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Opinion Editorials

The Tragic Career of Troglodytes



Plato is our Friend

I love literature and really enjoy allegories, above all.  One of my favorites, is Palto’s Allegory of the Cave.  It was authored by Plato in his worked called, The Republic; and was written in about 400 bc.  In the allegory, Plato relates to a community of cave dwellers, as self prescribed prisoners to their cave, they watch shadows pass by along the blank wall they are facing, showing that there is light from a fire behind them.  The prisoners begin creating their own stories and assigning them to the shadows.  They create their own realities based on the shadows and what they think are causing them, as opposed to actually going outside and finding the true reality.  Plato’s allegory is much more in depth, but for my point; I want to depend on a few items:

  1. The “prisoners” were there by self imposed exile, we know this because one does walk free and sees that there is a reality outside of the cave.
  2. The “realities” were false perceptions, based on the “prisoners” lack of interest in realizing truth.
  3. There was satisfaction in living in the cave, even though there is a hint of a different reality

I want to be Morpheus

Now fast-forward to 1999 and the movie The Matrix, in which we find Neo frustrated with his mundane life and knowing that there is something greater than what is in the hear and now.  We see Morpheus offering two different colored pills and making this statement:

Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind — driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Neo has a hint that there is a world and reality outside of his own limited perceptions.  The unfortunate reality is that too many practitioners chose not to take the pill and have no idea that there is a world outside of their own perceptions.  They have no idea that there are skillsets outside of open houses and floor duty. (not saying those things are all bad, when connected to other skills)  They subject themselves to reliving their Broker’s failures and limit themselves to things that do not work.

The Athenian Trial

In Plato’s Apology he writes that The Athenians put Socrates on trial for corrupting the young people and trying to cause a revolution against the state’s religion.  During this trial, it is said that ” the unexamined life is not worth living”; as to say that life is only fulfilled when we look at more than just the shadows on our own cave walls. (understand that I am not implying any religious reference here, that’s for a different blog)

I apply this to a recent conversation that I heard.  I was recently sitting in a program where an elected official was speaking of the future of the real estate industry.  He had worked for various associations over the years and this politician / attorney gave a ten minute diatribe about how the text messaging, twittering and e-mail was ruining how people communicate and results in people not talking to one another.  Evidently he doesn’t feel the written word is a form of communications…

I was sitting in the room with Danilo Bogdanovic, whom I had met through Social Media applications and have learned from and shared with in the past.  It was interesting to see how the two of us bristled, just a bit at the conversation.  See I’ve learned things from Danilo – we’ve discussed real estate and shared meals together.  None of which would have happened, had it not been for the social media connections and we live less than an hour away.

This speaker had darkened the opinion of the nay-says in the room by his negative presentation of the Internet applications that I use.  Interestingly, this person’s particular cave was presuming that COMMUNICATION devices such as Twitter, Facebook, etc… were hampering people in communicating.  However, the overwhelming reality is that people are more apt to communication and learn from others by these same tools.

I’m Tired of Dragging Dead Weight

I was concerned about the effect this speaker’s opinion had on the group.  Mainly because there were a number of people in the room who had dismissed technology other than cell phones and e-mail.  I was only briefly concerned, because about a month ago; I made a business decision to NOT argue, fight or pursued people to open their minds. I really need to concentrate on those who “get it” and are willing to have open minded discussions.

I’ve been teaching real estate for many years and I can honestly say that almost every class is a battle to win people over to my side.  I get good feedback from classes, but my friends will tell you that I will always tend to dwell on the rare negative comment.

When I say things such as “Dual Agency is bad”, “Print Media is less effective than Internet Marketing”, “Your marketing needs to be about the client and NOT you”, “You need to be more interested in protecting your client than how another agent will feel about you” or “If you aren’t constantly learning, you’re a liability” I get people who just want to hold an “Athenian Trial.”  These types of statements are undermining the religion of Realtors and stirs the spirit of “younger” (by experience, not age) agents.

I recently asked a large class of Brokers to articulate for me, they and their agent’s value outside of MLS and lockboxes.  Not one Broker could give me a persuasive and cohesive argument.  So what happens to our industry when Trulia and combo boxes become more pervasive?

I have made a decision that I will not drag the close-minded around any longer.  I am dwelling with those that have escaped the cave.  I am putting it right back in the “professionals” lap to learn and change with the needs of the consumer.

Many of you who read this blog and who I have met face the same “trials” and I want to encourage you to concentrate on your clients, your business and those who are open to knowing about change and progress.

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  1. fred

    March 15, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Excellent article Matthew. I agree with your perspective on this. The cave is bad!

  2. Ken Montville - The MD Suburbs of DC

    March 15, 2009 at 8:59 am

    There will always be those that resist change and feel more comfortable with the “tired and true” ways. They often couch this in terms like “back to basics” and the like.

    I remember early in my career there was a big hullabaloo about “the Internet” replacing the traditional Realtor. Someone had the guts to say that “The Internet will not replace Realtors. Realtors who embrace the Internet will replace those who don’t”. Since then technology has advanced and the premise is the same: “Those that embrace the technology will replace those that don’t.”

    No use trying to convert those who live in fear.

  3. Sarah Cooper

    March 15, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    The sunshine feels good, doesn’t it? 🙂

  4. Matthew Hardy

    March 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    > concentrate on those who “get it”

    The first sign of a new religion. 😉

    I love technology and my work is probably more digitized than nearly all Realtors (my business has almost no paperwork).

    But I know that…

    Being good at technology and being good at business are not the same.
    Being good at social media and being good at business are not the same.

    Perform well in a repeatable way to advance the customer’s interest.

  5. Matthew Rathbun

    March 15, 2009 at 7:45 pm


    As I illustrated in the post, the technology function is only one element. Things such as the resolution to put clients first, stray away from Dual Agency, maintain a higher level of education, etc.. are all things that most agents don’t want to hear.

    I recently taught a class on Agency and explained that Offers to Purchase were confidential and half the class lost their mind…

    It isn’t technology at all – technology is just a symptom of the bigger issue.

  6. Matthew Hardy

    March 15, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    > Things such as the resolution to put clients first… maintain a higher level of education

    I agree. These are indeed the most important things and are things that have been around a very long time; since record keeping and follow-up systems were performed in bound journals. Perhaps there are still things to be learned from “troglodytes”. Just sayin’… 🙂

    > explained that Offers to Purchase were confidential

    Confidentiality!! How un-transparent! 😉

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    March 15, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Whoops!! I meant NOT Confidential (COE standard of practice 1-13 and 1-15)

    I agree that wisdom is important and wisdom only comes from experience. I just hope that 20 years from now I can properly apply wisdom and keep an open mind 🙂

    I hear what you’re saying!

  8. Missy Caulk

    March 16, 2009 at 7:11 am

    “I have made a decision that I will not drag the close-minded around any longer. I am dwelling with those that have escaped the cave. I am putting it right back in the “professionals” lap to learn and change with the needs of the consumer.”


    I told the last office I spoke in, twice now that I was not coming back until they had implemented a FEW of the things I had spoken on and been asked to speak about.

    4-5 hours out of my day, driving, gas, speaking, answering questions afterwards, drive home and they are just filling space just doesn’t work for me.

    Sound harsh?

    When the pupil is ready the teacher will come.

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?



Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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Opinion Editorials

5 secrets to a more productive morning, free of distractions

(EDITORIAL) Productivity is king in the office, but sometimes distractions and other issues slow you down. So what can you do to limit these factors?



distractions stop productivity

Regardless of whether you’re a self-proclaimed morning person or not, more efficient mornings can be catalytic in your daily productivity and output. The only question is, do you know how to make the most of your mornings in the office?

5 Tips for Greater Morning Productivity

In economic terms, productivity is a measure of output as it relates to input. Academics often discuss productivity in terms of a one-acre farm’s ability to produce a specific crop yield, or an auto manufacturing plant’s ability to produce a certain number of vehicles over a period of time. But then there’s productivity in our personal lives.

Your own daily productivity can be defined in a variety of ways. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting the desired results with less time and effort on the input side. And as a business professional, one of the best ways to do this is by optimizing your morning in the office.

Here are a few timely suggestions:

  1. Eliminate All Non-Essential Actions

    Spend the next week keeping a log of every single action you take from the moment your eyes open in the morning until you sit down at your desk. It might look something like this:

    • Turn off alarm
    • Scroll through social media on the phone
    • Get out of bed
    • Eat breakfast
    • Take shower
    • Brush teeth
    • Walk dog
    • Watch news
    • Browse favorite websites
    • Get in car
    • Starbucks drive-thru
    • Arrive at office
    • Small talk with coworkers
    • Sit down at the desk

    If you do this over the course of a week, you’ll notice that your behaviors don’t change all that much. There might be some slight deviations, but it’s basically the same pattern.

    Now consider how you can eliminate as many points of friction as possible from your routine. [Note from the Editor: This may be an unpopular opinion, but] For example, can you skip social media time? Can you make coffee at home, rather than drive five minutes out of your way to wait in the Starbucks drive-thru line? Just doing these two things alone could result in an additional 30 minutes of productive time in the office.

  2. Reduce Distractions

    Distractions kill productivity. They’re like rooftop snipers. As soon as they see any sign of productivity, they put it in their crosshairs and pull the trigger.Ask yourself this: What are my biggest distractions and how can I eliminate them?Popular distractions include social media, SMS, video games, news websites, and email. And while none of these are evil, they zap focus. At the very least, you should shift them to later in the day.
  3. Set Measurable Goals and Action items

    It’s hard to have a productive morning if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be productive. Make sure you set measurable goals, create actionable to-do lists, and establish definitive measurements of what it looks like to be efficient. However, don’t get so caught up in the end result that you miss out on true productivity.“There’s a big difference between movement and achievement; while to-do lists guarantee that you feel accomplished in completing tasks, they don’t ensure that you move closer to your ultimate goals,” mentions. “There are many ways to increase your productivity; the key is choosing the ones that are right for you and your ultimate goals.”In other words, set goals that are actually reflective of productivity. In doing so, you’ll adjust your behavior to come in proper alignment with the results you’re seeking.
  4. Try Vagus Nerve Stimulation

    Sometimes you just need to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. There are plenty of ways to shut out interruptions but make sure you’re also simultaneously cuing your mind to be productive. Vagus nerve stimulation is one option for doing both.Vagus nerve stimulation gently targets the body’s vagus nerve to promote balance and relaxation, while simultaneously enhancing focus and output.
  5. Optimize Your Workspace

    Makes sure your office workspace is conducive to productivity. This means eliminating clutter, optimizing the ergonomics of your desk, reducing distractions, and using “away” settings on apps and devices to suppress notifications during work time.

Make Productivity a Priority

Never take productivity for granted. The world is full of distractions and your willpower is finite. If you “wing it,” you’ll end up spending more time, energy, and effort, all while getting fewer positive results.

Make productivity a priority – especially during the mornings when your mind is fresh and the troubles of the day have yet to be released in full force. Doing so will change the way you operate, function, and feel. It’ll also enhance tangible results, like income, job status, and the accolades that come along with moving up in your career.

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Opinion Editorials

Is the tech industry layoff bloodbath coming or is it already here?

We have large online communities for job seekers, and we can affirm that the layoffs are on the way, but there is a silver lining for all involved…



layoff time

If you were on Twitter at the end of last week, you probably saw a dribble of conversations about layoffs in tech coming, and today, the volume was turned up to 10 on social media. Several founders have said they’re cutting parts of teams and are nixing contractors. We’re about to be in a recession, y’all, and we can ALL feel it coming.

While this has been happening all of this calendar year, a pending recession is kicking the stock market in the teeth (especially in tech), and combined with a slowdown in fundraising, fuel has been added to what was simply kindling, and layoffs are already rapidly escalating.

JD isn’t the only one hearing it, my inbox has slowly been lighting up on this topic. In response, Joshua Baer noted that it’s a great time to scoop up talent. Love or hate him, he’s right.

There is a lot of data on tech layoffs, for example, Layoffs.FYI has been tracking meaningfully since COVID began, pulling info from public reports. We expect they’ll be busy for the next few months.

While VC funding in 2021 was at a global high, so far, 2022 has shown a significant slowdown, according to CrunchBase. Many believe valuations are tumified, a bear market is believed to be upon us, and tech firms are struggling to increase profitability, all combining to a bubble about to burst.

As Baer noted, the silver lining is for anyone looking to hire. It’s bad news for anyone about to get a pink slip, but it’s also empowering to know that candidates are still in the driver’s seat in this market and negotiations are still in their favor.

We at AG have communities dedicated completely to job seekers and employers, and have created neutral ground on which they can meet, and they do by the thousands (Austin Digital Jobs and Remote Digital Jobs).

We’re not seeing the “bloodbath” of folks with pink slips in hand yet, BUT today, a dozen mid- to senior- level technologists reached out to me personally that got laid off Monday morning.

With our finger firmly on the tech employment pulse, we agree with the assessment that layoffs are coming.

More on this topic: “Why are tech layoffs coming after such great Q1 earnings?!”

Here’s the TL;DR version in memes:

The end is nigh?
tech layoffs in memes

Seems about right

In and out Morty, a quick 24 hour adventure!

Diversification is the key

The May 2022 stock market

Insert angry title here

It’s fedish!

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