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Opinion Editorials

Realtor Party: are you in or out? NAR, Realtors respond

A recent editorial explaining why one Realtor has opted out of the Realtor Party has stirred support and disagreement.

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NAR Realtor Party

NAR Realtor Party

Do you pledge allegiance to the Realtor Party?

Recently, AG columnist, Erica Ramus published an editorial entitled, “Realtor Party? Count me out,” which stirred passionate support from Realtors across the nation, while simultaneously drumming up disagreement from local boards, state associations, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) itself.

Ramus’ premise was that belonging to the Realtor Party is a pledge of allegiance to support candidates and ideas that the Party deems worthy, instead of making her own independent decision, an assertion that the NAR strongly disagrees with.

The NAR weighs in

Tom Salomone is the 2012 Director of REALTOR® Party Activities, and is a REALTOR® from Coral Springs, Florida. Salamone tells AG that “REALTORS® are some of the most active citizens in their communities throughout the country — fighting for candidates, issues, laws and regulations that positively affect not only the real estate community, but the community at large.”

“When necessary, those local REALTORS® reach out to the national REALTOR® Party for financial assistance in their endeavors,” Salamone added. “The local REALTORS® decide what’s important in their communities. REALTORS® on the street decide which candidates are best for their communities after thorough research and vetting. The national association does not decide for them. You won’t see the national association dictating to the local members who they should vote for or which party to support.”

One of Ramus’ key opinions is that belonging to the Realtor Party is a mandate to contribute to the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC), as the Realtor Party website says, “As a member of the REALTOR® Party, you… invest in RPAC.”

Salomone responded to this point, noting that “The initiatives and campaigns REALTORS® take on are partially funded by voluntary investments in the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC). The key word here is ‘voluntary.’ The wonderful thing is that once REALTORS® hear about the amazing campaign and community outreach successes from fellow REALTORS® across the country, they invest in RPAC willingly.”

Realtors in support

Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake said of the Realtor Party, “I am with you 100% Erica. I have built my business on doing what is best for consumers and not what is best for NAR.”

“I don’t agree with putting us all in one sack either,” Iowa City Realtor, Denise Hamlin said. “We’re as diverse in our thoughts, ideas and motivation as the rest of the nation. Being members of NAR doesn’t mean they get to tell us what to think. We can do that all on our own.”

Julia Odom, Chattanooga Realtor weighed in about Ramus’ opinion piece, saying “What is good for Realtors is not necessarily good for the country and I’m not going to advocate for my interests over the greater good.”

One state association’s point of view

Brandon Alderete, Government Affairs Communications Manager at the Texas Association of REALTORS® tells AG, “We’re not telling anyone who to vote for. When you see a candidate is endorsed by the Texas Association of REALTORS®, it’s because of her position on issues related to private-property rights, homeownership, and the real estate industry. We’re the association of REALTORS® … not the association of every single issue out there.”

Alderete added, “The other point is that this isn’t staff sitting around an office picking names out of a hat. Candidates are interviewed by Texas REALTORS® across the state. That group sends recommendations to the state association, where it’s reviewed by several other panels of Texas REALTORS® before being approved.”

On political advocacy, Alderete noted, “Another interesting angle is how much legislators rely on relationships with trade associations. You can’t expect a lawmaker, who, say, owns a sporting-goods store, to know how every single bill might affect real estate. But he has to vote on it. That’s why political advocacy is so important … it’s about making sure our members have a voice when important decisions are being made that could affect the real estate industry, private-property owners, and consumers.”

One Realtor’s point of view

In response to Ramus’ editorial, young Realtor Drew Fristoe opined in a blog on the Fredericksburg Area Association of Realtors’ blog in a post called “REALTOR® Party – count me in!

“I have been a REALTOR® for a little over four years,” said Fristoe. “I have been involved as a REALTOR®, even before my License was back. My first REALTOR® event was ‘Day on the Hill’ in 2008. From that day on, I was hooked. I am on a FPC team for a State Congressman in Virginia and I am a RPAC contributor.”

Many young and new Realtors come prepared to buck the system, so Fristoe’s support of the Realtor Party stands out to us. In response to Ramus’ assertion that homeownership is not a guaranteed human right, Fristoe said, “I actually agree with that statement, BUT I think everyone should have the option if they want it. It is our job as REALTORS® to be able to help our clients make the decisions that are best for them. If our client does not have the ability to purchase, we need to have them speak to the right people to figure that out. Then over time, help them to get in a position to buy a home, if that is what they want. At the end of the day, we are individuals who can make our own decisions and should help our clients to do the same.”

Fristoe argues that the Realtor Party does not require allegiance to vote how they deem mandatory, rather the Realtor Party “was created as another tool in informing REALTORS® about the issues that affect your business, which will in turn affect your life.”

The takeaway

While Ramus stirred up a tremendous deal of support for her position, the attitude of the associations is that of a defensive, yet optimistic posture.

Salomone demonstrates this best in his statement about NAR. “We are an organization built from the grassroots up, not from top to bottom. We believe that homeownership is a privilege and we support sustainable homeownership. While acting on REALTOR® and citizen issues, REALTORS® show amazing resolve. Often it will be a long hard fight to win on issues that support homeownership and the citizens of our country. I applaud those who don’t give up, and who continue to work diligently within their communities to protect the American Dream. Our association members have long declared they are the Voice for Real Estate. It’s always great to see them put their money and their efforts where their mouths are. Most people in life don’t.”

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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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Opinion Editorials

How a simple period in your text message might be misinterpreted: Tips to improve your virtual communication

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) Text, email, and IM messages may be received differently depending on your communication style and who you’re communicating with. Here’s some ways to be more mindful.

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Black woman smiling in communication talking on phone and laptop in front of her.

Life is full of decisions, learning, hopefully some adventure, and “growth opportunities” through our careers and work. One that some of us may have never considered is how our text, email or IM communication comes across to the receiver – thus providing us a growth opportunity to take a look at our own personal communication styles.

It may have never occurred to us that others would take it a different way. After all, we know ourselves, we can hear our voices in our heads. We know when we are joking, being sarcastic, or simply making a statement. The way we communicate is built upon how we were raised, what our English teachers stressed, and even what we’ve been taught through our generational lens.

NPR put out an article recently, “Are Your Texts Passive-Aggressive? The Answer May Lie in Your Punctuation”. This article discussed what to consider in regards to your punctuation in text.

“But in text messaging — at least for younger adults — periods do more than just end a sentence: They also can set a tone.” Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and author of the book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, told NPR’s All Things Considered last year that when it comes to text messaging,”the period has lost its original purpose. Rather than needing a symbol to indicate the end of a sentence, you can simply hit send on your message.”

While it may seem silly that the receiver would think you are mad at them because you used a period, here are some things to consider in our virtual communication now that we are all much more digital:

  • There are no facial expressions in a text except for emojis (which, even then, could be left up to misinterpretation)
  • There’s no sound of voice or inflection to indicate tone
  • We are emailing, texting, and sending instant messages at an alarming rate now that we are not having as many in-person interactions with our colleagues

Gen Z (b. 1995 – 2015), who are the most recent generation to enter the workplace, grew up with much quicker forms of communication with their earlier access to tech. They’ve had a different speed of stimulation via YouTube videos, games, and apps. They may have never experienced the internet speed via a dial-up modem so they are used to instantaneous results.

They also have quickly adapted and evolved through their use of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok. The last two platforms are designed for pretty brief attention spans, which indicates our adaptation to fast communication.

Generational shaming is out and uncomfortable but necessary conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion are in (which includes ageism). You can’t just chalk it up as “those kids” don’t understand you, or that they need to learn and “pay their dues”.

So if you are of an older generation and even a manager, here are some considerations that you can take regarding your virtual communications:

1. Consider having yourself and your team take a DiSC assessment.

“The DiSC® model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviors with others — within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships.

DiSC profiles help you and your team:

  • Increase your self-knowledge: How you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems
  • Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
  • Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members

This quiz is designed to help you identify your main communication style. It helps you to be more conscious of how your style may come across to others. Does it builds relationships, or create silent conflicts? It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change, but you can adapt your style to best fit your team.

2. Always ask your direct reports about their preferred method of communication (call, text, email, IM, meeting).

Retain this information and do your best to meet them where they are. It would also be helpful to share your preferred method with them and ask them to do their best to meet you where you are.

3. Consider putting composed emails in your drafts if you are fired up, frustrated, or down right angry with your team.

You may feel like you are being direct. But since tone will be lost virtually, your message may not come across the way you mean it, and it may be de-motivating to the receiver. Let it sit in drafts and come back to it a little bit later. Does your draft say all you need to say, or could it be edited to be a little less harsh? Would this be better as a meeting (whether video or phone) over a written communication? Now the receiver has a chance to see you and have a conversation rather than feeling put on blast.

And finally, be curious.

Check out Lindsey Pollak’s books or podcast on the best ways to work with a variety of generations in your organization. Lindsey is a Multigenerational Work Expert and she does a great job explaining her research to drive multigenerational workplace success. She gives ideas on what all employees, managers, and even corporations should consider as we experience so many generations and communication styles in the workplace at the same time.

You may laugh that your children or employees think you are mad at them when you use a period in a text. But there’s a lot more behind it to consider. It may take adaptation on all sides as communication styles and the “future of work” continue to evolve.

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