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Opinion Editorials

REALTOR most despised – an open letter to the industry

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img-credit-fairportweb.jpgOriginally published October 20, 2007: First of all, not all Realtors fall into a category of “disliked,” in fact, I would imagine that the reason Realtors rank so highly with consumers in polls is because the one-on-one relationships overlook shortcomings. Maybe you are self-important, always on your cell phone in public, pacing up and down the outdoor patio of the Starbucks, speaking loudly about how you’re not going to put up with a builder who lags behind lending in a quick closing process (I observed this yesterday).

I would imagine that your client can look beyond your need to wear make-up as if you were about to appear on broadway. I am sure your clients really don’t mind the pounds of hairspray it takes to prop up your 1980s hairdo in the wind and high humidity.

Never mind that you roll up in a brand new Lexus next to your first time buyer’s 1987 honda civic hatchback, and are dressed to the hilt- I’m sure they’ll let that go easily when they look to you for advice on how to manage 10% down when they only have 5%. I’m sure the ease in which they can sit around the bare living room of a vacant home and confess their credit ills is like butter for them- you’re so approachable.

I am sure the buyer & seller looking to you for moral support believes you when you say “I’m here for you,” even though you answer every cell call in a five minute period while they’re trying to open up to you about their buying & selling anxieties (not to mention your inability to answer or return their calls for days following their contract signing).

I’m sure the tenant whose lease home is being sold by the owner appreciates your calls during dinner to inform them the house they’ve rented for 3 years is for sale (duh) and asks you “why in the world would you be a renter?” I know consumers understand you’re a busy agent and you’re simply calling with this newsflash at your convenience- at least you thought enough of them, right?

Sometimes, I’m just embarrassed at the behavior of those agents I would normally make excuses for. Sitting in that Starbucks watching Miss Dallas 1972 pace back and forth beside me yelling at people on her cell phone in complete disregard for the consumers that were looking on (go ahead, take another drag of that capri menthol 120 light cigarette as you make yet one more call) at you in utter disgust. Thank you for reminding each caller that you’re a Realtor who works only on referrals (it’s obvious that’s the only business you could attract- maybe).

Thank you for humiliating me and my chosen profession. As you were so important to no one but yourself, I watched people laugh at you behind your back. I sank in my chair for you- should I jump up and stop you? Should I embarrass you the way you embarrassed all of us for the better part of an hour- the consumer looking in? How about you check your look just one more time in the reflection of the Starbucks window- you’re so important.

Maybe I am being mean…

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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47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Mariana - Springs Realty Scoop

    October 20, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Absolutely brilliant – Definitely on the same page as I am. Thank you.

  2. Reuben Moore

    October 20, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    IMO, if we had real standards in this business we would see less of this. Either at the licensing level or at the er, REALTOR® level. The big-haired irony is that, as it stands today, it’s far easier to get a real estate license than it is to get a license to cut hair. I mean really, what else could these guys do for a living???

    So for now, this has to be addressed at the firm level. Just don’t hire them….

  3. Chris Lengquist

    October 20, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Benn, how do you know when a woman in Texas has “big hair”? Sorry – that was a cheap shot.

    But so was your posting. And I liked it. I once heard a guy say the reason he got into real estate was to piss off the town’s top agent who he described as a chain-smoking-cadillac-driving-nonstop-talking-100 year old lady. It was hilarious.

    And your point about the car is hilarious as well. I’ve seen agents get so uptight about their car thinking they have to have that status car to make people think they are successful. And I’m thinking “BUT YOUR CLIENTS ARE IN THE $150$200 CATEGORY…THEY AIN’T DRIVING THOSE EITHER!!!”

    Anyway, I have to go. My double mocha with a squirt of carmel, goat-milk with paprika, extra tall latte is almost finished? I hope I have $10 for this beverage.

  4. Chris Lengquist

    October 20, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    And by the way. I love the G-Love tab. But don’t you also need & Special Sauce?

  5. Cindy

    October 20, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    A few months ago while standing in a check out line I heard a rather loud man discussing in unpleasant &^%* words a client of his. I turned around and there for everyone to see was the name of the real estate brokerage he worked for. Oh please. I wonder how much business he lost for his company that day?

  6. Benn Rosales

    October 20, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    Cindy, I know exactly who this agent is, she yelled her name several times, and also her company. That was the only good thing to come of it- folks knew what brokerage recruited from the trailor park. Unfortunately, for the profession, the damage is done.

  7. Benn Rosales

    October 21, 2007 at 1:17 am

    Benn, how do you know when a woman in Texas has “big hair”? Dallas, Houston = land of the big hair, any big hair you see here is a transplant or in real estate or both.

    This isn’t just about the ladies either. There is actually a top producer here who male, and has had enough plastic surgery to – well, I don’t know, just keep the ac on low. His mail order brider, mixed with his southern preacher style of selling is a powerful turnoff combination.

  8. Norm Fisher

    October 21, 2007 at 1:55 am

    You’re not being mean. You’d be doing her a huge favour if you found a way to get this post to her.

    While every profession has its share of idiots, agents are the worst for loudmouthing on a mobile phone.

    Don’t get me starting on taking calls during client meetings. They may say they don’t mind, but 95% of the time they think you’re a real jackass. The rest of the world can get by without you for a flippin’ hour folks!

  9. Jeff Brown

    October 21, 2007 at 3:02 am

    What’s big hair?

  10. Benn Rosales

    October 21, 2007 at 3:13 am

    Jeff, the exact opposite of what’s on your head, baldone!

  11. Benn Rosales

    October 21, 2007 at 3:13 am

    Norm- no, in fact, I aim to get you started!

  12. ines

    October 21, 2007 at 4:27 am

    flipping hilarious!! Thanks for the good laugh and for reminding us what to look forward to every day in this business. I love Real Estate!

  13. Laurie Manny

    October 21, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Hilarious! Every town has it’s share of these. I want to know how to get them to stop admiring themselves in the mirror or window glass while they are screaming into their cell phones.

  14. Norm Fisher

    October 22, 2007 at 1:17 am

    Thank you Benn. I will be in touch.

  15. monika

    October 22, 2007 at 2:57 am

    I recognize some of them here in NH too. Thanks for laugh!

  16. Thomas Johnson

    October 22, 2007 at 3:15 am

    Benn: Now I know why my cell phone has that little video camera in it. Snap, Click-off to youtube, (and my listing presentation?)!

  17. Benn Rosales

    October 22, 2007 at 3:17 am

    Thomas, you know what, I was tempted, but there’s that whole legal thing.

  18. Sue

    July 10, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    From Mariana’s penguin post to here, so funny. I guess every town has Realtors like this. Actually I’ve seen them surface over night after one sale!

  19. Downtown Vancouver Realtor

    November 13, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    In every game there are players that suck and players that are good.

    The question you have to ask is why are people hiring realtors like this?

  20. Bill Lublin

    July 26, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Nothing to say but 😉

  21. Jim Gilbert

    July 26, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    There are those who have an inflated sense of self-importance. I delight in finding those who actually do their jobs and put their clients first.

  22. Ian Greenleigh

    July 27, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Thank God they have WiFi in my tanning booth, because this was hilarious. I have my face on every urinal cake in every Bennigan’s from here to El Paso, and I won’t stop now.

  23. Bill Cobb

    July 27, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Here’s the Kicker Here! Do you actually think that Agent that shows up dressed to kill, with their 6% entitlement mentality, is going to smear that makeup with perspiration by actually measure the home they want to “professionally” represent to a buyer? A buyer that’s going to pay $140/sf, where a 200sf error means the buyer could be overpaying by $28,000?

    Let me ask this question: When is the proper time period in a home sale transaction to get the physical information about the home’s size correct, during the listing appointment or after the purchase agreement has been written and the appraiser shows up to tell all parties that the home wasn’t measured and the subject is actually 200sf smaller than represented by the listing agent? The Listing Agent is Duty Bound to get it right during their initial appointment – that’s part of what they get paid 6% to do, accurately represent the home. 6% of An Average $225,000 sale is a whopping $13,500. The seller has their bags packed, is moving, has a purchase agreement on a another home that hinges on their current home closing at the selling price. Then the P.A. has to be renegotiated all because the home wasn’t measured by the agent. Or, the agent simply chose to copy the previous MLS listings and not even updating the new listing. How did the current Real Estate Industry ever become so sloppy? What I see happening is these new rookie agents are being trained to skip several important steps along with way and think you’re nuts when you remind them of how it’s supposed to be done. Actually measure a home?…..that’s beneath some. Of course, I’m not describing the entire NAR here. In my market, about 25% of them are truly professionals, care about their clients and accurately represent a home. Thank God for these few!

  24. Free Real Estate Agent Training Videos

    July 27, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Wow, what an interesting blog post. It should give some real estate agents some pause. Luckily, there are a lot of quality realtors out there. Kudos!

  25. hermanchan.com

    November 7, 2010 at 2:43 am

    exCUSE you benn! those were not capri menthol lites. i was puffing on benson & hedges lites! Get it right, will ya! 😉

  26. Paul Francis

    November 7, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Living in Vegas… it’s not just the occasional Realtor that acts like this..

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Opinion Editorials

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.

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Sleeping cat with plant, fighting grind culture.

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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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?

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Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.

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Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?

Conclusion

At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

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