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Opinion Editorials

Holy “change in the weather” Batman!

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In real estate I find myself searching for sunny days.

We all want to go back to the glory days of real estate when transactions were as plentiful as bailouts seem to be these days. I wasn’t around for those days, but like anyone with a license, I’ve heard the stories. Agents, kicked back in their chairs, surrounded by their office plaques for “Rookie Of The Year” and “Top Producer”, telling me about the good ‘ole days. Sharing stories of how they juggled 20 closings in a week and still had time to take the family to Disneyland. How they listed a property at 9AM only to have multiple offers by sundown. How they couldn’t even use their transaction software to write up contracts, because there just wasn’t time to type that much info and still call their clients with the offer.

Although I have not seen that sort of activity lately (wish I had that news to deliver), I have seen a subtle change. For me it seems as if I’m juggling 50 clients (even though its considerably less) and I couldn’t be more happy about it. I’m busy. I’m answering phone calls, sending email, and showing properties. Its all coming together suddenly and I love it. I have far to go, but I am moving in the direction I always intended to go.

So what caused this change?

I attribute it to a bunch of factors. One, the news is finally sinking in that San Antonio isn’t going to fall off the face of the earth in real estate terms. We’re performing better than most. I’m not going to lie and say its all sunshine and roses (it snowed here last night and all plant life in my yard is dead from the drought), but we’re holding our own. Two, I’ve been diligently chipping away. Instead of crying that I had no clients, I’ve been out and about…finding them. I’ve spoken to anyone who looked at me. I’ve spoken to some who didn’t. I’ve done open houses, made phone calls (not cold calls…ewww), and followed up with everyone I knew. I sent out letters to some expired listings (and currently have one of them listed). I tried to continue blogging as much as I could to get better at it and read more than my fair share of educational materials. I’ve made my moves with my website (which is still incomplete but making my phone ring) and tried Twitter and ActiveRain as outlets for myself (I am of the “be yourself” variety and if a client comes from that, great…if not, I’m learning new things everyday). Its been a blur of activity and I’m not ready to stop anytime soon.

Doing all this brings new questions to my mind.

Of course, with my new found workload I find myself learning quickly about time management in order to stave off the problems of “there’s not enough hours in the day.” Having said that, I’m a day late with this post. Why? I took time off last night to spend time with my wife (well, time off after a long evening of work). As much as I love my work, I love her more. I had to stop work, walk away from my computer, and sit with her and talk. It was wonderful. A few stolen moments from work only served to recharge my batteries and bond me with my wife some more. Sorry readers, you come second. With the work load, I am trying to find balance and still work harder than the average agent. Being newer, it still takes me a little while longer to do the things some of you could do in your sleep.

New questions leads to new learning opportunities, so I’m excited by it all. When I stumble, I look to the blogs and read stories of agents facing the same things I do. Agents who have years more experience than I do, but face the same things I do. I guess this post is a bit “preaching to the choir” for many of you, but for those that are just getting started or facing a new challenge, I wanted to write this, so you know the things I have learned…there is change in the air and although the national news is depressing most nights, there are people coming off the fence. They are coming off the fence, you just need to find the right fence to be next to. The easiest way to do that is to go to every fence you can find and let it be known that you’re there, ready to catch buyers and sellers as they slip off the fence and help them down safely.

When the rainy season begins, where will you be?

I’ve seen several agents leave recently. Agents who I never suspected would walk away from the business. Those agents gave up hope and stopped trying. They have their reasons, I’m sure, and I’m not knocking their reasons, but I know that I made a decision to be an agent and I will do so with the same passion I went at playing guitar in a band for 14 years. I loved what I did and I now love what I do. I will do what it takes to succeed and build a business that sustains itself even when the weather shifts once again. The weather in real estate is about as reliable as the weather forecast in Philly (not very). I will go through droughts, floods, snow storms, and hail…but there will always be sunny days.

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Steve Mattison

    December 11, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Well done Matt, honest and encouraging, keep on keeping on man, you have the right attitude and perspective. Thanks for being real and telling it like it is!

  2. Matt Stigliano

    December 12, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Steve – The way I see it we all get discouraged at time, frustrated, mad, whatever. As long as I keep trying I can’t say I’m not doing what I can. Much like music, real estate is what you make it. A little luck (finding great clients) is a good thing in both, but no matter what, you’ve got to work it.

  3. Missy Caulk

    December 12, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Matt, I am seeing it too, one guy last year who sold in a rural area, with 19 listings said, “I’m done”.

    In a way I wish I had started in a down market because I still long for the glory days being primarily a listing agent.

    But, we don’t control the market we just adjust to it and do what is necessary to keep rockin’.

  4. Gary McNinch

    December 12, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Matt,
    Great job and it will get easier as you get smoother with your systems after you get the client. Experience will help.

    And you already have the BIGGEST part figured out. Your wife is way more important than work.

    Oh and give yourself credit, there is no LUCK in getting clients, you are putting yourself out there with your eyes and your mouth open.

    List and Sell (you are getting there quickly) Gary @ RentonHomeFinder.com

  5. Steve Sherron

    December 13, 2008 at 8:51 am

    I am one of those new agents that started in the worst economic periods of human kind. I’m keeping my license active, but I have walked away from actively working the business at this time. I simply had to face reality in able to try and earn an income.

    I was an extremely busy agent with limited payoff. Agents who can hang on right now, will benefit if this market ever recovers. My advice to any agent right now, new or veteran, would be to make darn sure you are not spending all your time on “wild goose chases”. The public is very knowledgeable as to what is going on in this market and they will use and abuse an agent nowadays. An eager agent will end up spending hours of research, emails and property reviews only to discover they are working with bottom-feeders who have no intention of buying.

    I refuse to work with buyers right now because there are too few out there. I will only list properties. The following is my opinion, if you can survive for the next year and you want to prosper, List, List, List. If a buyer contacts you, send him to another broker in your office under a referral. The other agent spins his/her wheels and if they buy, you still get paid. Spend your every waking moment on listings only. Disregard everything else.

    When this market breaks, you will have a sales force of hundreds of agents in your area selling your listings that you have worked while everyone else was working with so-called buyers that never materialized. Then you will be sitting back with your Agent of the Year awards.

  6. Matt Stigliano

    December 13, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Missy – I refuse to be a new agent that drops off the face of the earth. Let me do it after I’ve succeeded, then I won’t mind so much. I’m actually happy to have started when I did. It hasn’t been great for the wallet, but it has taught me a lot and allowed me to focus on things so I can learn more while I have the time. If I was swamped with business from day one, I might not be where I’m at learning-wise.

    Gary – I notice how each little experience I go through makes me a) better at what I do and b) more confident in doing it. My wife is always more important than anything. She’s been by my side through a lot of good and some bad even. She never flinches and always keeps me going. She supported me through the biggest decision of my life (walking away from music and into real estate) and it wasn’t an easy time. There was a lot of emotion and psychology tied up in that (it was like getting divorced), but she supported me the whole way. I am one hell of a lucky man. My reference to “luck” was more about if you and I both went out and met 100 new people, you might find three clients, I might find none. The luck of the draw was in whether those people you’re meeting and getting to know are actual willing and able buyers. There is skill in there too, but there is an element of randomness to meeting a client blindly.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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