Disasters in UnReal Estate:
There is some old saying about the best laid plans going asunder, and I am about to tell you where asunder is: it’s a place in New Jersey. Picture a lovely suburb of tract homes in Jersey, circa 1969. One year my mother Marie decided we should sell the family home and get something bigger than a bread box. I didn’t mention my father Boyd, because he tried to stay clear of the caper – in fact, he tried to steer clear of ALL her capers. He would just sit in an overstuffed chair in front of the tube, as if anchored for safety, seemingly oblivious to everything unless it interrupted a ball game. In our neighborhood, my mother and her twin, Aunt Bea (really her name) were referred to as Lucy and Ethel because of their ability to court disaster. The house-for-sale stunt was no exception. Mom and Bea had read an article on how to make the house more desirable, so they took matters into their own hands…always a dangerous proposition in our household. This was an unforgettable lesson in how NOT to make a home a stand-out on the open house trail.
Lucy Landscapes the Home
As we all know, landscaping is one of the most important tools in selling a house. It creates a feeling of “home” and gives the property a personality. However, this was Jersey tract housing, and all the houses looked alike – it was Levittown re-visited. Landscaping was never an art in our burg. One sunny afternoon my mother was waiting with the dog in the “waiting room” of the vet. The waiting room was actually the living room of the home of Dr.-Diglio-the-Dog-Killer who lived a few blocks over. His actual office was attached to the back of his home. As my mother “Lucy” settled in with a magazine, a woman walked in from the kitchen, paused, then began to scream. My mother got so flustered she ran out without the dog. While huddled in the yard and unsure of what to do, it suddenly dawned on her that she had walked into the wrong home and had made herself quite comfortable, thank-you-very-much. A bit shaken, she went back for the dog and talked the woman out of calling the local hit man. (After all, this was Jersey.) As soon as Lucy returned home, she promptly placed a hanging plant out front so she could always distinguish her own home from the others. Moral: Give the house some identity with some landscaping. It may help sell your house, and it will keep strangers from wandering into your living room.
Ethel Pays Attention to Lighting
Shortly after that, Lucy and her sidekick Ethel (Aunt Bea), who lived with us for years, decided to cruise around the neighborhood to see how the other neighbors had distinguished their own houses from the others. Now this was late October, so Halloween lights and decorations were in abundance, and pumpkins adorned nearly every stoop. As Lucy and Ethel, the Twins of Disaster, cruised along (never over 20mph), they had a running commentary:
“Look at the lovely Indian corn on that door, dear.”
“Yes, they grow beautiful corn in India. Isn’t that a funny jackal-lantern?”
“Oh, that house has lovely lighting, doesn’t it, dear? They did a lovely job!”
“Yes, lovely…..Oh-oh…Back up Marie, dear – that was our house we were looking at.”
Moral: Lighting can transform a house so much you can barely recognize it. Just ask Lucy and Ethel.
They Clean the House & Bake Something
In our house there was always clutter. My mother knew that the house had to be clean for showings, but a lot of kids, a mongrel dog, a bird and an Aunt Bea all added to the work load. She tried hard to get everything ready for the listing agent to come over to see the property and determine its value. The first thing she did was turn off the heat. Boyd had gotten a “deal” on Styrofoam insulation that you blow into the attic, but the pellets were the size of BB’s. For years, every time the fan to the heater came on, a white storm blew out of the vents like snow on the tundra. I kid you not. So Lucy and Ethel kept the heat off and cleaned up as much of the Styrofoam as they could, although it always clung to corners and looked like the house had psoriasis.
Mom also rented a rug shampooer and went at it, all ninety-five pounds of her trying to wranglea machine that weighed almost as much as she did. Ethel helped by chasing the dog out every time he tried to attack the machine. (He thought it was Dr. Diglio, no doubt.) When they were finished, the rug looked better, but the smell was horrendous. The rug was wool, so the entire house smelled like the vet’s office.
Lucy decided to cook up one of her favorite dishes to cover the smell, having read that fragrances helped set the ambiance. She made stuffed cabbage. Even the dog gagged. She admitted later that she thought the strong scent of cabbage would disguise the smell of the rug. (Isn’t that like eating garlic to cover up bad breath?) Moral: Yes, aroma can certainly add to the open house experience, but I suggest baking bread rather than something that smells like foot fungus.
Lucy De-Clutters While Ethel Clucks
Lucy and Ethel prepared the stage. With a household full of people and a general traffic problem, keeping clutter at a minimum was always impossible. But they knew that they just had to pull it together for an hour. They ran about, shoving items in cabinets, under beds, behind couches, and into every empty space available. My mother decided to clear the counters, so she threw the baked goods into the dryer and headed for the radio. “I need to turn on some music, Boyd dear,” she called to my father, who always stayed out of the path of the Sisters of Destruction.
“Marie, I’m watching the ballgame,” he bellowed. (Everything to him required volume.)
“But, dear, I read that music is important – and the agent is on her way.”
“Then she can listen to “Take Me Out to The Ball game” during the seventh inning stretch, because I’m not turning off the damn Yankees,” he barked. “The best thing you can do if you want to impress that agent is to get rid of the smell of death. And turn up the blasted heat!”
The Jelly Roll Explosion
This was October, remember. As the clouds set in, the day had gotten cooler, so Lucy jacked up the heat. As the smell of wet wool and cabbage wafted through the house like vomit on a radiator, so did the Styrofoam hail storm. From the living room, the lovely, dulcet notes of the announcers at the ballgame added to the ambiance of pure dysfunction. Now picture the door bell ringing, the dog barking, the bird squawking, my father ranting, Lucy and Ethel flying about like parrots on crack. As the stunned agent made her way into the show home of the month, we all heard a scream from my sister Lisa who was in the laundry room. My mother stopped in her tracks. “Oh my God,” she cried, “turn off the dryer, dear!” It was too late. Ding Dongs had melted all over Lisa’s clothes and something called a jelly roll had exploded in the dryer, turning the entire machine and all its contents into a giant lava lamp. Of course, nothing was as bright as my dear mother’s face.
My father turned up the television and simply said to the agent, “This may take awhile…how ’bout a beer?” Moral: Remove all clutter, but never, never hide bake goods in a dryer without warning the family.
Lucy and Ethel Get Syndicated
Aunt Bea is still alive to verify this story (age 85), but dear Lucy is not, may she rest in peace. She deserved some peace. They decided not to sell and ended up in that disaster of a house for almost forty years. Not much has changed in the neighborhood, but the housing values certainly have climbed. Even in this market, sales are strong. If Mom were alive today, I bet she’d have a plant on the stoop and there would be the familiar smell of something burning in the kitchen. I thank her for teaching me so many of the basic rules of Real Estate, the most important one being: Avoid jelly rolls and Ding Dongs at open houses – they can go psycho on you at the least provocation.
Have an in-person job interview? 7 tips to crush the competition
EDITORIAL) While we all know the usual interview schtick, take some time to really study for your next face-to-face job interview.
So, you’re all scheduled for an in-person interview for a job you’d kill for. It’s exciting that you’ve made it to this step, but the question is, are you ready? Especially with remote interviews being the new norm, your nerves may feel shaken up a bit to interview in person – but you’ve got this! And many of these tips can be applied no matter the interview setting.
We all know the basics of a job interview: dress nice, get there early, come prepared, firm handshake, yada, yada, yada… However, it’s good to really sit and think about all of the requirements of a successful interview.
There are seven steps for crushing a face-to-face interview. Do your homework upside down and inside out in order to walk into that room.
Which brings us to the first step: know everything you need to know backwards and forwards.
This can be done in two steps: getting to know the company and getting to know yourself. By doing website, social media, and LinkedIn research, you can get a feel of the company culture as well as the position you’re interviewing for.
By getting to know yourself, have a friend ask you some interview questions so you can practice. Also, take a look at your resume through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Make sure everything is clear and can compete with other candidates.
The next step is to anticipate solving future problems. Have some insight on the department that you are interviewing for and come prepared with ideas of how to better this department. (i.e. if it’s marketing, give examples of campaigns you’ve done in the past that have proven to have been successful.)
Step number three requires you to go back to the research board and get some information on the employer. Find out who you’re meeting with (head of HR, head of the department, etc.) and make your self-presentation appropriate for the given person.
Next, work on making the interview conversation a meaningful one. This can be done by asking questions as people like to see you take an interest in them. Also, be sure to never answer the questions as if it’s your regular spiel. Treat each job interview as if this is the first time you’re presenting your employability information.
With this, your next step is to have stories prepared for the job interview. Anecdotes and examples of previous jobs or volunteer/organization experiences can help bring life to an otherwise run-of-the-mill resume.
After this, you’ll want to make sure that you’re showing enthusiasm for the position you’re interviewing for. Don’t jump on the couch in the lobby like you’re Tom Cruise on Oprah, but definitely portray that you’re excited and up for the challenge.
Lastly, make a good impression by being impressive. Be professional and in control of your body language. Put yourself in the mindset of whatever position you’re interviewing for and show them that you have what it takes.
The benefits of remote work are just too good to overlook
(EDITORIAL) Employees scream it from the rooftops and businesses don’t want to admit it: Remote work is just too beneficial to pass up- and here’s why.
Remote work has been rising in popularity in the past several years. Especially following the COVID-19 global pandemic, more companies saw significant benefits for both their business and their staff that went beyond the realm of finances by allowing remote labor.
Less happily, many people lost their job during the pandemic, but they ended up having more time to put toward their passions or were compelled to get creative with their remote business ideas to ensure a consistent stream of income.
If you remain on the fence about allowing your employees to work remotely, or are considering a career shift yourself, take a look at the top four benefits of working remotely, which may sway your decision.
Better Overall Quality of Life
Allowing your employees to work remotely doesn’t necessarily mean they work from home full time. There are benefits to having your employees work in an office part of the time – say, two or three days – and working from home, in more familiar surroundings, the rest of the week.
In this way, your workers enjoy some freedom and independence while retaining the ability to interact face-to-face with their peers. That provides human interaction, which can play a substantial role in terms of improved mental health for your staff.
Happy employees means healthier employees, which can save your outfit money in the form of healthcare costs and lost productivity. But we will get further into the cost-saving benefits a little further on.
If you’re a remote worker, you should see yourself becoming significantly more productive. But why would this be the case if you don’t have a manager over your shoulder watching your every move?
It’s true that when employees have a greater sense of independence, they also experience a significant sense of trust on the part of their employers and managers. This is one of the huge benefits of working remotely because it has a trickle-down effect on the quality and overall production of people’s work.
Can Work Anywhere with Internet
Whether you are a small business owner or have crafted your work to tailor toward a life of remote labor, this is an opportunity for someone who has dreamed of being a digital nomad. You have the ability to work anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the Internet. If you love to travel, this is a chance to spend time in various places around the globe while continuing to meet your deadlines.
Set Your Own Hours
In some cases with remote businesses, you have the freedom to set your own hours. Content writers, for instance, tend to enjoy more flexibility with regard to when they work because a lot of what they produce is project-based rather than tied to a nine-to-five schedule.
When you’re a business owner, this can be incredibly useful when you outsource tasks to save money. You can find a higher quality of performance by searching for contractors anywhere in the world and it doesn’t limit you to workers who live near to your office.
Saves Everyone Time and Money
In the end, remote work typically saves money for every person and entity involved. Businesses save costs in terms of not having to pay for a physical space, utilities, Internet, and other expenses. This allows you, as the owner, to spend more of your income on providing quality software and benefits for your employees so your operation runs more smoothly and efficiently.
According to FlexJobs, employees or remote business owners may save around $4,000 on average every year for expenses such as car maintenance, transportation, professional clothing in the office, or even money spent dining out for lunch with coworkers. Eventually, the costs add up, which means extra money in your pocket to take that much-needed vacation or save up for a down payment on your first home.
These benefits of working remotely only skim the surface. There are also sustainability factors such as removing cars from the roads and streets, because people don’t have to travel to and from an office; or employees missing fewer workdays since they have the ability and freedom to clock in from home.
Weigh the pros and cons as to whether remote work is right for you as a business owner or online professional. You might be surprised to find that working from home for more than the duration of the pandemic is worthwhile and could have long-lasting benefits.
Do these 3 things if you TRULY want to be an ally to women in tech
(EDITORIAL) We understand diversity helps and strengthens our companies, and individual teams. But how can you be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce?
More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps, and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.
What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:
1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.
It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!
Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.
Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.
Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.
Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.
2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.
An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.
This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.
3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.
Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.
Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.
Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.
Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.
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