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Confessions of a Newbie

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This is my first Genius post, so please be gentle.

Not many people know this, I have not written about it before. I am relatively new in the real estate industry. I got my license six years ago, and my brokers license last January.

I am a career changer. My background is quite corporate, and in my last job I was an executive with a company that provided technical consulting services. I chucked it all and started over. To this day no one understands why I did what I did, but they don’t have to, it was a personal choice.

The new world I entered was frightening. Trust me I am not easily frightened. I went from being someone who was respected, listened to and well paid, to a someone who did not know anything, and who had no income. It was a very humbling and traumatic experience.

The experience was an eye opener. For the first time in more than a decade I met professionals who did not have email accounts, computers or internet access at home, or in their offices. When I went to the resource room I would see my peers, doing their weekly email check. In general their customs and ways were alien to me. One of the biggest shocks was the five part carbon forms that were filled out by hand.

Other shocks to my system came fast and furious. In the world that I came from putting your face on a business card or resume was a big no no, considered unprofessional and even tacky. I hated open houses too. They seemed so . . sales-y. My background does include sales but it was different. I would buy someone lunch and talk about consulting services.

In my early days as an agent I felt like I had been cast out of the universe and had entered some hellish alternate reality, where on top of it all I had to pay my own cell phone and credit card bills. On the up side at least I didn’t have anyone telling me what color my suite should be or who I was having lunch with and where . . and when . . . and why.

When I started my new career my broker wanted me to “cold call”, and one of the trainers told me I would never make it in real estate if I did not start doing more open houses, four each week. Another told me that I had a bad attitude. That might have been true, shortly after I got my license I became ill and lost 20 pounds in a few weeks, but I never mentioned it, I just kept trying. . . even though my “tude” was questioned, and my new office was not very welcoming.

It wasn’t until I stopped focusing on what I wasn’t good at and started using my skills that I started having successes. I started thinking on my own and outside the box. What I learned is that my skills are very transferable and that I have a unique skill set that can be an advantage. I learned how to take my experience and skills and apply them in new ways. I used technology in new ways to build my business. Not the standard real estate industry technology but technology used by small business owners of all types.

I leaned that many of the role models in our industry started in the 80’s. These are our industry icon’s, and leaders. They do not need to change the way they are doing things, they should be able to work off their base and from referrals. What is missing from the picture is that if they lived in the same world as we do today, and needed new clients to survive, they would be doing things differently. They would have to because most of their new clients are on the Internet. Products and services are bought and sold every day with out the use of any of the real estate industry tried and true marketing techniques.

I have also learned that even though I have not spent my entire life in the real estate industry I have something to offer the industry. I look around and I see some of my peers who have similar backgrounds. They are the leaders in the newer web 2.0 world. As a group we create, innovate, teach and share. The influx of new agents in the last five or six years has given the industry some new blood and fresh ideas. A good thing in any industry.

As time goes on I spend less time and money on 80’s marketing techniques. I am not debunking them and don’t want to offend but the world has changed. There are marketing techniques that were never even dreamt of in the 80’s and I do my best to exploit them.

As a newbie I think I have something to offer the industry, and am thrilled to get the opportunity to do so through Agent Genius. I am not a genius, but an outside of the box thinker, mainly because I never found the box.

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.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Athol Kay

    November 20, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I just finished my first year in the business Teresa. Like you I look at other agents with blank incomprehension as they still use a typewriter or clear their email weekly. Just bizarre.

    >>It wasn’t until I stopped focusing on what I wasn’t good at and started using my skills that I started having successes.

    That’s the money shot.

  2. Teresa Boardman

    November 20, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Athol – I had no idea. 🙂

  3. Ines

    November 20, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    5th year of business here! Rick and I dropped our professions to give our local market real service. From the first day, we concentrated on what made us different and what extra value we added to the table.

    It’s been a bumpy road, mostly because a lot of people don’t respect the industry as a whole and we were not used to that. But overcoming adversity is my cup of tea.

    We have more in common than we knew!

  4. Scoot

    November 20, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    “It wasn’t until I stopped focusing on what I wasn’t good at and started using my skills that I started having successes.”

    I believe that has to be the statement of the day! If we would all spend as much time on what we are good at, as we do trying to fix things we aren’t, we would get a lot more accomplished. And in the end I believe we’d find we’re fixing those things anyway.

    It’s a new world, cold calling and high pressure sales, don’t work anymore. People are smarter now. I for one am glad!

  5. Teresa Boardman

    November 20, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Ines – I figured you were a born Realtor. 🙂

    Scoot – that was the most valuable life lesson I have learned to date and I was a slow learner. Had I stayed in my old job or occupation that is one of the many lessons I would not have learned.

  6. Mariana

    November 20, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Teresa – I, too, entered the world “just” 6 years ago. 9/11/01 to be exact. ‘Tis a new generation of agents that will take over the world. (And by generation, I do not mean birthday age, but “entering the business” age…)

    And the box? Well, I haven’t found it either, but I am not really looking for it.

    Welcome to the Genius! 🙂

  7. Benn Rosales

    November 20, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    I say burn the box.

  8. Mariana

    November 20, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Burn the Box! Burn the Box!

  9. john harper

    November 20, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Everyone in blogdom knows I’ve only been at this real estate gig a year, but my mother has been telling me to “zip it” forever. Thanks to Ben for letting me sound off!

    Good to see you here – I’ll publish the other half of your face here later also!

  10. Norm Fisher

    November 21, 2007 at 7:05 am

    “It wasn’t until I stopped focusing on what I wasn’t good at and started using my skills that I started having successes.”

    …and likely having some fun at it too.

    With 15 years behind me, I have to admit that I am also feeling like a “newbie,” but loving it. Always appreciate your leadership Teresa. Nice to see you here.

  11. Carson Coots

    November 21, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Very inspiring. We need more results-driven voices to encourage fresh thinking in the industry. You have a great success story. I am looking forward to reading your thoughts.

  12. Vicki Moore

    November 21, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing such a personal part of yourself, Teresa. I never have fit in with my peers either and I’ve had many of the same experiences. I was told by a trainer that I would never make it. Various agents I’ve worked with have been truly awful, rude, condescending, and have even sabotaged me and each other. There’s a kinship, a mutual appreciation as I’ve called it in the past, within the blogging community. It’s unfortunate to have lived so long without it. I really look forward to hearing more from and about you.

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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. So it is easy to see why they are so popular now

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startups meeting

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 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 an employee can find themself personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits of 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, thus allowing 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 which 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

People saying “I love you” at work casually – yay or nay?

(EDITORIAL) Is saying “I love you” in the workplace acceptable in the current harassment and lawsuit climate? Let’s take a look at the factors.

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love shared

Anyone who works in “The Office” knows sometimes there is a failure to communicate. Per email conversation, context can get lost in translation.

So, why then, in the age of the Me Too Movement, are coworkers saying: I Love You?

I’m guessing it’s thanks to our digital lifestyle?

No, I’m not a Boomer. Thank you very much. That’s a different editorial. But, I’ve been working since way back in the day. A time when we wore tennis shoes with nylons. Wait, that’s still a thing?

Alas, I digress.

If we consider the culture of work, particularly in the case of some start-ups, it’s not uncommon for there to be beer in the workplace, casual dress – meaning you have clothes on – and possibly a more youthful expectation around communication.

So, f*ck yeah, dude, I love you!

With the use of workflow apps like Slack, where people can text you – while on the toilet, no less. I mean, who hasn’t told a colleague, “OMG! You are a f@cking ?” after dealing with a challenging situation/customer/boss/client and that colleague comes to the rescue.

Just me? Oops.

Maybe it started back with the I Love You Man commercial, which also became the title of a bromance.

If the bros can have their bromance, then why can’t we all say those three words in the workplace?

I’m not gonna spoil the party and say never. I’m just going to suggest some things are better left unsaid.

First, words are powerful.

Because this is the era of Me Too, it’s easy for there to be misinterpretation. What if a woman says it to a male colleague. A boss says to a much junior employee.

Can you say harassment?

One of my former managers didn’t even like me saying her name. I can’t imagine what she’d do if I said: “I love you.”

But, here’s a real reason. People are happy with us one day and not the next.

Keeping it chill and professional is important. For example, I once called my co-worker – and very good friend – a nasty Spanish word and it almost resulted in a knife fight. What I learned is one day you are joking around and your friend isn’t.

Second, a laissez-faire attitude toward communication can become second nature. You can’t be accidentally telling your client, you love them, now can you? I mean, beyond being authentic, those words mean a lot to some people, just tossing them about shows a real lack of judgment and can result in an extremely negative response.

Which leads me to my last point.

“Et, tu Cheryl”

One company I worked at hired Gallup to do a survey of staff. One of the questions was about having a work BFF, which is important in the workplace. Often we have our work husband or wife or sister, even. We all need someone we can lean on.

In the workplace, depending on the culture and environment, it may be a good place to keep it 100 or, if too toxic, a better place to fake it. Even people who seem to be on your side might be just waiting to pounce.

Get too close, say the wrong thing and Cheryl gets your office with the window and the red stapler too.

All I’m saying is keep it real, but maybe not too real.

Oh, and btw, I <3 U.

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Opinion Editorials

Audi paves the way for how to thoughtfully reduce a workforce

(BUSINESS NEWS) Audi has a new electric car plan that will eliminate 9,500 employees…but in a shocking twist, we’re not even mad. WATT’s going on here?

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Audi E-tron

12 billion motivational posters/yoga tops/specialty ziploc bags can’t all be wrong: Positive change always comes with loss.

For German Audi workers, the company shifting gears to focus on manufacturing electric vehicles will see employee losses to the tune of 7.5k people being Audi of a job there. In the next five years, another 2,000 jobs are expected to get the axe as well.

So they should be panicking, right? Audi workers should mask up and be out in the streets?

Well, considering the general state of the world, yes. But if we’re isolating to just this change, no!

See, Audi’s not actually shoving people out of the door to make room for younger, sexier, more fuel-efficient staff. The jobs they’re cutting are going to be cut due to employees leaving on their own for different pastures and retirement. As in, no one’s getting laid off through 2029.

Now there’s an electric slide I can get behind!

Audi’s top brass, in an Ohm-My-God twist (see what I did there), actually sat down with worker reps and talked this move out. This kinder, gentler, distinctly NON-assy arangement will save the company over 6.6 billion dollars over the next decade, and all of that cash is going to boogie-woogie-woogie into their ‘lightning car development’ piggy banks.

Yay for them!

And yay for us.

See, Germany has a (recent) history of not being horrible to their employees. It’s why Walmart’s attempt to claw its way into Deutschland went up in so much smoke. And that history is accompanied by a reputation for stunningly positive change for everyone from white tie to black apron.

With a brand as giant, trusted, and drooled over as Audi is managing to conduct massively profitable business without schwantzing anyone over, everyone here in the US has a shining example to point to and follow when making massive company moves.

Notably, Tesla, America’s favorite electric car company is almost cartoonishly anti-union, anti-worker, and anti-running dress rehearsals on expectation/glass shattering exhibitions. The prevailing thought is that it’s a necessity to be some kind of moustache twirling villain to get ahead because so many businesses insist upon it.

But that chestnut cracks here.

No more ‘Businesses exist to make money’ excuses. No more ‘You have to be ruthless to get ahead’ BS. Those selective-sociopathy inducing phrases never made any sense to begin with, but now, we’ve got a shining example of towering projected #GAINZ for a company doing right by its people without a single head rolling on the factory floors or a single decimal point moved left in the ledgers.

Ya done good, Audi.

Here’s hoping more businesses stateside follow in your tire tracks.

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