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Its All About the Broker!



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I know, I know

Before we even get into this post, I know that my observation is not an absolute. I am trying to pre-empt the inevitable comment “This isn’t true for my company” that comes across every time someone shares an observation. So, for all of you who live in a never-never land, you can stop reading IF you think that your broker has nothing to do with how successful you are or how you’re regarded as a professional.

How does Supernanny relate to your Broker?

Jo Frost is THE Supernanny on television. For those who have watched the show even once, you know that the show starts off with a pack of unruly, rambunctious, annoying and disobedient children. Luckily for all of us, within 45 minutes Supernanny or one of the “supermodels” from Nanny 911 will come in and fix this family for life. They maintain their white-picket fence and live happily ever after. What we actually see is that (wait for it….) if the PARENTS are engaging, involved, disciplined, and well… “parents” the children’s behavior changes and they begin to become more socially acceptable and tolerable.

I would love to do a TV show on HGTV called “SuperBroker” wherein a proven-consultant comes into a typical (yes, I said typical) brokerage and puts the house in order.

Notorious Brokers

On July 1, 2008 Virginia required all agents, with Broker’s licenses, to take an additional 8 hours of continuing education directed toward Brokerage Management. The whining across the state was endless – as if being required to be more educated, than those agents you manage, were a punishment.

However, the Brokers have rallied and starting taking advantage of the training. I’ve had the opportunity to teach a variety of topics all over the state, for brokers. In teaching those classes I’ve found a large number of great Brokers out there, however I’ve found a few who just don’t seem to get “it”. Especially when I teach trends and technology classes.

I’ve also been reviewing trends in Ethic complaints and Real Estate Board Actions. It seems that it’s a lot of the same Brokerages getting more than their fair share of “attention”. Over and over we see a lot of the same names. There are those Brokerage names that seem to be heard over and over again when agents make comments in training classes and around the cooler. Squared-away agents tend to cringe when they hear an offer is coming from one of these Brokerages.

Do you work for cringe inspiring Broker!?!? Would you know if you did?

Broker Culture

I managed for two years, but it was enough to know what I was good at and what I wasn’t. I was not tolerant with whining or apathy, but I would dedicate tons of effort into agents who wanted to learn and succeed. I wasn’t a motivator, per se. If making a six figure income wasn’t enough motivation for you – I was happy to send your license back to the Real Estate board. Luckily, my friend and company owner was a fantastic motivator and we made a good team. Knowing this information helped us create a brokerage culture where the agents clearly knew who to go to when they needed a “swift kick” or a “new technique”.

Often in these classes, I hear a lot of resistance to change. I don’t think that resistance is cultural, as much as a lack of time. Therefore we encourage agents to have people in their offices that are particularly good at new techniques and use them to supplement where the broker maybe lacking.

Recently I had a Broker, in a class, ask why I thought Blogging was imporant. She commented that failed to see attorneys, OBGYN, or other professionals blogging about their practices.  Uh, really!?!?  would you WANT to read about an OBGYN’s practices!?!  As for doctors and attorneys in general – we have to stop comparing our industry to others.  It’s just different.  A Broker who tries to run their company like a Doctor’s office is going to fail.  But this is one more sign to support my observation.  Brokers need to know the world of Real Estate and how it works.

Not all agents are cut out to be 2.0 agents or 1.0 agents.  However they should all strive be 1.5 agents. That means the Brokers need to know enough of what has failed or succeeded in the past, as well as a healthy dose of  vision, for what will be our future.

Greener Grass

I made a mistake about three years ago, that I see a number of agents making today.  They are switching companies from what is comfortable in the hopes that something new will make them a millionaire.  I left a good company, where the owner had become a great friend to try and be more trendy and it did not go well with me.  The new broker was great, but the culture of the office did not make a good fit.  The freedom I had in the previous company was gone and a Lemming, I am not.  It put my career a full year behind where I should have been and cost me a lot of money.

Too many agents are not really doing a good assessment of where they are where they are going.  Several are leaving good solid companies for those who have crummy brokers buy great profit sharing benefits or leaving a good profit sharing company for more “independence” only to find that they are failing at the new company, as well.  Only now their failures are for different reasons.

Agents and Brokers need to find their harmony.  Agents should put their ear to the ground and listen about reputations of the Broker and the ability the have to mesh with this person.  If the Broker is unbalanced, controls too much or cares too little, the agents will reflect that just as children reflect poor parenting.

Brokers – grow a backbone!  I want to challenge the Brokers to get rid of agents who you know are costing you reputation, time, energy and potential risk; but at the same time don’t neglect the opportunity to take a “bad” agent and see if you can turn them around.  Balance and wisdom is key!  The time of being afraid of the “top producing agent” is over.  Many brokers have found that getting rid of the weeds, have allowed other agents to blossom.

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is

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  1. Bob

    September 4, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Brokers – grow a backbone! I want to challenge the Brokers to get rid of agents who you know are costing you reputation, time, energy and potential risk; but at the same time don’t neglect the opportunity to take a “bad” agent and see if you can turn them around. Balance and wisdom is key! The time of being afraid of the “top producing agent” is over. Many brokers have found that getting rid of the weeds, have allowed other agents to blossom.

    it’s all about risk to reward for most of these brokers.

    On July 1, 2008 Virginia required all agents, with Broker’s licenses, to take an additional 8 hours of continuing education directed toward Brokerage Management. The whining across the state was endless – as if being required to be more educated, than those agents you manage, were a punishment.

    If these brokers fully appreciated the fact that law firms are gearing up to take a whack at brokers over the next few years, maybe they would get the correlation between managing agents and reducing risks.

  2. Bob

    September 4, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Oh how I wish there was a preview or edit feature for the typing impaired.

  3. Glenn in Naples

    September 4, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Matthew – an observation about brokers. There are brokers which are highly successful salespersons and become brokers and open their own office(s). The other brokers could be highly successful salespersons and have really great BUSINESS and MANAGEMENT SKILLS.

    Do you think that maybe some thought should be given to the idea of brokers doing a self assessment as to where their true skills lie?

    Also, can’t there individuals that say “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” or “let’s build a better mousetrap.”

  4. Poppy Dinsey

    September 4, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Great post Matt, it’s amazing how bad (in any industry) managers can be. And how tolerant managers can be of bad staff too! I can’t stand people that reach management level and then think they can kick back and let their minions run around for them, managers should be working their butts off and nurturing their staff.

    But setting aside the good points you make….was I the inspiration for your Supernanny theme? 😉

  5. Matt Wilkins

    September 4, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    I think part of this post can be related back to Teresa Boardman’s post. Yes it is the Broker’s job to create an atmosphere where agents can flourish but it is also in the agent’s best interest to choose a brokerage environment best suited to his or her business style and goals.

    For over 4 years I worked for (and paid dues to) a brokerage where I felt downright disappointed in the services/support offerred. I never swtiched because none of the other firms in town offered a much idfferent value proposition. When I formally resigned my Broker was not at all upset or phased. He wished me luck and gave me a thank you for being one of the best agents to deal with. My reasons for leaving were known but both of us knew they would not be addressed at that firm anytime soon.

    I have since obtained my broker license and after some trial and error am now in a place that suits my personal style and will allow me to position myself in the current and future market.

  6. Matt Thomson

    September 4, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    I guess I’ve been fortunate to have worked in two great offices with 2 great brokers. I’ve never experienced all the negatives so many seem to have against brokers.
    Same with my lender…I hear so much bad mouthing of lenders from real estate agents, and I’ve seen transactions go bad from the outside, but I’ve never once had my lender drop the ball.
    Knowing that there are good ones out there, it makes me wonder how bad ones stay in business. Seems like it shouldn’t be that hard for us all to find the good ones.

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    September 4, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    @LaniAR – As always… thanks for fixing me!

    Bob – don’t worry, I am always regretting my typing when commenting… Yes, the ever presence threat of legal action should be an eye opener. However, too many brokers don’t see it as a reality until it happens.

    Glenn – I’m with ya! I honestly don’t think that the skills that make you a good agent always translate to making you a great broker. The mentality of servant leadership that is needed for a broker is much different than working for yourself.

    Poppy – I am sure at some point you’ll be my inspiration for a post, but sadly no. I started this a few days ago and as I was picking it back up I had just watched and put it all together 🙂

    Matt W – Unfortunately Brokers have just accepted lack of loyalty as part of business. Like I said, I regretted leaving where I was. I had no idea how good I had it, till I left. If I weren’t working in education and went back to listing / selling; I’d be I don’t want to work for anyone else and really don’t want others working for me…

    Matt T – Having the right team (i.e. attorney, broker, lender) is a great find! Glad that you’ve had good role models. Hopefully, you’ll take good notes and emulate those folks when you open your own shop, some day.

  8. Brad Nix

    September 5, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Matt R:

    I think the best point you made was, “Agents and Brokers need to find their harmony.” There is no ONE answer for brokers and agents. Every brokerage is different, even under the same branding. People are unique and their management styles and sales techniques will all have idiosyncracies that can make or break a brokerage firm. Finding the right combination of leadership, resources, culture, personalities, and value is a tough task for agents, but one worth doing right!

  9. Jennifer Broadley

    October 3, 2009 at 2:21 am

    Agents should put their ear to the ground and listen about reputations of the Broker and the ability the have to mesh with this person.

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Business Marketing

Google Analytics will now filter out bot traffic

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bender won’t be happy that Google Analytics will now automatically remove bot traffic from your results, but it’ll help your business.



google analytics bot

In the competitive, busy world of online content, Google Analytics can help businesses and online publications deliver what their audience and consumers want. Now Google is finally taking the step of filtering out bot traffic in your Google Analytics reporting. This is excellent news!

In the world of websites, online news sites, blogs, and social media, bots are the bane of our existence. In their finest form, they are the electronic equivalent of junk mail. At their worst, they can carry malicious malware and viruses to your site and computer. They can even flood the internet with unfounded rumors that can have an impact on people’s opinions–stirring the political pot or lending misleading numbers to drive unfounded rumors, such as wearing a mask is dangerous. No it’s not! Chalk that nonsense up to bots and crackpots.

For businesses that rely on Google Analytics to determine what content is not only reaching but also resonating with potential customers, filtering out the bot traffic is crucial to determining the best course of action. Bots skew the data and therefore, end up costing businesses money.

Bots set up for malicious purposes crawl the internet looking for certain information or user behaviors. Bad bots can steal copyrighted content and give it to a competitor. Having identical copies on two sites hurts your site and can dink your SEO ranking. However, good bots can seek out duplicate content and other copyright infringements, so the original content creator can report them.

However, it is important for companies and content creators to know if their content is actually reaching real live humans. To this end, Google will start filtering out bot traffic automatically. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) actually provides an International Spiders and Bots list, through which Google can more easily identify bots. They use the list and their own internal research to seek out bots in action, crawling through the internet and confusing things.

Google says the bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the Google Analytics results–users don’t have the choice. Some may argue there is a good reason to see all of the data, including bots. Many businesses and online publications, though, will be relieved to have a much clearer vision of what content genuinely appeals to humans, to readers and potential customers. It is a welcomed advancement.

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Business Marketing

Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.



opportunity zones

Opportunity Zones are a beautiful mechanism for growing communities that are struggling, but some critics have put this process in a negative light. The following is an expert’s perspective on just this topic.

Jim White, PhD is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., Founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP, and Founder and President of JL White International, LLC. His new book is a heartfelt rallying cry for investors: Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds, launched March 31, 2020.

Dr. White holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an MBA, and a doctorate in psychology and organizational behavior. He acquires struggling businesses to revive and develop them into profitable enterprises using his business turnaround strategy.

In his own words below:


Every investment vehicle has a twist some folks don’t like. Real estate, stock options, offshore tax havens, and even charitable gifting can be criticized for certain loopholes.

Likewise, some detractors have pointed to opportunity zones, a newer investment vehicle unveiled in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. This bold, bipartisan plan allows for private investment capital to be channeled into some of the most distressed communities in the nation, serving the struggling residents and the investors alike.

Personally, I believe it is one of the noblest initiatives to emerge from Washington in years.

I grew up in a sharecropper cabin in what would have been an opportunity zone in Salem, South Carolina. What would an influx of investment dollars have meant to my low-income community? More and better-paying jobs to offset unemployment. People relocating to my town for those jobs, reversing population decline and increasing real estate values. New life breathed into local businesses. The increased tax revenues could have helped improve failing infrastructure. Social challenges, like crime and drug use, could have decreased. Better resources for my family and our neighbors, such as health care and education, would have emerged.

Today, there are nearly 8,800 distressed communities dotting the country that have been identified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). These neighborhoods were designated from census tracks, treasury, and state leaders as communities that would benefit from an influx of investment dollars directed through Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) to reinvigorate businesses, rebuild infrastructure and bolster residents.

As our economy continues to falter, more and more businesses file Chapter 11 and unemployment soars under COVID-19, I believe we are heading toward a painful expansion in designated opportunity zones. Even with the latest round of CARES stimulus money many people will have no way to rebound from this crisis.

One of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus quarantine is that many businesses are discovering that, in reality, they can succeed through working remotely. This success is a double edged sword, meaning that if a business can thrive with employees working offsite then commercial real estate will suffer. And when companies no longer require brick-and-mortar locations, a local domino effect ensues; ancillary businesses, from cafés to gyms to print shops in and around a commercial office environment will subsequently close. The ripples will be felt through many other industries, including construction, transportation, energy, and retail.

Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds are instruments that can help stop a downward spiral. When a sponsor is able to present a project that meets the objectives of the QOZ initiative, both the QOZ and the investors benefit. That’s a win!

And, it’s not only urban centers that benefit from investment dollars. Forty percent of opportunity zones are rural. Even with often plentiful food, water, energy and other natural resources, deep poverty exists, and too many of America’s 60 million rural residents lack access to education and healthcare. A declining population often goes hand in hand with failing infrastructure as tax money for repairs dwindles. Many households lack broadband, something the vast majority of Americans take for granted.

Despite the challenges, rural residents are often surprisingly resilient and resourceful. According to The Hill (“Rural America has opportunity zones too”), rural residents create self-employment opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Their challenge is to connect with investors and access funding, more of which is directed to small business investment on the coasts.

In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know about Qualified Opportunity Funds. If a business is located in an opportunity zone it is eligible for direct funding by reaching out to the QOFs with a specific request for funding.

More than any investment plan that’s come before, I believe opportunity zones have the greatest capacity for positive social and economic impact. Spread out over many communities, these investments can help our nation flourish as a whole.

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Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.



Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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