Just 10 Good Agents?
There’s a Biblical story of Abraham and God fighting over God’s wrath against a city. In the story God has had enough with a particular city’s disregard for morality. He tells Abraham to get his hommies and get out, so that they won’t incur the wrath. Abraham attempts to barter with God and asks that He spare the city, if Abraham can find just 50 good men. When God recants and says that He will not destroy the city, Abraham realizes that he cannot think of 50 good guys. Abraham then starts to push his luck (impressive when you’re arguing with God) and says how’z about just 45, 30, 20, and finally he whittles God down to 10 good men. To no one’s surprise Abraham cannot find even 10 good men. ….I am starting to think Real Estate is much like this story and I am having a hard time finding 10 good agents.
Now, understand – I am not talking about 10 agents who use technology (being “tech savvy” works against many agents and not for them), I’m not talking about 10 who write a lot of blogs or even know the rules. I am talking about 10 people who will study to know their craft and put the CLIENT FIRST. Ok, ok….maybe I’d just be happy if they would put one photo in MLS and answer the phone/email at least every other call.
An Industry Lost
I sit and listen to experienced agents, about how the industry used to be; where everyone knew each other. When agents would sit with you and your clients to present an offer, where people took the profession more seriously and they were working collaboratively to bring a better name to the industry. Now, we have stopped looking toward improving the industry and just to alienating those who don’t do it as we do. I’m starting to feel like we’re on the LOST island and it’s a few stranded folks; and those folks are surrounded by the “Others.”
I want to run around to all the listings in my neighborhood and say “Here, go buy a lock box at Home Depot and put your listing on Postlets and Trulia; because no one will protect your best interest better than yourself!” (I don’t usually feel that way, but this week I am starting to wonder…)
Lowering My Expectations
Perhaps it’s because my role is varied that I have become so jaded this past week. I am a licensed Broker, I have a wife that still deals with clients one on one, I teach almost weekly and I am the center point of contact for people with complaints in our Realtor Association. This week alone, I’ve just about given up any hope for our industry. I’m now just looking for a few good Brokers and Agents who can convince me that my expectations aren’t too high. To me, raising the bar, is not just a matter of holding new agents to a higher standard. It applies even more so to the current culture of practitioners.
I hear so much from people who want to “raise the bar” in real estate – but do you really? I mean if all the people who say this really wanted to, couldn’t it be done? Would you succumb to raising the bar? I address the Brokers, because they are the actual authorities in their offices, they create the culture and frankly most of Association leadership is far more concerned with Brokers, than agents.
Brokers, how about if I told you that raising the bar means that we would have to change some things:
- Would you agree to disallow online education? It’s been proven time and again, that online education is less that 20% the effectiveness of a classroom.
- Would you take 50 hours of CE a year, as opposed to 10 or none?
- Would you train, develop and pay good mentors who were assigned to new agents for a ONE YEAR internship, before releasing them to the unsuspecting consumer?
- Would you limit yourself to no more than 20 agents to oversee, as some business consultants will tell us that a manager / executive can not oversee more than 20 people at a time, in this type of setting? (I’ve read as little as 8 in most traditional office settings)
- Would you really staple the little license to the agents forehead and shove them out the first open window upon finding they have neglected to properly protect the client?
- Would you agree to stop pampering “top producers” and turning a blind eye to their non-sense just because they bring in more money than the rest?
- Would you agree to stop “nurturing” an agent who can’t seem to get it, or make money for years at a time?
- Would you agree to stop allowing dual-career agents to work in your office, unless their second career allowed them the flexibility to serve the client as any full-time agent would?
- Would you boot an agent who professes to be a full time agent, but simply doesn’t behave as one?
- Would you agree that agents who witnessed a violation of a rule or regulation be held responsible for reporting it? How about if I said that if they declined to report it, they would fined $5,000 per instance of neglect?
The Wild West
I’ve seen some of the dumbest decisions this past month and frankly the insane market is just making it worse. I was in a conversation recently (not at my office) with a Broker who manages an office, has agents and SERIOUSLY didn’t know what a Shortsale was or what REO meant. I’ve been told a story of an agent who withheld a offer that was 30,000 higher than the first; because he didn’t like the second agent and hated presenting multiple offers. We’ve got listings in our MLS that have been on the market for 120 days with no photos and listed in the wrong cities. Homes with $20 combo boxes’ listed by agents 2 hours away from the market area are prevalent. There are agents who are working two jobs and can only work on their various listings after 5pm and “need to take Sunday off.” The list goes on and on… We get frustrated while discussing these things, we love to blog about it (although I’ve caught a few “bloggers” being the agent they rant against), talk about it in the office (when actually working would be far more productive) and calling the broker to complain.
Are you Culpable?
Here’s a higher standard issue. For all the people who spew rhetoric about how ethical they are and how disgusted they are with the behavior of some agents, how many have reduced their grievance to writing and submitted it to someone who can actually do something about it? Every state has a regulatory board (to the best of my knowledge). Are you not culpable for being negligent to take action when wrong is committed? Some of you have seen things so egregious that it qualifies as a mugging of the client, behind the guise of representation. How many of you who actually saw a mugging in the alley would intervene or at least call 911?
I’ve heard all the arguments before. “I don’t want to write a complaint, because they’ll only get a slap on the wrist….it’ll take too much time….nothing will happen” Yes, they may (in your eyes) get a slap on the wrist, but most people deserve a second chance. Many people only need a fine or to have to encounter discipline in order to set them on the right path. And yes, first offenses are typically treated lightly; but the subsequent time they are typically not treated as benevolently. Yes it takes time, but I will submit that it takes equal or less than to sit around, gossip and complain about it. Lastly, if “nothing happens” it may mean that you weren’t right in the first place… so, be right!
I honestly feel that Real Estate Boards should hold liable those agents who knew of wrong doing, yet took no appropriate action. Appropriate action is not rumors, gossip and ranting online. Appropriate action is utilizing the self-policing options available. If I can’t compel the ill-behaved agents to represents their clients well; perhaps we can compel the self appointed “ethical” agents to step up to the plate.
Sci-fi alert: Building cities on quantum networks becoming reality
(OPINION / EDITORIAL) The University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Tech Lab has created quantum networks that demonstrate the possibilities for future cities.
The University of Bristol is home to the largest quantum entanglement-based computer network in the world. Its Quantum Engineering Technology Lab, led by Dr. Siddarth Joshi, has been spearheading the development of a method of encryption called Quantum Key Distribution that may soon revolutionize information security.
First, what is quantum computing, exactly? (Giving a concise answer to that question is sort of like nailing jelly to a wall, but here goes…)
Much like a light switch, a conventional computer circuit can only be in one of two states at a time: On (1) or off (0). That’s basically how binary code works – by representing information as a series of discrete on and off signals, or high and low energy states.
Quantum computing makes use of a third kind of state that exists between those two.
Think about it this way: If classical, binary computing models rely on energy states of “yes” and “no” to communicate data, quantum computing introduces a state of “maybe.” This is because at the quantum level, the photons that make up the information in a quantum computer can exist in multiple places (or energy states, if you prefer) at once – a phenomenon known as “entanglement.”
Entangled photons cannot be observed or measured (i.e., tampered with) without changing their state and destroying the information they contain. That means quantum computer networks are virtually hack proof compared to traditional networks.
This is where Dr. Joshi’s team is changing the game. While previous attempts to build a secure quantum computer network have been limited to just two machines, the QET Lab has been able to establish a quantum encrypted network between eight machines over a distance of nearly eleven miles.
As Dr. Joshi puts it, “until now, building a quantum network has entailed huge cost, time, and resource, as well as often compromising on its security which defeats the whole purpose. […] By contrast, the QET Lab’s vision is scalable, relatively cheap and, most important of all, impregnable.”
If it can be successfully scaled up further, quantum encryption has countless potential civic applications, such as providing security for voting machines, WiFi networks, remote banking services, credit card transactions, and more.
In order for an entire population to be able to utilize a quantum network, fiber optic infrastructure must first be made accessible and affordable for everyone to have in their homes. In that sense, quantum cities are still roughly two decades away, posits Dr. Joshi. The technology behind it is very nearly mature, though. A simpler application of quantum encryption is practically right around the corner – think quantum ATMs in as few as five years.
5 ways to grow your entrepreneur business without shaming others
(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.
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. Maybe your entrepreneur business was set to thrive as behaviors changed (maybe you already offered contactless products and services). Or, you were forced to add virtual components or find new revenue streams – immediately. This has been tough.
Every single person is having a hard time with the adjustments and most likely at different stages than others. We’re 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 marketing outreach online. 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 gives 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.”
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):
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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 way of doing things?
Can we combat grind culture and injustice with a nap?
(OPINION EDITORIALS) A global pandemic and a climate of racial injustice may require fresh thinking and a new approach from what grind culture has taught us.
Information is delivered to us at warp speed with access to television, radio, and the internet (and more specifically, social media). We are inundated with messages. Oftentimes they’re personalized by something that a friend or family shared. Other times we manage them for work, school, or just keeping up with news. Many entrepreneurs already wear many hats and burn the midnight oil.
During this global pandemic, COVID-19, we have also seen a rise in awareness and attention to social injustice and systemic racism. This is not a new concept, as we all know. But it did feel like the attention was advanced exponentially by the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020. Many people and entrepreneurs felt called to action (or at least experienced self-reflection). And yet they were working at all hours to evolve their businesses to survive. All of this happening simultaneously may have felt like a struggle while they tried to figure out exactly they can do.
There are some incredible thought leaders – and with limited time, it can be as simple as checking them out on Instagram. These public figures give ideas around what to be aware of and how to make sure you are leveling up your awareness.
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Center for Antiracist Research – he has been studying anti-racism and has several books and interviews that help give language to what has been happening in our country for centuries. His content also delves into why and how white people have believed they are more than people of color. Here is a great interview he did with Brené Brown on her Unlocking Us podcast.
Tamika Mallory – American activist and one of the leading organizers of the 2017 Women’s March. She has been fighting for justice to be brought upon the officers that killed Breonna Taylor on March 13. These are among other efforts around the country to push back on gun control, feminist issues, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Brené Brown – research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the last two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She has been listening and engaging on how racism and our shame intersect. She also speaks about how people can reflect on themselves and where they can take action to better our society. She has some antiracism resources on her website.
With all of this information and the change in our daily routines and work habits (or business adjustments), what is a fresh approach or possibly a new angle that you haven’t been able to consider?
There is one social channel against grind culture that may not be as well-known. At an initial glance, you may even perceive this place as a spoof Twitter and Instagram that is just telling you to take a nap. But hold on, it’s actually much smarter than that. The description says “We examine the liberating power of naps. We believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations. We install Nap Experiences. Founding in 2016.”
It might be a great time for you to check out The Nap Ministry, inspired by Tricia Hersey. White people are called to action, and people of color are expressly told to give time to taking care of themselves. Ultimately, it goes both ways – everyone needs the time to recharge and recuperate. But people of color especially are being told to value their rest more than the grind culture. Yes, you’re being told you need to manage your mental health and include self-care in your schedule.
Through The Nap Ministry, Tricia “examines rest as a form of resistance by curating safe spaces for the community to rest via Collective Napping Experiences, immersive workshops, and performance art installations.”
“In this incredibly rich offering, we speak with Tricia on the myths of grind culture, rest as resistance, and reclaiming our imaginative power through sleep. Capitalism and white supremacy have tricked us into believing that our self-worth is tied to our productivity. Tricia shares with us the revolutionary power of rest.” They have even explored embracing sleep as a political act.
Let this allow you to take a deep breath and sigh – it is a must that you take care of yourself to take care of your business as well as your customers and your community. And yes, keep your drive and desire to “get to work”. But not at your expense for the old grind culture narrative.
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