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February 8, 2023

UC Boulder – Very Sharp Students, Mike DelPrete

Last Thursday, Mike DelPrete, Scholar in Residence, University of Colorado, Boulder, Leeds School of Business, invited me to speak with his class of 50 to 60 seniors studying real estate as part of their Bachelor in Business. Mike has an impressive series of guest speakers lined up for this semester – maybe I was lucky to be early in the year.

For approximately 45 minutes, I shared my journey of starting a small residential brokerage business in Marin County in 2006, from buying Pacific Union, to becoming the fifth largest residential real estate brokerage business in the United States by sales volume, to our ultimate sale to Compass in 2018.

Mark McLaughlin speaking at UC Boulder

Along the way I shared fiscal challenges, personal challenges, the importance of ancillary or core services, and our approach to business planning, teamwork, and culture. It was fast-moving and filled with fiscal benchmarks on top-line revenue growth, gross margin deterioration, operating leverage and EBITDA. It’s the life we all live. I thought it may have been too much; I was pleasantly surprised and wrong.

Mark McLaughlin at UC Boulder

These students were engaged, listening, taking notes, and seemingly intrigued. The Q&A session lasted nearly 20 minutes. Clear, crisp, sharp observations about the business followed by very pointed questions.

The day in Boulder included several highlights. My daughter Grace, Leeds School of Business ’22, attended the day’s events with me, a return to her stomping grounds and classrooms. Before the class, we went to Mike’s home, met his wife Jen, and had a bit of a fireside chat on our industry, the disruptors, and who may be the survivors and thrivers in the years to come.

I can’t wait to attend a class or presentation put on by one of Mike’s students. Sharp bunch for sure!

Mike, I appreciate the opportunity.

This is Where We Are Now.


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