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Opinion Editorials

Without My Blog, I Wouldn’t Still Be a Realtor

The truth is – I am far more tied to this profession now than I was four years ago, thanks in large part to the knowledge and relationships I have gained and developed from writing nearly every day, and I hear similar anecdotes from more people every week. … If real estate blogging were just about hanging out with other realestistas it’s be cool, but not that cool .    Blogging accomplishes several things, perhaps most of all a conveyance of transparency and honesty in a world of consumers who are desperately seeking both: Thanks for taking a couple minutes to speak with me.

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“It would be a lot easier to walk away if it weren’t for the blog.”

Especially this year.

That’s what a friend and fellow real estate blogger said to me a few weeks ago, and I agreed wholeheartedly.

The truth is – I am far more tied to this profession now than I was four years ago, thanks in large part to the knowledge and relationships I have gained and developed from writing nearly every day, and I hear similar anecdotes from more people every week.

Self-gratification and validation is nice, but more importantly – consumers are more tied to their favorite real estate bloggers because of their blogs. If real estate blogging were just about hanging out with other realestistas it’s be cool, but not that cool.

Blogging accomplishes several things, perhaps most of all a conveyance of transparency and honesty in a world of consumers who are desperately seeking both:

Thanks for taking a couple minutes to speak with me. I am so relieved to find that there is a realtor in the Charlottesville area that realizes that Charlottesville is not immune to the ups and downs of the market. I have talked to several agents thus far, most of whom giving me the speech that Charlottesville’s real estate market is steady and should hold solid regardless of what is happening on the open market.

Emails and conversations like the above as well as the constant innovations and lessons learned from friends around the RE.net, and provide the sustenance to continue.

Blogging allows one to differentiate oneself from the chaff. Those of us who have been doing this for a while know this; those who are just entering the real estate blogging world may need encouragement and validation that consistent writing is rewarding.

The blog ties one to one’s community in a public, persistent and sticky way that makes extrication much more difficult – and this is a good thing.

What’s the takeaway? If you’ve been doing this for a while, keep doing what you’ve been doing – look up to the leaders of our world and copy their successes at every opportunity. Having just finished Made to Stick, this statement stuck with me –

“We don’t want to be first, but we sure as hell don’t want to be third.”

If you’re new, do the same.

Dad, Husband, Charlottesville Realtor, real estate Blogger, occasional speaker - Inman Connects, NAR Conferences - based in Charlottesville, Virginia. A native Virginian, I graduated from VMI in 1998, am a third generation Realtor (since 2001) and have been "publishing" as a real estate blogger since January 2005. I've chosen to get involved in Realtor Associations on the local, state & national levels, having served on the NAR's RPR & MLS groups. Find me in Charlottesville, Crozet and Twitter.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Jayson

    January 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Definitely true Jim, a blog makes it harder to just quit and walk away “what about the readers what would they think” it makes your footprint in the industry larger. As you mentioned, consistent writing truly pays off – it’s like anything else in life, practice makes perfect.

  2. Andrew Olson

    January 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I have been a big proponent of blogs for real estate professionals but this is one area that I haven’t covered much. The illustration of “burning the ships behind you” through blogging about your goals, ideas, etc. is definitely something that can help you persist when you might otherwise have given up.

  3. Chuck G

    January 20, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Jim,

    I feel the same way about blogging. I started my main blog about a year ago, and I don’t need to tell you that blogging is a mix of fantastic highs and unbelievable lows. But when I get emails from clients who have taken the time to ask ME questions about real estate, schools, development programs, etc… I almost hear the voice in my head saying “You absolutely can’t walk away from this now..” No matter how bad the market gets.

    It has become the centerpiece of my marketing, and the very first thing I do every day when I wake up.

    Sounds like there may be a 12-step program in our futures…

  4. Chris Lengquist

    January 21, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Wow. I’d never stop to think it through but I just have to agree with about every word you said. Great post.

  5. Jim Duncan

    January 21, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks for the comments, folks. Everyone hears how important it is to write down goals – this is a way to publicly display one’s dedication and commitment to the business, profession and the community.

  6. David Pylyp

    March 9, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Where can I get a summary of those 12 steps again?

    Thanks for the smile!

  7. Steve Babbitt

    January 5, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks so much for your example to us old guys!!(32 years in the business) who are learning new tricks!
    I’ve been trying to write for the past year and it is just now starting to make sense and be a little easier. Thanks for setting the pace!

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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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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

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better equipment, better work

What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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