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If you could give a novice blogger one word of advice…

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monetizing-your-blogSometime in 2007 I became the blogging expert in my market centre. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but I think it came a month after I closed my first transaction with an investor who found me through my blog on investing in real estate in Kitchener Waterloo.

My business coach told me that I was part of a small group of Realtors who had closed business from a real estate blog.

Most real estate agents today still don’t have a website, let alone a decent site or a interactive community page like a blog or wiki. How can this be ?

As Teri Lussier points out today at BHB, there is a different paradigm for ‘online’ agents and ‘offline’ agents, and you need to have different conversations with both.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be sitting down with about 20 realtors – some brand new, some experienced; all offline – to start their blogs.

I’ve put on classes at the market centre before about blogging, but tomorrow’s class will be different. We’re meeting in our computer lab at the office and having everyone set up free blogger or wordpress accounts. It’s going to be pretty cool!

What do you think s a brand new (to blogging) agent needs to know about blogging? What can you tell them that would shave months or years off of their learning curve ?

If you were talking to an offline agent, what one piece of advice would you give them about blogging and building your brand online? Leave your answer in the comments.

Benjamin Bach is a REALTOR with Keller Williams Realty in Kitchener Waterloo, Canada (home of the Blackberry) and shows people how they can avoid a mediocre retirement by building wealth through smart Real Estate Investments. You can find out more at Kitchener-Waterloo-Real-Estate-Investments.com

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Before you blog, READ and COMMENT other blogs like agent genius, and BHB, all while avoiding active rain and balancing a laptop on your head.

  2. Jim Duncan

    November 29, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    – Don’t do it with the sole purpose of making money.
    – Read – a lot.
    – Ask questions.
    – Don’t sell.

  3. Jay Thompson

    November 29, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Can’t add much more than the two consummate pros above me.

    Read, read and read some more blogs. You’ll learn from the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    Avoid shameless self-promotion.

    Don’t treat your readers like “leads”. Treat them like…. people.

    Write for your audience, not the search engines.

  4. Jay Thompson

    November 29, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    “… and having everyone set up free blogger or wordpress accounts”

    Personally, I’d skip Blogger.

  5. Jim Duncan

    November 29, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    I gave a presentation yesterday to another company in my market. In response to the “lead” question – I said something like this:

    “I don’t consider people who email me because of my blog to be ‘leads.” They are people who are interested in real estate; that they might buy or sell real estate is great.

    I would also add these two

    – everything you write will be saved FOREVER on the internet
    – Assume that your clients will read your blog.

  6. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    If you’re in a fantastic market say so- but never ever ever infect your fantastic market with Detroits problems- unless you’re in Detroit. In that case, it is all about solutions to win in a tough market. Be honest about your market- but remember, nagativity is viral.

    Sorry, had to slide that one in, and also, do this while standing on one foot hoping up and down with a laptop on your head.

  7. Benjamin Bach

    November 29, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks Benn Jim and Jay!

    Jim, important note about the longevity of blog posts. I’ll make sure to mention that tomorrow!

    Jay, what blogging software would you reccomend for a newbie ?

    Benn – good point. Negativity may sell papers, but it doesn’t sell houses!

  8. Jay Thompson

    November 29, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    I just sent you an email BB.

    WordPress (self-hosted) is the best, IMHO. Probably not for the non-techy though.

    WP.com is a dumbed down version that can be easily transferred to a self-hosted WP blog if/when the time comes.

    Blogger may have the same export capability, I don’t know.

    I’ve just seen a lot of folks that started on Blogger and said they wished they’d just started with WP.

    Typepad is OK, it’s easy to use. More expensive and for the life of me, I can never get track-backs to work right with TP blogs. Heard a lot of TP users saying they wished they’d started with WP too.

    For complete newbies, I’d probably go with WP.com

    My post on longevity and being careful what you say on the internet:

    https://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/be-careful-what-you-say-on-the-internet/287

    It’s *really* important.

  9. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    thanks – and yes, blogger exports to wordpress very nicely.

  10. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    I’ll say something else, you’re going to get better google saturation with blogger. Trust me.

  11. Mariana

    November 29, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Benjamin – (on the down low) KW MAPS will be offering blog coaching in the near future … just FYI … (Look for me at Reunion …)
    I must disagree with Benn on avoiding Active Rain. For the seriously new blogger, AR is a good place IMHO to get an idea of what people can write about, and practice in a relatively safe environment. Just make sure you point them to “recommended bloggers” so they dont wander into the wrong territory.

  12. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    “practice in a relatively safe environment” this is exactly why we say avoid active rain, you should practice by reading and comment other blogs. Safe means you’re not exposed to the audience most agents will need. plus, active rain blows. but I’ll still let you disagree with me.

  13. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    =]

  14. Teresa Boardman

    November 29, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    After a couple years of blogging I don’t know anything. i used to though, don’t agree with all of the advice here but I also know that there is often more than one approach that works and many approaches that do not work.

  15. Jay Thompson

    November 29, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    So T, how ’bout telling us your thoughts? What do you disagree / agree with? Anything to add?

  16. Athol Kay

    November 29, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Never use any words like *** or **** and especially not ***** on your blog. The spambots will attack you.

  17. Athol Kay

    November 29, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    Mmmmmm… *****

  18. Teresa Boardman

    November 29, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    I teach some classes. I talk a lot about content and voice and doing it. I encourage the use of different platforms, I use four of them myself on a regular basis and each has some advantages. Blogger is looking better all the time and has capabilities built in that WP users have to install. I want people writing not installing widgets. There are some does and don’t about setting up a blog. If it is set up correctly the chances for success are much greater. I don’t talk much about SEO I think people spend too much time worrying about it and not enough time writing focused content. I think it is OK to have the goal of making money from it. One of mine is purely for prospecting and I truly enjoy writing it, but I also think it is OK to do it for fun.

    I agree with the advice on active rain people get trapped in it and think blogs are about your friends coming by and commenting. Sales are just as nice as comments.

    I agree with the no selling. There is enough of what I call the “I am all that and a bag of chips” marketing out there and consumers ignore it.

    I don’t beleive in treating people like leads either and no longer use the word. No one wants to be a lead, I want to start a conversation, develop a relationship and meet people. It is about helping the people who live inside of your computer find you.

    I beleive pictures are very important.

    It keeps changing and I keep learning. I encourage people to look outside the real estate industry for how to’s and new ideas.

    The trackbacks on my typepad blogs are moderated. If you leave a trackback it won’t go through unless i say OK. I have to to protect myself from spam. my comments are not moderated I monitor via blackberry and zap spam. links can be left in the comments, which serves as a trackback.

    Forgive my last comment, I am in a great deal of pain this evening and should not be on the internet. I am passionate about blogging and I got carried away.

  19. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    “It keeps changing and I keep learning. I encourage people to look outside the real estate industry for how to’s and new ideas.”

    So true.

  20. Brian Brady

    November 29, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    I’m going to agree with Benn about the “protective cloak” of Active Rain; I was terrified with my first BHB post, last December because of the AR bubble.

    Nothwithstanding, AR doesn’t suck.

  21. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Well, for fear of derailing Benjamin’s post, I’ll agree with you, Brian, ar doesn’t suck. It’s just not for me. ;]

  22. Drew Meyers

    November 29, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Be honest and write about what you’re interested/passionate about — “forced blogging” (just pumping out content for the sake of having more content) doesn’t usually work

  23. Athol Kay

    November 29, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    I think Blogger does get a bad rap overall. It’s instantly out of the box more functional than WordPress is by a long shot.

    Blogjet is the only thing that makes WordPress tolerable.

  24. Brian Brady

    November 30, 2007 at 12:46 am

    Benjamin:

    Transparent passion, not passionate transparency. Let the readers see your angst, your elation, your zeal.

    Read my Canadian investor posts on MRR. If you can’t grasp that I’m utterly despondent about the US$ slide, read the petty jabs about the Cup being in Anaheim. They’re petty but they show that I’m human and crushed that our economy is sliding; so crushed that all I have is a stupid sporting event to hang my hat on.

    That’s my angst

  25. Teresa Boardman

    November 30, 2007 at 7:06 am

    Funny I hate blog jet, but then I don’t need it with typepad. I agree with Athol about blogger. My mobile blog is on it and I impressed with the technology and ease of use. I encourage new bloggers to try it. content can easily be exported into another platform if necessary. Blogger is made by Google and is compatible with many other programs. With a couple of clicks a photo in flickr can be turned into a post on blogger. The mobile blogging is drop dead cool. Take a picture with a phone, add a few words and post. Love it! They keep improving it too.

  26. Charleston real estate blog

    November 30, 2007 at 7:15 am

    I’ll chime in with a couple of thoughts for the newly minted blogger starting out. I spent at least a couple of months reading everything in the blogosphere before writing my first post. I took a month before even commenting on another post.

    Once you start posting, be yourself and be real. And don’t try to sell.

    I hope Jay is right about WP because my new blog, with his help, will be on the WP platform.

  27. Jay Thompson

    November 30, 2007 at 7:30 am

    “Blogjet is the only thing that makes WordPress tolerable.”

    Huh. I don’t even know what blogjet is. I’m guessing some sort of editor?

    I’ll humbly retract my statement about Blogger. I looked at it about three years ago and shouldn’t have popped off about it. LOTS of things change in that length of time (though I do hear a lot of people say they wish they’d gone straight to WP. But since it can export now, who cares?)

    I’ll stick with the thought that if you want the ability to completely customize a site, WP is the only way to go.

    WP can be a PITA at times, but it’s pretty powerful stuff with a huge user base.

  28. Teresa Boardman

    November 30, 2007 at 7:46 am

    Jay – blog jet is an editor. Yes blogger has changed when I first looked at it there was not a lot going on.

    For the record I totally customized my typepad blog but modifying the CSS. They can be totally custom. I would not recommend it for a new bloggers. There is a learning curve with CSS. Typepad like wordpress offers many templates and they can easily be modified for a custom look. Widgets, gadgets doodads and functions can be added with a couple of clicks using a library found on the typepad site.

  29. Mariana

    November 30, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Benn- Thank you so much for letting me disagree with you. You are so very kind. 😉
    Here’s the scoop:
    1st: I have closed 8 transactions from AR – Consumers who found me there… 2 even before the Localism site was up. That does not count the 4 direct referrals that I have closed/still working with because of AR.
    2nd: Personally, I never would have been a blogger if it weren’t for Advanced Access telling me to go start a blog on AR (WTF?)
    3rd: For me, AR was a platform for me to jump off into the Blogosphere. With the exception of Athol, I have found all my other MUST-READ bloggers through their AR blog or a recommendation from an AR post.
    4th: I believe that bloggers that come from AR are better commenters in general – as they have been trained to comment right out of the AR womb.
    5th: I still use AR as an idea generator. I flip through the thousands of posts, and even in the most lame, I can sometimes get a great post idea.

    My point (yes. I have one…): AR can be great tool for people who are just starting out and have no flipping idea what “blog” means. Sure, many people do not use that community correctly … but what does it really mean to “use a community correctly?”

    Topics for Benjamin:
    1. How to format your post to include the use of bulletted points, pictures, paragraph breaks and bold text to make it more entertaining for the reader.
    2. How to blog to your niche market.
    3. The importance of internal and external keyworded links.
    4. The importance of subscribing to Blog-Help Blogs

    Woah!! I just hijacked an entire screenshot!

  30. Benn Rosales

    November 30, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Dear Hijacker, ;]

    “AR can be great tool” I believe everything you just wrote, but believe this is the greatest point you made, with one exception- AR can be ONE of a great MANY tools. If new bloggers understand that simple fact, they will be so much better off in the long run.

  31. Mariana

    November 30, 2007 at 9:11 am

    I have one blog on Blogger and several on WP (niche blogs). I like the ability to post directly from WORD2007 to WP – pictures and all.

  32. Mariana

    November 30, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Yes. One of MANY tools. 😉

  33. Athol Kay

    November 30, 2007 at 9:33 am

    Blogjet is a blog editor. I write all my blogs from the same editor and just toggle which I want it to post too.

    After hearing for months how much better WordPress was than Blogger, I made the switch and discovered that it was not much more than BS. The WordPress default editor is shockingly bad. The only thing that kept me on WordPress was getting Blogjet.

    Also Blogger never gave me a tenth of the spam WordPress does. I wish there was a way to subscribe to comments in Blogger though.

    “With the exception of Athol, I have found all my other MUST-READ bloggers through their AR blog or a recommendation from an AR post.”

    QFT Mariana. 🙂

    (Quoted For Truth)

  34. Teri Lussier

    November 30, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    This is too late to be useful this morning, but for the rest of eternity: The most important thing, I think, for a novice blogger to know is that blogging should be fun- truly fun. If it’s a chore, don’t do it. Please- I ain’t too proud to beg. If you don’t enjoy it, neither will anyone else.

    As for platforms- WordPress. If you can’t set it up (I can’t) find a local geek who will do it and pay them or barter. It’s not the easiest to use, but it’s brilliant, and from what I’ve seen, it’s the best for branding yourself. You can have a blog that looks unique, memorable, and “you”.

    And, BB, thank you for the mention. 😉

  35. Courtney

    March 2, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I think this is so great that you are going to be doing this class. I have been out there trying so hard to make agents understand the importance of getting on the web. I think hand holding at first is probably going to break the biggest barriers.

    I also love AR:), but do enjoy doing my own blogs now more – I use WordPress hosted on my own site.

    Good luck!

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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?

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Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.

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Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?

Conclusion

At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

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Opinion Editorials

How a simple period in your text message might be misinterpreted: Tips to improve your virtual communication

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) Text, email, and IM messages may be received differently depending on your communication style and who you’re communicating with. Here’s some ways to be more mindful.

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Black woman smiling in communication talking on phone and laptop in front of her.

Life is full of decisions, learning, hopefully some adventure, and “growth opportunities” through our careers and work. One that some of us may have never considered is how our text, email or IM communication comes across to the receiver – thus providing us a growth opportunity to take a look at our own personal communication styles.

It may have never occurred to us that others would take it a different way. After all, we know ourselves, we can hear our voices in our heads. We know when we are joking, being sarcastic, or simply making a statement. The way we communicate is built upon how we were raised, what our English teachers stressed, and even what we’ve been taught through our generational lens.

NPR put out an article recently, “Are Your Texts Passive-Aggressive? The Answer May Lie in Your Punctuation”. This article discussed what to consider in regards to your punctuation in text.

“But in text messaging — at least for younger adults — periods do more than just end a sentence: They also can set a tone.” Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and author of the book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, told NPR’s All Things Considered last year that when it comes to text messaging,”the period has lost its original purpose. Rather than needing a symbol to indicate the end of a sentence, you can simply hit send on your message.”

While it may seem silly that the receiver would think you are mad at them because you used a period, here are some things to consider in our virtual communication now that we are all much more digital:

  • There are no facial expressions in a text except for emojis (which, even then, could be left up to misinterpretation)
  • There’s no sound of voice or inflection to indicate tone
  • We are emailing, texting, and sending instant messages at an alarming rate now that we are not having as many in-person interactions with our colleagues

Gen Z (b. 1995 – 2015), who are the most recent generation to enter the workplace, grew up with much quicker forms of communication with their earlier access to tech. They’ve had a different speed of stimulation via YouTube videos, games, and apps. They may have never experienced the internet speed via a dial-up modem so they are used to instantaneous results.

They also have quickly adapted and evolved through their use of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok. The last two platforms are designed for pretty brief attention spans, which indicates our adaptation to fast communication.

Generational shaming is out and uncomfortable but necessary conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion are in (which includes ageism). You can’t just chalk it up as “those kids” don’t understand you, or that they need to learn and “pay their dues”.

So if you are of an older generation and even a manager, here are some considerations that you can take regarding your virtual communications:

1. Consider having yourself and your team take a DiSC assessment.

“The DiSC® model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviors with others — within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships.

DiSC profiles help you and your team:

  • Increase your self-knowledge: How you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems
  • Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
  • Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members

This quiz is designed to help you identify your main communication style. It helps you to be more conscious of how your style may come across to others. Does it builds relationships, or create silent conflicts? It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change, but you can adapt your style to best fit your team.

2. Always ask your direct reports about their preferred method of communication (call, text, email, IM, meeting).

Retain this information and do your best to meet them where they are. It would also be helpful to share your preferred method with them and ask them to do their best to meet you where you are.

3. Consider putting composed emails in your drafts if you are fired up, frustrated, or down right angry with your team.

You may feel like you are being direct. But since tone will be lost virtually, your message may not come across the way you mean it, and it may be de-motivating to the receiver. Let it sit in drafts and come back to it a little bit later. Does your draft say all you need to say, or could it be edited to be a little less harsh? Would this be better as a meeting (whether video or phone) over a written communication? Now the receiver has a chance to see you and have a conversation rather than feeling put on blast.

And finally, be curious.

Check out Lindsey Pollak’s books or podcast on the best ways to work with a variety of generations in your organization. Lindsey is a Multigenerational Work Expert and she does a great job explaining her research to drive multigenerational workplace success. She gives ideas on what all employees, managers, and even corporations should consider as we experience so many generations and communication styles in the workplace at the same time.

You may laugh that your children or employees think you are mad at them when you use a period in a text. But there’s a lot more behind it to consider. It may take adaptation on all sides as communication styles and the “future of work” continue to evolve.

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