This morning (Europe time), I heard the sad news that my friend and former boss, Jim Marks, passed away. I was aware he was battling health issues the past few years, but had no idea it had gotten this bad. After meeting him during the #rebarcamp over a decade ago, his genuineness, intelligence, and warmth quickly won me over. After moving on from Zillow, I ended up joining him as Director of Marketing following my (nearly) year abroad. If there was one thing he was big on, it was the power of doing the work. As genuine and warm as they come, he epitomized caring. In fact, so much so that it became VR’s core differentiator–we cared more than the competition. And, it wasn’t a marketing charade.
Jim was a marketing legend in my book. Virtual Results (now owned/operated by Ryan Rockwood) was the first real estate website and marketing agency that built its company, brand, and reputation with performance-based results. At least that I’m aware of. The “measure (and prove) your results” mindset so many agents and brokers operate with today was a movement propelled forward by Jim.
I’ve worked for multiple owners/founders who are perfectionists; Jim was one of them. While I can’t say we saw eye to eye on absolutely everything, we did agree that striving for excellence was worth the fight and tradeoffs required to pull it off. From a 2011 blog post:
Reading [Steve Jobs biography] made me better understand Jim’s perfectionist nature when it comes to products. There are times where we’ll show him something, and his immediate reaction is “that’s crap” (not unlike Steve Jobs’ reaction to many early products shown to him by the Apple team). He doesn’t mean it’s literally crap, he means it can be better…and that we need to spend the time it takes to make it perfect. There are certainly tradeoffs; operating to perfection takes longer to ship and costs more money. But we believe it’s worth it.
On a personal level, I spent quite a considerable amount of time with Jim, his wife Lorraine, and their two vizslas at their gorgeous home on Top of the World overlooking Laguna Beach; the #marksshack he called it–as well as a couple trips out on their sailboat. He was a man of many talents, also a divemaster and expert racecar driver. I am so appreciative of having the chance to be part of their lives and thankful for their willingness to share it. My thoughts and prayers go out to Lorraine and family.
RIP, Jim. You warmed the hearts of so many and will be deeply missed.