Aaron Seawood has never shied away from a challenge. Indeed, Seawood, who made the leap from the top of the compass ladder to Triplemint in the middle of a pandemic, is pushing the unknown and taking the risks necessary to move itself and its customers forward.
“I was the original Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, much to my parents’ chagrin,” he said of his decision to leave a full scholarship at Howard University behind. “You have a full academic scholarship and it is not to be taken lightly when college is paid. For me, it was an early sign that I was a risk taker before I graduated. “
“I just tried it and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to graduate, I’m going to graduate’ but it just didn’t appeal to me,” he added. “I loved [Howard], but it was one of those things that made me feel like, “You know, I have to create something.” I was never afraid of it. “
Seawood’s heart took him to New York City in 1995 when the city’s vibrant hip-hop scene crossed the boroughs and reached the mainstream. The city was full of energy and opportunities that Seawood used as a entry-level worker to answer phones and run errands at Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit management company.
“I started working with the Flavor Unit that answers phones,” he said. “I worked my way up to artist management, worked with platinum artists and then switched to [becoming] the director of A&R (artists and repertoire) for East Coast Virgin Records. “
Seawood worked with some of the world’s most famous artists for 13 years, including LL Cool J, Outkast and Faith Evans. He even ventured out and started his own management company, Risk Music Management, before deciding to give it all up in 2008.
“There was only this wave in the music industry when I was there,” he said with a touch of excitement. “It was wonderful. It was something that hadn’t been shown on TV and a lot of magic was done before it got formulaic.”
“There was a real push for art and artists doing their best job and not necessarily what would bring in sales, and it started a shift where that was beginning to change,” he added. “The convergence of these two things put me in a place where I felt like I wanted it more for the artists than for them, and I’m someone who is really proud to be all-in.”
Seawood said he had “brief interactions” with the real estate industry during his career as a music manager, and after seeing a colleague successfully transition from music to sales, he decided to take the plunge too. He quickly completed his real estate licensing courses and hung his hat at Anchor Associates, a mid-sized Manhattan rental company.
“I got a license and moved very quickly because if I do that, like I said, I’ll be there,” he said. “I started in July and crushed it. I got in straight away and had some really great months, did very well and was at the top of the company straight away. “
“Then the bottom fell out,” he added, referring to the market crash that led to the great recession. “I just lowered my head and kept working.”
Seawood said his early successes at Anchor motivated him to stay in the industry, while his earlier experience in the music industry taught him to persevere. With that in mind, Seawood has its sights set on the luxury end of the rental market with the understanding that these renters would one day be the buyers who would help them launch a career in sales.
“I wanted to prepare for today and tomorrow,” he said. “So when I work with a tenant who can rent two bedrooms [unit] For six grand as opposed to three grand, that person is most likely in a place where they will buy, and their purchasing power may also be greater. “
“I think it was influenced in part, to be fair, from the music industry, where I’ve worked with celebrities, artists and people of that kind on a regular basis,” he added. “That was my exposure and so of course it felt right that I was operating in this room and working with high-end rentals.”
By 2010, Seawood cemented its place as one of the top realtors in New York’s luxury rental scene and began recruiting calls from some of the city’s largest brokers. However, it was two years before he came across an opportunity at Corcoran that he couldn’t pass up.
“I am very loyal. I’m not someone who skips around, ”he said. “I have a feeling that when you find yourself in a situation or partnership, honor it until it doesn’t feel right anymore.”
“I got to a place where I realized I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I didn’t like that,” he added. “I thought, ‘If I really want to be that attorney for my clients, I have to know everything.'”
Much like Anchor, Seawood rose quickly at Corcoran, where he “cut his teeth and filled in the gaps” as a luxury real estate seller. By 2015, however, Seawood was ready to take one more step into a burgeoning giant: Compass.
“Compass called and I was super excited. I didn’t have an open wound [with] Corcoran. Things were fine, ”he explained. “There was just something fascinating about Compass and it felt like, ‘Oh wow, this one [place] speaks to me. ‘”
Compass’ shabby culture reminded him of his days at Flavor Unit, Seawood said, and the broker’s internal approach to marketing, technology, and agent support was a compelling value proposition. Seawood leaned into the start-up environment of Compass and co-founded the sports and entertainment division of the broker alongside Kofi Nartey.
Seawood was again very successful at Compass and formed a team. He watched the agent transform from a native New York outfit to a national brand for rivals like Realogy and Keller Williams.
“I was one of the early bearers of culture there. I spent five years there and grew with them from just a few hundred people to obviously now over 18,000 [agents] across the country, ”he said. “That was a really great experience until June last year, when again there was no external wound, but just felt somehow insecure.”
At that point, Seawood decided to bring his team of three to Triplemint, where he felt the agent’s “curated and thoughtful” approach to business was what he needed to properly keep the list of actors, musicians and athletes on his client list to use.
“[Triplemint] is small and thoughtful; It feels more like good food with reasonable proportions – not being too big and too fast, ”he said, noting that at Compass it was becoming increasingly difficult to protect the privacy of its customers. “This ain’t knocking where I was – I loved it [and] Many of my dear friends are in my previous company. “
“You have to give everything and be loyal and all that,” he added, emphasizing that there is no ill will towards his previous brokers. “But it still has to keep an eye out for ‘Does it still feel right? Does the value proposition still serve me? Can I do my best work here? ‘Because in the end I work for the customer. It is not about me.”
Looking back on his career, Seawood finds that he has made many decisions that would make most people shake their heads, much like the way his parents reacted to his decision to drop out of college a year before he graduated. But Seawood said he believed in his talent, reputation, and intuition to lead him in the right direction.
“The most important thing I’ve learned is that trust is transmitted,” he said. “If you are a good person and do things right, with high character and high integrity, people will roll with you wherever you are, and that includes customers.”
“Another thing that has helped me a lot is that I am never tied to the result. I am bound by the process, ”he added. “When you are bound by the process, you will not be motivated by the commission – you will not be motivated by anything other than honoring what is right at the moment.”
“So I want to say I am a master of the moment.”
Looking ahead, Seawood said he was working to master his moment at Triplemint and take her indictment to Brooklyn. He also uses more moments with his wife, son and daughter, reading his collection of 500 e-books and collecting records reminiscent of his days in the music industry.
“Nothing against digital, but there’s nothing like recording a record and playing a song and just hearing it the way it should be heard,” he said with a touch of wistfulness. “You know, they always say that the road to success can be awkward and I think I’m proof of that.”
“I definitely hit my head along the way and everything didn’t work out. I don’t want it to come off like everything is rosy,” he added. “Maybe the timing wasn’t the best, but what I’ve learned over the years is to be really thoughtful and operate from a place of optimism.”
Email Marian McPherson