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Could You Unload This Mutant Lemon?

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lemon poster

Attention all salespersons: It’s time to take a test to determine how good a salesperson you really are. Could you sell a house that’s a 10 on the Suckometer? If you get all the answers right, you will receive a can of Spam. Or not… 

1.  The house is devoid of natural light, so you: a) turn on all the lights b) pass out BIC lighters and tell everyone U2 might drop by c) install the disco ball light you won playing Bingo in 1972 and yell, ”Let’s get down!”

2.  The house lacks color, so you: a) bring in greenery from the yard to brighten the room b) give a vacation slide show on the living room wall, or c) place a green leprechaun in the corner and paint his lips hooker red

3.  There is an unsightly hole in the wall next to the couch, and thus you: a) suggest that the prospective buyer ask for credit or repair b) push the Lazy Boy (the chair, not your teenage kid) in front of the hole or c) stuff the leprechaun into the hole and tell him to stifle it.

4.  You forgot to print the ever-so-important hand out materials, so you: a) distribute your business cards b) distribute the seller’s Playboy magazines c) distribute your S.A.G. resume and headshots, which any good L.A. agent always keeps in his trunk

5.  The view is by far the only nice thing about the house, so you: a) set up the refreshment table on the patio to lead visitors outside b) put police tape over the doors of all the ugly rooms, or c) pass out binoculars and tell everyone there’s a naked couple in the pool down the hill.

6.  There is mold on the bathroom wall, so you: a) disclose it and suggest that the buyer ask for credit or abatement b) bring in the neighbor’s kids to paint a mural around it or c) explain to the prospective buyer that it is holistic Velcro wallpaper

7.  You forgot your portable CD player to assist in creating the perfect ambience, so you: a) Ask the seller permission to use the stereo b) invite visitors to your car to listen to your commercial voice tape or c) make the leprechaun sing, “Oh Danny Boy” (from his hole in the wall, of course)

8.  Knowing that scent is a powerful sales tool you: a) heat brownies in the oven during the open house b) smoke a cigar so everyone can enjoy the rich tobacco aroma or c) slap a fish on the burner and set some cheese aflame

9.  Beverages are important of course, so you: a) bring a selection of designer water, tea, coffee and  punch b) offer everyone a swig of joe from your Home Depot thermos, or c) lace the punch with vodka so everyone will stop asking about the leprechaun stuck in the wall

10. There are major foundation cracks, and thus you: a) assure the prospective buyer that a foundation specialist will be brought in to address the issue b) explain that the buyer is looking at a topographical map of California that has been cut into the floor…at no extra charge, or c) explain that everyone knows that a foundation is designed to move in the event of a quake (Hey – at least I gave the leprechaun a break on this one!)

11.  A scruffy and belligerent derelict wanders into the open house, so you:  a) politely but firmly escort him outside b) You whisper, “Not now, Uncle Mickey, I’m trying to sell this turkey” c) “You yell, “Dodgeball” and then  throw the leprechaun at him

12. The open house visitors complain that the gas appliances don’t work, so you:  a) explain that the seller probably had the gas turned off b) offer to test the pilots with the acetylene torch the seller has in the shed c) You laugh and reply, ”Well the methane gas you’ve been expelling ought to be enough to jump start Edison!”

13. A prospective buyer nervously comments on the amount of repairs detailed in the inspection report, so you: a) get him to focus on the safety issues b) tell him the inspector has a substance abuse problem and imagines things, or  c) You smack the guy in the chops and yell, “Buck up, dude – a four year old girl has more testosterone that you do!”

14.  You are allergic to the psyco cat and become nauseous, thus you: a) place an Open House Canceled sign outside and leave b) drug the cat so he’ll stop following you like a bad smell, and then lie down on the couch for a nap while visitors stroll through c) ask a prospective buyer to hold your hair back while you vomit…on the psycho cat of course.

15. A recalcitrant child gets his hand stuck in the old, rusty barbecue, so you: a) call 911 b) grease him up with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and pry him loose with tongs c) Laugh like a Bellevue Ward B inmate and yell “Let’s fire up the Barbie!”

 Extra Credit Essay Question:  Doesn’t this agent deserve a bonus? 

The seller returns and inquires, “How did the open house go?”

“Fine, I managed to disguise the hole in the wall.”

“What hole??? And what’s that green thing stuck in my wall?”

“It’s the leprechaun I shoved into the wall to disguise the hole.”

“Are you on crank? Leprechauns are imaginary.”

“Then so is the hole. Problem solved!”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Well your house sucks.”

“OMG – Your leprechaun is moving!”

“OMG – Your cat isn’t.”

“You’re fired.”

“Uh, can I offer you some punch?”

 

(Dear readers, please send me  your suggestions for question # 16, as mine involved an agent and a corpse. Incidentally, the correct answer to all the questions is “d.”)

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn, LAhomesite.com, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Bob Stahl

    February 19, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Funny! I’m not, so I’ll have to refer to a good point I read into your post – there’s a very fine line between “selling” a house (every house has its weaknesses) and violating SPDS regulations (not to mention ethics).

  2. Gwen Banta

    February 19, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Yes, Bob, beneath all good satire is an underlying truth, and that IS the point. No matter how challenging the circumstances, and we agents face many, there is always a way to keep a clear head and to address the situation logically, expediently and legally. That being said, did you pass the test?

  3. Matt Stigliano

    February 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Gwen – I wanted to pick the right answers, but after reading the (c) answers, I couldn’t help myself and colored them in with my sharpest number two pencil.

    holistic Velcro wallpaper” – One of the best phrases in your work to date. So good in fact, that I’m to google it to see if it exists.

  4. Gwen Banta

    February 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Because you failed the test by answering all the C questions, Matt, I will give you a Hail Mary question: Your obnoxious cousin Buck has an allergic reaction at your property and begins to gyrate, so you a) Call 911, b) drag his sorry ass off the property, or c) Play Muskrat Love on the stereo and tell the bystanders Buck just loves to dance. If you get this one right, you win a Captain (of Captain and Tenille) hat and 3 rolls of that holistic Velcro paper for your bathroom.

  5. Ken Montville

    February 21, 2010 at 11:51 am

    God save me! I could only get to #11 before I just couldn’t focus anymore.

  6. Fred Glick

    February 21, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Only if I could double-bubble it to foreign investors that use it as a tax shelter and a need just to have an American address (and then forwarding it to a P.O. Box) followed by a request to the local authorities to eminent domain it for use as a city dump and getting it appraised for triple because of the new highest and best use and getting a double bubble commission on the way out along with a lifetime consulting contract with th city at 100k per year to do nothing…..

  7. Bob

    February 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    “Could You Unload This Mutant Lemon?”
    Yes. Price it right and it will sell. Period.

  8. Gwen Banta

    February 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I can give you a crib sheet if you wnat to take the test again, Ken 🙂

  9. Gwen Banta

    February 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I think I need you to run my business, Fred. I like your style – more thinking and less work!

  10. Gwen Banta

    February 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Bob, you are right about pricing…but the true test is the one that requires patience when that bird won’t hunt 🙂

  11. Bob

    February 23, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    There are only three factors involved in selling any property:
    1) Price
    2) Exposure
    3) Terms

    The rest are merely objections. Real estate 101.

  12. Gwen Banta

    March 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Love it, Bob! I think you meant exposing the house, not one’s nether regions, right, Bob?

  13. Gwen Banta

    March 16, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Hey Grant – You’re my bouncer – dump the stiff!

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Business Marketing

Amazon attracts advertisers from Facebook after Apple privacy alterations

(MARKETING) After Apple’s privacy features unveil, Amazon adapts by taking a unique approach to targeting, disrupting revenue for the ad giant Facebook.

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Two African American women work at their desks, one viewing Amazon's advertising landing page.

As a de facto search engine of its own persuasion, Amazon has been poaching ad revenue from Google for some time. However, disrupting the revenue stream from their most recent victim – Facebook – is going to turn some heads.

According to Bloomberg, Apple’s recent privacy additions to products such as iPhones are largely responsible for the shift in ad spending. While platforms like Facebook and Instagram were originally goldmines for advertisers, these privacy features prevent tracking for targeting – a crucial aspect in any marketing campaign.

Internet privacy has been featured heavily in tech conversations for the last several years, and with Chrome phasing out third-party cookies, along with Safari and Firefox introducing roughly analogous policies, social media advertising is bound to become less useful as tracking strategies struggle to keep up with the aforementioned changes.

However, Amazon’s wide user base and separate categorization from social media companies makes it a clear alternative to the Facebook family, which is perhaps why Facebook advertisers are starting to jump ship in an effort to preserve their profits.

This is the premise behind the decision to reduce the Facebook ad spending of Vanity Planet by 22%, a home spa vendor, while facilitating a transition to Amazon. “We have inventory…and the biggest place we are growing is Amazon,” says Alex Dastmalchi, the entrepreneur who runs Vanity Planet.

That gap will only widen with Apple’s new privacy features. Bloomberg reports that when asked in June if they would consent to having their internet activity tracked, only one in four iPhone users did so; this makes it substantially harder for the ad campaigns unique to Facebook to target prospective buyers.

It also means that Amazon, having demonstrated a profound effectiveness in targeting individuals both pre- and post-purchase, stands to gain more than its fair share of sellers flocking to promote their products.

Jens Nicolaysen, co-founder of Shinesty (an eccentric underwear company), affirms the value that Amazon holds for sellers while acknowledging that it isn’t a perfect substitute for social media. While Nicolaysen laments the loss of the somewhat random introduction charm inherent on Instagram, he also believes in the power of brand loyalty, especially on a platform as high-profile as Amazon. “The bigger you are, the more you lose by not having any presence on Amazon,” he explains.

As privacy restrictions continue to ramp up in the coming months, it will be interesting to see how social media advertising evolves to keep up with this trend; it seems naive to assume that Amazon will replace Facebook’s ads entirely, tracking or no tracking.

Apple's privacy landing page showing iPhone users ability to shut off location services and a desktop image of a user's ability to control how their data is managed.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.

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Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

This story was first published in January 2020.

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Business Marketing

Jack of all trades vs. specialized expert – which are you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It may feel tough to decide if you want to be a jack of all trades or have an area of expertise at work. There are reasons to decide either route.

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jack of all trades learning

When mulling over your career trajectory, you might ask yourself if you should be a jack of all trades or a specific expert. Well, it’s important to think about where you started. When you were eight years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Teacher? Doctor? Lawyer? Video Game Developer? Those are common answers when you are eight years old as they are based on professionals that you probably interact with regularly (ok, maybe not lawyers but you may have watched LA Law, Law & Order or Suits and maybe played some video games – nod to Atari, Nintendo and Sega).

We eventually chose what areas of work to gain skills in and/or what major to pursue in college. To shed some light on what has changed in the last couple of decades:

Business, Engineering, Healthcare and Technology job titles have grown immensely in the last 20 years. For example, here are 9 job titles that didn’t exist 20 years ago in Business:

  1. Online Community Manager
  2. Virtual Assistant
  3. Digital Marketing Expert
  4. SEO Specialist
  5. App Developer
  6. Web Analyst
  7. Blogger
  8. Social Media Manager
  9. UX Designer

We know that job opportunities have grown to include new technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, consumer-generated content, instant gratification, gig economy and freelance, as well as many super-secret products and services that may be focused on the B2B market, government and/or military that we average consumers may not know about.

According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics after doing a survey of baby boomers, the average number of jobs in a lifetime is 12. That number is likely on the rise with generations after the Baby Boomers. Many people are moving away from hometowns and cousins they have grown up with.

The Balance Careers suggests that our careers and number of jobs we hold also vary throughout our lifetimes and our race is even a factor. “A worker’s age impacted the number of jobs that they held in any period. Workers held an average of 5.7 jobs during the six-year period when they were 18 to 24 years old. However, the number of jobs held declined with age. Workers had an average of 4.5 jobs when they were 25 to 34 years old, and 2.9 jobs when they were 35 to 44 years old. During the most established phase of many workers’ careers, ages 45 to 52, they held only an average of 1.9 jobs.”

In order to decide what you want to be, may we suggest asking yourself these questions:

  • Should you work to be an expert or a jack of all trades?
  • Where are you are at in your career and how have your skills progressed?
  • Are you happy focusing in on one area or do you find yourself bored easily?
  • What are your largest priorities today (Work? Family? Health? Caring for an aging parent or young children?)

If you take the Gallup CliftonStrengths test and are able to read the details about your top five strengths, Gallup suggests that it’s better to double down and grown your strengths versus trying to overcompensate on your weaknesses.

The thing is, usually if you work at a startup, small business or new division, you are often wearing many hats and it can force you to be a jack of all trades. If you are at a larger organization which equals more resources, there may be clearer lines of your job roles and responsibilities versus “the other departments”. This is where it seems there are skills that none of us can avoid. According to LinkedIn Learning, the top five soft skills in demand from 2020 are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Emotional Intelligence

The top 10 hard skills are:

  1. Blockchain
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Analytical Reasoning
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. UX Design
  6. Business Analysis
  7. Affiliate Marketing
  8. Sales
  9. Scientific Computing
  10. Video Production

There will be some folks that dive deep into certain areas that are super fascinating to them and they want to know everything about – as well as the excitement of becoming an “expert”. There are some folks that like to constantly evolve and try new things but not dig too deep and have a brief awareness of more areas. It looks safe to say that we all need to be flexible and adaptable.

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