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Defense!

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You know I love a good debate. I don’t like when it starts with, Sounds like sour grapes from someone who is experiencing disintermediation. Deal with it. Adapt. Quit whining. It made me want to verbally punch him in the face. After days of heated conversation, with many participating voices, I realized by my last lengthy comment that I had much more to say about the topics that were covered. I spent 20 minutes outlining four pages of what will probably end up being food for many blogs. The gist of the argument and retort is one that brings out the defensive lineman in me: the value – or not – that I bring to my clients and profession. I’m sick of defending myself, my industry, and especially my commission. I expect that my statements will do nothing different than in the past which is to create a firestorm of conversation. The more, the better. So stand back. This storm’s been brewing for a long time. There are many services we provide as real estate agents: concrete, educational, emotional, financial, legal, liability, technological.

The most crucial piece that insures the existence of the industry I love may be what I bring to the client who is wrapped in the emotion of purchasing or selling a home. It’s not the building. It’s the dream. It’s the sanctuary. It’s the place where we celebrate, where we congregate, where we love, where we share our lives and create memories. The trauma is what causes us all to regress. It’s the same feeling we get when we go to the dentist, doctor’s office or hospital. We put on the gown and become so vulnerable that it becomes almost unbearable to stay present. Our hands sweat. We tremble. Our blood pressure jumps.

While filling out the loan application for my first house, I couldn’t remember my social security number – I memorized it when I was 15. What the heck was happening? I never believed they would give me the money. I was in so much denial that I didn’t believe it until I walked through the front door. I clearly remember standing in the doorway looking left, looking up and looking right. Just standing there in amazement that I had made this happen and it was mine.

It’s a foreign process where the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. A commitment that will last longer than most marriages. A financial expenditure that can be an enormous risk and an unimaginable reward. The transaction is an emotional one, not practical. We think about this process from our hearts, not from our heads. Oftentimes, buyers are buying the home that reminds them of the one they grew up in. Can I raise my children here? Will we be safe? Am I making the right decision? Sellers are selling the home they raised their children in. When they leave, they leave a piece of themselves. They want to know: Does the buyer love my home? Will they take care of it like I did?

Stress intensifies the fear and personality characteristics. People can become infantile, sarcastic, cunning, needy, insecure, funny, goofy, grumpy, mean, passive-aggressive, even stupid – as in: What’s my social security number??

I become the nanny, mommy, friend – the ultimate supporter. I kiss the boo-boo and encourage them across the finish line. I remind them of their goal when the disappointment is too much. I prepare them for what’s to come, warning them of the pitfalls and traps ahead.

Yesterday I left my clients in the conference room too long while I went to make a copy. They came looking for me. “We missed you.” These are highly educated, intelligent adults. The next time I left the room, I promised I wouldn’t be gone as long as before. That’s regression. That’s insecurity. That requires compassion, empathy and reassurance. That’s real estate.

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate Blog.com.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Athol Kay

    November 4, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    I just wanna see a photo of you wearing the pink gloves 🙂

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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