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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

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

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better equipment, better work

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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