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Opinion Editorials

Real estate columnist says remove clients from your Facebook



I have to tell you about the futureBack to the past from the future Bernice Ross, Inman blogger and 30 year real estate veteran turned public speaker and writer suggests against the social media elites that Realtors should remove clients as friends from their Facebook in order to avoid jeopardizing client confidentiality.

Doc! I have to tell you about the future!

So the news that Bernice returns from the future to tell us is not that we should manage (or learn to manage) friends that become clients in the social sphere, but just not to make friends that buy and sell homes with you at all- at least not on Facebook.

Back to 1988…

What Bernice fails to understand is that making friends/connections is the point of being on Facebook, and to make friends that might recommend you to their friends- it’s what we’ve all done offline for years. I recall the early days of email the same rhetoric from the old guard to mind your Ps and Qs on the internet or to just plain avoid the world wide web of nightmares altogether. OMG THEY’RE STEALING AWER DA-TA!

Bernice is entitled to her opinion, but in the real world, it is our recommendation that you meet clients wherever they wish to meet you. Back up your conversations, as well as have the conversation early on (once in the process of representation) on how you and your clients should best communicate.

Where we’re going, we’ll need roads?

As for the fear mongering on violating Facebook TOS by placing property listings on your personal page rather than your business page, it is true, but heavy handed- just mind the same TOS that your clients agreed to and you’re good to go. As for data mining by applications? Every time you login using Facebook (anywhere) you transfer your data to the Facebook (approved) trusted entity you’re logging into- again, you and your clients agreed to this via the same TOS when joining Facebook or giving permission to each individual app. Your clients are aware of their risks or they aren’t, it’s truly none of your business or concern. Obviously, common sense dictates we not discuss personal information in the public realm, and I doubt a Realtor would be foolish enough to announce a client did not qualify via Facebook status update.

This idea that we should be afraid of anything we don’t understand is why consumers rail against your commissions versus your value and fear mongering only perpetuates old school stereotypes of real estate professionals. Instead, our time is better served on learning about and managing advancing technologies and mediums, not fearing them.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  1. Drew Meyers - Virtual Results

    February 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I 2nd your opinion. Someone sent this article to me earlier today and I responded with a quick tirade about the bad advice.

  2. Lesley Lambert

    February 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Another brilliant bit of advice from a namby pamby that isn’t properly using social media and as such thinks it is bunk.

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Okay, namby pamby? Really? In 65k comments, that’s a first :p

  3. aMY L cavENDER

    February 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Unless you are posting inappropriate stuff on FB (which you shouldn’t be…) why in the heck would you defriend your clients? The reason I have my current/past/potential clients on my FB and Twitter is to show that I’m a real person.

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Amy, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that you’re a real woman who rocks it every single day for her friends and clients.

  4. Vicki Moore

    February 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I just listened to a few of her podcasts and was really disappointed that she talked about things that aren’t new and inventive but outdated and overdone.

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:30 am

      Vicki, you’ve been around AG for so long there is no doubt that you’ve heard and read ‘it all.’ :p

  5. Becky Squyres

    February 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    She also wrote an article not so long ago claiming that Facebook for Real Estate was better left to the baby boomer generations. Ross made some fairly offensive claims that the younger generations did not know how to use medium as an effective marketing tool because of questionable material possibly being posted which included references to binge drinking. First off, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to understand how to appropriately sensor and moderate facebook content. Second, it’s our medium. It’s how we’ve communicated with our friends and peers since before mom and the rest of her Farmville posse started taking up shop. She’s welcome to her opinion, but there’s a reason why every Generation Y oriented conference I’ve been to has been a completely offensive: Mom just doesn’t understand.

  6. Jeff Bulman

    February 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Horrible advice, shun people who like you because of some far fetched fear of litigation. Hopefully people will stop putting stock in “coaches”, professional “bloggers” and other who don’t live in the real world of real estate.

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    February 22, 2011 at 1:49 am

    I just re-joined Inman news and the first article I read was about Facebook only being good for particular generations, followed by how great being pregnant was for getting business. Today I read this article and just shut down my blog reader…

    Inman needs to better editors (cough-cough like Lani cough-cough). There’s virtually no consistent message there anymore. That said, these types of articles do get traction…

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:24 am

      I’ve never paid for a subscription, and never will. News should be free.

  8. Ken Brand

    February 22, 2011 at 7:27 am

    This is what’s beautiful about Facebook, blogging, Twitter, et al. We can all beam our good, bad and ugly points of view across the universe and our success-or-suck destiny is accelerated. If you’re attractive you’ll succeed faster. If you suck, you’ll #fail faster.

    At least Bernice has a point of view, albeit one I don’t agree with. At least she’s putting it out there. How many people never stand for anything and remain quiet and invisible.

    No doubt there is, although we won’t hear from them here, a tribe of prospects and training-consumers who will welcome the news that Facebook is dangerous and this article will reinforce their perspective and garner new speaking engagements, etc.

    While to my point of view these recommendations are extreme, I definitely see and read equally extreme recommendations that proclaim Facebook, et al to be the holy grail and a replacement for the real work of on-purpose and in-person contact, conversation, solving and selling.

    The power of sharing our thoughts and beliefs with everyone everywhere is a transformative.

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Her magic bullet is not to play at all. We’re used to that, Ken, there’s enough old school fear left around the industry to choke the healthiest of ideas.

      • Ken Brand

        February 22, 2011 at 11:51 am

        Yeah, you’re right. In my view it’s so 180 that what struck me was not the message, but how we can ALL demonstrate to the world who we are and what we’re about.

        You’ll appreciate this. I was in day long water cooler talk with several super smart people. Technology types, successful agents, brokers and consultant types. There were 7 or 8 of us, just sharing thoughts on what we were working on and stuff like that. Before we started sharing we went around the room and introduced ourselves, how long we we had been in the business, what we do, where we do it, etc.

        The subject of eLeads, conversion, lost opportunity, scrubbing, incubating and stuff like that. Eric Stegman was sharing some ideas. Anyway, asked what I thought about one of the elements of his idea. I told him I thought it would never work. I’ve never seen it work. He should come up with a better plan, something with less resistance. He’s a cool guy. He looked at me and smiled. Then politely asked me, “Do you know why you think that Ken?” Me thinking, “Because I have experience.” Me speaking, “Why?” Eric, “Because you’ve been in the business for 30 years.”

        Holy crap. You could have knocked me down with a feather. He was right. I took a position based on my experience and never stopped to challenge my own assumptions. We all do that, that’s what happened with BR’s post I imagine.

        So, my thought was, that whatever the message, today we can broadcast it and others can rebroadcast and comment, yesteryears we couldn’t. And this demonstration of how sharing your thoughts can create conversations like this, to me highlights more about the media medium than the message.

        Having said all that, you’re right. I imagine those looking for confirmation that FB and other tools are dangerous and to be avoided, have something they can hang their hat on. The beat goes on.


        • Benn Rosales

          February 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

          I’ve always said new ideas are best mixed with wisdom. I call Jeff Brown to counter balance my ideas. He’s called me an idealist, and windmill tilting many times, and I’ve called him old fashioned and a stick in the mud. Typically, we end up in the middle. 🙂 Jeff has never told me not to try though, and he’s also never told me to be afraid to fail.

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:25 am

      PS love that she stands for something, 99.9% of all others stand silently.

  9. Matthew Hardy

    February 22, 2011 at 11:44 am

    “social media elites”

    What’s that? 😉

    “News should be free.”

    You mean, without advertising?

  10. BawldGuy

    February 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I love these discussions almost as much as homemade, overfilled tacos on Sunday nights. I’m on FB but mostly inactive. I’m happy for agents who’re doin’ massive volume due to their FB efforts. Oops, my bad, there is no such agent.

    Much as twitter has been proved overrated, I suspect the same for FB. Good personal interaction, great for broadcasting posts/links, but not effective for much else — at least when it comes to bank deposits. Let’s establish a gold standard for kinda sorta elite results, say $100,000 in gross commissions for a calendar year.

    In Austin an agent closing just 18 sides, less than 1.5 a month, would generate (at 3%/side & $200,000/side) $102,000 in gross commissions. In San Diego it’d take 10 closed sides. Let’s exclude agents with blogs, as I’ve already agreed FB is a solid link-broadcasting medium. How many agents in the entire country can say, with a straight face, they’ve closed a side a month directly from their FB efforts?

    FB isn’t worthless by a longshot. I’m OldSchool through and through, but even I know it has its value. But somebody, anybody, please admit its power to produce bank deposits is acutely overrated.

    OldFogie Radio now signing off. 🙂

  11. Matthew Hardy

    February 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    @BawldGuy That gauntlet may have to remain on the ground for now. Of course the argument might be made that bank deposits weren’t really the goal. 😉

  12. BawldGuy

    February 22, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    “Of course the argument might be made that bank deposits weren’t really the goal.”

    Oh, well in that case, FB rocks!

  13. MH for Movoto

    February 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I read that article too. definitely a bit fear-monger-esque. while she’s got a point, and you shouldn’t conduct any SERIOUS business on FB (obviously), if you’re on FB and your client’s on FB – what’s the harm?

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Opinion Editorials

How to find the sweet spot between procrastination and desperation

(EDITORIAL) Many intelligent people find themselves stuck in analysis paralysis (procrastination) and missing their window of opportunity. Others make decisions without enough information. How do you find the sweet spot between the two?




I need to confess something to you

So, a little confession’s good for the soul, right? I feel like I need to confess something to you, dear reader, before we jump right into this article. What follows is an article that I pitched to our editor some months back, and was approved then, but I’ve had the hardest time getting started. It’s not writer’s block, per se; I’ve written scores of other articles here since then, so I can’t use that as an excuse.

It’s become a bit of a punch line around the office, too; I was asked if I was delaying the article about knowing the sweet spot in decision making between procrastination and desperation as some sort of hipster meta joke.

Which would be funny, were it to be true, but it’s not. I just became wrapped up in thinking about where this article was headed, and didn’t put words to paper. Until now.

Analysis by paralysis

“Thinking about something—thinking and thinking and thinking—without having an answer is when you get analysis by paralysis,” said St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Matt Bowman, speaking to Fangraphs.

“That’s what happened… I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, or if I was doing anything wrong. I had no idea.” It happens to us all: the decisions we have to make in business loom so large over us, that we delay making them until it’s absolutely necessary.

Worse still are the times that we delay them until after such a time as when making the decision no longer matters because the opportunity or market’s already moved on. So we try to find the avenues for ourselves that will give us the answers we seek, and try to use those answers in a timely fashion. Jim Kaat, the former All-Star pitcher said it well: “If you think long, you think wrong.”

Dumpster Diving in Data

In making a decision, we’re provided an opportunity to answer three basic questions: What? So what? And now what?

The data that you use to inform your decision making process should ideally help you answer the first two of those three questions. But where do you get it from, and how much is enough?

Like many of us, I’m a collector when it comes to decision making. The more data I get to inform my decision, and the sufficient time that I invest to analyze that data, I feel helps me make a better decision.

And while that sounds prudent, and no one would suggest the other alternative of making a decision without data or analysis would be better, it can lead to the pitfall of knowing how much is enough. When looking for data sources to inform your decision making, it’s not necessarily quantity, but an appropriate blend between quantity and quality that will be most useful.

You don’t get brownie points for wading through a ton of data of marginal quality or from the most arcane places you can find them when you’re trying to make an informed decision. The results of your ultimate decision will speak for themselves.

“Effective people,” said Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, “know when to stop assessing and make a tough call, even without total information.”

Great. How do I do that?

So, by what factors should you include (and more importantly, exclude) data in your decision making?

Your specific business sector will tell you which data sources most of your competitors use already, as well as the ones that your industry disruptors use to try to gain the edge on you.

Ideally, your data sources should be timely and meaningful to you. Using overly historical data, unless you’re needing that level of support for a trend line prediction, often falls into “That’s neat, but…” land. Also, if you’re wading into data sets that you don’t understand, find ways to either improve (and thus speed) your analysis of them, or find better data sources.

While you should be aware of outliers in the data sets, don’t become so enamored of them and the stories that they may tell that you base your decision making process around the outlier, rather than the most likely scenarios.

And don’t fall into this trap

Another trap with data analysis is the temptation to find meaning where it may not exist. Anyone who’s been through a statistics class is familiar with the axiom correlation doesn’t imply causation. But it’s oh so tempting, isn’t it? To find those patterns where no one saw them before?

There’s nothing wrong with doing your homework and finding real connections, but relying on two data points and then creating the story of their interconnectedness in the vacuum will lead you astray.

Such artificial causations are humorous to see; Tyler Vigen’s work highlights many of them.

My personal favorite is the “correlation” between the U.S. per capita consumption of cheese and people who died after becoming entangled in their bed sheets. Funny, but unrelated.

So, as you gather information, be certain that you can support your action or non-action with recent, accurate, and relevant data, and gather enough to be thorough, but not so enamored of the details that you start to drown in the collection phase.

Trust issues

For many of us, delegation is an opportunity for growth. General Robert E. Lee had many generals under his command during the American Civil War, but none was so beloved to him as Stonewall Jackson.

Upon Jackson’s death in 1863, Lee commented that Jackson had lost his left arm, but that he, Lee, had lost his right. Part of this affection for Jackson was the ability to trust that Jackson would faithfully carry out Lee’s orders. In preparing for the Battle of Chancellorsville, Jackson approached Lee with a plan for battle:

Lee, Jackson’s boss, opened the conversation: “What do you propose to do?”

Jackson, who was well prepared for the conversation based on his scout’s reports, replied. “I propose to go right around there,” tracing the line on the map between them.

“How many troops will you take?,” Lee queried.

“My whole command,” said Jackson.

“What will you leave me here with?,” asked Lee.

Jackson responded with the names of the divisions he was leaving behind. Lee paused for a moment, but just a moment, before replying, “Well, go ahead.”

And after three questions in the span of less than five minutes, over 30,000 men were moved towards battle.

The takeaway is that Lee trusted Jackson implicitly. It wasn’t a blind trust that Lee had; Jackson had earned it by his preparation and execution, time after time. Lee didn’t see Jackson as perfect, either. He knew the shortcomings that he had, and worked to hone his talents towards making sure those shortcomings were minimized.

Making trust pay off for you

We all deserve to have people around us in the workplace that we can develop into such a trust. When making decisions, large or small, having colleagues that you can rely on to let you know the reality of the situation, provide a valuable alternative perspective, or ask questions that let you know the idea needs more deliberation are invaluable assets.

Finding and cultivating those relationships is a deliberate choice and one that needs considerable and constant investments in your human capital to keep.Click To Tweet

Chris Oberbeck at Entrepreneur identifies five keys to making that investment in trust pay off for you: make authentic connections with those in your employ and on your team, make promises to your staff sparingly, and keep every one of them that you make, set clear expectations about behaviors, communication and output, be vulnerable enough to say “I don’t know” and professional enough to then find the right answers, and invest your trust in your employees first, so that they feel comfortable reciprocating.

Beyond developing a relationship of trust between those who work alongside you, let’s talk about trusting yourself.

For many, the paralysis of analysis comes not from their perceived lack of data, but their lack of confidence in themselves to make the right decision. “If I choose incorrectly,” they think, “it’s possible that I might ________.” Everyone’s blank is different.

For some, it’s a fear of criticism, either due or undue. For others, it’s a fear of failure and what that may mean. Even in the face of compelling research about the power of a growth mindset, in which mistakes and shortcomings can be seen as opportunities for improvement rather than labels of failure, it’s not uncommon for many of us to have those “tapes” in our head, set to auto play upon a miscue, that remind us that we’ve failed and how that labels us.

“Risk” isn’t just a board game

An uncomfortable fact of life is that, in business, you can do everything right, and yet still fail. All of the research can come back, the trend lines of data suggest the appropriate course of action, your team can bless the decision, and you feel comfortable with it, so action is taken! And it doesn’t work at all. A perfect example of this is the abject failure of New Coke to be accepted by the consumer in 1985.

Not only was it a failure to revive lagging sales, but public outrage was so vehement that the company was forced to backtrack and recall the product from the market. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way they’re supposed to.

You have to be comfortable with your corporate and individual levels of risk when making a decision and taking action. How much risk and how much failure costs you, both in fiscal and emotional terms, is a uniquely personal decision, suited to your circumstances and your predilections. It’s also likely a varying level, too; some decisions are more critical to success and the perceptions of success than others, and will likely cause you more pause than the small decisions we make day-to-day.

In the end, success and failure hinge on the smallest of factors at times, and the temptation is to slow down the decision making process to ensure that nothing’s left to chance.

Go too slowly, however, and you’ve become the captain of a rudderless ship, left aimlessly to float, with decisions never coming, or coming far too late to meet the needs of the market, much less be innovative. Collect the information, work with your team to figure out what it means, and answer the third question of the series (the “what”) by taking action.


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Opinion Editorials

Starting a business when you’re broke (and how to make it work)

(EDITORIAL) If money isn’t always a prerequisite to entrepreneurship, how can you start something from nothing?



starting a business

Breaking into the business world can be an intimidating venture, especially if you don’t have the money or experience to back up your ambitions. Experience, however, can be earned – or at least approached through a “fake it until you make it” style approach. But what can you do if you dream of launching a business but you don’t have the cash? Is money a prerequisite to entrepreneurship?

Money helps but isn’t a requirement for those hoping to start their own business – you simply need to get creative. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few things to consider.

One of the best ways to build your confidence around the topic of entrepreneurship is to refocus your attention towards those who also started from nothing, but have since made it big.

Steve Jobs started out tinkering in his garage as a teenager and went on to found the tech giant Apple, while multimillionaire consultant Sam Ovens publically discusses his finances – he was broke just a few years ago but had made over $10 million dollars by the time he turned 26.

Such stories attest to the fact that anyone can ascend to great heights.

Even though many people think money is the most important part of any business endeavor, successful people will tell you that true self-understanding far outranks cash on the list of necessities. Take some time to reflect on your goals and on how you view yourself as you pursue them.

If you think you can’t achieve your goals, then you won’t be able to. The mind is a very powerful thing.

If introspection reveals that you’re low on self-esteem, work on improving your view of yourself and begin developing a more positive perspective. You may find it helpful to write down what you think and then revise this description, working all the time to internalize this improved view of yourself. Though it may seem like a pointless process at first, you’re actually participating in your own transformation.

Another key determinant of success that far surpasses money is passion.

People succeed when they pursue goals that matter to them on a deeper level.

Typically this is the case because passion leads you to accumulate expertise on your chosen topic, and this will draw people to you.

One incredible example of the transformation of passion into profit is 17-year-old Jonah, who makes thousands of dollars a month selling watches online. Jonah comes from a family of jewelers, so he had ready access to the necessary knowledge and cultivated an outstanding selection of timepieces on his site, but it was his ability to combine his material knowledge with real understanding of his customers that made his business successful.

At the end of the day, he wanted his customers to have the perfect watch, and he brought his own passion for the field to bear on creating that experience.

Finally, if you hope to start a business but don’t have any cash resources, the best thing you can do is learn your field and network with those in it – without bringing them on board as professional partners.

It helps to have contacts, but you can’t grow a fledgling business by paying others to do the hard work.

Hunker down and work from home, working at night if you have to keep your current job, and start from the position of humble aspirant. If you show you’re committed to the real work of starting a business, you’ll find that others support you.

If you hope to start a business, but don’t have the money, don’t despair – but also don’t put your dream on hold. The only way to build the foundation you need to live that dream is by doing the hard work in the here and now.

Lots of people started just where you are, but the true successes are the ones who had the courage to push past the barriers without worrying about the financial details. You already have what you need, and that’s the passion for innovation.

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Opinion Editorials

How to deal with an abusive boss and keep your job, too

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Sometimes bosses can be the absolute worst, but also, you depend on them. Here’s how to deal with an abusive boss and, hopefully, not get fired.



abusive boss

Nothing can ruin your work life like an abusive boss or supervisor. But when you’re dependent on your boss for assignments, promotions – heck, your paycheck – how can you respond to supervisor abuse in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your job or invite retaliation?

A new published in the Academy of Management Journal suggests an intriguing approach to responding to an abusive boss. As you might expect, their study shows that avoiding the abuser does little to change the dynamic.

But the study also found that confronting the abuser was equally ineffective.

Instead, the study suggests that workers in an abusive situation “flip the script” on their bosses, “shifting the balance of power.” But how?

The researchers tracked the relationship between “leader-follower dyads” at a real estate agency and a commercial bank. They found that, without any intervention, abuse tended to persist over time.

However, they also discovered two worker-initiated strategies that “can strategically influence supervisors to stop abuse and even motivate them to mend strained relationships.”

The first strategy is to make your boss more dependent on you. For example, one worker in the study found out that his boss wanted to develop a new analytic procedure.

The worker became an expert on the subject and also educated his fellow co-workers. When the boss realized how important the worker was to the new project, the abuse subsided.

In other words, find out what your boss’s goals are, and then make yourself indispensable.

In the second strategy, workers who were being abused formed coalitions with one another, or with other workers that had better relationships with the boss. The study found that “abusive behavior against isolated targets tends to stop once the supervisor realizes it can trigger opposition from an entire coalition.”

Workplace abuse is not cool, and it shouldn’t really be up to the worker to correct it. At times, the company will need to intervene to curb bad supervisor behavior. However, this study does suggest a few strategies that abused workers can use to try to the tip the balance in their favor.

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