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Opinion Editorials

I’ve Got No Chains To Hold Me Down

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This was a big week in beagledom, what with Uno winning top honors at the Westminster Dog Show. If there had been an obese beagle category, I’m sure Tobey would have come out ahead as well. But I can report he’s proud to be of the same breed, the same company.We’re told as puppies children that we’re judged by the company we keep, rightly or wrongly.

This often makes it difficult to take an objective view of those close to us and leaves us taking a stance in defense of the indefensible. There’s a marketing conference taking place here in the Valley in a couple of months. You may have read about it elsewhere. I’m not attending.

If Brian was the apparent lead for the conference I would have considered purchasing a ticket. Brian has a proven track record of successful Internet marketing and I gladly would pay to hear how he’s done what he’s done. But if it is Brian’s conference, it’s impossible to tell for all the baying coming from the Bloodhound in between another round of personal attacks against those who dare have an independent thought.

You can read all about the latest flare-up of the ongoing cold war between sellsius and Greg elsewhere, along with the inevitable (and tardy) pleas for peace and cordiality; there is no need to rehash them here.

Rather, I suggest this. If this marketing conference is Brian’s baby, the time has come to take a visible lead and separate it from the Bloodhound. If you attach yourself to such an explosive personality, getting hit by blowback is inevitable. And that’s a shame.

To my mind, this conference will be defined as much by those leading lights of the real estate blogosphere who do not attend as by those who do. My hope is to meet up in person with some attendees for a beer or seven before the event; a $150 social hour’s not my cup of tea. In fact, as I learned at my first brokerage, the best learning often comes over a beer and not in a class. That’s especially true depending on the instructor.

Of course, the leading lights aren’t the target audience as they already have learned how to build their business on the Internet. So maybe their absence can be dismissed easily by some. But to others, the silence will be deafening.

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    February 17, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Note: Agent Genius has no position on any of what is happening around the net. Our focus is here on our readers and contributors and we aim to keep it that way. We are absolutely focused on rebarcamp08 and SxSW and our coverage of those events.

    I had hoped that my lack of involvement in such unprofessional events would have signaled that Agent Genius has no position on it at all with the unfortunate exception that some of our friends are involved.

    I do however encourage our writers to cover what they believe to be events of interest and will not ask Jonathan to remove this article in that spirit- he has every right to voice his opinion.

    I would ask that any comments in this post remain professional and that you not fall victim to what some accuse others of doing.

    Regards,
    Benn Rosales
    agentgenius.com

  2. ARDELL

    February 17, 2008 at 3:03 am

    OK Benn,

    Cute dog 🙂

  3. Benjamin Bach

    February 17, 2008 at 6:38 am

    I agree with Jonathan 100%. I’m tired of the whining from certain corners of the RE.net, and I wouldn’t pay to hear the bloviating first hand.

    PS Benn – do we need a disclaimer if we say something not nice about Greg ?

  4. Matthew Rathbun

    February 17, 2008 at 7:21 am

    I hear what Benn is saying and VERY much respected the fact that AG was not involving itself. I’ve simply got enough drama in everyday life. That being said, it seems to me that there are benefits (such as increased traffic) that are a by-product of this type of exchange. So here is my question…. Do individuals wish their blogs to be tabloid rags in the Food Lion check-out aisle, where people read it just to see what that silly celebrity is up to this week; or conversely do you want your blog to be a place where thoughts, ideas and productive exchanges flow? I would rather be a respected entity with a smaller readership, than big numbers drawn by Jerry Springer type tactics. Unless of course, I am blogging for money and product / event promotion as opposed to real content and being of benefit to RE.net.

    I am modifying a joke I heard yesterday: “I once went to a fight…and a blog broke out”… Again, hat’s off to AG concentrating on content. Thus far this is my favorite place to be.

  5. Benjamin Bach

    February 17, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Hey Mathew
    We’re glad to have you here – we try to be a reader centric rael estate blog.

    BenjaminBach.com

  6. Bob Carney

    February 17, 2008 at 7:37 am

    I was going to comment but deleted. (nothing derogatory about here, just the whole bashing thing.)

  7. Jonathan Dalton

    February 17, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Before I wrote anything, I sent a message to Lani to let her know something was coming. Anyone following me on Twitter can attest. And compared to a past post on the subject, I think this one was positively puffy.

    Benn wrote long ago that AG is not the anti-BHB. I can respect that. I think it’s the right way to go. But I don’t believe that means any actions taken there that impact the industry (or our little niche) should go ignored.

    If I were trolling for traffic I could have posted this on my own blog. But by its own mission statement, AG is the place to “talk about whats hot in technology, new and inventive real estate business models, the nature of the real estate industry, hot topics that impact consumers and so much more…”

    We discuss marketing all the time here … sometimes even to those not in Gen. Y. This is as much as anything a discussion of how to market oneself (or not to), presumably much the same lesson that will cost $150 down the line. This is about some of our peers (good on ya, Jay) in our little niche walking away from possible traffic and taking a stand against the type of flaming that shouldn’t be a common occurrence in our real estate blogging community.

    I’m not thrilled with a disclaimer following my post but I am glad that the post was left to stand and that as a contributor here I have the ability to write what I choose. The hypocrisy of selective censorship was one of Joe’s points, as I recall.

    As I wrote, we are judged by the company we keep. For those of us writing for the blogs, that also can mean that BHB is part of the company we keep even if by association and not in fact. Taking a stand doesn’t have to be inflammatory. Look at how Dusting handled it.

  8. Jay Thompson

    February 17, 2008 at 11:15 am

    “Agent Genius has no position on any of what is happening around the net. Our focus is here on our readers and contributors and we aim to keep it that way.”

    I can respect that. But given that your target readership would seem to be real estate professionals (as opposed to say, local “consumers”) I would think that was is happening around the net would be of interest to the bulk of the readership here.

    Perhaps the entity that is Agent Genius has no position, but I don’t think of AG as an “entity”. I think of it as a collection of innovative real estate practitioners.

    Regardless of one’s opinion of Greg, or “the post”, one can not deny that Greg is an influential person in the real estate blogiverse. When such an influential person steps out and writes something that causes an obvious emotional reaction in so many, I would think the AG readership would be interested in hearing what the AG collective thinks.

    Kudos to “the management” for letting the post stand, but to be honest, I don’t get the point of the “disclaimer”.

  9. Linda Davis

    February 17, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    When I first ventured outside my little local blog, I was directed to read all the most popular blogs including BHB. I assumed, because he speaks with such authority, that the top dog was some sort of marketing genious and sold a gazzillion houses a year like Mr. Shaw. I found myself going back again and again to read his stuff and even when I could understand him, I still didn’t get him.

    I thought it was just me….not being intelligent enough to understand him. Then I found out there was a lot of people just like me but most won’t put their opinion in a comment or write a blog post.

    There is a whole group of us who applaud you. You just won’t hear it.

  10. Brad Coy

    February 17, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    From a readers viewpoint: (even if it is inevitable and tardy)

    Every time one of these attacks break out and the pissing matches start, we beyond the few in your inner circle of the RE.net just get left feeling empty.

  11. Teresa Boardman

    February 17, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    . . and exactly why is it we write about BHB or the hound himself. Like I said a month of posts ago, yawn.

  12. Teri L

    February 18, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Tardy, but not a plea-

    >If you attach yourself to such an explosive personality, getting hit by blowback is inevitable.

    It’s not inevitable, it’s a choice people make.

    >And that’s a shame.

    I couldn’t agree more.

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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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