Above: The Collaborative Edge’s Keki Cannon, Audrey Gourguechon, Amy Bernstein, Kelli Gould and Amy Garvey believe success for one woman fosters success for all women.
As the old adage says, “Success is best when shared.” In real estate, working in teams provides a measure of mentorship, a boost of confidence and a vision for the future. However, when navigating a market with limited inventory, sharing best practices among your competitors can be considered taboo. In Chicago’s North Shore, five successful @properties brokers are dismantling the stigma and sharing their wealth of knowledge with each other—fostering a movement that leverages collaboration over competition while building up one another’s portfolio of expertise.
Led by Amy Bernstein, Keki Cannon, Amy Garvey, Kelli Gould and Audrey Gourguechon, The Collaborative Edge stems from the more recent collective model of business operations. Though these women are not partners in the traditional sense, they work together to provide their respective clients the best service imageable. Using their unique strengths and tapping into their professional and personal backgrounds, these women support each other in marketing, staging and strategic efforts to ensure their success.
Here, the women share how this model has impacted their individual efforts, what inspired this uniquely feminine idea, and what the future holds for The Collaborative Edge.
Joey Macari: What inspired this unique collective model, and how has this collaboration improved your individual practices?
Amy Bernstein: Several of us met regularly as part of an accountability group. Keki brought up the idea of a more collaborative working relationship, and through several conversations, we realized that we were all yearning for more connection and support. In January, the Bond Collective out of LA launched, and that inspired us to sprint forward and figure out what this concept could look like for us. Personally, this collaboration has pushed me further than I ever imagined. My social media has moved to a new level thanks to guidance and inspiration from the other women in the group. We pooled our resources to sponsor several local events this summer, from music festivals to car shows to beach bashes. We are fiercely independent, driven women who can push ourselves pretty hard. We have learned to notice the signs when one of us is being worn down and could use a boost, and we show up for them.
JM: What issues and trends are you seeing in the field or your area, and how is The Collaborative Edge tackling them?
Amy Garvey: Chicago’s North Shore is very much still a seller’s market due to low housing supply and high demand. These conditions mean that in order for an agent to serve their clients well, they have to be available on a moment’s notice, and they need to manage a huge volume of work through high-intensity situations. This is where our collaboration excels. Essentially, our capacity is multiplied. We simply reach out to see who is available to help when we need it. It enables us to be there for clients, even if we are being pulled in several different directions. It also helps protect against under-performance and burn-out.
JM: How does this model reflect the desire to lift up and empower other women in a traditionally male-dominated industry?
Audrey Gourguechon: We all believe, to our core, that success for one woman fosters success for all women, and creating successful results for one of our clients leads to better results for all our clients. We want to model traits that have historically been positioned as downfalls for women—being kind, ambitious, cooperative, supportive, even nice (gasp!)—and prove that they can fuel success, not hinder it. I’m not saying it’s easy. We constantly work to be open to feedback from each other, welcoming new ideas while being willing to compromise. It would probably be a lot easier to be close-minded and self-serving, but we wholeheartedly believe we will achieve more success and fulfillment on the other path.
JM: How does The Collaborative Edge leverage collaboration over competition day to day?
Keki Cannon: A few years ago, I attended Alt Summit in Palm Springs and was blown away with the community of women at the event who consistently preached and practiced collaboration over competition. I left that conference with a new sense of hope that, as women, we will be more successful and powerful by collaborating than by going it alone. In our day to day, we have vowed to be transparent in our ideas and practices. Because we were very purposeful about the personalities and previous career experiences of all the women in the Collaborative, everyone has something unique to contribute. Everyday those contributions help each of us grow in our own businesses. Our reward comes from being there for each other so we have the bandwidth to better service our own clients.
JM: What do you envision for The Collaborative Edge as the future unfolds, and do you have plans to integrate more like-minded-women moving forward?
Kelli Gould: When we first introduced the concept of The Collaborative Edge, it sparked an overwhelmingly positive response. Several agents expressed interest in joining us in different locations. We can ultimately see a future where agents throughout the Chicago area are connected to us. Even thinking beyond Chicago, perhaps someday we will extend our reach to cities throughout the U.S., particularly those with a high rate of mobility with Chicago. Given the widespread presence of @properties Christie’s International Real Estate, an organic opportunity arises to forge connections and replicate our model elsewhere alongside like-minded women who share our mission of prioritizing collaboration over competition.
For more information, please visit @the.collaborative.edge.