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Turn it Off and Change Your Life

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SHOCK!

I was in complete shock. The numbers were so startling that I had to repeat them out loud and read it again to make sure my eyes weren’t playing a trick on me. They weren’t. There in plain type was the statistics in the report:

“The average American viewer watched 151 hours of television per month in the fourth quarter of 2008 — the most ever…”

151 HOURS!

151 hours! A month. I don’t think I watch that many hours of television in a year. In fact, I know that I don’t. My wife and I watch so little television that back in December we gave away our living room television and bought a 65 gallon fishtank. We were sick and tired of the television being the focal point of the living room, especially since it sits idle. The fishtank is prettier, it brings life into the room, and guess what… the fish never report bad news (well, unless one croaks).

Walk in to any office in America — walk in to your real estate office. You’ll hear conversations about the latest t.v. show, discussions about last night’s game, and complaints over how high the cable bills been getting. We’ve become a nation of t.v. junkies. (Disclaimer: I’ll admit that I do watch Lost, but only because I can’t give it up now, Dancing with the Stars — cut me some slack, my wife’s a ballroom dance instructor, and an occasional episode of The Family Guy)

Sitting on the couch, clicker in hand, is not going to improve your life and it certainly is not going to improve your real estate business. I hear so many agents these days complain about the market, the economy, the lack of sales, the listings that won’t sell, the buyers who won’t buy — yet these same agents can tell you everything about the most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

T.V. reports bad news. That’s their job. The doom & gloom of the real estate and mortgage markets is always a hot topic for television. Keep watching and you’ll get depressed. Really depressed. There’s nothing on t.v. that will help you in your real estate business (maybe with the exception of a few bits on HGTV).

TURN IT OFF

Turn off the t.v. Try it for a couple of days. Extend that to a week. After a month, you’ll never know it was gone. Trust me, no client is going to turn you down as their agent because you don’t watch their favorite t.v. show.

REPLACE T.V. TIME WITH PRODUCTIVE TIME

Here’s a few things that you can do to replace that time spent staring at the screen to increase your sales:

  • Read a book. Better yet, read a book about real estate. Read a book about sales. When’s the last time you read a book about negotiating, Mr. or Mrs. Crack Real Estate Negotiator? One of my favorite sales gurus, Jeffrey Gitomer says that if you read about something for 30 minutes a day, in a couple of years, you’ll truly be an expert. Become an expert and sell a home.
  • Write a blog post. Read a blog post. There’s a lot to learn out there in the blogosphere whether it’s here on Agent Genius or elsewhere. Learn the latest about SEO. Bring in buyer traffic to your blog. Sell them a home.
  • Spend some time with your family. Rediscover the art of conversation. If your family or friends are up to it, maybe you can role play a listing appointment and hone your objection fighting skills. Maybe your friend or family member is in the real estate market and you didn’t even know it. Sell them a home.
  • Call a friend or past client you haven’t spoken to in a while. Chit chat. Ask them who’s the next person they know who needs to buy or sell a home. Follow up and sell a home.
  • Go preview some homes. Get to know some more neighborhoods. Meet the neighbors. Sell their homes.
  • Join a club. Meet some like-minded, fun-loving friends. Sell them a home.

Before you know it, you’ll be so busy that you don’t have time for t.v. Don’t worry, you can always Tivo your favorite show and watch it after your next settlement.

Brian Block practiced law until he heard every single attorney joke and decided becoming a real estate broker was a more fun way to earn a living. Proud of the plaques and diplomas adorning his office wall, he's even more proud of his marriage to a beautiful and talented ballroom dance teacher and fellow entrepreneur. Every day, you can find Brian, doing what he does best – advising Northern Virginia home buyers and sellers. If you want, you can follow him on Twitter @blockrealestate.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Chuck G

    February 26, 2009 at 8:49 am

    151 hours…in a 30 day month that’s 6.3 days of 24/7 TV every month…or about 5 hours each and every day. No wonder we’re in a recession.

    For those who blog, the TV screen has been supplanted by the computer screen. And I’d be willing to bet that some are approaching that 151 hours/mo number in front of the latter?

    Oops, gotta run…Oprah’s coming on in a few minutes…

  2. Missy Caulk

    February 26, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Wow, that is amazing. Not that many good programs, except American Idol !

    TV can be so negative you really have to watch yourself with the news.

  3. John Kalinowski

    February 26, 2009 at 10:22 am

    It’s not all bad. A little brainless humor is good for the soul, and it can be quite therapeutic to watch the funny video shows, or American Idol, etc. I also enjoy watching The History Channel, Discovery Channel, and Animal Planet with my children.

    Sometimes melting into the couch in front of some completely meaningless show can do wonders for an overworked cranium.

  4. Matthew Hardy

    February 26, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I have notice a correlation between my experience of well-being and how much television I watch. Less is better. A good replacement: books or backgammon. A better replacement: writing software while I mountain bike. A best replacement: no thought.

  5. Jayson

    February 26, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    That’s an absurd amount of TV, but based on what I hear people talking about, and what I hear them say they do, I believe it. I certainly agree that less television is the way to go; I don’t see the majority of Americans believing that any time soon. It’s the death of our production.

    Thanks for the stats and read

  6. Matt Wilkins

    February 26, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I think that our society’s addicition to TV stems from the “I have this all this nice A/V equipment I should put it to god use”. I do have to agree with Chuck that if you include computer screntime in that the figure becomes more believeable in my opinion.

    I personally cut cable about a year ago once the monthly bil skirted $100/month. I don’t miss it at all as the shows I DO watch are on the major broadcast networks and/or available to watch on the web.

  7. fred

    February 26, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Turn off my 52″ Samsung 1080p? Are you kidding LOL. 151 hours is a bit much but we should all still tune in and stay connected to the world. At least watch CNN right?

  8. Carson

    March 2, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    A agree with Matt on the A/V equipment. Worse, once a person gets sucked in to a 52″ screen, it’s hard for them to let go. Add a DVR and it’s like crack.

  9. Christi Borden

    March 6, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I am often asked how I can find time to read? It is easy… I turn off the boob tube. Yes, there is the occasional news program or old movie that might catch my eye, but I am usually found behind the pages of a good read instead of trying to figure out which washed up television star is the best dancer or who will get the rose and who will go home? Not superior… just trying to find a way to better use my limited personal time. My kids are readers, too and it shows… National Merit Scholars!

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Business Marketing

Snapchat’s study reveals our growing reliance on video

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Snapchat released a report that shows some useful insights for future video content creation.

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Snapchat is taking a break from restoring people’s streaks to publish a report on mobile video access; according to Social Media Today, the report holds potentially vital information about how customers use their mobile devices to view content.

And–surprise, surprise–it turns out we’re using our phones to consume a lot more media than we did six years ago.

The obvious takeaways from this study are listed all over the place, and not even necessarily courtesy of Snapchat. People are using their phones substantially more often than they have in the past five years, and with everyone staying home, it’s reasonable to expect more engagement and more overall screen time.

However, there are a couple of insights that stand out from Snapchat’s study.

Firstly, the “Stories” feature that you see just about everywhere now is considered one of the most popular–and, thus, most lucrative–forms of video content. 82 percent of Snapchat users in the study said that they watched at least one Snapchat Story every day, with the majority of stories being under ten minutes.

This is a stark contrast to the 52 percent of those polled who said they watched a TV show each day and the 49 percent who said they consumed some “premium” style of short-form video (e.g., YouTube). You’ll notice that this flies in the face of some schools of thought regarding content creation on larger platforms like YouTube or Instagram.

Equally as important is Snapchat’s “personal” factor, which is the intimate, one-on-one-ish atmosphere cultivated by Snapchat features. Per Snapchat’s report, this is the prime component in helping an engaging video achieve the other two pillars of success: making it relatable and worthy of sharing.

Those three pillars–being personal, relatable, and share-worthy–are the components of any successful “short-form” video, Snapchat says.

Snapchat also reported that of the users polled, the majority claimed Snapchat made them feel more connected to their fellow users than comparable social media sites (e.g., Instagram or Facebook). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next-closest social media platform vis-a-vis interpersonal connection was TikTok–something for which you can probably see the nexus to Snapchat.

We know phone use is increasing, and we know that distanced forms of social expression were popular even before a pandemic floored the world; however, this report demonstrates a paradigm shift in content creation that you’d have to be nuts not to check out for yourself.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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skilled worker

The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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