Latham Jenkins: “You have to be a great problem solver”

There are some quick wins in making homes more energy efficient, such as sealing all your windows, adding insulation, using storm doors, replacing appliances with Energy Star products and tuning up your HVAC system. You can achieve even greater gains when building a new house: Eco-conscious design can make it a zero-net-energy home. As a […]

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There are some quick wins in making homes more energy efficient, such as sealing all your windows, adding insulation, using storm doors, replacing appliances with Energy Star products and tuning up your HVAC system. You can achieve even greater gains when building a new house: Eco-conscious design can make it a zero-net-energy home.


As a part of our series about “Homes Of The Future”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Latham Jenkins, Luxury Real Estate Broker based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Early in life, Latham discovered an innate ability to connect people with experiences. It’s a rare talent that’s led him to become a highly successful real estate agent. What makes Latham a different kind of agent is he becomes the buyer’s best advocate. He gets to know each prospect’s story, from their hopes and dreams, to challenges and concerns. Armed with these insight, this is where he applies his accomplished ability to connect people with experiences. His sole mission is to uncover the specific results that work only for each buyer and through due diligence he makes it a reality. Latham has built a successful, decades-long career around his personal credo of “connecting people with experiences.” He is married with two children who remind him everyday how precious life is. Latham loves anything to do with water in all of its states, whether it be skiing or fishing or boating.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I have a personal mantra of wanting to connect people with life-enriching experiences. It has been an innate part of me from my early childhood. I always wanted to share whatever knowledge I’d discovered that might increase other people’s enjoyment of every activity, whether that was a day at the beach or a trip into the mountains. During college I worked as a river guide and ski instructor and discovered the joy of introducing people to new experiences in exhilarating places.

I majored in geography in college, which is defined as understanding the patterns on a landscape. This taught me to take time to study and understand every aspect of a place, from its geology and ecology to its socioeconomic structure. By learning what fundamentally makes a place like Jackson Hole “tick,” I can share advice, guidance and personal connections that will deepen and enrich other people’s experiences, whether they’re visiting for a week and want to make the most of their vacation, moving into the community and hoping to tap into the best of local everyday life, or building a beautiful home that will help them fully embrace retirement. My professional career has centered around this commitment to providing that extra layer of knowledge that turns a good experience into a great one. I combine it with my tactical execution skills of being a marketer, photographer, publisher and realtor. As a result, I get to fulfill my personal mantra in an earnest way every day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In the very beginning, when I was in my early 20s, I partnered with someone who was nearing retirement. I thought he’d be a great mentor and I could provide an easy transition for him. It was the opposite — and I was at fault for not knowing what I was doing and for obligating myself to this partnership. Turns out he had everything from a tax lien to mountains of legacy personal and business debt. We split, but the liabilities did not, and he left town with the money that was in our business account. As the standing partner in this small town, I didn’t want this debacle to tarnish my reputation. So, I quickly learned about civic law (the hard way), how to navigate an IRS audit and how to work with creditors. I also learned the importance of following through on doing what you say you will do. It was a rough start, but I fell forward from it, and the school of hard knocks has paid dividends for decades since then.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

My tipping point occurred when I finally discovered the principle of reciprocity in business. In the absence of it, you have a win-lose relationship, but in the presence of it, you have a win-win that will endure. I found that, as an employer, nurturing situations that created a win-win for both sides, rather than trying to get the best deal for myself, led to a much longer retention period and mutually respectful feelings.

Business is about solving problems and fulfilling expectations. Ask yourself how to create a win-win with all of your stakeholders, from the quality of the product(s) you produce to the relationship with the consumer and all the people needed to make a project happen. Nothing endures if it is self-serving; strive for reciprocity.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have been most fortunate to have a father who has lived a life of always treating people with respect. It was ingrained in me from an early age and something I highly value as a trait in others. Being respectful toward everyone in our human sphere is very difficult; we are often so self-consumed and self-oriented that we don’t even recognize our negative actions toward others and their consequences.

I remember, late one Christmas Eve after the 10 p.m. service at our church, following my father as he went into the upstairs bell tower to find Moses, the janitor, who was finishing ringing the Christmas bells. I was confused about our mission and wondered why at this moment he chose to step away from our friends and family as we were exiting the church. It became apparent to me that he wanted to recognize Moses for being away from his family and for the service he had provided the church over the years. This was Dad, always looking to pay respect to those in his human sphere. That night has stuck with me as a great lesson in life, which is to take time to recognize others out of respect for their contributions in this great world we live in.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I wish I had read the book E-Myth in the beginning of my career. The author makes the claim that most of us start our small businesses from a technical skill we have, to only fall short in the other two areas needed to succeed: business management and being an effective entrepreneur. After almost 30 years of being in small business, I think it is a fundamental read.

To be a successful businessperson and entrepreneur, you have to be a great problem solver. Running a business well is about solving problems in many ways beyond whatever technical or creative skill drove you to start it. For example, you might need to rely on good communication skills to solve a consumer’s problem, which can then result in them purchasing your product or service. This problem-solving ability keeps building as you figure out how to deliver a solution to the marketplace, how to sustain the business by evolving and innovating, how to respond to both internal and external threats, and how to inspire your workforce.

In my early years, I tried to wear many of the necessary hats to make the business work: accounting, sales, web development, photography, etc. What became clear to me was my need to focus on being the entrepreneur, the problem solver. To do that, I had to be focused on product innovation, analyzing the marketplace, developing business operating plans and courting clients. These are the important frameworks; when I get them in place, our team can be successful executing within them.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I found in my grandfather’s papers after his death a quote that I have always embraced: “There is no limit to the good a man can do if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” Think about this quote and how our actions are all too often centered around the affirmation we wish to receive for our actions. In the absence of recognition, we often don’t do the good and important work that lies before us and instead move on to that for which we can be credited.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Homebuilding in the US has grown tremendously. We’d love to hear about some of the new trends and techniques that are being used to build the homes of the future.

Can you share with us a few of the methods that are being used to make homes more sustainable and more water and energy efficient?

The sustainability of a home depends on everything from where you choose to locate it, how it is designed, the materials you construct it with and the appliances you choose all the way to how you water your landscaping.

The more recent movement has been designing for the WELL Building Standard, which is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. We spend almost 90% of our time inside, and these indoor environments have a lot to do with our overall well-being.

Gains in water efficiency have been made possible through installation of low-flow fixtures, dual-flush toilets, incorporating xeriscaping into your landscaping, and reusing water by capturing it via a rainwater or greywater system.

There are some quick wins in making homes more energy efficient, such as sealing all your windows, adding insulation, using storm doors, replacing appliances with Energy Star products and tuning up your HVAC system. You can achieve even greater gains when building a new house: Eco-conscious design can make it a zero-net-energy home.

There is a lot of talk about Smart Homes. Can you tell our readers a bit about what that is, what that looks like, and how that might help people?

I recall reading Bill Gates’ book The Road Ahead backin 1995. He envisioned building a home that recognized your presence within it from the small pin you clip to your clothes. As you moved around the home, it would respond by turning on lights ahead of you, adjusting the temperature and playing your favorite music.

Zooming forward to today, we are doing all that and more! We are adapting our living spaces with sensors and devices that run our homes more efficiently and securely for us. They recognize our patterns and behaviors and can build user profiles that enable them to anticipate our needs just the way Gates predicted. They record people approaching the front door and, through facial recognition, alert us to who it is from afar, giving us the option to remotely let them in, whether we’re in the house or not. They run our security systems and heating and cooling systems, remind us to replace our filters, recognize when to have our coffee ready, and give us the ability to turn on and off lights without getting up to do so. These smart home systems operate through an app on your phone or tablet. You can even use them remotely to activate all of these features.

The latest in smart home technology can be built into your appliances, from your TV to your oven. It can be used to program vacuum cleaners that work while you are away — and to activate devices that will throw treats to your dog on command!

All of these benefits will enable you to run your house more cost efficiently, conveniently and safely.

Aside from Smart Homes, can you talk about other interesting tech innovations that are being incorporated into homes today?

Have you read about the smart toilets coming out of Japan? They can analyze what we pass through us, detecting early signs of disease and helping us manage chronic conditions like diabetes.

How about actual construction materials? Are there new trends in certain materials to address changes in the climate, fires, floods, and hurricanes?

Disaster resilience is a hot topic in the construction industry. The focus is on designing homes that have something known as “load path continuity”: structural designs from the roof to the foundation that prevent the home from being ripped apart by major weather events, while also resisting water intrusion. These designs also provide a quicker recovery from such major events, at a lower cost. Some estimates show that, for every 1 dollar spent on resilient construction, you’ll save 6 dollars in recovery costs.

The materials used for these purposes include laminated windows that minimize damage from airborne debris; breakaway walls that give way intentionally, allowing rising water to flow through the house so it does not wash away; and steel building frames to hold homes together in earthquakes and hurricanes.

To protect your home from wildfires, I have a colleague who has invented an exterior home fire sprinkler system, Frontline Wildfire Defense System. It covers your home and property with a biodegradable firefighting foam. You can deploy it remotely by an app if needed.

We will see more and more technological advances in design and material innovations enter the market in the future to help mitigate the devastating personal property losses being experienced due to natural catastrophic events.

For someone looking to invest in the real estate industry, are there exciting growth opportunities that you think people should look at more carefully?

I would look into the supply chain for housing. Nationally we are short millions of units to meet current demand. Building on-site is very inefficient — and, therefore, expensive — in a number of ways compared to constructing homes in a factory. We keep reinventing the wheel rather than adapting to the benefits of using pre-built construction to address our demand for housing supply. I’d be looking for investment opportunities in companies that will move the needle from conventional to pre-built.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I live in Teton County, Wyoming, which is one of, if not, the most affluent counties in the nation, yet we have food-insecurity issues. Studies show that one in four people in the world are moderately or severely food insecure. If I were to inspire a movement, it would be to harness the resources needed to create and sustain a distribution system to cure hunger. It is unfathomable to me that it continues in this day and age, and I think about it every night I scrape my plate into the trash can.

How can our readers follow you online?

On Instagram, @lathamjenkinsrealestate, and subscribe at LiveWaterJacksonHole.com

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