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Opinion Editorials

I Sell Real Estate in My Pajamas

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Exaggeration? Hmm…

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little. But I get up in the morning, head downstairs, grab a cup of coffee, and sit down in my office. I check email, and start to write. And my clients find me. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and despite having built a comfortable online presence and a good client database, I’m treated as an exotic creature by my brokerage firm (and by most other agents in my area.)

Windshield, or Bug?

Someone I respect very much says that as the real estate business model continues to change at warp speed, you are either the windshield or the bug. I really don’t want to be the bug, but I don’t have to be driving the car –I just want to make sure I’m at least in the passenger seat! I wasn’t at the NAR conference in Orlando last week, but got to virtually ‘sit in’ on the panel discussions I wanted to see, courtesy of the Real Estate Zebra, Daniel Rothamel, and his live streaming videos. I could even chat with the other folks who were watching, and get their thoughts on the discussions taking place. Conferencing in pjs; priceless!

Now, I understand that I can’t show houses in my pjs. And that there is a tremendous amount of face to face interaction that comes into play when my clients are ready to meet in person and conduct business. But I can meet new people, establish relationships, and engage in some amazing conversations, all from the comfort of my home office. The tools are changing, the rules of engagement are changing, the overall business model for real estate brokerages is changing (hello, virtual office?). With a background in writing, I can use those skills to put my business expertise out there in a way that folks will appreciate.

You Do It Your Way, I’ll Do It Mine

The most fantastic thing about this business, in my opinion, is that you can run it the way that you want. What I do to be successful isn’t going to work for someone else, and that’s okay. There are clients that are a great fit for me, and folks that I would never be able to work with successfully. I have a huge mount of respect for an agent in my office who asks every single person that he comes in contact with if they want to buy a house. Really. And it works for him. I tend to think that my style probably wouldn’t appeal to his clients, and his style wouldn’t appeal to mine.

So I’m going to keep on writing in my pjs to reach out to my clients, and use that to grow my business. And just maybe, at some point soon, that won’t seem like such a strange way to work.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Mariana

    November 11, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I am right there with you Sistah!

    Funny – I spent the entire day (yesterday) in my jammies, and managed to get 5 home buyers closer to the point of action.

    Also, I never bring my clients to an office anyway. We always meet for lunch or at a coffee shop.

    Since I don’t have to have a huge wall-to-wall office, I can spend my money on better serving my clients.

  2. Jim Whatley

    November 11, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    You get Dress? bad thing is Google just added video and voice to chat. How I will have to start combing my hair. (the precious few i have)

  3. Mike Price

    November 11, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Heather,
    Your style of work isn’t an anomaly in most major markets. Walk into any major mega broker office at any given time of the day or day of the week and you’ll hear that music from The Good The Bad and The Ugly. Tumbleweeds blow by the reception desk and the distant sound of crickets can be heard.

    Does that mean business is THAT bad? No. It just means that the independent business entrepreneurs that make up that office have figured out how to maximize their time and cost of doing business by using their home offices, mobile devices, laptops and digital signatures to get things done. The agent desktop has shifted to Starbucks, well maybe Panera bread, last time I checked Starbucks charged for an Internet connection.

    I really like your windshield and bug analogy 🙂

  4. Stacey Lee

    November 11, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    What is important to me is the result. I can be as effective in my pjs as in my suit.

  5. Candy Lynn

    November 11, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    You mean you have to get up to go to work? PJs, purring cats, coffee, computer & sunrise over the Blue Ridge is how I start my day.
    [___]D

  6. DebOnTheWeb (AKA Deb Agliano)

    November 11, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Absolutely!! The other day I got up from breakfast and walked into my office. My husband asked “how was your commute?!” from the other room.

    I stopped working out of THE office 5.5 years ago when a family member was ill. I found I was so much more efficient working from home I never went back. I love working in my pjs 🙂

  7. Brian Block

    November 11, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    What? No pictures of your in your jammies? I sometimes blog in my boxers. I might don a bathrobe for showings, though.

  8. Mana Tulberg

    November 11, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    I’m there right next to you.
    My husband says I’m in the Pajama industry!! LOL

  9. monika

    November 11, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Jay and I work that way too. We do have an office to go to if needed but we work virtually and like it that way.

  10. Danilo Bogdanovic

    November 11, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    My office is my loft at home and it’s the best and most productive “office” envirtonment I’ve ever had (including previous jobs outside of RE).

    Personally, the virtual office brokerage firm with no overhead and great broker/fellow agent support and training that lets me keep more of my commission than most is what makes me happy.

    That’s the great thing about RE and having your choice of business models and brokerage firms. There’s something for everyone!

    Now, where are my sweats?

  11. Elaine Reese

    November 11, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Oh,I’m SO glad you posted this. I’ve been working out of my home for 2 yrs now and there are days – especially in the cold winter – that I don’t leave my warm, snuggly housecoat. I wake up … nuke my coffee … turn on the laptop … and start work around 7:30. Now, I no longer have to feel guilty about working in PJ’s. Feels good to know I’m not alone.

  12. cin

    November 11, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    I loved this post. I take a lot of grief about not going into the office enough but w/small kids and being enslaved to drop off and pick up school times, my schedule is strict. I find I focus better and get more done at home. And when biz slowed down I started Mommy blogging for a little extra cash. I am so glad to hear that out in the big world there are others just like me! 🙂

  13. Erin Snyder Oakley

    November 11, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    On a cold snowy day I am right there with you too! But I think that image is really important. So most days I get up, make myself look nice, and head out into the world to interact with people face to face. Maybe I am old fashion.

  14. Missy Caulk

    November 11, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    If I don’t have an appointment then I am home in my sweats or PJ’s too. I get so much more done, hate office politics and folks sticking their heads in my door to chat.

    If I am in there I am less productive as are my buyer agents but to each his own. Some folks have the opposite success.

    Heather, this is one reason why I have not got into the mug shots, seesmic. I don’t want to go get dressed and put “my face on”, that’s Southern for make-up.

  15. Ray Carman

    November 11, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    With you on this one! Been running my office/brokerage from home for 2 1/2 years! Amazing the comfort level you get with people! Best part, More time with my family and helping raise my two girls!

  16. David Beattie

    November 12, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Hi Heather, I’m doing the same thing selling Real Estate and Businesses in Adelaide, South Australia. Here I am a rarity as I only turn up in the office to drop off contracts and on the odd occasion meet with clients. I live in my jeans and only get changed into suit and tie for formal meetings and open houses. It is good to see it is a worldwide event. All the best. David

  17. Teresa Boardman

    November 12, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I just put on a coat over my PJ’s when I need to show houses. Sometimes the ears on my bunny slippers get dirty but they clean up just fine in the washing machine. No one understands me but that is OK because I don’t understand them either.

  18. Paula Henry

    November 12, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    The face of real estate has changed dramatically. I love my PJ’s and sitting at my home office. I can communicate with my clients, vendors, my office, and everyone else from the comfprt of my home. Can’t think of a better life in business.

    I hope the dress code here will soon catch up to the one T enjoys in St Paul, cause I could see myself trotting off to a showing in my PJ’s, but my dog keeps taking my slippers. Only one though, so I may be able to find a mismatched pair.

  19. Barry Bevis

    November 13, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I’m working through the home office / broker office right now… I’m adding the concept of starting my own Brokerage out of the house.

    These thoughts were helpful!

  20. Heather Elias

    November 13, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Wow..did I strike a nerve? Thanks for all the responses!! I had no idea that I had such great company in my pj wearing biz model.. (the fuzzy slippers are a great idea, though, will have to try those out..)

    Think any of the big brokerages will take note of how many people seem to be working this way, now? Blogging or not, working out of the home office space seems to be where the industry is moving…

  21. Judy Orr

    November 14, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I also work out of my home in my pj’s. In fact, if I don’t have an appointment, I only change right before my husband is due home. He teases me if I don’t (and I’m sure he’s jealous).

  22. Peter Santiago

    November 15, 2008 at 12:43 am

    I get up in the morning make a cup of coffee, walk my schnauzer along the bay where I live in Miami, then become one with my mac for about 12 hours 🙂

    Wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Peter.

  23. Ro Troia

    November 16, 2008 at 1:13 am

    I didn’t know I had a twin! I’m always working in my PJ’s and love it but it never fails I frequently get a call for an appointment and I’m scrambling to look presentable and like I didn’t just wake up with the bed hair! ugh… and the biggest trick is to get rid of the racoon eyes like ellen degeneres, those will scare anyone! Want to buy a house? NOT…today!

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Opinion Editorials

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded 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 strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and 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 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their 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 was disrupted and people are 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 leaders game plan, 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

7 sure-fire ways to carve out alone time when you’re working from home

(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.

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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, 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 downtime, me-time, and 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 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 while working from home.

  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 keep 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.

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.

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Opinion Editorials

The one easy job interview question that often trips up applicants

(EDITORIAL) The easiest interview questions can be the hardest to answer, don’t let this one trip you up – come prepared!

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Women sitting nervously representing waiting for a remote job interview.

A job interview is tough, and preparing for them can seem impossible. There are some questions you can expect: what is your experience in this position? How would you handle this situation? And so on.

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But what about this question: what makes you happy? Though it may seem straightforward, getting to the right answer is not such an easy path.

Work engagement

According to research, less and less employees feel like they are truly engaged at work. Some blame the work environment but truth be told, it is not a company’s responsibility to make you happy.

Without a passion for what you are doing, you will never enjoy the job.

It is the best case for everyone. More engaged workers are more productive in addition to feeling like they serve a purpose.

Do your due diligence

So before finding yourself in an interview where you have to take an awkward pause before answering this question, the best thing is to do some research. It all starts with the job search.

When looking for a job it is easy to get caught up in high profile company names and perks.

For instance, although “Social Media Coordinator” may not be your thing, the position is open at the cool advertising agency downtown. Or perhaps the company offers flexible hours and free lunch Fridays. The problem is that these perks aren’t worth it in the long run. Working for a cool company can be exciting at first, but it is not sustainable without passion for the position.

It’s important to pay attention to is the position you are applying for.

Is this work that you are passionate about? Take a look at the job responsibilities and functions. Besides figuring out if those are things that you can do, ask yourself if they are things that you want to do. Is this an opportunity that will match your strengths and give you purpose?

Let your passion protrude

With all things considered, when asked “what makes you happy” at the next interview, you will be able to answer honestly. Your passion will be apparent without having to put on an act.

Even if they don’t ask that question, there is no downside to knowing what makes you happy.

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