Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Confessions of a Newbie

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

Popular opinion: Unemployment in a pandemic sucks [EDITORIAL]

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) I got laid off during the pandemic, and I think I can speak for all of us to say that unemployment – especially now – really, really sucks.

Published

on

Stressed man thinking over laptop about unemployment.

Despite not being in an office for what feels like an eternity, losing my job stung. Holding onto work during The Worst Timeline was rough, considering Rome was burning all around. My job was the boat of sanity I could sit in while the waves of bullshit crashed all around. Pre-pandemic, I had just separated from my wife, so my emotional health wasn’t in tip-top shape. But then millions of people go and get sick, the economy took a nosedive, and well, the world changed. When everything around you sucks, and people are on the news crying about unemployment and potential homelessness, you’re thankful as hell that you’re not with them – until you are.

I was writing for a startup, one that came with a litany of headaches thanks to fluctuating budgets and constant directional pivots, but it was steady work. When the Coronavirus hit, it was a scenario of “we’re going to get through this,” but as we switched gears again and again, I started to get an unsettling feeling: I’ve seen this story before. When you live in Austin and are in the creative field, you’ve worked with startups. And there are always trappings on when something lingers in the air – hierarchy shuffles, people aren’t as optimistic, and senior folks start quietly bailing out. Those are the obvious moves that make your unemployment-related Spidey sense tingle, but with COVID, everything is remote. There aren’t the office vibes, the shortened conversations that make you, “I know what’s happening here.” Instead, you’re checking Slack or email and surviving like everyone else.

We were happy to be working, to see the direct deposit hit every two weeks and sigh, knowing you were still in the fight, that you might see this thing through.

We saw our entire business change overnight. Leadership rose to meet the challenges of an old model rooted in hospitality, restaurants, and events, which died with a viral disease shotgun blast. Because the infrastructure was there, we managed to help out workers, and grocery stores work together to keep people fed across the nation. It was legitimately a point of pride. Like all things, though, the market settled. We bought time.

In July, I had a full-blown depressive episode. The weight of the divorce, the lack of human interaction, my work having less value, my career stalled felt like a Terminator robot foot on my skull. I couldn’t get out of bed, and everything I wrote were the smatterings of a broken man. And to my ex-bosses’ credit, my breakdown was NOT my best work, I could barely look at a computer, let alone forge thoughts on an entirely new industry with any authority, or even a fake it till you make it scenario.

When the CEO put time on my calendar, I knew it was a wrap. Startup CEOs don’t make house calls; they swing the ax. When you’re the lone creative in a company trying to survive a nearly company-killing event, you’re the head on the block. Creatives are expensive, and we’re expendable. Site copy, content, media placements, all that can kick rocks when developers need to keep the business moving, even if it’s at a glacial pace. When I was given my walking papers, it was an exhale, on one hand, I’d been professionally empty, but at the same time, I needed consistent money. My personal life was a minefield and I’ve got kids.

I got severance. Unemployment took forever to hit. The state of Texas authorized amount makes me cringe. Punishing Americans for losing their jobs during a crisis is appalling. Millions are without safety nets, and it’s totally ok with elected leaders.

There are deferments available. I had to get them on my credit cards, which I jacked up thanks to spending $8,500 on an amicable divorce, along with a new MacBook Pro that was the price of a used Nissan. I got a deferment on my car note, too.

I’ve applied to over 100 jobs, both remote and local. I’ve applied for jobs I’m overqualified for in hopes they’ll hire me as a freelancer. There are lots of rejection letters. I get to round two interviews. References or the round three interviews haven’t happened yet. I get told I’m too experienced or too expensive. Sometimes, recruiters won’t even show up. And then there are the Zoom meetings. Can we all agree we’re over Zoom? Sometimes, you don’t want to comb your hair.

I’ll get promised the much needed “next steps” and then a rejection email, “thanks but no thanks.” Could you at least tell me what the X-Factor for this decision was? Was there a typo? Did you check my Facebook? The ambiguity kills me. Being a broke senior creative person kills me. I interviewed President Obama and have written for Apple, but ask myself: Can I afford that falafel wrap for lunch? Do you think springing for the fries is worth that extra $3? You’ve got soup at home, you know.

I’m not unique. This is the American Experience. We’re stuck in this self-perpetuating hell. We keep looking for jobs. We want to work. There are only so many gigs to fill when there’s constant rollercoaster news on unemployment recovery. And as long as unemployment sucks, there’s going to be a lot of people bracing for impact come Christmas. Hopefully, the brass in Washington can pass a few bills and get us back to work. At least get Americans out of the breadline by pumping up what we’re surviving off of – across the board. Working people shouldn’t have to face getting sick to bring in an income, while casualties of the Corona War should be able to look at their bills and not feel like the assistant on the knife throwers wheel.

I’m about to be a line cook to make extra cash till an intrepid manager hires me. Who doesn’t want a writer working the grill who reads French existentialist essays for enjoyment? I’d rather sit on park benches and day dream, but that ain’t reality. I’ve got bills to pay in a broken America. Who wants a burger? Deep thoughts come free but an extra slice of cheese is extra.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

Published

on

Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Improve UX design by tracking your users’ eye movements

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Research shows that the fastest way to determine user behavior and predict their response is by watching their eyesight. Use this data to improve your UX design.

Published

on

UX design being created by a designer on a laptop.

By design, an ice cream truck is meant to entice. It is colorful, stupidly loud with two whole songs from the 30s (usually off key because no one is left alive who can service those bells), and lots of colorful stickers that depict delicious frozen treats that look nothing like reality. If you need an off model Disney character that already looks a little melted even when frozen, look no further.

This is design in action – the use of clever techniques to drive engagement. Brightly colored decor and the Pavlovian association of hearing The Sting in chirpy little ding dings is all working together to encourage sales and interaction.

These principles work in all industries, and the tech sector has devoted entire teams, agencies, companies, groups, and departments to the study of User Experience (UX) explicitly to help create slick, usable applications and websites that are immediately understandable by users. Tools to improve utility exist by measuring user behavior, with style guides and accepted theories preached and sang and TED-talked all over.

The best way to check behavior is to observe it directly, and options to check where someone clicks has proven invaluable in determining how to improve layouts and designs. These applications are able to draw a heat map that shows intensified red color in areas where clicks congregate the most. An evolution of this concept is to watch eyesight itself, allowing developers a quicker avenue to determining where a user will most likely go. Arguably the shortest path between predicting response, this is one of the holy grails of behavioral measurement. If your eyes can be tracked, your cursor is likely to follow.

UX design can benefit greatly from this research as this article shows. Here’s some highlights:

Techwyse completed a case study that shows conversion on landing pages is improved with clear call-to-action elements. Users will focus on objects that stand out based on position, size, bright colors, or exaggerated fonts. If these design choices are placed on a static, non-interactive component, a business will lose a customer’s interest quickly, as their click is meant with no response. This quickly leads to confusion or abandonment. Finding where a person is immediately drawn to means you should capitalize on that particular piece with executable code. Want it boiled down? Grocery stores put Cheetos front and center, because everyone want them thangs.

Going along with this, Moz found that search results with attractive elements – pictures and video – are given much more attention than simple text. We are visually inclined creatures, and should never undervalue that part of our primal minds. Adding some visual flair will bring attention, which in turn can be leveraged usefully to guide users.

Here’s an interesting study – being that we are social animals, follow the gaze of others. If you’ve ever seen kittens watching a game of ping pong, they are in sync and drawn to the action. Similarly, if we notice someone look to the left, we instinctively want to look left as well. While this sounds very specific, the idea is simple – visual cues can be optimized to direct users where to focus.

The Nielsen Group says we look at things in an F pattern. I just think that’s funny, or at least a funny way to describe it. We follow from left-to-right (just like we read, and as websites are laid out using techniques first developed for newspapers, it naturally makes sense that we’d do the same). Of course, cultural or national differences arise here – right-to-left readers need the opposite. Always be sure to keep your target audience in mind.

Of course, there are several other findings and studies that can further promote idealistic layout and design, and it should always be the goal of designers to look to the future and evaluate trends. (Interestingly, eye tracking is the first option on this list!)

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!