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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

Facebook fights falsehoods (it’s a false flag)

(EDITORIAL) Facebook has chosen Reuters to monitor its site for false information, but what can one company really do, and why would Facebook only pick one?

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Reuters checks facebook

So Facebook has finally taken a step to making sure fake news doesn’t get spread on it’s platform. Like many a decision from them though, they haven’t been thorough with their venture.

I am a scientifically driven person, I want facts, figures, and evidence to determine what is reality. Technology is a double edged sword in this arena; sure having a camera on every device any person can hold makes it easy to film events, but deepfakes have made even video more questionable.

Many social media platforms have tried to ban deepfakes but others have actually encouraged it. “I’ll believe it when I see it” was the rally cry for the skeptical, but now it doesn’t mean anything. Altering video in realistic ways has destroyed the credibility of the medium, we have to question even what we see with our eyes.

The expansion of the internet has created a tighter communication net for all of humanity to share, but when specific groups want to sway everyone else there isn’t a lot stopping them if they shout louder than the rest.

With the use of bots, and knowing the specifics of a group you want to sway, it’s easy to spread a lie as truth. Considering how much information is known about almost any user on any social media platform, it’s easy to pick targets that don’t question what they see online.

Facebook has been the worst offender in knowing consumer data and what they do with that data. Even if you never post anything political, they know what your affiliation is. If you want to delete that information, it’s hidden in advertising customization.

Part of me is thrilled that Facebook has decided to try and stand against this spread of misinformation, but how they pursued this goal is anything but complete and foolproof.

Reuters is the news organization that Facebook has chosen to fact check the massive amount of posts, photos, and videos that show up on their platform everyday. It makes sense to grab a news organization to verify facts compared to “alternative facts”.

A big problem I have with this is that Reuters is a company, companies exist to make money. Lies sell better than truths. Ask 2007 banks how well lies sell, ask Enron how that business plan worked out, ask the actors from Game of Thrones about that last season.

Since Reuters is a company, some other bigger company could come along, buy them, and change everything, or put in people who let things slide. Even Captain America recognizes this process. “It’s run by people with agendas, and agendas change.” This could either begin pushing falsehoods into Facebook, or destroy Reuters credibility, and bite Facebook in the ass.

If some large group wants to spread misinformation, but can’t do it themselves, why wouldn’t they go after the number one place that people share information?

I really question if Reuters can handle the amount of information flowing through Facebook, remember almost a 3rd of the whole world uses Facebook. 2.45 Billion people will be checked by 25,800 employees at Reuters? I can appreciate their effort, but they will fail.

Why did Facebook only tag one company to handle this monumental task? If you know that many people are using your platform, and such a limited number of people work for the company you tasked with guarding the users, why wouldn’t you tag a dozen companies to tackle that nigh insurmountable number of users?

I think it’s because Facebook just needs that first headline “Facebook fights falsehoods”. That one line gets spread around but the rest of the story is ignored, or not thought about at all. If there is anything Facebook has learned about the spread of fake information on their platform, it’s how to spread it better.

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Opinion Editorials

Will shopping for that luxury item actually lower your quality of life?

(EDITORIAL) Want to buy yourself a pick-me-up? Have you thought of all the ramifications of that purchase? Try to avoid splurging on it.

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shopping bags

In an era of “treat-yo-self,” the urge to splurge is real. It doesn’t help that shopping – or what ends up being closer to impulse shopping – provides us with a hit of dopamine and a fleeting sense of control. Whether your life feels like it’s going downhill or you’ve just had a bad day, buying something you want (or think you want) can seem like an easy fix.

Unfortunately, it might not be so great when it comes to long-term happiness.

As you might have already guessed, purchasing new goods doesn’t fall in line with the minimalism trend that’s been sweeping the globe. Being saddled with a bunch of stuff you don’t need (and don’t even like!) is sure to make your mood dip, especially if the clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Plus, if you’ve got a real spending problem, the ache in your wallet is sure to manifest.

If that seems depressing, I’ve got even more bad news. Researchers at Harvard and Boston College have found yet another way spending can make us more unhappy in the long run: imposter syndrome. It’s that feeling you get when it seems like you’re not as good as your peers and they just haven’t caught on yet. This insecurity often arises in competitive careers, academics and, apparently, shopping.

Now, there’s one big caveat to this idea that purchasing goods will make you feel inferior: it really only applies to luxury goods. I’m talking about things like a Louis Vuitton purse, a top of the line Mercedes Benz, a cast iron skillet from Williams Sonoma (or is that one just me?). The point is, the study found that about 67% of people – regardless of their income – believed their purchase was inauthentic to their “true self.”

And this imposter syndrome even existed when the luxury items were bought on sale.

Does this mean you should avoid making a nice purchase you’ve been saving up for? Not necessarily. One researcher at Cambridge found that people were more likely to report happiness for purchases that fit their personalities. Basically, a die-hard golfer is going to enjoy a new club more than someone who bought the same golf club to try to keep up with their co-workers.

Moral of the story: maybe don’t impulse buy a fancy new Apple watch. Waiting to see if it’s something you really want can save your budget…and your overall happiness.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer got you down? Does it make your job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment without budget worries.

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better equipment, better work

Aside from bringing the boss coffee and donuts for a month before asking, what is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes. In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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