Can’t Hardly Wait: Why did Branden and Rayni Williams start their own shop?

first_imgTagsHilton HylandNile NiamiSpec MansionsWest Hollywood Share via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinkcenter_img Branden Williams and Rayni Williams (Credit: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Sharewell/Zimmer Children’s Museum)In a market where luxury listings can soar well into the nine digits, a $58 million Hollywood Hills mansion wouldn’t ordinarily garner much attention. So it was curious when the 17,000-square-foot contemporary appeared in a lavish Wall Street Journal writeup last week.For Los Angeles brokers, the answer seemed to come in the story’s final sentence: “Rayni and Branden Williams of the Williams & Williams team at the Beverly Hills Estates have the listing.”This summer, as the real estate market was trying to find its footing, powerhouse L.A. luxury agents Rayni and Branden Williams were taking a leap. The husband and wife agent team quietly departed their longtime home at Hilton & Hyland to set up their own shop.By the fall, the company had been officially registered as Beverly Hills Estates — billing itself Williams & Williams Estate Group — with little accompanying fanfare and many unanswered questions. Variety first reported news of the move through a records search in early October.While the manner in which the duo set off on their own was unusual, their impressive client list and sales chops made the move a natural progression, industry pros said.Working for Hilton & Hyland, the Williams & Williams Estates Group team had the third highest sales volume — $412.5 million — of any L.A. agent or team between March 2018 and February 2019, according to a Real Deal analysis at the time.More than that, the couple are ambassadors of the L.A. luxury market, selling sun and fun on Instagram to their 140,000 followers, along with TV appearances on “Good Morning America” and Bloomberg, where they would patiently explain what possesses people to buy homes for $50 million.The pair have called themselves the “King and Queen of Trousdale,” a neighborhood so luxurious it’s fancy even by the standards of home city Beverly Hills.Besides the near radio silence from the king and queen about their new brokerage, some competing brokers wonder why the Williamses would choose to be hemmed in by the dreary logistics of running a brokerage.“They’re extremely successful and I guess they feel that they can make extra money,” said Stephen Shapiro, who co-founded his own brokerage, Westside Estate Agency, 20 years ago with Kurt Rappaport. “But there’s going to be short-term pain.”New beginning on SunsetWhile 2020 has been an unusual year for anyone, it has been especially so for the Williamses.The couple had the listing for spec developer Nile Niami’s Beverly Hills mention dubbed “The Opus.” It sold for $40 million in February, but Rayni Williams at the time would only say Niami had found the buyer himself. That buyer turned out to be one of Niami’s long-term lenders, apparently taking control of a property that had been on the market for years, and was once listed at $100 million.In June, the Williamses leased a two-floor building at 8878 West Sunset Boulevard, according to CoStar and sources close to the deal. The property had been listed for $25,000 a month.A month later, Beverly Hills Estates Inc. registered as a business with the California Secretary of State, with Branden Williams as CEO and Rayni Williams as chief financial officer.On Thursday, Rayni Williams declined to discuss the new brokerage, saying it was “not an opportune time.”Neither agent has a broker’s license with the state, so Greg LaPlant, a former colleague at Hilton & Hyland, is the broker of record. LaPlant received his broker’s license in July, according to state records. He not is mentioned on the Williams & Williams Estate Group’s recently-launched website.Despite having spent months setting up their new business, the Williamses have done nothing to publicize it, and the $58 million Hollywood Hills property appears to be their first major listing.A spokesperson for the duo, Alexander Ali, said last week that any announcement would be “too soon,” and “won’t be ready until December.”Their former employer, Hilton & Hyland, has also been silent. Representatives there have not responded to numerous messages, leaving rival brokers wondering.“It must be a messy business unwinding from Hilton & Hyland,” said Michael Nourmand, president of Nourmand & Associates.No room “on that plate”Fact: Luxury homebuyers don’t care about what brokerage an agent belongs to.“I could go to every homeowner in Beverly Hills and ask them, ‘Do you know who Jade Mills is?’” said Ron Wynn, an agent at Compass. “Eighty-five percent of them would say they do. I could then ask, ‘What brokerage does Jade work for?’ People wouldn’t know or wouldn’t even know what I meant.” (Mills works for Coldwell Banker.)That leads to the question: Why bother with a brokerage?But top agents see the question another way: Why bother with your own business?Elite L.A. agents reach a point where they operate autonomously from the parent brokerage. These agents often retain 90 percent or even more of their commission fees, while worrying little about administrative duties.“Paying your split to the company is less than having to take on a bunch of agents, a manager,” said Josh Flagg of Rodeo Realty, during a TRD Talks Live panel in October. “What’s the benefit? I can’t even see it.”“We’re all so busy,” Douglas Elliman’s Josh Altman added, during the same discussion. “It’s another thing to have on our plate. I don’t think any of us have room on that plate right now.”Another issue is liability. Brokerages routinely wind up in court over breach of contract and other lawsuit claims. Hilton & Hyland, for example, has sued or been sued over two-dozen times in the last 20 years, according to L.A. County Superior Court records.The agents that do start brokerages, then, “do it for ego or a feeling of accomplishment,” Wynn said.The business reason, Wynn added, is to build an asset that could later be sold. He cited as examples recent deals involving Partners Trust and the John Aaroe Group.Another recent instance: Mauricio Umansky left Hilton & Hyland himself in 2011 to start The Agency, a Beverly Hills brokerage that has added locations across the country.But it is not clear if even successful boutique brokerages in L.A. — namely Hilton & Hyland, Westside Estate Agency and Nourmand & Associates — are handsomely profiting from the high-end lifestyle they sell.“The margins are tough, the competition is tough,” Nourmand said. “One week you’re on the top of the world, but it’s hard to maintain long-term dominance.”“The way to make a small fortune in the wine business is to start out with a big fortune,” said Spencer Krull, managing broker at Side, a brokerage with the model of purely doing the administrative work for agents, and a former manager at Westside Estate Agency. “You could say the same about brokerages.”“Good people around us”Despite the pandemic lockdowns, Rayni and Branden Williams did a combined $75.5 million in on-market sales alone in the first six months of 2020. That amounted to about 12 percent of Hilton & Hyland’s total sales volume for the period, according to a TRD analysis.Hilton & Hyland has other big producers, including co-founder and president Jeff Hyland, along with brokers Drew Fenton, and Linda May. The 27-year-old firm also made significant new hires this year in Marc Noah and Lisa Optican.But none can match the Williamses recent track record. “It’s a huge loss for Hilton & Hyland,” Nourmand said.By moving on, the couple may also be able to boost their profile, if they eventually choose. While Hilton & Hyland higher-ups tend to frown on reality TV shows like “Million Dollar Listing,” Branden Williams has no such aversion to the camera. Before getting his sales license, he landed speaking roles in movies, including the 1998 teen rom-com “Can’t Hardly Wait.”“They may be looking to be more like other more celebrity realtors,” Wynn said.But agents interviewed for this story acknowledged they were merely speculating.Adding to the intrigue, the pair has presented themselves in the past as dependent on a team.In a 2016 interview with Top Agent magazine, Rayni Williams was succinct: “The key to our success is having good people around us.”last_img read more

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Listen: Trey Anastasio Band Debuts New Tune In Pittsburgh, ‘Speak To Me’

first_imgTrey Anastasio Band have been gearing up for a new album release in early 2015, kicking off a fall tour last weekend with stops in Chicago (on 11/28) and Pittsburgh (on 11/29). At Stage AE in Pittsburgh, Anastasio debuted a new tune (presumably from the new album), called “Speak To Me.”Unlike the Pink Floyd song from Dark Side, this upbeat funky-rocker is driven by horns and even includes a hand-clap sound effect from Anastasio. The set also featured the bust-out of “Come As Melody,” which hadn’t been played since 2006.Thanks to taper Scott Toney, audio for the new tune “Speak To Me,” as well as the entire show, can be downloaded via Bt.Etree.org. Check out the full set list below:TAB Pittsburgh Setlist (via Phish.net)Set One: Corona > Sand, Valentine, Night Speaks to a Woman, Pigtail, Cayman Review, Burn That Bridge, Dark and Down, Burlap Sack and Pumps, Bounce, Come As Melody, TuesdaySet Two: The Song, Speak To Me[1], Gotta Jibboo, Gone, Liquid Time, Traveler, Last Tube, Plasma, Shine, Clint Eastwood, First TubeEncore: Black Dog[1] Debut.[via Jambase]last_img read more

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Relationship satisfaction depends on the mating pool, study finds

first_imgPinterest Share Relationship satisfaction and the energy devoted to keeping a partner are dependent on how the partner compares with other potential mates, a finding that relates to evolution’s stronghold on modern relationship psychology, according to a study at The University of Texas at Austin.When it comes to mating, people choose partners whose collective qualities most closely reflect what they would prefer in an ideal mate. They prioritize from an array of traits such as intelligence, health, kindness, attractiveness, dependability and financial prospects.UT Austin psychology researcher Daniel Conroy-Beam and his collaborators developed a method to test how mate preferences influence behavior and emotions in relationships in the study “What predicts romantic relationship satisfaction and mate retention intensity: mate preference fulfillment or mate value discrepancies?” in-press in Evolution & Human Behavior. LinkedIn “Few decisions impact fitness more than mate selection, so natural selection has endowed us with a set of powerfully motivating mate preferences,” Conroy-Beam said. “We demonstrate that mate preferences continue to shape our feelings and behaviors within relationships in at least two key ways: by interacting with nuanced emotional systems such as how happy we are with our partner and by influencing how much or little effort we devote to keeping them.”For the study, researchers simulated a mating pool from 119 men and 140 women who had been in relationships for an average of 7½ years. Each participant rated the importance of 27 traits in an ideal mate and the extent to which they felt each trait described both their actual partner and themselves. Researchers then used their new method to calculate each of the participants’ and their partners’ mate value, or desirability within the mating pool as determined by the group’s average ideal preferences.Participants also reported their relationship satisfaction and happiness. The study discovered that satisfaction was not reliably dependent on how a partner compared with a person’s idea of the perfect mate, but rather whether others in the mating pool better matched a person’s ideal preferences.Those with partners more desirable than themselves were satisfied whether or not their partners matched their ideal preferences. But, participants with partners less desirable than themselves were happy with their relationship only if their partner fulfilled their ideal preferences better than most other potential mates in the group, Conroy-Beam said.“Satisfaction and happiness are not as clear cut as we think they are,” Conroy-Beam said. “We do not need ideal partners for relationship bliss. Instead, satisfaction appears to come, in part, from getting the best partner available to us.”In a follow-up study, the researchers again tested relationship satisfaction but also surveyed participants’ mate retention efforts — energy devoted to maintaining their relationships. They found that people with partners difficult to replace, either because their partner was more desirable than themselves or their partner more closely matched their ideal preferences than others in the group, reported being happier and devoted more effort to mate retention. This included making themselves extra attractive for their partners and “mate guarding,” or shielding their partners from mating rivals to help keep their partners, Conroy-Beam said.“Relationship dissatisfaction and mate guarding intensity, in turn, are key processes linked to outcomes such as infidelity and breaking up, both of which can be costly in evolutionary currencies,” said co-author and psychology professor David Buss. “Mate preferences matter beyond initial mate selection, profoundly influencing both relationship dynamics and effort devoted to keeping partners. Mates gained often have to be retained to reap the adaptive rewards inherent in pair-bonding — an evolutionary hallmark of our species.”center_img Email Share on Facebook Share on Twitterlast_img read more

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Narcissists have reduced motivation in subordinate positions

first_imgExperiment 2 repeated the first with a sample of 135 participants (63 female), but they were instead informed that the psychological test had nothing to do with their assignments. A self-interest measure was added to determine if it was related to role assignment reactions. It was found that narcissism was still associated with negative reactions to follower roles, even after the illusion of test-based assignments was removed. Motivation for self-interest was also reduced by being assigned to the leadership role.The third study looked at the impact of role assignment on a trait narcissist’s willingness to contribute to the collective good of the group. The design of Study 1 was once again repeated but with an additional measure for willingness to contribute. Participants with high rates of narcissism were less willing when assigned to be followers, signifying a potential point of group disruption.Finally, the fourth experiment examined the association as it may exist in sports teams, which represent a real-world example with many dynamic roles. Researchers recruited 213 participants, all of which were female flag-football players. Data was obtained using questionnaires filled out by the subjects at various times throughout a tournament.Narcissism was associated with both displeasure in roles perceived as being “lesser”, as well as an increased likelihood of perceiving their assigned positions as being below their abilities. Taken in combination, the four parts of this investigation clearly demonstrate that, when placed in a role perceived as being subordinate, narcissistic personalities can have a disruptive effect on group environments in both theoretical and practical contexts. Share on Facebook Pinterest Share LinkedIncenter_img Email Share on Twitter The personality trait known as narcissism is associated with a number of potentially troublesome personal characteristics, like entitlement and a general disregard for others. People who display excessive narcissism typically desire positions of leadership, status and power. Ample research has already been performed on the impact of narcissistic personalities when placed in leadership roles, but less is known about their impact when placed in subordinate positions within a company.A 2016 article in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin by Alex J. Benson, Christian H. Jordan and Amy M. Christie has shown that narcissism may support a resistance to follower roles that can be disruptive to group functioning.Four studies were included in this investigation. The first included 105 subjects (66 female) who were assigned to either a low (follower) or high status (leader) role. Narcissism was measured with a 40 item inventory prior to role assignment and the experiment concluded with a self-report of role satisfaction. Before being assigned, subjects also participated in a staged psychological test to make them believe that their assignments would be based on these results. Subjects high in narcissism were more satisfied with leadership positions and less so as followers when compared to those with lower scores in the trait.last_img read more

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Reporter’s Diary: The refugee children finding hope in darkness

first_imgSometimes all you need is a group of friends and some rope to forget about the bad times. Image courtesy: Oliver W Jarvis Sometimes all you need is a group of friends and some rope to forget about the bad times. Image courtesy: Oliver W JarvisUganda is currently experiencing an influx of Congolese refugees due to escalating violence in the DR Congo’s Ituri province. CGTN visited Kyangwali Refugee Camp in Southwest Uganda to experience first-hand the situation…The door of the bus was pulled off, and the new arrivals of refugees began to slowly filter out and into the camp. Children were carried by their mothers, their faces pressed-tightly against their mothers’ breasts. Those who were old enough, walked closely after.Not every child of every mother could make the trip to Uganda. Some were left behind in the Congo with their fathers. Those who had mis-registered children, or who could only afford to bring two out of five of their kids, had to deal with the insufferable reality that they may never see those children again.“Where is your mother? […] She is Dead”Athumani Halima, a local journalist who has long been covering refugee crises, observed a young boy of around seven exit the bus alone.“Where is your mother?” A volunteer ran up to the child asking.He replied in Swahili: “Alisha kufa.” She is dead.A crowd of refugees, who had been in Kyangwali camp for a number of years, stood and stared at the people being offloaded from the bus. There was a lack of expression on many of the faces of those who had arrived, and of those who had stayed there for some time.Going through the screening process, which required a medical vaccination, you could hear children screaming as they were injected one-by-one. A recent cholera outbreak which had reportedly killed 36 individuals in the camp, had heightened the importance of health screenings before admission.There was a lack of expression on many of the faces of those who had arrived, and of those who had stayed there for some time. Image courtesy: Oliver W JarvisA National IssueIn the DRC, it is estimated that there are over six million children suffering from chronic malnutrition – and only 25% of children have birth certificates.Escalating violence means that access to education is becoming increasingly difficult. The Global Partnership for Education estimates that 3.5 million, or 26.7%, of primary age children are out-of-school, of which 2.75 million live in rural areas. Furthermore, the sector is facing a wide range of challenges with regard to quality, governance and disparities.There has been an improvement over the last few years in the completion rate of primary education completion, from 29% in 2002 to 70% in 2014, however, the DRC still remains one of the countries with the largest number of out-of-school children.As we met the children in the camp, some managed a fist-bump or a thumbs up. But any smile seemed forced – their little minds trying to process the horror that they had fled.A confident boy of 10 years old told me that he remembered loud bangs in the distance, and people crying back home. He said his mother and him ran away because of the fighting – he did not mention his father. At 10 years old a child should be entering the latter years of their primary education, not scrambling through jungle to the shores of Lake Albert to board a makeshift boat and take the dangerous day-long trip to Uganda.At 10 years old a child should be entering the latter years of their primary education. Image courtesy: Oliver W JarvisEducation, Education, EducationTo many, the situation that these children are entering into as refugees seems a hopeless one. Resources are stretched, space is deteriorating and the camp’s population is increasing everyday.But one organisation, founded in 2005 by refugee youth, is looking to alleviate the suffering for these refugee children.COBURWAS International Youth Organisation To Transfer Africa (CIYOTA) a volunteer-based, non-profit organisation based in Kyangwali refugee camp has given thousands of refugee children the opportunity to gain a full education. They believe that through education, they can help eradicate poverty, heal conflict and spur economic growth.I visited COBURWAS, the primary school in the heart of the settlement. It started as a nursery school with around 40 children in 2009 – fast-forward 9 years later and the school has approximately 500 children and an impressive examination record.“We are seeing change in the children – their social behaviour and knowledge.” Image courtesy: Oliver W Jarvis“These children are facing a very tough time,” Headteacher of COBURWAS, Okoboi John Bosco told me.“They are refugees in a foreign land, from a war torn country. We believe that if we give them education they can help solve conflict in their community. Education is the key to everything.”John has been working with the school for a number of years, and has overseen a great change in both the school and the children.“Year-on-year we have added class-on-class. Children have passed through our system and gone on to secondary and university. They have made it.“We are seeing change in the children – their social behaviour and knowledge. Some are even talking of community projects to help. The long term change is yet to come as they pursue their studies,” John added.COBURWAS started as a nursery school with around 40 children in 2009. Image courtesy: Oliver W JarvisWalking around the grounds of COBURWAS at break time, dodging various footballs and children who grouped up for photographs, it was clear that these kids’ outlook had changed. Most had been born in the camp, or were very young when they had arrived in Uganda. Education had given them a freedom to express themselves, to articulate what they had experienced, make friends and plan their future.“When I grow up I want to be a doctor because people in this community are suffering from cholera and I would like to help them,” Kesha, a boy of 9 years old, told me.“When I grow up I want to be a teacher. Teachers make a lot of money,” a 10-year-old girl, Annahsifa, said.“These kids have got plans,” John told me as we walked through the playground.“Some of them want to become doctors, others farmers, teachers – others want to help these children who are desperate for an education.”“When I grow up I want to be a doctor because people in this community are suffering from cholera and I would like to help them,” Kesha, a boy of 9 years old, told me. Image courtesy: Oliver W JarvisWe paused on the school field and watched children cast makeshift tree branch javelins and measured the distance of their throws. It was the mark of the resilience of human nature – to find hope in darkness. These children had watched everything in their life get broken – yet through education and the help of CIYOTA, had stooped and built it back up again with worn-out tools.last_img read more

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