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Know What I Mean, Man?

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Sometimes I need a man

Sometimes I need a man. Even when I act like a man it doesn’t work. There are some men who need to speak to another man. Have you ever worked with someone who wants to tell you constantly that they’ve been in the business for 20 years? Who cares? Maybe they’ve done the same job once a year for twenty years. So I’m trying to get this house ready to list. Delay. Delay. Delay. It’s always something. The sellers. The handyman. The stager. I’ve finally gotten everybody lined up and oooh, the sellers -brother and sister – disagree on something else. Delay some more. The brother says to me today, “This must be like dealing with a divorce.” Uh, yeah, kinda. So I get the go-ahead from them. Everyone’s lined up and ready to go, then the dominoes start falling.

The stager can’t come after the handyman. She’ll be out of town the day I need her to install. Okay, so she has to go in before the handyman. He’ll have to deal.

I email him the list. He wants to do a walk through. It’s five items. How hard can it be? Okay. I go do the walk through – the guy’s highly recommended – room by room pointing, explaining. It must be me. Explaining in nauseating detail that the tasks need to be done in a specific order. The photographer’s coming on Thursday. The jobs that are going to show in the picture need to be done first. The hole patching and light fixture replacement can be done later.

I’m not his mama

I’m not his mama. I don’t stand over him. But something isn’t right. I go over there and see he’s not doing the items in order. Oh, man. “Look, dude, you gotta do the stuff in order. ” I get, “Yeah. Yeah.”

Thursday morning on the way to the gym, I think: You’d better go check it out. I drive up, the granny rails from the sidewalk to the front door – the first thing on the list – are still there. Photogs coming at noon. Oh, poo poo. Flowers aren’t planted. Tools all over the living room. Furniture in disarray. Double poo poo. He’s supposed to be out of there that morning. He’s not halfway through the list.

Of course I get voice mail…

I call and leave a message. Of course I get voice mail; it’s 7:00 in the morning and he starts bright and early at 10. That was the first clue I let slide. Eventually, “Are you going to be able to get this railing out by noon?” “Uh, no. I have to take my daughter to the doctor. I’m not going to get there until noon. I was going to call you to give you my schedule.” WHAT? I don’t want your schedule. I want you to come get this railing out. I sound like a hysterical woman – not a man.

Calling through my list of contractors. I get a hold of John. He says, I’ll call you back later. WHAT? What does that mean? I’ve gotta get this thing outta here.

I dig holes

So I get to work. I dig holes; plant the plants. Put all the tools in the garage. Move the furniture back. Sweep up the mess he’s left from installing the light fixtures that weren’t supposed to be installed until after the rail was removed. I’m at the top of a ladder sweating, trying to install light bulbs, a work truck pulls up. Guy’s looking at the railing. He comes in the front door. “You Vicki?” Yeah. “You Vicki?” Yeah. (Haven’t you ever seen a realtor in her sweats sweating at the top of a ladder?) You John? “Yeah.” Can you remove the handrail? “I’ll see what I can do.” The angels sing.

Now the first guy is furious. I get this email: “I have worked for many real estate agents over the last 20 + years (who cares), and know the proper order that this stuff is supposed to go in (You don’t, little lady). FIRST you get the repairs done, then you paint, then carpet, then clean, then stage, then photo. This is the way it works best. I think it is safe to say that we all know that” (except you, you stupid woman). If you’ve been doing this for 20 years, you should be able to tell that that isn’t new carpet; there was no painting crew – if there was, why would I have you painting? And stop being a cry baby. So you had to move some furniture. I’m the customer. I request. But noooo, he’s the man. He’s been doing this for 20 years. He knows what he’s doing. He’s going to show me how it’s done. NOT.

Sometimes I want to be a man. Know what I mean, man?

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate Blog.com.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. BawldGuy Talking

    March 30, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks a bunch, Vicki. I’m sitting alone catching up with things after breakfast with The Boss, and laughed so hard the cat now has three less lives. 🙂

    Turn off your female empathy gene for once, and make great, (and stress relieving) use of the words, “Your fired!”.

    Find folks who will do what you want when and how you want it done.

    These folks have been behaving this way with you ‘cuz it’s been working like a charm.

    Once you let them know, up front, you want results and not excuses, they’ll either smile, (the ones you want) or they’ll reveal themselves as chronic pains in the ass — at which time you’ll politely pass.

    You’re way too good at what you do to take this crud. Get in touch with your guy side, and kick some ass while you’re cleaning house. For every guy in your post who under performed, was tardy, and flat didn’t get the job done, there are 10 who will recognize a take charge gal (sorry, I’m 56 — deal with it) who is results oriented.

    Bottom line, Vicki? You’ve been far to nice — and they’ve been mistaking your kindness for weakness. Stop giving a damn about what they think of you, and start making them sensitive to what you think of them.

    Love your stuff.

  2. Matthew Rathbun

    March 30, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Nah, you don’t want to be a man…. then you’d have to put up with hysterical female agents who don’t know the correct order in which repairs go in…. (that’s snarky me)

    Does it really matter what order stuff it to be done in, if he isn’t do any of it? I find it funny that folks complain about agents lack of involvement, when my personal experience has been that handy-“persons” have been far less dependable. There is ALWAYS something that happens with contractors to delay something.

    I really don’t think that that it has to do with a person’s gender as much as their ability to meet a customer’s reasonable expectations.

    Sorry you had that experience. I know it’s very stressful.

  3. Vicki Moore

    March 30, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    OMG. LOL. People are walking through my open house trying to figure out what I’m laughing at. I think the comments are funnier than the post.

    Jeff – I’m printing that and tacking it to my forehead and my mirror and my dash and my peg board.

    Matthew – All I can say is YEAH! That’s right!

  4. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    March 30, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Vicki, I’ve been waiting for you to dish via blog since you mentioned a “terrible experience” on the phone! I am proud of you for getting your nails dirty, most people would have just crossed their fingers for good photos (or taken them on their own with their cell phones like 20% of agents here do- seriously).

    Jeff- tell Vicki how I do things so she can get *her* way too!

    Matthew- oh snarky you, you’re too funny.

    _______
    Vicki- I started in this industry in property management (female dominated) and didn’t do as well as when I hooked up with commercial development (ridiculously male dominated) and even though at first, everyone thought I was the tiny helpless girl, I took ’em by the you-know-whats and got things done. I’ve never been a b!tch, but ask anyone I’ve ever worked with- I’m persuasive because I’m not scared to TELL people what I want, TELL them directly (not harshly) that they’re failing and I expect better and then TELL them they’re fired if they aren’t performing. If they’re not doing the work anyhow, just use the F word. I mean F as in “Fired.” 😉

    Don’t WISH you were a man- JUST BE ONE!!! (minus the cargo shorts or baseball games)

  5. ines

    March 31, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I can man-handle anyone that crosses my path the wrong way better than any 6′ tall man could! 🙂 (and with FinesSE!!)

    Contractors fear me! Building officials respect me and this post Vicki, cracked me up like you would not believe.

  6. BawldGuy Talking

    March 31, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Now you guys are bein’ real! 🙂

    Tradesmen who’ve dealt with me before, now ask who will be in charge. They know it won’t be me, but they wanna be sure. The Boss takes no prisoners. 🙂

  7. Vicki Moore

    March 31, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Jeff is too right. He and Benn can always read between the lines. I hate that!

    Lani & Ines – Now that I have good role models, I intend to use them as examples!

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Opinion Editorials

Starting a new remote job? Here’s how to impress your team

(EDITORIAL) New world. New normal. New remote job? Here are three steps to help you navigate your new job and make a lasting first impression.

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new home office

My past gig selling ergonomic furniture seems so much more meaningful these days. That’s a real aluminum foil lining on a horrible, deadly, terrifying situation, but I’ll take it.

For those of us who can keep up the grind for that daily bread (sourdough apparently) from home, we’re in da house like it’s a late 90s video. Or a much much much lamer early 2000s video aping late 90s videos.

It’s been weird. Intellectually, I know taking breaks to roast Brussels sprouts, hang my delicates, or weep uncontrollably into the living room carpet is NOT what I’m being paid for but…I’m doing it. And I can because I know my coworkers, superiors included, are doing the exact same.

We’ve already built up the kind of rapport that says ‘So long as XYZ gets done, organizing your spice rack between calls is fine, because we are all going NUCKING FUTS, and whatever keeps us from starting fires without driving up company costs is all gravy. Also here’s a picture of my dog’.

Maddie

BUT, for those of us cranking the money mill in a whole NEW work situation… it’s gonna be… well. Not necessarily like that.

If my first off-color joke to my manager was over G-Chat instead of face-to-face, I can’t even IMAGINE what horror shows would go through my head if she say… went to go check her mail right as I hit send and just kinda left whatever it was I said about bras hanging there.

So what can you do to improve your new-person status when you can’t meet your team and cozy up face-to-face?

Make introductions

Imagine you’re taking a pre-covid19 bus. Some stranger taps you on the shoulder and says, “Hey, you wanna approve this invoice right quick?”

Not the worst thing you could hear on public transport by a long shot, but it’s still a little presumptuous, no?

That’s why you need to introduce yourself.

Not just in the general group chats or Zoom meetings. No one’s going to remember those (and there’s a 75% chance you don’t have your video on anyway).

Introduce yourself every time you ask someone new for something. Like this: “Hi colleague! I’m April, the new girl in 2nd shift goth ops, how are you? I had a quick question about our joy division, do you have a moment?”

I get that I’m an 87 year old biddy when it comes to matters of courtesy, but when you can’t actually see someone or offer to grab something from the communal fridge for someone, this stuff goes a LONG way. Bonus, you might get some extra positivity back! And we ALL need that.

Scroll back

Put that mouse wheel in reverse, what we’re gon’ do right here is go back. The cool thing about work chat-ware is that most versions will have a history you can scroll through! Your mission now is to creep through public, multi-person channels and see how your new peeps cheep.

You’ll get a great sense of who’s who, the general vibe, and even see frequent pain points and questions that come up before you have to ask about them (which you WILL).

Is this the kind of workplace where you can leave an ‘It’s Twerkin Tuesday!’ GIF, and get a whole bootylicious thread going to lift everyone’s spirits? Or do you work with more of an “Here’s an interesting article about twerking for spine health” kind of crowd?

This is how you find out.

Keep your own records.

Art Markman over at the Harvard Business Review mentioned a super fun and also true fact: “ Your memory for what happens each day is strongest around things that are compatible with your general script about how work is supposed to go. That means that you are least likely to remember the novel aspects of your new workplace” .

Ergo, it makes sense to keep a diary of everything that happens at work so you can get help with what you need most… because those ‘novel aspects’ are EVERYTHING, experience or no.

I personally suck at making my hands write as quickly as I think, so I suggest a diary in the form of Google docs, or even a private Tumblr/Twitter, etc, where you can hashtag what you need to look back at, and search your logs at your leisure later.

Make sense?

It’s not always easy to navigate a new position, even if you’re the naturally charming, adaptable type. Adapting to several major things at once is a lot for anyone! But hey, you’re doing the right thing by reading this as it is. Gold star!

Congrats on the new gig. Keep your head up, or whatever direction medical doctors recommend – you got the job. You’ve got this!

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Opinion Editorials

5 ways to grow your business without shaming the competition

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) We all need support as business owners. Let’s talk ideas for revenue growth as an entrepreneur that do not include shaming your competition.

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Entrepreneur women all talking around a meeting table.

The year 2020 has forced everyone to re-assess their priorities and given us the most uncertain set of circumstances we have lived through. For businesses and entrepreneurs, they were faced with having to confront new business scenarios quickly.

Perhaps you were forced to add virtual components or find new revenue streams – immediately. Regardless, this has been tough for everyone.

Every single person is having a hard time with the adjustments and at very different stages from others. We’re currently at the 6-month mark, and each of our timelines are going to look different. Our emotions have greeted us differently too, whether we have felt relief, grief, excitement, fear, hope, determination, or just plain exhaustion.

Now that we are participating in life a bit more virtually than in 2019, this is a good time to re-visit the pros and cons of the influence of technology and online marketing outreach. It’s also a great time to throw old entrepreneur rules out the window and create a better sense of community where you can.

Here’s an alluring article, “Now Is Not the Time for ‘Mom Shaming’”, that offers an example from about a decade ago of how the popularity of mommy bloggers grew by women sharing their parenting “hacks”, tips, or even recipes, and crafting ideas via online posts and blogs. As the blog entries grew, so did other moms comparing themselves and/or feeling inadequate.

Some of the responses were natural and some may have been coming from a place of defensiveness. Moms are not alone in looking for resources, articles, materials, and friends to tell us we’re doing OK. We just need to be told “You are doing fine.”

Luckily, some moms in Connecticut decided to declare an end to “Mom Wars” and created a photo shoot that shared examples of how each mom had a right to their choices in parenting. It seemed to reinforce the message of, “You are doing fine.”

I don’t know about you, but my recent google searches of “Is it ok to have my 3-year old go to bed with the iPad” are pretty much destined to get me in trouble with her pediatrician. I’m hoping that during a global pandemic, “I am doing fine.”

Now, comparing this scenario to the entrepreneur world, often times your business is your baby. You have worn many hats to keep it alive. You have built the concept and ideas, nurtured the products and services with sweat, tears, and maybe some laughs. You have spent countless hours researching, experimenting, and trying processes and marketing tactics that work for you. You have been asked to “pivot” this year like so many others (Sick of that word? Me too).

Here are some ideas for revenue growth as an entrepreneur (or at least, ideas worth considering if you haven’t already):

  1. It’s about the questions you ask yourself. How does your product or service help or serve others (vs. solely asking how do I get more customers?) This may lead to new ideas or income streams.
  2. Consider a collaboration or a partnership – even if they seem like the competition. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb
  3. Stop inadvertently shaming the competition by critiquing what they do. It’s really obvious on your Instagram. Try changing the narrative to how you help others.
  4. Revisit the poem All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and re-visit it often. “And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
  5. Join a community, celebrate others’ success, and try to share some positivity without being asked to do so. Ideas include: Likes/endorsements, recommendations on LinkedIn for your vendor contacts, positive Google or Yelp reviews for fellow small business owners.

It seems like we really could use more kindness and empathy right now. So what if we look for the help and support of others in our entrepreneurial universe versus comparing and defending our different ways of doing things?

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Opinion Editorials

Popular opinion: Unemployment in a pandemic sucks [EDITORIAL]

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) I got laid off during the pandemic, and I think I can speak for all of us to say that unemployment – especially now – really, really sucks.

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Stressed man thinking over laptop about unemployment.

Despite not being in an office for what feels like an eternity, losing my job stung. Holding onto work during The Worst Timeline was rough, considering Rome was burning all around. My job was the boat of sanity I could sit in while the waves of bullshit crashed all around. Pre-pandemic, I had just separated from my wife, so my emotional health wasn’t in tip-top shape. But then millions of people go and get sick, the economy took a nosedive, and well, the world changed. When everything around you sucks, and people are on the news crying about unemployment and potential homelessness, you’re thankful as hell that you’re not with them – until you are.

I was writing for a startup, one that came with a litany of headaches thanks to fluctuating budgets and constant directional pivots, but it was steady work. When the Coronavirus hit, it was a scenario of “we’re going to get through this,” but as we switched gears again and again, I started to get an unsettling feeling: I’ve seen this story before. When you live in Austin and are in the creative field, you’ve worked with startups. And there are always trappings on when something lingers in the air – hierarchy shuffles, people aren’t as optimistic, and senior folks start quietly bailing out. Those are the obvious moves that make your unemployment-related Spidey sense tingle, but with COVID, everything is remote. There aren’t the office vibes, the shortened conversations that make you, “I know what’s happening here.” Instead, you’re checking Slack or email and surviving like everyone else.

We were happy to be working, to see the direct deposit hit every two weeks and sigh, knowing you were still in the fight, that you might see this thing through.

We saw our entire business change overnight. Leadership rose to meet the challenges of an old model rooted in hospitality, restaurants, and events, which died with a viral disease shotgun blast. Because the infrastructure was there, we managed to help out workers, and grocery stores work together to keep people fed across the nation. It was legitimately a point of pride. Like all things, though, the market settled. We bought time.

In July, I had a full-blown depressive episode. The weight of the divorce, the lack of human interaction, my work having less value, my career stalled felt like a Terminator robot foot on my skull. I couldn’t get out of bed, and everything I wrote were the smatterings of a broken man. And to my ex-bosses’ credit, my breakdown was NOT my best work, I could barely look at a computer, let alone forge thoughts on an entirely new industry with any authority, or even a fake it till you make it scenario.

When the CEO put time on my calendar, I knew it was a wrap. Startup CEOs don’t make house calls; they swing the ax. When you’re the lone creative in a company trying to survive a nearly company-killing event, you’re the head on the block. Creatives are expensive, and we’re expendable. Site copy, content, media placements, all that can kick rocks when developers need to keep the business moving, even if it’s at a glacial pace. When I was given my walking papers, it was an exhale, on one hand, I’d been professionally empty, but at the same time, I needed consistent money. My personal life was a minefield and I’ve got kids.

I got severance. Unemployment took forever to hit. The state of Texas authorized amount makes me cringe. Punishing Americans for losing their jobs during a crisis is appalling. Millions are without safety nets, and it’s totally ok with elected leaders.

There are deferments available. I had to get them on my credit cards, which I jacked up thanks to spending $8,500 on an amicable divorce, along with a new MacBook Pro that was the price of a used Nissan. I got a deferment on my car note, too.

I’ve applied to over 100 jobs, both remote and local. I’ve applied for jobs I’m overqualified for in hopes they’ll hire me as a freelancer. There are lots of rejection letters. I get to round two interviews. References or the round three interviews haven’t happened yet. I get told I’m too experienced or too expensive. Sometimes, recruiters won’t even show up. And then there are the Zoom meetings. Can we all agree we’re over Zoom? Sometimes, you don’t want to comb your hair.

I’ll get promised the much needed “next steps” and then a rejection email, “thanks but no thanks.” Could you at least tell me what the X-Factor for this decision was? Was there a typo? Did you check my Facebook? The ambiguity kills me. Being a broke senior creative person kills me. I interviewed President Obama and have written for Apple, but ask myself: Can I afford that falafel wrap for lunch? Do you think springing for the fries is worth that extra $3? You’ve got soup at home, you know.

I’m not unique. This is the American Experience. We’re stuck in this self-perpetuating hell. We keep looking for jobs. We want to work. There are only so many gigs to fill when there’s constant rollercoaster news on unemployment recovery. And as long as unemployment sucks, there’s going to be a lot of people bracing for impact come Christmas. Hopefully, the brass in Washington can pass a few bills and get us back to work. At least get Americans out of the breadline by pumping up what we’re surviving off of – across the board. Working people shouldn’t have to face getting sick to bring in an income, while casualties of the Corona War should be able to look at their bills and not feel like the assistant on the knife throwers wheel.

I’m about to be a line cook to make extra cash till an intrepid manager hires me. Who doesn’t want a writer working the grill who reads French existentialist essays for enjoyment? I’d rather sit on park benches and day dream, but that ain’t reality. I’ve got bills to pay in a broken America. Who wants a burger? Deep thoughts come free but an extra slice of cheese is extra.

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