force nl june 2With every passing day, we are inching closer to the Five Star Institute’s most anticipated event of the year: the 2015 Five Star Conference and Expo, September 16-18 at the Hilton Anatole!

As a member of the FORCE, it is likely you are familiar with this groundbreaking event.

Whether you have or have not attended a Five Star Conference, we would like to prepare you with some in depth discussions from experienced FORCE members serving on our advisory council.

This month, we interviewed two FSC veterans, FORCE advisory council chairman, Ruben Pena of TC Austin Residential Group in San Antonio, Texas, and advisory council member Joyce Essex of Coldwell Banker Essex Harvey in Beverly Hills, California, to gain insight and tips for making the most of the Five Star Conference experience.

Last year, Pena served on the FORCE advisory council after a successful 2014 Five Star Conference and Expo, his exemplary ability to connect with attendees led him to be appointed as chairman for 2015.

Although Pena has the foundation of the success of last year’s FORCE Rally to build upon, he is determined to improve the event in any way he can.

“Last year was fantastic, but there’s always room for improvement. One of the things I do is hold weekly discussions about how to improve the FORCE Rally and make sure everyone who attends gets something for their time and money. The idea is to make sure members obtain knowledge, information, education, and opportunities throughout their time at the FSC,” says Pena.


Favorite Moments from the 2014 FSC

Both Pena and Essex spoke passionately about the 2014 FSC FORCE Rally and the connections they were able to make with FORCE members.

“The momentum of putting together the FORCE Rally was one of my favorite aspects. The planning was important for us as members of the advisory council. To be there and be a part of it was tremendous, and it was great to see how everything we put into it actually happened.

In 2014, everything worked out from timing to attendance. The attendance was high due to the impressive list of sponsors and speakers and the way things were done from the panelists to the individual speakers,” explains Pena.

“Some of my favorite moments were my one on ones with FORCE members. There’s nothing like being able to sit down with your peers and have them ask you questions. We’re all in the same business and the rally is not about being competitors, it’s about helping each other out. For me it was like a pep rally. I’ve been in the business for 37 years, so people reach out to me. I love being able to tell REO agents how I’ve been able to stay in the business for so long,” adds Pena.

Essex remembers the 2014 FORCE Rally like it was yesterday.

“I would have to say the FORCE Rally itself was really great. It was one of my favorite events of the conference, because it allowed me to make new business connections. The qualities of all the REO professionals I met were top notch,” says Essex.

Other FORCE members agree with both Pena and Essex. The FORCE Rally was the most common answer when asked about their favorite moment of the 2014 Five Star Conference.


Advice on Five Star Conference Etiquette and Tips on Networking

Pena claims there are three vital steps to follow when attending the 2015 FSC.

“Making the commitment to attend is number one. You have to invest in your business. Attending the FSC is your chance to market yourself differently than everyone else. You want to stand out,” says Pena.

“Number two, go dressed to impress. I’ve been to conferences where attendees show up in blue jeans and I immediately don’t take them seriously. You will never see me without a tie on at these kinds of functions. That in itself speaks volumes of who you are and makes you look like a true expert. Dressing up is part of the etiquette. If you want to meet someone in particular, then you want to impress them,” adds Pena.

“Number three, attend the functions at the FSC. Do it all. The purpose is to learn and network. You want to go to whatever classroom they’re having and exchange business cards with presenters. Whenever you give out a card, get one back. If you give someone a card and you don’t get a name or phone number from them, you walk away with nothing. They have your information, but you don’t have theirs,” Pena concludes.

According to Essex, proper etiquette and networking go hand-in-hand.

“Meet as many people as you can and go to as many events as you can. I advise to dress nicely and be very courteous throughout all the events. You want to look good and make a great impression. You never know where it might lead. I think it’s okay to approach attendees as long as you are not interrupting them. Having someone you know who can introduce you to people is always a very good way to make contact with other professionals. The more professionals you know the better,” claims Essex.


Make a Round to Five Star Conference Roundtables

As Pena noted, the Five Star Conference is equally dedicated to providing innovative educational opportunities. Whether it is labs, presentations, or roundtables, knowledge is abundant throughout the FSC.

The round table sessions are one of the best features of the FSC. They cover a wide range of industry topics. Although you may not be able to attend all of them, Pena and Essex urge you to chime in on a few.

“I’m not sure I will be able to sit at a roundtable due to my duties as chairman, but I will definitely try to attend one. One of the big topics everyone wants to know about is what’s happening with the new HUD contract. I want to make sure I’m at one of those tables so I can gather information and bring it back to my business. I want to get the scoop on it,” expresses Pena.

Essex also feels it is beneficial to attend roundtables that discuss changes in the industry.

“Every round table is great, but I’ve always liked the ones pertaining around legal updates and new procedures in the industry. Discovering how we can work with new policies and legal updates is important,” says Essex.

For more information, please visit