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Opinion Editorials

Open letter: chastising the laziness of the real estate industry

When you take a hard look at the individuals practicing real estate, it becomes quickly evident who the “A” students are, versus those whose work simply doesn’t deserve to be on mom’s fridge.

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The art of growing up

My mom used to love everything I made. As a kid, this included finger-paintings, poems, and music. She loved all of it, and never hesitated to tell me how awesome it was.

There was a point as a teenager when everything I made wasn’t quite worthy for a place on my mom’s fridge. There was an unspoken expectation that I would produce only my best work. I couldn’t sneak bad grades, lousy projects, or plagiarized essays past my mom.

This used to bother me deeply. Why couldn’t I just cruise through my teenage years? My friends didn’t work as hard on their school work. I was passing all of my classes.

I wonder what my teachers thought of our work? It was clear to them who really explored the lessons, spent time interpreting them, and who created meaningful responses to the concepts presented.

Open letter to my industry:

In my profession of real estate, lazy students mail out 33 pre-fab marketing pieces a year. “C” students take cell phone pictures for their listings. Lethargic students allow others to build powerful content platforms, and simply put their name on the product like they made it themselves. This is not your best stuff. And it doesn’t deserve a spot on your mom’s fridge.

Sure, you passed the class though, right? What’s the big deal?

Well, you are slowly killing our industry. We are losing clients to the market itself, and each bad experience a consumer has as a result of your laziness further perpetuates the lousy stereotypes of our industry and forces the agent population closer to irrelevancy.

Accountability in real estate

No one is keeping us accountable the way in which my mom held me accountable.

“A” students hold themselves accountable. They create original work. They don’t copy. They research, audit, and adjust.

I want to make stuff that is worthy of my mom’s fridge. And I think you can make stuff that makes it onto her fridge, too. Just don’t expect to send her a million mailers, trap her with a “squeeze page,” or ask her for a referral when she hasn’t even met you. This is not your best stuff. And it won’t make it on her fridge.

Greg is the principal owner of Fischer Real Estate Services, a Fort Worth firm specializing in customer value and community enrichment. He's also an MBA at TCU, and a proud member of the Naval Reserves. In his spare time - he sleeps.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Michael Gibbons

    November 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

    more like head in the sand:

  2. Michael Gibbons

    November 14, 2012 at 9:49 am

    1) NAR needs to reconstitute the professional stature of Realtors* 2) do something with online – just fix it 3) buyers pay “fee” for buy side expertise, sellers pay “fee” for sell side – this buyer pay all is like something arcane maritime law from the 18th century…put me in charge those would be my objectives and fixing those three fixes everything – *make Realtors the number one respected profession – yes above nurses …take it ON I dare you

  3. Andrew Mckay

    November 14, 2012 at 10:29 am

    This will never happen but simply after 2 years probation if a realtor isn’t grossing X amount of commissions or selling/buying X amount of homes they loose their license. How can someone represent the client well if they aren’t continually getting experience and becoming better by actually working and closing offers.

  4. Steve Nicewarner

    November 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

    This is one of the things NAR should be doing — driving all Realtors towards excellence as the standard

    • JimLee

      November 16, 2012 at 8:39 am

      @Steve Nicewarner Just for the record NAR has always encouraged and promulgated excellence in our profession. The true issue is the Realtors that won’t take the time and make the investments to take advantage of the tools and training available.
      My partner and I just got back from the NAR Convention in Orlando; 4 days crammed packed with classes, networking, and the trade show full of new and existing products to make you better and more successful.

      • Greg Fischer

        November 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm

        @JimLee  @Steve Nicewarner interesting points Jim, and kind of at the heart of this article. We are encouraged to do well. So are our kids. We all are. Its up to us as individuals to take the tools, education, and training that we receive and make excellent stuff with it

  5. beachtowne

    November 14, 2012 at 11:23 am

    What’s up with your website? I honestly was expecting to be blown away since you are up on your soapbox and all. It is unique, no doubt, but how exactly is it providing “customer value and community enrichment”? Teach me, Greg.

    • Greg Fischer

      November 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      @beachtowne dude, thanks for checking it out. I’m not coordinated enough to stand on a soapbox, I just fall off every time. But I do like to write about stuff thats on my mind – so if you want to have a conversation, great. If you want to snark away in a corner – than do that.

  6. stellaremarketing

    November 14, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for article Greg.  After years of working in and around real estate Ive always been shocked at the poor performance ‘students’ but then I am reminded of how this is the case in nearly EVERY profession – from teaching thru management.  It does make the stronger and more engaged shine however 🙂

  7. gregcook01

    November 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Seems to me this is not NARs problem but a broker problem. Unfortunately, the economics of our business have caused many brokers to become landlords collecting rent checks each month. Succeeding a market requires hard work AND local knowledge and NAR can’t provide that.
    Of course I could be wrong

    • Greg Fischer

      November 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      @gregcook01 Greg – interesting comment about brokers acting like landlords collecting rent checks. That sounds about right. Also, as far as tools helping us do our jobs….. I look at it this way. You can give everyone a hammer. Some people will use it to build a birdhouse, and some people will use it to build a castle. Its our own prerogative.

  8. annarborrealtor

    November 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Greg, I’ve often wondered if Realtors (some) had 9-5 jobs how they would make it. Seriously, I have more leads than I know what to do with and it is hard to find buyer agents that want to work. (((sigh)))

    • Greg Fischer

      November 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      @annarborrealtor amazing how much business is just out there for the taking

  9. gregcook01

    November 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Greg, you’re right but I think the more immediate question, is who will pick up the hammer at all?

  10. yoweathers

    December 3, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    You brought out valid points.  It helps to reminds me to make sure I am doing “A” work. Thanks

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Opinion Editorials

The secret to self improvement isn’t always about improvements

(EDITORIAL) Self improvement and happiness go hand in hand, but are you getting lost in the mechanics of self improvement?

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Think back to your New Year’s resolutions. Now that it’s summer, how many of them are you still keeping? Think about which ones stuck and what went by the wayside.

If you’re like most of us, you had big plans to make yourself better but didn’t stay the course. I’ve only managed to keep one of my resolutions, but it isn’t always easy.

I want to take a look at why we can’t keep our goals. I think we’re always on a journey of self-improvement. It’s easy to get obsessed with reading self-help books or trying to learn new things. We want to be better. This spring, I went through a Lent study with a group of people. Lent is a time of growth and self-reflection, just six weeks. And yet many of us are struggling to keep up with the daily reading or maintaining a fast of something we willingly chose to give up.

Why do we fail?

I think we fail because of three things.

You might think I’m going to say something like we fail because we don’t have willpower, but I think that is the farthest thing from the truth. I’m no therapist, but I’ve read the literature on alcohol and drug rehab. It’s not willpower that keeps a person sober. It’s community. One reason I think we fail at our goals is that we don’t have a cheerleading team. I believe that we need people on our side when we’re trying to improve.

Secondly, I think we fail because we want immediate results. We have this mentality that things should happen quickly. I’ve written about this before. It’s like you workout once and want that swimsuit body. We get frustrated when we don’t see results right away. So, we move on to the next pursuit.

Do your goals lead to happiness?

Failure can also be because self-improvement goals don’t always lead to being better person. We do a lot of things because “we should.” Your doctor might think you need to lose weight. Maybe your boss wants you to be a better speaker. Meditation should make you a better person. Maybe you ran a marathon, and now you think you need to run an ultramarathon because that’s what your best friend did.

What makes you happy isn’t always what you should be doing.

Your doctor might be right, but if you’re choosing to lose weight because you want to make your doctor happy, you’re probably not going to stick with a program. If you’re trying to learn Spanish to make your boss happy, again, you’re probably not going to enjoy it enough to really learn. If you’re chasing after goals just to say you’ve done it, what value do your achievements bring to your life?

If you’re obsessed because you “should” do something, you’re going to get burned out and fail. Whether it’s New Year’s resolutions, a self-improvement project or giving up meat for Lent, you need solid reasons for change. And if you give something a try that isn’t for you, don’t soldier on. You don’t need to spend years taking yoga classes if you don’t enjoy it.

When something becomes a burden rather than bringing benefits, maybe it’s time to take a look at why you’re doing it.

When you don’t know why you’re knocking yourself out to be better, maybe you need to figure out a reason. And if you feel as if what you’re doing isn’t enough, stop and figure out what will satisfy you.

I’ve been doing a lot of meal prepping on the weekends. Sometimes, I want to quit. But it pays off because I have less to do throughout the week. It might seem like a burden, but the benefits outweigh the burdens. I’ve been able to eat much healthier and use more vegetables in my meals, which is the one goal I’ve been able to keep. I have some good friends that help me stay on track, too. I choose to eat more vegetables for my health. I think it’s a combination of all these things that is helping me meet my goal this year.

Don’t give up on making yourself a better person. Just don’t become obsessed over the program. Look at the outcome. Are you pursing happiness on a treadmill or are you really working to find happiness?

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Opinion Editorials

What I wish I knew about finances in my 20s

(EDITORIAL) They say money makes the world go round. So, let’s discuss how to be smart with finances before it’s too late.

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Being in my early twenties, something I’m still getting used to is the fact that I’m making my own money. This is not to be confused with the babysitting money I was making 10 years ago.

Twice a month is the same routine: I get my paycheck and think, “Wooo! We goin’ out tonight!” but then I snap back to reality and think about what that money needs to be put towards. The smallest part of it going towards fun.

It’s been tricky to really start learning the ins and outs of finances. So, I do what I usually do in any type of learning process? I ask for advice.

I used to be fixated on asking those more advanced in age than I what they wish they knew when they were my age. Now that I’m determined to learn about finances, that question has been altered.

I reached out to a few professionals I know and trust and they gave me solid feedback to keep in mind about building my finances, about what they wish they had known in their 20s. However, I don’t think this only applies to those just starting out, and may be helpful for all of us.

“It’s important to simply know the value of money,” says human resource expert, Nicole Clark. “I think once you start earning your own money and are responsible for your housing, food, etc. you realize how valuable money is and how important it is to budget appropriately and make sure you’re watching your spending.”

Law firm executive director, Michael John, agrees with Clark’s sentiments. “I wish I had kept the value of saving in mind when I was younger,” explains John. “But, still remembering to balance savings while rewarding yourself and enjoying what your efforts produce.”

There are so many aspects of finance to keep in mind – saving, investing, budgeting, retirement plans, and so on and so forth.

In addition to suggesting to spend less than you make and to pay off your credit card in full each month, Kentucky-based attorney, Christopher Groeschen, explained the importance of a 401k.

“Every employee in America should be contributing everything they can into a 401k every year, up to the current $18,000 maximum per person,” suggests Groeschen.

“401ks present an opportunity for young investors to 1) learn about investing and 2) enter the market through a relatively low-risk vehicle (depending on your allocations),” he observes.

“An additional benefit is that 401ks also allow employees to earn FREE MONEY through employer matches,” he continues. “At the very least, every employee should contribute the amount necessary to earn the employer match (usually up to 4%) otherwise, you are giving up the opportunity to earn FREE MONEY. Earning FREE MONEY from your employer that is TAX FREE is much more important than having an extra Starbucks latte every day.”

Whether we like it or not, money is a core aspect of our daily lives. It should never be the most important thing, but we cannot deny that it is, in fact, an important thing. It’s tricky to learn, but investing in my future has become a priority.

This editorial was first published in May 2018.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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