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The Most Important Skill

Light Painting


There has been a theme running through the week and through my head. I’ll call it learning.I gave a presentation on Monday about web 2.0 technology and how to use some of the tools on the internet for marketing. There was a woman in the audiance who told me that she doesn’t use her cell phone because she doesn’t know how to retrieve voice mail messages from it. There was another in the room who doesn’t use email because he just doesn’t get it.

While showing some buyers a home that exactly fit their needs they told me that they did not want to buy it because of the wall paper in the dining room and the paint colors through out. It seems that they don’t know how to paint or remove wall paper and don’t have the resources to hire the work out. Neither buyer felt that they could learn how to paint or remove wall paper, so it was on to the next house.

The ability and the desire to learn new things is a skill that not everyone has and I am begining to think it is the most important skill. There is seldom a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new. Sometimes it takes time, and research but I think that a person can learn anything they want to.

The picture in this post is a light painting. A friend used the term in a conversation. I had no idea what she was talking about. I checked with Google and read up on it. It looked like fun. So I took my camera, set the shutter speed for oh so slow, aimed at some neon signs and paned back and forth. When I have some time I plan to experiment a little more.

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There are some great places on the internet to learn new things. There are forums, blogs and there is youtube. I have found videos on a variety of topics that interest me and have used them to teach myself new things. I also love Amazon.com, often I can find a book that I can learn from.

There is always something new to learn, and always a way to learn it. If I hear a word I don’t know the meaning of I look it up. If someone mentions some software or a web site that I am not familiar with I look it up.

I have a hard time understanding why a business person would not be able to learn some of the basic skills needed to run a business. I can’t imagine not wanting to learn something or not being able to. The more difficult something is to learn the more rewarding it is once it is mastered.

I wonder where today will take me and what I will need to learn.

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Written By

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Genuine Chris Johnson

    April 24, 2008 at 6:26 am

    I’m going to say–like Skellie did a while ago, a good candiate is improvement. Really similar.

    It’s increasing the RATE you improve on an iterated basis. That way you can ‘start out way behind,’ and eventually catch up.

    My take on the new most important skill is FINISHING STUFF. But that’s just me.

  2. Norm Fisher

    April 24, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Love your first “light painting.”

    I conducting some training for our new MLS system recently in a computer lab setting. It was obvious to me that a handful of people had never experienced the internet. One person panicked when she saw someone else’s username in the login fields. “What do I do?!!!” A couple were completely lost having to navigate to a web address. I felt almost helpless to help them. I guess this is something that I need to learn.

  3. Marc Grossman

    April 24, 2008 at 6:55 am

    I don’t understand how people can stop learning. Personally, and I know this may sound drastic, but if you stop learning, you may as well hang it up. What’s the use?

  4. Teresa Boardman

    April 24, 2008 at 7:09 am

    Chris – good point, with some things I am a starter not a finisher, I think it is an attention span thing.

    Thanks Norm, I did it while I was out shooting the town and plant to experiment some more.

    Marc – i think it is something like grow, change adapt or die.

  5. Jim Duncan

    April 24, 2008 at 7:28 am

    One thing that I look forward to every day is learning. I learn something new each and every day, and try to learn something from each client that I can apply to another.

    Home inspections are one of my favorite venues for learning. I learn something new on each one – and that makes me better at what I do (and more confident, too!)

  6. Teresa Boardman

    April 24, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Jim – me too, I have learned many things by watching the inspections.

  7. Vance Shutes

    April 24, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Teresa,

    Great picture!

    Recently, I was told how naive I am in thinking that all Realtors use the phone every day, making at least 20 calls a day. So perhaps naivete extends elsewhere in thinking that all Realtors will readily adapt to new technology, as you learned via your audience.

    “I have a hard time understanding why a business person would not be able to learn some of the basic skills needed to run a business. I can’t imagine not wanting to learn something or not being able to. The more difficult something is to learn the more rewarding it is once it is mastered.”

    This is absolutely true! And perhaps the best reward is the satisfaction at having overcome the fear which held us back before learning the new skill.

  8. Benn Rosales

    April 24, 2008 at 8:45 am

    None of the things you’ve mentioned are necessary to sell real estate. That is why so many get away with not learning. What leaves me blank is how dire it is to communicate with your clients. How are clients not let down by such a sweeping lack of communication? How in the world are you not pressed by the sheer desire of others to communicate with you? Anyone who has left their cell phone somewhere for an afternoon by accident can attest to how day shattering it can be w/o such an important piece of technology, so how is it so many can live w/o it? I am a firm believer that once you embrace a technology, one becomes dependent on it and cannot live without it. Those that do not have it do not know what they’re missing, or do they?

    In other words, is there an urgency to check and respond to email if there is no email? Maybe they know more than we- maybe they are the better hands on agents… hrm.

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    April 24, 2008 at 8:48 am

    This is my argument that technology and Social Media is not a challenge of generations, but of a willingness to learn. I’m with Benn, most don’t learn because they are making do with what they currently know and don’t see the value. I have yet to figure out how to motivate someone to be motivated for knowledge. Maybe it’s because I can’t understand and therefore don’t try very hard.

  10. Charleston real estate blog

    April 24, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Teresa, I wouldn’t call the desire for knowledge or the ability to learn a *skill* but everyone would be better as a result.

  11. ines

    April 24, 2008 at 10:57 am

    some of us could be considered professional learners! You and I and many others know that the Internet is an amazing source of information, but how are those people that can’t work their voice mail going to turn on a computer and actually surf the web?

    I agree with Matthew about the “willingness to learn” and not a challenge of generations. That photo is amazing…..The iphone takes some pretty amazing light paintings without the need for slow shutter speed.

  12. Teresa Boardman

    April 24, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Benn – I see email and phones as being necessary in our jobs to sell real estate. I don’t agree with the old fashioned notion that face to face is more important. I work with many people who are on a mission and they are on the internet. They expect me to be on the internet for them helping and don’t necessarily need to see my face.

    Mathew – that is where my frustration comes in sometimes. Too many people say “can’t” instead of trying to learn. Can’t is one of the worst four letter words in the English language.

  13. Jill Foster

    April 24, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Thx for the post. It’s thought provoking. And I’m wondering if people who resist learning new things are particular types of learners aka just audio or visual or tactile. I wonder too if the issue of confidence or lack thereof impacts a person’s ability or willingness to engage in different concepts. Hmm.

    My working theory is people are stuck in a poor habit – consciously or not – which causes them to shy away from learning new frontiers. It doesn’t seem as simple as people refuse consciously to not learn.

    Ah then again, there’s your clients who rejected a potential home because they don’t want to learn wall papering, etc. I’d like to think they’re overly attached to that ‘perfect home’ concept from the get go. Maybe I’m realizing my own resistance to the notion that some folks want to avoid learning.

    …working through the hypotheticals still. Thx for post.

  14. Bill Lublin

    April 24, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Teresa ;
    You are so much fun to read that I almost want to buy you an “H” (yes, I would spend the extra money for a capital and you wouldn’t even have to use it until the next person misspelled your name)

    I think that the point you make is so basic that its scary – people that don’t like new things don;t learn much – people that like new things like to learn- travel, technology, the web- its all form not substance –

    My son’s father in law doesn’t have an internet connection, but he is constantly learning and growing – instead of the web he uses the library, instead of using his cell phone, he’s teaching himself to play the guitar, instead of taking a digital photo, he’ll paint or draw – but its still treating life as a journey with endless posibilities.

    First we don’t know what we don’t know
    Then we learn what we don’t know
    Then we learn how to do things with thought an effort
    Then we learn how to do them effortlessly

    and then, if we want to enjoy life to the fullest – we start all over again 🙂

  15. Glenn fm Naples

    April 24, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Teresa – the picture really caught my attention. Yes, we have a great opportunity to learn something new everyday. Learning something new each day, is like investing in one’s self – it can be a great investment.

    Buyers in today’s real estate market can be picky due to the inventory of available properties. I truly wonder if their reaction had been the same, if there was less inventory on the market?

  16. Christopher Mancini

    April 24, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Great post. It is amazing how little people try to learn new things. Even when there is the opportunity for improving their career, most people are reluctant. I know my parents, even though they had miserable jobs, made no money what so ever. They continued to do the same routine of wake up, go to work, come home, have dinner, watch tv and go to bed. It was rather disturbing. I think that is why I work so hard and never stop learning. I do not want that life.

    Chris

  17. Marc Rasmussen

    April 25, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    What amazed me is that some of the highest producing agents barely know how to use email or their cell phone. You have to love referral business.

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