Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Join the Committme.



Scottish Parliament Building, Committee Room 1

What do you do when you feel you’ve had enough?

Do I really need to publish the links again? Unless you’re on a remote desert island with no internet access or an agent who really doesn’t care much about your future, you know what links I’m talking about. Oh alright, one more time and then I swear I won’t like to them again (in this post). Issue #1 and Issue #2. So now that you’re up to speed (as if you weren’t) please allow me to continue.

All the commotion caused by these two issues over the last week or so has been amazing to me. I learned more about IDX, NAR, HUD, MLS, and OMG then I knew was possible. As I delved further into the issues and commented on posts and read other agents’ thoughts, I started to learn more and care more about what’s happening outside of my transactions. I have always taken an interest in these sorts of stories on AgentGenius, but something about this really got my attention. The more I talked about it to others, the more I found people asking me questions and caring about what was going on. Many were in the dark. I’d like to think I shed some light on the subject for them.

Did I just make a difference?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks I face as a newly crowned one year old Realtor® is the fact that I am new. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that I don’t mind the moniker, but I have to admit…sometimes it deters me. I’m surrounded by people with more knowledge and experience, but despite that fact, I am treated as a peer. It doesn’t mean that I’m oozing confidence every second of the day though. I do have my moments of doubts and fears, but when you see yourself taking a role and having people look to you for opinions and advice, you start to think that maybe you shouldn’t be having them.

I’m making a difference by being vocal and spreading the word. I’m proud of that. Fact is, it’s not enough. In six months I fear no one will be listening to me talk more about these issues – some of you will, but so many won’t. That’s discouraging, but unfortunately, it seems to be part of human nature.

It is time for me to take a step forward.

So today, I am announcing my new “Committme Campaign.” I am going to start working towards a goal of being on a committee on the national level. I looked through the requirements for them. Guess what? I’m not qualified. Most of the committees require some form of state or local experience. I did some research. Guess what? The Texas Association Of Realtors® is about to open up the committees. On May 28, 2009, I will be able to put forth my information to possibly join a state level committee. I have begun gathering information and asking questions of some local agents who serve to see if they have any advice for me and I want something from you, my AgentGenius friends. I want you to “committme.” Don’t let me back down, give excuses, hem or haw. Don’t let me dodge this, forget it, or sleep in late that day. I need you to help me do this.

If you have any advice, I’m all ears. I figure if I can make a move to join a committee or two, then I’m a few steps closer to helping build the National Association Of Realtors® that I want to see in the future. It’s a long road and it won’t happen overnight, but if I can make a tiny dent to repay all of you for what you’ve taught me, then I feel I’ve done my job. I don’t want it to be a lonely journey either, so I hope some of you will join me. I know I’ll get frustrated, but I hope you’ll keep me on track. I know I’ll curse myself for this commitment later, but I hope you’ll remind me of what got me here. I need your help to help me help all of us. I won’t save the world, but I’ll at least leave a mark.

photo courtesy of ILoveMyPiccolo

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."

Continue Reading


  1. Ken Brand

    May 21, 2009 at 6:55 am

    I wish you speed, patience and endurance, you already have brains and moxie. Go Get’em.

  2. Brad Nix

    May 21, 2009 at 7:32 am

    It is a commitment of time (oh the hours and hours), energy and money (not all expenses will be reimbursed and the lost business due to your time investment is worth noting). However, you will find good people trying to do what they think is right.

    Unfortunately, you will be classified as the ‘young techie’ and in their eyes that means you know how to use the internet well, mastered the pda, and generally have nothing else of value to add beyond answering tech support questions. Please fight thru this stereoype and prove your value by being forceful with your ideas for improvement. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  3. Vance Shutes

    May 21, 2009 at 8:59 am


    Having served in both committee and leadership positions at both my local and State Boards of Realtors, I salute your commitment to giving back to your profession! Thank you, and may your example serve as encouragement for many others to get involved in their local Boards. As your business grows, and the demands on your time grows accordingly, the service you provide at the local and State Boards will help you become more laser-focused on each transaction, client, and Board activity. Go Matt, Go!

  4. Benn Rosales

    May 21, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Question everything, and always put the needs of the membership above your own, and the day you can no longer be who you are is the day to step down.

    I’ve always known you were a cut above, you have my support, although I’m a lousy alarm clock.

  5. Louise Scoggins

    May 21, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Wow, Matt, I am impressed! I envy your committment to become involved. As a busy Realtor / mom / wife, I am always hesitant to get involved with committees b/c I am afraid it will detract from my business or family. I wish you the best of luck and will be following along with your progress! Kudos to you!!

  6. Lani at Agent Genius

    May 21, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Matt, I’m a great alarm clock and we support you!!! 🙂

  7. Mark Brian

    May 21, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Great news you are taking a step to get involved. I have been hesitating to do so myself because I never seem to have enough time to get eveything done. But maybe I need to finally break down and try to make a difference by getting involved.

  8. Matt Stigliano

    May 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Ken – You’re showing your age using words like “moxie.” Haha. Good thing my mom used to use that word or I’d be running to a dictionary right now. Thank you Ken, thank you.

    Brad – All things I’ve considered. My answer to the time/money issue is simple. If I don’t try to change and work within our various associations, my money and time won’t matter if I let them take it all away. You can help – keep doing what you’re doing. (I don’t want to admit this in public, but you’re one of my real estate idols.)

    Vance – That’s an interesting take on the time commitment. By using more time, you learn to focus more. It’s true, but I hadn’t thought of it that way.

    Benn – You said:

    Question everything, and always put the needs of the membership above your own, and the day you can no longer be who you are is the day to step down.

    I have never backed down from a question, even if it sounds naive or stupid. Part of this is about the needs of the membership (myself included). And as for stepping down – I left a great, fun, and lucrative job for that sort of reason. I loved being a rockstar, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be anymore. I felt as if I wasn’t serving the needs of my fellow band mates or the fans. For lack of a better phrase – I was half-assing it. I left.

    Louise – I don’t have enough time as it is, but the fact is, I can no longer use time as an excuse to watch everything from the sidelines. If I can’t be a part of it all, then I can’t complain near as much as I do.

    Lani – Thanks. You know, I still think the “Million Realtor Plus Lani March On TAR” is a great idea.

    Mark – I think you should. I’m scared to death of the time commitment, the unknown, the new…but if I don’t try, then I’m just another warm body doing my job. I want to see real estate move forward and although I’m a realist and don’t think I’m going to walk in there and change the world – if I can change one tiny little thing, I feel I’ve done what I came to do.

    I actually hated this post. I was frazzled yesterday. I mean what I said in it, I just wish it had been better written. In fact, most would call me insane for attempting this and I missed one amazing bit of word play – “Committme”/”Commit Me” (insane, get it?). From here on out, I will have Ken Brand ghost write all my word play.

  9. Craig Barrett

    May 21, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Get it! Keep the faith and focus past the inevitable distractions. I got your back 🙂

  10. Vicki Lloyd

    May 21, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Good for you Matt!

    My motto has always been to get involved or shut up and suffer the consequences.

    I’m on my local MLS committee, and the Pro-Standards committee at my Board of Realtors. Participating in the meetings and discussions is valuable education, and there’s even a chance of making a difference!

    Some of the old timers (who think “We’ve always done it this way”) can be educated and influenced when they get to know and respect you.

    Just be gentle, or you will scare them away!

    Good luck!

  11. Brad Nix

    May 21, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Matt, you’re gonna rock your local and state associations – just be yourself!

    I just can’t get past the fact that two of your supporters belong to the same local association here in Cherokee County, GA. Louise Scoggins, way to show up and support Matty Rockstar! Now if I could just get you to help me make some changes in our local association;) Start by sending me your ideas for improvement, you know how to contact me – or just say when and I’ll be the beers so we can talk in person.

  12. Matt Stigliano

    May 21, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Vicki – That’s a good motto. We lived life the same way in the band. Stop your whining and start your working. We all broke the theory from time to time and complained or moaned, but it only made us work harder. Try touring England for two weeks (it doesn’t take much to tour through there) knowing full well that you haven’t sold a record. Guess what? Those tours of crappy clubs in the worst places made us into someone in the UK. Sometimes you have to suffer a bit to be where you need to be, but crying about it won’t get you anywhere. I’ll try to be gentle, but I will share my thoughts and work to learn more and explain what I already know.

    Brad – I learned from you early on to be myself. You were the first one to really drive that home to me with those early email conversations. Louise could be a great ally for you…you just need to convince her you won’t take all of her time.

    Louise – If anyone would be awesome to work with in the local associations, it would be Brad. Plus he’s offering to “be the beer” (I think a tried that once after reading a Zen book and having a couple of beers – I don’t remember the results).

  13. Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

    May 21, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I’m also involved on the local level- on my association’s board of directors – I’ll likely be pres-elect next year and recently became involved in my regions MLS committee. These issues do make me feel I need to get involved even more either at the state or national level – sometimes a fresh viewpoint is welcomed, especially if it is well reasoned and not argumentative. You can definitely make a difference locally – so I hope you get whatever committee assignments that you want. Actually, I did volunteer for my MLS committee a couple of years ago and was asked to be on the website committee instead – I paid my dues there (that’s how I was asked to be a director and then back again to MLS committe). So if you don’t get on the exact committees you would like right away, get involved with something – you will get there eventually.

  14. Matt Stigliano

    May 21, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Carolyn – Great advice and encouragement…thanks! I just sent an email to our last chairman of our local board to see if he could offer me any advice. I’ve been in contact with a few “big names” in our association (I figure they’ll at least know my name by the time I get there!) and just that experience is becoming fun and firing me up just a little more each time I get an email. I see your point about being open to other committees and I am, there’s a few I can’t imagine I would perform well on (right now), but I have a couple in mind so far.

  15. Paula Henry

    May 21, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Matt – I commend your dedication to enacting change and yes, it will be slow progress. Every little bit helps though. Every voice counts.

    I got your Commit Me, and insane, it may be. I sat with a few board members today and have to say, it’s painful to watch and try to educate those opposed to growth and progression in the industry. I don’t think my board is ready for me 🙂

    With people like you and many others here, who knows, one day we may take back A few baby steps at a time.

  16. Bill Lublin

    May 22, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Matt: A great big Man Hug AND a chest bump on top of that- Your taking steps to participate in the governance of the REALTOR movement is what is needed for NAR to move towards the future.
    When I first got involved in my local association, my broker (who was a former board president) said to me, “If you leave the association in a little better shape than when you found it, you’ve done a good job” I’ve tried to keep that advice in my mind since then, and its always served me well. Hope it does the same for you.
    Looks like you still rock dude!

  17. South City Lights

    May 22, 2009 at 6:01 am

    Join the Committme. | Real Estate Blog Magazine – Real Estate …

  18. Louise Scoggins

    May 22, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Hey Matt, Yep I know I can learn soooo much from Brad, he is a local Real Estate icon (at least in my eyes). I am amazed at all he does and am glad you have found encouragement from his words. I again state I am envious of your “just do it” attitude. It’s definitely something I can learn from. I think it’s great that your passion for your industry and the change to come has caused you to step up to the plate…it has definitely made me think about some things.

  19. Matt Stigliano

    May 22, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Craig – How did I miss you in my replies? D’oh! Thanks for the back up. I think I’ll have a lot of good back up when I get stuck, frustrated, or feel a bit lost.

    Paula – As I’ve said, your post really got this rolling in me. Why sit back and wait for changes like that to come about when I can “head them off at the pass.” I owe you (and a lot of AgentGenius people in general) for helping craft me into who I am. I took my own self and applied the principles I started to learn here and now I feel I’m growing in many ways. I don’t think your board is ready for you…I think you’ve proved that.

    Bill – Just got an email this morning from our past-chairman with some great advice and encouragement. He’s the kind of guy I thought wouldn’t take a minute for a young guy like me…he’s too important, I thought. I had the same thoughts about you when I first read your posts. Not because of the way you acted, but just a simple pre-conceived notion because you were a “big-wig.” You proved me wrong long ago and with that thought in mind, I took a shot and sent him an email. I got the response. I’m learning to not pre-judge other agents and people in roles of “authority” in real estate. One more step for me. I love the quote and will do my best to live by it.

    Louise – As my The Stigliano Chronicles is geared towards newer agents, I thought it was important to have this conversation about my “Committme Campaign” here. Perhaps I could inspire one or two of them to join in too. I definitely believe that if more of those of us join in and participate in the associations and boards, we can move real estate to new levels.

  20. Austin Smith -

    May 22, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Do it to it, Matt! I applaud you for coming to this conclusion in light of last week’s controversy. How do you fix what’s broken? Become proactive, that’s how! Good luck with your goal, Matt…hopefully you’re duties won’t cut into you’re blogging time.

  21. Todd Tarson

    May 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Matt, I applaud your attitude and believe it is the right one to have if you indeed are passionate about this industry and more importantly, your clients.

    I decided to get involved with my local Association soon after becoming a Realtor Member. It hasn’t been all daisy’s and roses (but I’m not a flower kinda dude anyway). It took time and sacrifice but I’ve been blessed with more knowledge that has directly helped me become a better practitioner… and my clients thank me for it.

    The change you want will only come when you put your effort into it. Do not wait around for anyone else to change, you be the agent of change. It is needed now more than ever and the changes need to process through in a timely fashion. Our industry requires these changes.

    Bottom line… do it. I wish you good fortune and much success.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

Follow these steps to change a negative mindset into something of value

(EDITORIAL) Once you’re an expert, it’s easy to get caught in the know-it-all-trap, but expertise and cynicism age like fine wine, and can actually benefit you/others if communicated effectively.



Man on couch drawing on ipad representative of change to the negative mindset.

In conversation with our friend John Steinmetz, he shared some thoughts with me that have really stuck with us.

He has expanded on these thoughts for you below, in his own words, and we truly believe that any individual can benefit from this perspective:

Over the last few years I have realized a few things about myself. I used to be trouble, always the dissenting opinion, always had to be on the opposite side of everyone else.

Then, I started reading everything I could get my hands on dealing with “how to change your attitude,” “how to be a better team player,” etc.

Over the course of that time I realized something. I realized that there was nothing wrong with me, only something wrong with how I communicate.

Unfortunately, once someone sets the context of who you are, they will never see you as anything else. I was labeled a troublemaker by those who didn’t want to “rock the boat” and that was that.

In my readings of books and articles by some of the most prominent technical leaders, they all had something in common. Paraphrasing of course, they all said “you can’t innovate and change the world by doing the same thing as everyone else.” So, in actuality, it wasn’t me, it was my communication style. For that reason, you have to say it out loud – “I will make waves.”


There are two things I reference in physics about making waves.

  • “A ship moving over the surface of undisturbed water sets up waves emanating from the bow and stern of the ship.”
  • “The steady transmission of a localized disturbance through an elastic medium is common to many forms of wave motion.”

You need motion to create waves. How big were the waves when the internet was created? Facebook? Just think about the natural world and there are examples everywhere that follow the innovation pattern.

You see it in the slow evolution of DNA and then, BAM, mutations disrupt the natural order and profoundly impact that change.


Where I was going wrong was, ironically, the focus of my career which is now Data. For those who do not know me, I am a product director, primarily in the analytics and data space.

More simply: For the data generated or consumed by an organization, I build products and services that leverage that data to generate revenue, directly or indirectly through the effectiveness of the same.

I was making the mistake of arguing without data because “I knew everything.” Sound familiar?

Another ironic thing about what I do is that if you work with data long enough, you realize you know nothing. You have educated guesses based on data that, if applied, give you a greater chance of determining the next step in the path.

To bring this full circle, arguing without data is like not knowing how to swim. You make waves, go nowhere, and eventually sink. But add data to your arguments and you create inertia in some direction and you move forward (or backward, we will get to this in a min).

So, how do you argue effectively?

First, make sure that you actually care about the subject. Don’t get involved or create discussions if you don’t care about the impact or change.

As a product manager, when I speak to engineering, one of my favorite questions is “Why do I care?” That one question alone can have the most impact on an organization. If I am told there are business reasons for a certain decision and I don’t agree with the decision, let’s argue it out. Wait, what? You want to argue?

So, back to communication and understanding. “Argue” is one of those words with a negative connotation. When quite simply it could be defined as giving reasons or citing evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.

Words matter

As many times as I have persuaded others to my point of view, I have been persuaded to change mine.

That is where my biggest change has occurred.

I now come into these situations with an open mind and data. If someone has a persuasive argument, I’m sold. It is now about the decision, not me. No pride.

Moving forward or backward is still progress (failure IS an option).

The common thought is that you have to always be perfect and always be moving forward. “Failure is not an option.”

When I hear that, I laugh inside because I consider myself a master of controlled failure. I have had the pleasure to work in some larger, more tech-savvy companies and they all used controlled experimentation to make better, faster decisions.

Making waves is a way of engaging the business to step out of their comfort zone and some of the most impactful decisions are born from dissenting opinions. There is nothing wrong with going with the flow but the occasional idea that goes against the mainstream opinion can be enough to create innovation and understand your business.

And it is okay to be wrong.

I am sure many of you have heard Thomas Edison’s take on the effort to create the first lightbulb. He learned so much more from the failures than he did from success.

”I didn’t fail. I just found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb; I only needed to find one way to make it work.” – Thomas Edison

It is important to test what you think will not work. Those small failures can be more insightful, especially when you are dealing with human behaviors. Humans are unpredictable at the individual level but groups of humans can be great tools for understanding.

Don’t be afraid

Turn your negative behavior into something of value. Follow these steps and you will benefit.

    1. Reset the context of your behavior (apologize for previous interactions, miscommunications) and for the love of all that is holy, be positive.
    2. State your intentions to move forward and turn interactions into safe places of discussion.
    3. Learn to communicate alternative opinions and engage in conversation.
    4. Listen to alternative opinions with an open mind.
    5. Always be sure to provide evidence to back up your thoughts and suggestions.
    6. Rock the boat. Talk to more people. Be happy.

A special thank you to John Steinmetz for sharing these thoughts with The American Genius audience.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Millennial jokes they let slide, but ‘Ok Boomer’ can get you fired

(EDITORIAL) The law says age-based clapbacks are illegal when aimed at some groups but not others. Pfft. Okay, Boomer.



Boomer sad

A brand new meme is out and about, and it’s looking like it’ll have the staying power of ‘Fleek’ and ‘Yeet!’

Yessiree, ‘Okay, Boomer’ as related to exiting a go-nowhere conversation with out-of-pocket elders has legitimate sticky potential, but not everyone is as elated as I am. Yes, the Boomer generation themselves (and the pick-me’s in my age group who must have a CRAZY good Werther’s Original hookup), are pushing back against the latest multi-use hashtag, which was to be expected.

The same people happy to lump anyone born after 1975 in with kids born in 2005 as lazy, tech-obsessed, and entitled, were awfully quick to yell ‘SLUR’ at the latest turn of phrase, and I was happy to laugh at it.

But it turns out federal law is on their side when it comes to the workplace.

Because “Boomer” applies to folks now in their mid 50’s and up, workplace discrimination laws based on age can allow anyone feeling slighted by being referred to as such to retaliate with serious consequences.

However for “You Millenials…” no such protections exist. Age-based discrimination laws protect people over 40, not the other way around. That means all the ‘Whatever, kid’s a fresh 23-year-old graduate hire’ can expect from an office of folks in their 40s doesn’t carry any legal weight at the federal level.

And what’s really got my eyes rolling is the fact that the law here is so easy to skirt!

You’ve heard the sentiment behind #okayboomer before.

It’s the same one in: ‘Alright, sweetheart’ or ‘Okay hun’ or ‘Bless your heart.’

You could get across the same point by subbing in literally anything.

‘Okay, Boomer’ is now “Okay, Cheryl” or “Okay, khakis” or “Okay, Dad.”

You can’t do that with the n-word, the g-word (either of them), the c-word (any of them), and so on through the alphabet of horrible things you’re absolutely not to call people—despite the aunt you no longer speak to saying there’s a 1:1 comparison to be made.

Look, I’m not blind to age-based discrimination. It absolutely can be a problem on your team. Just because there aren’t a bunch of 30-somethings bullying a 65 year old in your immediate sphere doesn’t mean it isn’t happening somewhere, or that you can afford to discount it if that somewhere is right under your nose.

But dangit, if it’s between pulling out a PowerPoint to showcase how ‘pounding the pavement’ isn’t how you find digital jobs in large cities, dumping stacks of books showing how inflation, wages, and rents didn’t all rise at the same rate or defending not wanting or needing the latest Dr. Oz detox… don’t blame anyone for pulling a “classic lazy snowflake” move, dropping two words, and seeing their way out of being dumped on.

The short solution here is – don’t hire jerks – and it won’t be an issue. The longer-term solution is… just wait until we’re your age.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Decision-making when between procrastination and desperation

(EDITORIAL) Sometimes making a decision in business can loom so large over us that we delay making them until it’s absolutely necessary. Why?



decision-making between procrastination and desperation

I need to confess something to you

So, a little confession’s good for the soul, right? I feel like I need to confess something to you, dear reader, before we jump right into this article. What follows is an article that I pitched to our editor some months back, and was approved then, but I’ve had the hardest time getting started. It’s not writer’s block, per se; I’ve written scores of other articles here since then, so I can’t use that as an excuse.

It’s become a bit of a punch line around the office, too; I was asked if I was delaying the article about knowing the sweet spot in decision making between procrastination and desperation as some sort of hipster meta joke.

Which would be funny, were it to be true, but it’s not. I just became wrapped up in thinking about where this article was headed and didn’t put words to paper. Until now.

Analysis by paralysis

“Thinking about something—thinking and thinking and thinking—without having an answer is when you get analysis by paralysis,” said St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Matt Bowman, speaking to Fangraphs.

“That’s what happened… I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, or if I was doing anything wrong. I had no idea.” It happens to us all: the decisions we have to make in business loom so large over us, that we delay making them until it’s absolutely necessary.

Worse still are the times that we delay them until after such a time as when making the decision no longer matters because the opportunity or market’s already moved on. So we try to find the avenues for ourselves that will give us the answers we seek, and try to use those answers in a timely fashion. Jim Kaat, the former All-Star pitcher said it well: “If you think long, you think wrong.”

Dumpster Diving in Data

In making a decision, we’re provided an opportunity to answer three basic questions: What? So what? And now what?

The data that you use to inform your decision-making process should ideally help you answer the first two of those three questions. But where do you get it from, and how much is enough?

Like many of us, I’m a collector when it comes to decision making. The more data I get to inform my decision, and the sufficient time that I invest to analyze that data, I feel helps me make a better decision.

And while that sounds prudent, and no one would suggest the other alternative of making a decision without data or analysis would be better, it can lead to the pitfall of knowing how much is enough. When looking for data sources to inform your decision-making, it’s not necessarily quantity, but an appropriate blend between quantity and quality that will be most useful.

You don’t get brownie points for wading through a ton of data of marginal quality or from the most arcane places you can find them when you’re trying to make an informed decision. The results of your ultimate decision will speak for themselves.

“Effective people,” said Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, “know when to stop assessing and make a tough call, even without total information.”

Great. How do I do that?

So, by what factors should you include (and more importantly, exclude) data in your decision-making?

Your specific business sector will tell you which data sources most of your competitors use already, as well as the ones that your industry disruptors use to try to gain the edge on you.

Ideally, your data sources should be timely and meaningful to you. Using overly historical data, unless you’re needing that level of support for a trend line prediction, often falls into “That’s neat, but…” land. Also, if you’re wading into data sets that you don’t understand, find ways to either improve (and thus speed) your analysis of them, or find better data sources.

While you should be aware of outliers in the data sets, don’t become so enamored of them and the stories that they may tell that you base your decision-making process around the outlier, rather than the most likely scenarios.

And don’t fall into this trap

Another trap with data analysis is the temptation to find meaning where it may not exist. Anyone who’s been through a statistics class is familiar with the axiom correlation doesn’t imply causation. But it’s oh so tempting, isn’t it? To find those patterns where no one saw them before?

There’s nothing wrong with doing your homework and finding real connections, but relying on two data points and then creating the story of their interconnectedness in the vacuum will lead you astray.

Such artificial causations are humorous to see; Tyler Vigen’s work highlights many of them.

My personal favorite is the “correlation” between the U.S. per capita consumption of cheese and people who died after becoming entangled in their bed sheets. Funny, but unrelated.

So, as you gather information, be certain that you can support your action or non-action with recent, accurate, and relevant data, and gather enough to be thorough, but not so enamored of the details that you start to drown in the collection phase.

Trust issues

For many of us, delegation is an opportunity for growth. General Robert E. Lee had many generals under his command during the American Civil War, but none was so beloved to him as Stonewall Jackson.

Upon Jackson’s death in 1863, Lee commented that Jackson had lost his left arm, but that he, Lee, had lost his right. Part of this affection for Jackson was the ability to trust that Jackson would faithfully carry out Lee’s orders. In preparing for the Battle of Chancellorsville, Jackson approached Lee with a plan for battle:

Lee, Jackson’s boss, opened the conversation: “What do you propose to do?”

Jackson, who was well prepared for the conversation based on his scout’s reports, replied. “I propose to go right around there,” tracing the line on the map between them.

“How many troops will you take?” Lee queried.

“My whole command,” said Jackson.

“What will you leave me here with?” asked Lee.

Jackson responded with the names of the divisions he was leaving behind. Lee paused for a moment, but just a moment, before replying, “Well, go ahead.”

And after three questions in the span of less than five minutes, over 30,000 men were moved towards battle.

The takeaway is that Lee trusted Jackson implicitly. It wasn’t a blind trust that Lee had; Jackson had earned it by his preparation and execution, time after time. Lee didn’t see Jackson as perfect, either. He knew the shortcomings that he had and worked to hone his talents towards making sure those shortcomings were minimized.

Making trust pay off for you

We all deserve to have people around us in the workplace that we can develop into such a trust. When making decisions, large or small, having colleagues that you can rely on to let you know the reality of the situation, provide a valuable alternative perspective, or ask questions that let you know the idea needs more deliberation are invaluable assets.

Finding and cultivating those relationships is a deliberate choice and one that needs considerable and constant investments in your human capital to keep.Click To Tweet

Chris Oberbeck at Entrepreneur identifies five keys to making that investment in trust pay off for you: make authentic connections with those in your employ and on your team, make promises to your staff sparingly, and keep every one of them that you make, set clear expectations about behaviors, communication, and output, be vulnerable enough to say “I don’t know” and professional enough to then find the right answers, and invest your trust in your employees first, so that they feel comfortable reciprocating.

Beyond developing a relationship of trust between those who work alongside you, let’s talk about trusting yourself.

For many, the paralysis of analysis comes not from their perceived lack of data, but their lack of confidence in themselves to make the right decision. “If I choose incorrectly,” they think, “it’s possible that I might ________.” Everyone’s blank is different.

For some, it’s a fear of criticism, either due or undue. For others, it’s a fear of failure and what that may mean. Even in the face of compelling research about the power of a growth mindset, in which mistakes and shortcomings can be seen as opportunities for improvement rather than labels of failure, it’s not uncommon for many of us to have those “tapes” in our head, set to autoplay upon a miscue, that remind us that we’ve failed and how that labels us.

“Risk” isn’t just a board game

An uncomfortable fact of life is that, in business, you can do everything right, and yet still fail. All of the research can come back, the trend lines of data suggest the appropriate course of action, your team can bless the decision, and you feel comfortable with it, so action is taken! And it doesn’t work at all. A perfect example of this is the abject failure of New Coke to be accepted by the consumer in 1985.

Not only was it a failure to revive lagging sales, but public outrage was so vehement that the company was forced to backtrack and recall the product from the market. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way they’re supposed to.

You have to be comfortable with your corporate and individual levels of risk when making a decision and taking action. How much risk and how much failure costs you, both in fiscal and emotional terms, is a uniquely personal decision, suited to your circumstances and your predilections. It’s also likely a varying level, too; some decisions are more critical to success and the perceptions of success than others, and will likely cause you more pause than the small decisions we make day-to-day.

In the end, success and failure hinge on the smallest of factors at times, and the temptation is to slow down the decision making process to ensure that nothing’s left to chance.

Go too slowly, however, and you’ve become the captain of a rudderless ship, left aimlessly to float, with decisions never coming, or coming far too late to meet the needs of the market, much less be innovative. Collect the information, work with your team to figure out what it means, and answer the third question of the series (the “what”) by taking action.


Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!