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Opinion Editorials

Clients Acting Sheepish?



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I’m always amazed at how rational, professional clients can make seemingly illogical decisions when it comes to the process of buying or selling a home. When faced with facts and statistics that should lead to a comfortable and informed decision, the most intelligent clients still let fear and uncertainty dictate their choices.  Why does this happen?

Herding Impulse

I’ve heard so many potential buyers hemming and hawing at the moment, hoping to time the market at it’s *absolute, exact bottom* that they have missed out on homes that were affordable and exactly what they were looking for. (Their words, not just mine.) So, I went poking around the interwebs to see what I could find about “crowd psychology.”

Robert Campbell, writing in his San Diego Real Estate Report, says “during upturns in real estate cycles, optimistic psychology takes a hold of the market…People start to believe that what is happening now will continue to happen, and thus they come to see less risk than actually exists in the market. ” Conversely, he says a downturn in the market brings on “the psychology of pessimism,” when “people are driven by risk avoidance, in order to minimize pain.”  This makes total sense to me, from a practical perspective, as I watch buyers choose to wait, while house prices and mortgage rates match up perfectly with their long term goals.  No one wants to feel like a sucker, so they continue to wait as if someone is going to fire up the alarm at some point, screaming, “We’re at bottom! Buy now!”

Enter the “Elliott Wave”

The idea that society moves in waves, that ‘mass psychology’ or ‘crowd psychology’ influences consumer decisionmaking is really nothing new.  Interestingly, though, there is a whole cadre of financial advisors that use a principle based on investor psychology to predict how the market will move.  In essence, the “Elliott Wave Theory” contests that market movements are driven by investor psychology: waves of greed versus fear, optimism or pessimism.  An accountant, Ralph Nelson Elliott, wrote a series of papers in the 1930’s and 1940’s spelling out how this behavior creates waves, or price patterns, as buying and selling behavior swings from optimism at the peak to pessimism at the bottom.

Robert Prechter is probably the best known supporter of the theory in the investing world, founding Elliott Wave International. (He has a degree in psychology, so no wonder he was drawn to it!) Using the principle, he correctly forecasted the 1987 market crash and the beginning of the bull market in October 1982.  However, he was off in the timing of the bear market by five years. So, I guess reading and correctly interpreting wave behavior isn’t the easiest task. However, most trading software packages include Elliott Wave analysis, and some traders use it to read the waves, to help them predict where the market is going.

Can You Hear Me Now?

People look to others to provide direction, whether they are investing in the stock market or in real estate.  ‘Mass psychology’ and ‘crowd behavior’ can trump logic and data easily.  The clients that base their decisions on diligent research and their future investment plans are the ones that reap the most reward.  The question is, how do we get through to clients who can’t hear us for all of the noise everyone else is making?

Heather is a Realtor with Century 21 Redwood Realty in Ashburn, Virginia. She's also the 2008 VARBuzz Blog Brawl Champion, mom to four fantastic kids, and the wife of a golf professional. If she had free time, she'd probably read a good book or play golf. You can find her on twitter, @hthrflynn, or writing on her blog,

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  1. Matt Stigliano

    March 24, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Heather – Crowd psychology is an interesting study. Jim Morrison of The Doors was fascinated by it and wrote about it several times. Having been a musician, I was always interested in it, after learning a bit about it from some of his writing. Having stood on festival stages, I’ve seen it in action. You can make a crowd do just about anything if you push them in the right direction.

  2. Mark Eckenrode

    March 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    likin’ this post… psychology es muy bueno.

    what you’re writing about is in line with “social proof” ( where folks who lack enough information to decide on a course of action will follow the lead of others. very much herd behavior.

    the way to reach those that are basing their decision off of noise instead of data is to highlight those that have the data and the moves they are making. Position them as “cool folks in the know” while also positioning those that aren’t making moves “uncool folks not in the know.”

    for example, a community wanted to increase it’s recycling efforts and had failed with past promotions until… they ran a low-budget commercial that showed people in the neighborhood all taking their recyclables down to the curb. one boy asked his father, “where are the petersons?” to whcih dad replied, “son, the petersons, well, they don’t recycle.”

    community recycling jumped (nobody wanted to be like the petersons!). same psychology can be applied here…

  3. Ken Brand

    March 25, 2009 at 6:47 am

    As marketers, communicators, connectors, persuaders and entrepreneurs, a bit of study, observation and cogitating on this subject is a wise idea.

    Seth Godin had a recent post that is sorta semi-related. Common desires quenched can influence and attract a crowd –

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Great post and great points- I just wanted to know if the photo was taken at Lori Bee’s farm?

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Opinion Editorials

Sci-fi alert: Building cities on quantum networks becoming reality

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) The University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Tech Lab has created quantum networks that demonstrate the possibilities for future cities.



Quantum network connections in theoretical city at night time.

The University of Bristol is home to the largest quantum entanglement-based computer network in the world. Its Quantum Engineering Technology Lab, led by Dr. Siddarth Joshi, has been spearheading the development of a method of encryption called Quantum Key Distribution that may soon revolutionize information security.

First, what is quantum computing, exactly? (Giving a concise answer to that question is sort of like nailing jelly to a wall, but here goes…)

Much like a light switch, a conventional computer circuit can only be in one of two states at a time: On (1) or off (0). That’s basically how binary code works – by representing information as a series of discrete on and off signals, or high and low energy states.

Quantum computing makes use of a third kind of state that exists between those two.

Think about it this way: If classical, binary computing models rely on energy states of “yes” and “no” to communicate data, quantum computing introduces a state of “maybe.” This is because at the quantum level, the photons that make up the information in a quantum computer can exist in multiple places (or energy states, if you prefer) at once – a phenomenon known as “entanglement.”

Entangled photons cannot be observed or measured (i.e., tampered with) without changing their state and destroying the information they contain. That means quantum computer networks are virtually hack proof compared to traditional networks.

This is where Dr. Joshi’s team is changing the game. While previous attempts to build a secure quantum computer network have been limited to just two machines, the QET Lab has been able to establish a quantum encrypted network between eight machines over a distance of nearly eleven miles.

As Dr. Joshi puts it, “until now, building a quantum network has entailed huge cost, time, and resource, as well as often compromising on its security which defeats the whole purpose. […] By contrast, the QET Lab’s vision is scalable, relatively cheap and, most important of all, impregnable.”

If it can be successfully scaled up further, quantum encryption has countless potential civic applications, such as providing security for voting machines, WiFi networks, remote banking services, credit card transactions, and more.

In order for an entire population to be able to utilize a quantum network, fiber optic infrastructure must first be made accessible and affordable for everyone to have in their homes. In that sense, quantum cities are still roughly two decades away, posits Dr. Joshi. The technology behind it is very nearly mature, though. A simpler application of quantum encryption is practically right around the corner – think quantum ATMs in as few as five years.

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Opinion Editorials

5 ways to grow your entrepreneur business without shaming others

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) We all need support as business owners. Let’s talk ideas for revenue growth as an entrepreneur that do not include shaming your competition.



Entrepreneur women all talking around a meeting table.

The year 2020 has forced everyone to re-assess their priorities and given us the most uncertain set of circumstances we have lived through. For businesses and entrepreneurs, they were faced with having to confront new business scenarios quickly. Maybe your entrepreneur business was set to thrive as behaviors changed (maybe you already offered contactless products and services). Or, you were forced to add virtual components or find new revenue streams – immediately. This has been tough.

Every single person is having a hard time with the adjustments and most likely at different stages than others. We’re at the 6-month mark, and each of our timelines are going to look different. Our emotions have greeted us differently too, whether we have felt relief, grief, excitement, fear, hope, determination, or just plain exhaustion.

Now that we are participating in life a bit more virtually than in 2019, this is a good time to re-visit the pros and cons of the influence of technology and marketing outreach online. It’s also a great time to throw old entrepreneur rules out the window and create a better sense of community where you can.

Here’s an alluring article, “Now Is Not the Time for ‘Mom Shaming’”, that gives an example from about a decade ago of how the popularity of mommy bloggers grew by women sharing their parenting “hacks”, tips, or even recipes and crafting ideas via online posts and blogs. As the blog entries grew, so did other moms comparing themselves and/or feeling inadequate. Some of the responses were natural and some may have been coming from a place of defensiveness. Moms are not alone in looking for resources, articles, materials, and friends to tell us we’re doing ok. We just need to be told “You are doing fine.”

Luckily, some moms in Connecticut decided to declare an end to “Mom Wars” and created a photo shoot that shared examples of how each mom had a right to their choices in parenting. It seemed to reinforce the message of, “You are doing fine.” I don’t know about you, but my recent google searches of “Is it ok to have my 3-year old go to bed with the iPad” are pretty much destined to get me in trouble with her pediatrician. I’m hoping that during a global pandemic, “I am doing fine.”

Comparing this scenario to the entrepreneur world, often times your business is your baby. You have worn many hats to keep it alive. You have built the concept and ideas, nurtured the products and services with sweat, tears, and maybe some laughs. You have spent countless hours researching, experimenting, and trying processes and marketing tactics that work for you. You have been asked to “pivot” this year like so many others (sick of that word? Me too).

Here are some ideas for revenue growth as an entrepreneur (or at least, ideas worth considering if you haven’t already):

  1. It’s about the questions you ask yourself. How does your product or service help or serve others (vs. solely asking how do I get more customers?) This may lead to new ideas or income streams.
  2. Consider a collaboration or a partnership – even if they seem like the competition. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb
  3. Stop inadvertently shaming the competition by critiquing what they do. It’s really obvious on your Instagram. Try changing the narrative to how you help others.
  4. Revisit the poem All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and re-visit it often. “And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
  5. Join a community, celebrate others’ success, and try to share some positivity without being asked to do so. Ideas include: Likes/endorsements, recommendations on LinkedIn for your vendor contacts, positive Google or Yelp reviews for fellow small business owners.

It seems like we really could use more kindness and empathy right now. So what if we look for the help and support of others in our entrepreneurial universe versus comparing and defending our different way of doing things?

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Opinion Editorials

Can we combat grind culture and injustice with a nap?

(OPINION EDITORIALS) A global pandemic and a climate of racial injustice may require fresh thinking and a new approach from what grind culture has taught us.



Sleeping cat with plant, fighting grind culture.

Information is delivered to us at warp speed with access to television, radio, and the internet (and more specifically, social media). We are inundated with messages. Oftentimes they’re personalized by something that a friend or family shared. Other times we manage them for work, school, or just keeping up with news. Many entrepreneurs already wear many hats and burn the midnight oil.

During this global pandemic, COVID-19, we have also seen a rise in awareness and attention to social injustice and systemic racism. This is not a new concept, as we all know. But it did feel like the attention was advanced exponentially by the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020. Many people and entrepreneurs felt called to action (or at least experienced self-reflection). And yet they were working at all hours to evolve their businesses to survive. All of this happening simultaneously may have felt like a struggle while they tried to figure out exactly they can do.

There are some incredible thought leaders – and with limited time, it can be as simple as checking them out on Instagram. These public figures give ideas around what to be aware of and how to make sure you are leveling up your awareness.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Center for Antiracist Research – he has been studying anti-racism and has several books and interviews that help give language to what has been happening in our country for centuries. His content also delves into why and how white people have believed they are more than people of color. Here is a great interview he did with Brené Brown on her Unlocking Us podcast.

Tamika Mallory – American activist and one of the leading organizers of the 2017 Women’s March. She has been fighting for justice to be brought upon the officers that killed Breonna Taylor on March 13. These are among other efforts around the country to push back on gun control, feminist issues, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brené Brown – research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the last two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She has been listening and engaging on how racism and our shame intersect. She also speaks about how people can reflect on themselves and where they can take action to better our society. She has some antiracism resources on her website.

With all of this information and the change in our daily routines and work habits (or business adjustments), what is a fresh approach or possibly a new angle that you haven’t been able to consider?

There is one social channel against grind culture that may not be as well-known. At an initial glance, you may even perceive this place as a spoof Twitter and Instagram that is just telling you to take a nap. But hold on, it’s actually much smarter than that. The description says “We examine the liberating power of naps. We believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations. We install Nap Experiences. Founding in 2016.”

It might be a great time for you to check out The Nap Ministry, inspired by Tricia Hersey. White people are called to action, and people of color are expressly told to give time to taking care of themselves. Ultimately, it goes both ways – everyone needs the time to recharge and recuperate. But people of color especially are being told to value their rest more than the grind culture. Yes, you’re being told you need to manage your mental health and include self-care in your schedule.

Through The Nap Ministry, Tricia “examines rest as a form of resistance by curating safe spaces for the community to rest via Collective Napping Experiences, immersive workshops, and performance art installations.”

“In this incredibly rich offering, we speak with Tricia on the myths of grind culture, rest as resistance, and reclaiming our imaginative power through sleep. Capitalism and white supremacy have tricked us into believing that our self-worth is tied to our productivity. Tricia shares with us the revolutionary power of rest.” They have even explored embracing sleep as a political act.

Let this allow you to take a deep breath and sigh – it is a must that you take care of yourself to take care of your business as well as your customers and your community. And yes, keep your drive and desire to “get to work”. But not at your expense for the old grind culture narrative.

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