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10 Signs You’re Not Long For The Biz!



10 Signs Your Job May Be Over

Ok, I’ve been involved in Real Estate just long enough, that I can typically tell you within a six month period is this is the career for you. Below are the 10 sure signs that your “job” as a REALTOR, maybe over:

1. You feel the need to ask your Association if you can pay your $450 dues in a monthly installments….beginning after your rent payment is made.

2. You feel no need to take the time to learn about how technology effects real estate, that’s just a fad for those “young people.”

3. While on Saturday floor duty, you answer the phone; saying “Thank you for calling Domino’s, will this be pickup or delivery”

4. You refer to what you do as your “real estate job” and not your “career”

5. You’re upset that the local Real Estate school doesn’t hold continuing education classes on weekends or evenings, and they insist on only catering to “full time agents”

6. You try to convince your clients that homes show best from 5:30pm (after you get off of work) till 9:00pm (when you need to be home to put your kids to bed).

7. “Hold on, it’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these contracts – I’ll remember what this means in a minute”

8. You’re signing a Heloc in a declining market… to pay your E and O insurance

9. You can fill me in on all the goings on, for Day-Time television.

10. You’ve decided to be a “Listing Specialist” because the car won’t stay running.

(Bonus: 11 You failed to see the humor in this post)

Add your favorite clue that someone isn’t long for this “job”!

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. Matt Wilkins

    September 18, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Home run, Matthew. My personal favorite (and a real-world occurance) was an agent including their primary career’s professional desingaitons alongside real estate industry desingaitons. The email singature read REALTOR(r),RN.

  2. Matt Thomson

    September 18, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    When asked, “Why real estate?” the answer comes back, “Dude, I’ve got like 5 buddies who are looking to buy their first home, so I figured I might as well make some money.”

  3. Ruthmarie Hicks

    September 18, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    MW – I was wondering whether I should add my doctoral degree to my designations….
    Ruthmarie Garcia Hicks, (r), Ph.D. – might impress people – they probably never heard of a Ph.D. in real estate!

  4. Sarah Stelmok, C21 New Millennium

    September 19, 2008 at 7:05 am

    RH- I actually have a problem with people including information about their “past” life on their business cards. As a consumer, I don’t care what you used to do, I care what you do now. As a young consumer, it makes me think you couldn’t hack it in your old field , so you are now a REALTOR. (I know this sounds harsh, but that is exactly what runs thru my mind). For me as a REALTOR it boils down to this: I was Miss Teen Guilford County 1992 and that in no way makes me a more qualified REALTOR. Why would I put it on my business card? If you want to make sure your clients know you’re smart by advertising your degrees, well, waste of time. You can show them you’re smart by how you handle your transaction. Your clients will find out about your PhD thru the course of conversation. In my opinion, that’s enough. (Again, no offense intended, just my point of view on the topic).

  5. Mack

    September 19, 2008 at 7:37 am

    #12 You ask the client, Now that we have written the contract have you been pre-approved by a lender?

  6. Jonathan Dalton

    September 19, 2008 at 10:24 am

    “Mr. Client, so I can better serve your needs, do you prefer paper or plastic? Very good. I’ll just write that down on the paperwork.”

  7. Ruthmarie Hicks

    September 19, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Sarah – get a grip! I was bloody KIDDING! As for the Ph.D. Ever hear of outsourcing and H1-B’s? I could get a job tomorrow. The problem is the same for me as everyone else in my former field. We can’t pay our bills with the salaries that are being offered and the work week is 60-80 hours. In other words unless you are independently wealthy my former career is not for you or anyone else who doesn’t want to take a vow of poverty for life.

  8. Sarah Stelmok

    September 19, 2008 at 11:06 am

    RH- I’ll only resond to you by restating my last statement. No offense intended. Just my opinion. No grip needed here. I’m not the one flying off the handle.

  9. Matt Wilkins

    September 19, 2008 at 11:46 am

    You call the agent’s cell phone and instead of getting voicemail you get the “temporarily out of service” message due to the bill not being paid.

  10. Brian Brady

    September 19, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    #12- You still think a HELOC is a available loan option

  11. Wade Munday

    September 19, 2008 at 4:35 pm


    I’ve tried to call borrower’s regarding their loan application and got the “temporarily out of service” message. Not a good way to impress your potential lender.

  12. Matthew Rathbun

    September 19, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Wow! A lot of “gripping” going on for a post with so little consequence. I will say that I think if I were a client and my agent had an MBA, I personally would be impressed, because I consider this a business and would like to see someone who knew more than the minimum pre-licensing information about this business.

    However, any other reliance on non-real estate training would probably make me wonder what the practitioner was trying to make up for…. That’s just me, other clients may prefer someone with a similar background as themselves. What I am saying as we rarely know what marketing characteristic will encourage a client to call you.

    The numbers show us that the element of most marketing consumers find least necessary is the agent’s resume, yet most all agent pages are simply a glorified “I love me wall”

    If my wife would let me, I’d work with a Miss Teen Guilford County 1992! 🙂

    For what it’s worth, I am still not fully convinced that having my countless designations helps with clients, but does help with intimidating the weak minded agent (of which there are too many) like a Jedi Mind trick 🙂

    JD – PAPER or PLASTIC cracked me up!

    Mack and Brian – Lack of lender knowledge is really getting to me. How can an agent represent their client and they relegate any level of representation to someone else (in this case the lender)? I am sure there are good lenders out there, but the agent should have at least a good grasp of the economic outlook and options available. “You still think a HELOC is an available loan option” is one of those things are is funny, because it’s so very true.

  13. Ruthmarie Hicks

    September 19, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Being serious for a second – I was initially JOKING – some of these designations don’t appear to be worth the paper they are printed on. Maybe that comes from my academic background, maybe not. But from what I’ve seen of the ….ahem…..course materials – I’m not impressed. The material is virtually spoon fed to us for God’s sake. In general, Realtors need to step up to the plate and put some real meat on their academic menus. That would mean that these courses would have to be more hard core and HARDER to pass. On average it should be difficult enough to have a 10-12% failure rate. Just paying for it and showing up should not be nearly enough.

  14. Matt Wilkins

    September 19, 2008 at 9:51 pm


    I agree that some designation may be easy to obtain. The question I formulate from that is “if it’s so easy why don’t more REALTORS(r) have those designations?”. I can say that not all designation are “spoon fed”. The two I felt equired a good chunk of time in both coursework and real world experience were GRI and CRS. I do not know about today off hand but in 2006 when I earned CRS the percentage of REALTORS(r) holding that deisgnation was approximately 4% (more specifically via only 9 designees in my zip code and 26 in my city). Many of my potential clients ask about my desingations and in at least one case it was the deciding factor in me being chosen as thier represenative.

  15. Ruthmarie Hicks

    September 20, 2008 at 3:22 am

    Hi Matt,

    It’s interesting…NO ONE ever asks about designations. They ask about a lot of other things, but not that.

    I’ll admit to being an academic snob. I could easily have snored through my licensing classes along with my continuing education and aced everything anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I know my stuff but I truly considered it “licensing lite.” The content could have been taught in less than half the time and been comprehensive to anyone with enough brains to handle transactions of this magnitude. Many agents don’t know the meaning of the word “education.” Personally, I think it should be MUCH HARDER to get a license and maintain it. Most courses and designation training around here does involve showing up and paying up with precious little grey matter required.

    Maybe its just my part of the country, but I run into so many bored housewives with a license its just insane. I’ve had a couple of deals with them and they were agony to work with. I ended up running all over the place picking up their slack and correcting their mistakes in order to hold things together. The scary thing is that they had been agents for years…but they weren’t even remotely competent. Small wonder we don’t get much respect from the public. That won’t change until there is more – dare I say it – academic rigor – to licensing and designations. Many designations have yearly dues attached to them which brings home the message loud and clear – “Give us the $$$ – you get to brag about some initials.” See, here’s a novel thought – why don’t we run licensing and designations the way academic institutions award degrees?

    Case in point – a Ph.D. in almost any field. Obviously this is a degree that is awarded by an academic institution. There IS tuition. So I grant you that money is involved. However, paying the tuition doesn’t guarantee that you get the degree. First you have to apply. Relatively few applicants are accepted – some programs have a 5% acceptance rate. Attrition rate in my field was from high – up to 50% – failure to perform up to certain standards was the primary reason for attrition. So by the time the degree was granted, the student had been put through an elimination process on multiple levels. There was entry, course work, publications, qualifying exams, thesis work and thesis defense – and the student could be eliminated at any one of those points. However, once the degree was granted, no one could take it away from you for not making contributions to the alumni association!

    Now I’m not suggesting that we make becoming a real estate agent as tough as a Ph.D. But I think there has to be an elimination process that is common to most academic institutions for licensing and CE purposes. Very often we choose to liken ourselves to doctors and lawyers – often to justify our fees. That’s all well and good, but I must point out that physicians and attorneys went through an elimination process similar to what I described above. Being successful at real estate is hard, but it is mostly “on-the-job” training. The trouble with that is that thousands of rookies are foisted on the public at any one time and their sheer numbers create a massive problem with credibility. Right now its simply too easy to get and maintain a license.

    I do agree with you on one level – the GRI is the one designation I would be willing to sit for. The rest are a waste of time and money unless they get some meat to them I’m not going to pony up.

  16. Matt Stigliano

    September 20, 2008 at 7:03 am

    As a new agent I’ve already formed some opinions about designations, but have enjoyed listening to everyone else’s thoughts.

    I’ve heard many comments (not just here in this post) about them and here’s my take.

    As a consumer, I couldn’t tell you if any of my past Realtors had any designations. I never noticed and I wouldn’t have cared if I did. What I cared about was how you handled me and my wife and how you handled our transaction. I wanted a good “gut feeling” about you. I wanted to feel like I could tell you honestly about the bump in my credit. I wanted to know you weren’t going to tell me how “great this house is” when we walk into a dump. I wanted to like you, trust you, and see that you cared about me and getting me the home I wanted.

    As a Realtor, I see some value in them. Not so I can put them on my business cards and say how only x% of agents have the same designation as me. Not so I can feel like I know more than someone without one. Not so I am perceived to be me knowledgeable than I was before I received the designation. No, I think designations are good, because they put us in a position to learn more.

    While I was in school, taking exam prep, a girl raised her hand in class and asked how much weight the math questions carried on the test. The teacher gave her the answer (not a lot, there were only a handful – you could easily miss them all and still pass). We took a break and when we returned to look over some math questions, that same girl had packed up and left. She knew she could pass the licensing exam without thinking about math. And she was right, but what kind of agent will she be if she can’t perform basic (and there were no real hard math questions on the exam) math for her clients? It really disturbed me.

    I recently attended our state associations convention/expo/trade show and took classes during it that gained me the new “Texas Affordable Housing Specialist” designation. Like Matt and Ruthmarie, I believe the class was too easy. To make it even easier, there was no test, no quiz, no nothing. We got a designation for showing up for 12 hours. Me, I got a lot out of it and I’m happy I took it (learned quite a bit I didn’t know). I spoke with one of the instructors afterward and he is a Eco-Broker designee. I had seen their stuff at the trade show and liked the general concept of what they were trying to promote. What I didn’t like was that the same Realtor (not the instructor, just in general) that goes to Whataburger and gets a drink in a stryofoam cup, will get that designation. Its just that, some letters after your name to many of them. Just because you have the letters, doesn’t mean you believe in what they stand for (I have heard nothing but bad things about e-Pro, from people I would consider “pros” in the world of technology, but people who have it tell me how tech-savvy they are).

    I also think that the reason things like GRI and CRS are so exclusive is price. While I know that this is a business and it requires monetary investment to grow, they are expensive classes when you’re starting out (which in my opinion would be a great time to encourage more education in licensees) and by the time you’ve got to a point where you have the extra cash to grow your business, I think many people probably wind up with the attitude of “well, I got this far without it, why do I need it now?” Now of course, that same person should be thinking “I got this far, wonder how far I could get if I knew my stuff better,” but we’re talking about reality here and human nature.

    So those are my two (very lengthy) cents.

  17. Vicki Lloyd

    September 20, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    I don’t think consumers pay much attention at all to designations, but other agents who are looking to refer clients many times use them as a major qualifer. CRS and GRI definitely carry more credibility with the agent community. (I put my “MBA” on my business card and email sig, but I’m not sure it carries any extra weight with clients – except when dealing with other alums from my school, University of Southern California.)

  18. Matthew Rathbun

    September 20, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    I have a number of designations, mainly because I teach most all of them. As an agent I did have clients who appreciated them AFTER I got the appointment and explained how they benefited the consumer. ABR is a great program, as are GRI and CRS. The rest is simply knowledge. Agents should be more eager to take training because education is important, not because it gives them letters after their names. If the level of required education to do the job was where it should be, than simply holding a real estate license would be sufficient and “higher education” wouldn’t be as important.

    I would love to see new licensees have to work as “interns” until they could finish a GRI type program.

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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?



Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.



Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?


At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

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Opinion Editorials

How a simple period in your text message might be misinterpreted: Tips to improve your virtual communication

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) Text, email, and IM messages may be received differently depending on your communication style and who you’re communicating with. Here’s some ways to be more mindful.



Black woman smiling in communication talking on phone and laptop in front of her.

Life is full of decisions, learning, hopefully some adventure, and “growth opportunities” through our careers and work. One that some of us may have never considered is how our text, email or IM communication comes across to the receiver – thus providing us a growth opportunity to take a look at our own personal communication styles.

It may have never occurred to us that others would take it a different way. After all, we know ourselves, we can hear our voices in our heads. We know when we are joking, being sarcastic, or simply making a statement. The way we communicate is built upon how we were raised, what our English teachers stressed, and even what we’ve been taught through our generational lens.

NPR put out an article recently, “Are Your Texts Passive-Aggressive? The Answer May Lie in Your Punctuation”. This article discussed what to consider in regards to your punctuation in text.

“But in text messaging — at least for younger adults — periods do more than just end a sentence: They also can set a tone.” Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and author of the book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, told NPR’s All Things Considered last year that when it comes to text messaging,”the period has lost its original purpose. Rather than needing a symbol to indicate the end of a sentence, you can simply hit send on your message.”

While it may seem silly that the receiver would think you are mad at them because you used a period, here are some things to consider in our virtual communication now that we are all much more digital:

  • There are no facial expressions in a text except for emojis (which, even then, could be left up to misinterpretation)
  • There’s no sound of voice or inflection to indicate tone
  • We are emailing, texting, and sending instant messages at an alarming rate now that we are not having as many in-person interactions with our colleagues

Gen Z (b. 1995 – 2015), who are the most recent generation to enter the workplace, grew up with much quicker forms of communication with their earlier access to tech. They’ve had a different speed of stimulation via YouTube videos, games, and apps. They may have never experienced the internet speed via a dial-up modem so they are used to instantaneous results.

They also have quickly adapted and evolved through their use of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok. The last two platforms are designed for pretty brief attention spans, which indicates our adaptation to fast communication.

Generational shaming is out and uncomfortable but necessary conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion are in (which includes ageism). You can’t just chalk it up as “those kids” don’t understand you, or that they need to learn and “pay their dues”.

So if you are of an older generation and even a manager, here are some considerations that you can take regarding your virtual communications:

1. Consider having yourself and your team take a DiSC assessment.

“The DiSC® model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviors with others — within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships.

DiSC profiles help you and your team:

  • Increase your self-knowledge: How you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems
  • Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
  • Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members

This quiz is designed to help you identify your main communication style. It helps you to be more conscious of how your style may come across to others. Does it builds relationships, or create silent conflicts? It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change, but you can adapt your style to best fit your team.

2. Always ask your direct reports about their preferred method of communication (call, text, email, IM, meeting).

Retain this information and do your best to meet them where they are. It would also be helpful to share your preferred method with them and ask them to do their best to meet you where you are.

3. Consider putting composed emails in your drafts if you are fired up, frustrated, or down right angry with your team.

You may feel like you are being direct. But since tone will be lost virtually, your message may not come across the way you mean it, and it may be de-motivating to the receiver. Let it sit in drafts and come back to it a little bit later. Does your draft say all you need to say, or could it be edited to be a little less harsh? Would this be better as a meeting (whether video or phone) over a written communication? Now the receiver has a chance to see you and have a conversation rather than feeling put on blast.

And finally, be curious.

Check out Lindsey Pollak’s books or podcast on the best ways to work with a variety of generations in your organization. Lindsey is a Multigenerational Work Expert and she does a great job explaining her research to drive multigenerational workplace success. She gives ideas on what all employees, managers, and even corporations should consider as we experience so many generations and communication styles in the workplace at the same time.

You may laugh that your children or employees think you are mad at them when you use a period in a text. But there’s a lot more behind it to consider. It may take adaptation on all sides as communication styles and the “future of work” continue to evolve.

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