's only a handful of billionaires in the nation or in the world that can afford this property. Two, does it fit their lifestyle? Some billionaires are very conservative. I know guys in Texas, they wear cowboy boots and belt buckles and they're billionaires.
They come from all money. That type of stuff isn't appealing to them but now if it's a 300-acre ranch, where it's a few different types of amenities that might be appealing. But a property like that are such massive, large scale, it has all the art, the car collection, the helicopters, there's only a small percentage of people that can afford and would have an interest. You have to figure out a way to curate a narrative for that property that resonates with them and that can attract those individuals and get them in and get them interested. From there, if they see value in it, they feel that property resonates with them and they want it, they're going to make a move on it. You got to understand how to connect and market that property using social media, using high-quality photography, video and of course exhausting all your resources within your network. Understanding how to get that property out to those individuals. You have to work with the right agent that truly has a track record of doing that.
Dustin
I've seen the shows on TV, like the Real Estate Agent shows, whatever they're called. It's always fun. 
Rod
The Million Dollar Listings, Flip This House or Real Estate Wars.
Dustin
I'm thinking of the Million Dollar Listing once where you, the agent, have to have a conversation with the buyer that you had described on the $250 million deal. It's an uncomfortable conversation, which is my house is worth this. How do you have those conversations? How do you bring people that are not better the way up here? You're trying to tell them, "This is market value." They're thinking, "I’ve got to push him. We’ve got to get the max value. This thing is worth more."
Rod
One, you have to get them to understand what's going on in the market and drive that home to them. You have to focus on get them and understand the market and help get them to understand that if they don't grasp that and understand that there needs to be a price correction if that's necessary. If you've exhausted all other resources, then they're going to wind up getting less for the property in the long run. A part of that is being upfront, putting the information in front of them and then coming up with a solution on this is what we need to do. These are the steps we need to take. If it's before we make a price reduction, we're going to change these things and our marketing strategies and we're going to make some adjustments here.
If it gets down to in what market is saying because as agents, we don't determine the market, the buyers do. If the market is saying this property is overpriced, then you have to stand your ground and you have to say, “It's time for us to make a price correction on this property.” It's not easy to do but that's what they're hiring you for. You have to remind them like, “You're hiring me because I'm the professional. I'm the individual that understands the market and I'm bringing you this information and I'm sharing this information for you because that's what you've hired me to do. If we want to sell this property and have an opportunity to getting the type of number that you're seeking, not this number that's way up here, but what the market is telling us that we can get, we have to make this price correction.”
Dustin
It's tricky because of the emotion. People aren't thinking logically. You've got to present logic but there's an emotion, especially if it the home versus an investment. 
Rod
You have to tap into that. You have to have that conversation about, “If you're selling and you need to get to X, Y and Z, in order for that to happen, the market is telling us this is what a property needs to be priced. Are you still trying to get to Oklahoma? Do you still need to get to that job in the next whatever?” You have to go back and touch on those points. What's motivating them to sell in the beginning? Go back and remind them, this is why you hired me. This is why you said you wanted to sell. This is the timeline you said you want it to sell by and this is where you need to be in this certain timeframe. You have to touch on those points and then you have to get back to where the market is and what the market is saying and say, “I don't get to determine this. I'm not telling you your home is worth X, Y, Z. The market is saying this is what your home is worth now." We missed the mark coming out of the gate. In order for us to at least be able to get to a point to where you're going to be happy with the final sales price, this is where we need to be or else, you're going to wind up getting a lot less than what we can get in this market. 
Dustin
What are you working on? What are you most excited about? What's the future look like for you? 
Rod
What's exciting is the direction that we're heading in with the sports and entertainment division, the partnership with Revel. We're moving into 2020 and that's going to be a big milestone for us because of our past accolades and sales in the space of sports and entertainment. We've got some good initiatives that are coming up that are going to allow us to connect our relationships with certain sports and entertainment agencies and also players. I can't speak on yet but they’re in the works. I'm excited about the future of the brand. I'm excited about the direction that we're headed in based upon the body of work that we put in thus far.
Of course, we're going to be bringing on some new talent. We've been working to bring in former athletes that are wanting to work in this space. We're helping them connect the dots and build the relationships with people that they know over the course of their playing careers and helping them put their deals together. That's going to be exciting when that time comes in 2020 and we bring these individuals onto our platform. For me, it's staying consistent, making sure we're focused and that the ship's heading in the right direction that we've set out for and everything's happening that way.
For me, it's making sure that I do my part and that I continue to show up and put the work in and continue to reach out to people that we've been working to get in front of. To build rapport with and everything else just follows and takes care of itself. I have a young family so I get to spend a lot of time with them. That's one of the benefits of why I do what I do is because I have that freedom and time. I'm looking forward to some vacation time coming up. 2020 is going to be a big year for us because of the work that we've put in. I know that the things that we have coming up are going to propel us to where we want to be.
Dustin
I'll be watching, the WealthFit family will be watching LAVIPAgent.com. Where else can people get a hold of you?
Rod
They can go to my Instagram page, @RodWatson23 or you can go to @LAVIPAgent. Those are two Instagram pages where you can connect with me and the team. Top twenty accounts. I didn't even expect it. I was just putting in the work and doing the things that I felt was necessary for us to get recognized and it was great to get that recognition. On Twitter, you can go to @RodWatson23 and connect with me there. On LinkedIn, Rod Watson. On Facebook, Rod Watson.
Dustin
I appreciate you being on the show. I appreciate what you're doing in the world the energy that you bring to it and serving people. You come with that service mindset. I appreciate that. It's always exciting and fun to interview people that have that mindset because the success will come and putting in the work like you've done naturally comes if you've got the right mindset and the right values. Thank you. 
Rod
Thank you for having me. 

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