Serving the New ‘Maker’ Workforce
Are you prepared for the opportunities springing from the “maker
movement”? Entrepreneur and author Chris Anderson is a pioneer in
this visionary business sphere that relies on robotics to create products
in fields ranging from synthetic biology to furniture. Anderson, former
editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and best-selling author of The Long Tail, which looked at how
the Internet upended retail business strategies, is the founder of 3D Robotics, a company that
makes aerial robotic drones used for geographic mapping and photography.
At the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, Anderson will be talking about the evolution of
manufacturing and the notion of “maker clusters,” as well as how real estate professionals can
work with maker movement participants who are typically tenants in warehouse and industrial
“These [start-ups] are not factories in the conventional sense; there are no smokestacks,”
Anderson said. Maker movement businesses look more like Internet companies with a small
number of people working from behind computer screens. Then the desktop businesses grow
into robotic-based factories. Anderson, who houses part of his business in a converted copper
factory in West Berkeley, Calif., encourages real estate professionals to work with city o;cials
to create appropriate zoning to attract such companies.
The “maker” work force, he says, is a di;erent breed from the past. “Fifty years ago, there
were factory workers. Today, they’re PhDs and high-tech Silicon Valley engineers making
stu;—same place, same physical location, but the companies have gone from low-tech to high-tech,” says Anderson, also author of Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (Crown Business,
Anderson sees this as a new American manufacturing boom that’s fueling a burgeoning
real estate trend: Old factories in dying manufacturing areas being repurposed for digital start-ups. “The tide is turning, and people are shortening supply chains and bringing manufacturing
back to the point of consumption for the sake of flexibility and cost savings. Nobody wants to
ship things 9,000 miles around the world if they don’t have to,” he says.
Be the Spark
No matter how accomplished you
become, never become complacent.
The risks are too high, says Luke
Williams, professor of innovation at
“Just when you think you’re doing everything right, and
just when you’re at your peak of success, that’s when you’re
most vulnerable,” says Williams. This applies as much to large
corporations as to individuals. Kodak, for example, put too
many eggs in one basket, he says. The company clung far too
long to its film products as its bread and butter when rivals
were focusing on digital innovations.
Williams will challenge REALTORS® Conference & Expo
attendees to tackle situations where the customer has been
neglected. For example, list the steps people take when buying
a home, such as the home search, tours, and negotiation
process. Then figure out how to do something on the list in a
way your competitors don’t. Williams notes that the world is
changing so quickly that business models rise and fall much
faster than ever, from the explosive growth of Facebook to
the near-demise of Blockbuster. This phenomenon has some
people worried. “It’s harder to picture what future needs are
going to look like,” Williams says.
That’s where the power of “disruptive thinking” comes
at the conference #visionaries
in. “The first thing to do is a competitive audit. Look at direct
competitors, and see what everyone is doing the same,” says
Williams, author of Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark
Transformation in Your Business (Pearson Education, 2011).
“In every industry, there are tried and true clichés that have
been around for decades. Surface these and see if they’ve
been holding your imagination prisoner.”
When considering new ideas, go beyond simply support-
ing the current product or business model, he says. “If your
business resembles this, and you’re only embracing incre-
mental change, then you’re getting yourself on a dangerous
path because that path is getting narrower.”
CHRIS ANDERSON SPEAKS FRIDAY, NOV. 8, 11: 15 A.M.–12: 15 P.M. AND 2–3 P.M.
LUKE WILLIAMS SPEAKS SUNDAY, NOV. 10, 1: 30–3 P.M.
NAR welcomes celebrated business innovators and
thought leaders to stoke your entrepreneurial fire.
Hillary Rodham Clinton served as the 67th U. S. Secretary of State
from 2009 until earlier this year, after nearly four decades in public
service. Her “smart power” approach to foreign policy repositioned
American diplomacy and development for the 21st century. As
first lady of the United States and a U.S. senator from New York,
she traveled to more than 80 countries as a champion of human rights, democracy, and
at the conference #keynote
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON SPEAKS AT THE GENERAL SESSION, SATURDAY, NOV. 9, 4–6 P.M.
She’s one of the leading political figures of our time—and she’ll be at the REALTORS® Conference.
Hotels: Rates as low as $129 per night Registration: Four options to fit any budget. For a full schedule and more information:
opportunities for women and girls. Clinton also worked to
provide health care to millions of children, create jobs and
opportunity, and support first responders who risked their
lives at the sites of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In
her 2008 campaign for nomination as candidate for U.S.
president, Clinton won 18 million votes.