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The True Definition of Value – Good vs Great – I’ve Seen it

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medium_ink_blot.gifThere is no doubt that I love real estate, I love the art of buying and selling, I love the people, and I love to win- I just do not lose. Let me give you a bit of back story here, because it is the back story that will help you to understand the ending.

For the better part of 60 days, I have worked with two of the country’s all stars in real estate, one in the mortgage industry, and the other in the investment brokerage business on a mega investment deal. During those 60 days, a certain development and developer fell into our laps- literally and figuratively. Now, the price was incredible, the location is impeccable, and the builder was right for a conversation about liquidity versus a hardline stance on their profit. Needless to say, we looked at the big picture and decided to take it head on- not every pick is perfect when the equity proposition is beyond your wildest return dreams- it must be molded and shaped into a cash flowing masterpiece. Now for those of you who are thinking you could have closed this sort of deal with the problems we’ve had in a shorter period, let me correct you now- it simply could not have been done because you simply do not know what we now know about this project. Meaning, I’m imagining that had it been a team of anyone else, you probably would have walked away 72 hours into the project based on the sheer magnitude against the odds of success- I’m sparing you the gory details- and those details have nothing to do with the A Class property investors we’ve had the pleasure of serving.

Working with these two legends in the business means several things- it means, you had better bring your A game, or find yourself sitting on the sidelines, it would mean elevate, or sit down and shut up- you simply let the masters work. As time went on, the frustrations grew, but the temperament was cool, there was a solution in experience at every turn- we spoke a language you would not believe possible. It was one of artful application of process, practice, diplomacy, magic, and a knowledge of the law of numbers that would boggle the mind of any buyer or agent. A process all would have abandoned is now going to docs. Sublime is the only way I can describe it.

As we the team move forward to our next several projects, and I can now take an overnight mental break from the trauma of such an ordeal, and tend to my battle wounds, it got me to thinking about disintermediation. I now know what I did not understand about the Giants of Real Estate, and why they fear not the proposition of disintermediation. Why many times in previous conversations they laughed at the mere mention of competitive business models and disintermediation. I now know that there is no way on earth when the going gets rough that you on your own as a consumer would have made it 24 hours in such a complicated transaction. I realized what value beyond that of the normal means to real estate- what the difference between good and great means. On one hand I am sad that my profession seems to have lost something in the eye of the consumer, but when I experience a greatness of this magnitude I feel a much better. One cannot afford what these gentlemen cost for not only their reputation, but the skill, knowledge, understanding of nuance, and the brilliance of grace under pressure. They have mastered their art, and you simply cannot put a price tag on brilliance.

Anyone (especially my clients) that knows me, knows, I’m pretty damn good at what I do, I bring solutions to the table my buyers and sellers never dreamed possible, but Greatness is not yet on my business card. My first step is to realize and acknowledge that Greatness is given in nature, but time seasons and polishes it into the brilliance I’ve witnessed. I’ve learned that I can still grow.

Today, I am in love with my profession, and my goals in this business are now redefined- to learn half of what these gentlemen have forgotten would elevate me as a professional beyond the idea that any business model can define my value.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Mariana

    November 28, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    Wow. “Greatness is not yet on my business card.” Well, it should be.

  2. Jeff Brown

    November 29, 2007 at 1:43 am

    Benn is being far too modest.

    As the guy on the ground, he carried the water. Benn knows many things, but fear isn’t one of them.

    All he wants to know is — “What needs to be done?” It’s my firm belief he goes to Starbucks with a Plan B AND a Plan C, just to ensure he walks out with his coffee. No lie. 🙂

    There are, as I recently told Benn, great sports heroes. There are those whom the Lord chooses to bless with great natural talent. There are those who became great by shear force of will and a killer work ethic. Then there are guys, like Jerry Rice, who was born with 1 in a million talent, AND worked like a demon to become as great as he could be.

    Benn, in my opinion, is a natural who works harder than most I’ve known.

    Remember his name.

  3. April Groves

    November 29, 2007 at 8:05 am

    As is the norm – I think what Jeff thinks (Jeff – does it feel weird to be right so much of the time?)
    😉

    BTW Benn – I think your inkblot was hanging on the wall in one of Athol’s recent bad MLS pics of the day…seriously – the Nov. 26th one.

  4. Benjamin Bach

    November 29, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Great work Benn
    I have some clients looking down in Texas too – holla at ya boy !

  5. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Benjamin, I’m already working for you, get on the horn with Brian, and I’ll be calling you on Friday!

    Jeff, you are to kind… Thanks

    April, I hope that it caught his eye too doesn’t mean I’m as insane as he is!

    Mariana, I’d like to think that because I surround myself with greatness such as yourself, Jeff, Brian, April, and Benjamin that little bits rub off on me.

  6. Chris Lengquist

    November 29, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Nicely done.

  7. Brian Brady

    November 29, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Aw, Benn,

    Lani and Debra did all the work- we just took the credit.

    Nice work, cowboy

  8. Jeff Brown

    November 29, 2007 at 11:28 am

    April — >As is the norm – I think what Jeff thinks (Jeff – does it feel weird to be right so much of the time?)

    I’d love to introduce you to my wife. 🙂

  9. April Groves

    November 29, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Jeff – Please refer to Mariana’s post yesterday – #14…your request will require at least one side of a reasonable commission
    😉

  10. Marian Brown

    November 29, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    OMG! I didn’t realize what a genius son I raised!…Jeff’s mom

  11. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Marian, it is a pleasure to have you by agent genius. And yes, Marian, two things come to mind- morally and ethically your son is sound, but his mental health is askew. I blame that on the lead paint chips he eats with his coffee in the morning. 🙂 Seriously, that’s a great kid you’ve got there and his son isn’t to far off the old block.

  12. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Brian, I would have to agree that we may have washed our hands 24 hours into it ourselves had it not been for Lani & Debra…

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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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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