In the interests of full disclosure, I’m gonna throw this right out there: Jay Thompson is one of my favorite people in LIFE. You could walk a lot of miles around this big, blue marble we call “Earth” and be hard-pressed to find a better man or a truer friend.
Now. There are lots of things I could tell you about Jay. I could tell you that he’s smart as a WHIP. It’s true. I could tell you that he’s a devoted family man. That’s also true (I’ve rarely seen a man as in love with or prouder of his kids or more besotted with his wife–and that’s dead sexy, by the way). I could tell you that when you go to listen to him during his session at Inman Connect (which you’re GONNA do, right? RIGHT?), you’ll leave with a brain full of information and smarts that you can actually use. A third thing that’s true. But there’s so much more I could tell you. So, I will.
Inman Connect SF was the very first real estate event I went to after starting my business (this was before starting my very happy days as a very Happy Grasshopper). It was July 2009, and I was nervous as all get-out. I had been getting to know folks online here and there, mostly because of Twitter and the like. Jay’s blog, The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, was a favorite outpost of mine, not just because it was filled with great information, but because the writing was awesome and pretty darned funny, and I loved it.
So, when I walked through the doors of The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, Jay Thompson was the person I sought out. The man clearly knew his stuff and I was gonna meet him. And there he was. He had no idea who I was (not that he should have), but he welcomed me with open arms, gave me some great advice, and made me smile (one of those show-all-your-teeth ones, too). This was a guy, I knew, who was a leader and who was gonna be among the folks who changed the real estate industry. And I was right (for the record, I wasn’t the only one who thought this).
The Zillowfication of Jay.
Zillow is a thing that folks in real estate feel strongly about. That’s a fact. Given that, when Jay announced he was handing the reins of Thompson’s Real Estate to his wife, Francy, and going to work for Zillow as Director of Industry Outreach & Social Media, it was like the shot heard ‘round the world. It was a BIG DEAL.
It wasn’t just a big deal for real estate, it was a big deal for Jay. In one fell swoop, his life was forever changed. He got an apartment in Seattle, but his family remained in Phoenix. He’d hop a plane, stay in Rain City for four days a week, then fly back to Arizona on the weekends. In between, there were endless trips to conferences and nonstop jaunts back and forth across the country. It was a grueling pace, but Jay loved his job, loved his family, and was determined.
The Day That Changed Everything.
In Spring 2012, I was on my way home from a little league game with a friend & his son. As we drove, I got a text message from a good friend. “Oh no, oh no, oh no!” it said. I couldn’t imagine what was wrong. Then she told me the news. Jay had suffered a massive heart attack–myocardial infarction–the night before and was in critical condition in Arizona. I was dumbstruck and terrified for him and his family. The next few weeks were hard for those of us who love Jay Thompson, to be sure, but nowhere near as hard as they were for him. But he was lucky. Because of the heroic efforts of EMTs in Phoenix and some great doctors, Jay made it through the heart attack, surgery, and recovery with flying colors. And he resolved that he’d do everything in his power never to have another.
Since that life-changing day, Jay, a one-time advocate of fast food and its delights (seriously, to hear the man talk about a Big Mac was like listening to a love song), has lost SIXTY-FIVE pounds and is now getting ready to take part in a marathon. And that is BADASS. If you’re in Seattle on December 1st, stop in to cheer him on!
Jay Thompson is special; there are few men like him in this world. I feel so grateful and privileged to be able to call him my friend. You should get to know him, too.
Jay? I love you, man.