In case you missed all the fun, last week I hosted a virtual real estate discussion in the Redhead Lounge. This second installment includes the same illustrious crew: Brandie Young, Ken Brand and Paula Henry, as well as two party crashers, Joe Loomer and Tanya Nouwens. These leaders in marketing and real estate were asked to answer questions in ten words or less, in between karaoke numbers and shooters. Grant Hammond, the bouncer on duty, had his work cut out for him. They have imparted some great words of wisdom, but watch what happens when I ply them with booze and become the master puppeteer!
GBB: Hey guys, who’s buying? KB: Loomer is. Here’s his wallet – I moonlight as a pickpocket. Paula provided a distraction by slapping Joe upside his head. GBB: Speaking of team work…do y’all think it’s advisable to have a business partner? KB: Everyone should have a trusted working partner. Someone who can cover their business…. Most don’t need a partner/split … I’ve rarely seen a partnership work, except with spouses. PH: Yeah, long term business relationships rarely last. GBB: Two words: Bill and Hillary. JL: That’s three words in Georgia. BY: I love having a partner…each of us morphs naturally into a role with the client, with one being the one that must, at times, bring some order to the relationship…GBB: Brandie, I’m not sure anyone will bring you to order if you don’t slow down on those margaritas. BY:You’re right – the salt is giving me kankles. JL:What in the hell are kankles? Do we need to call an exterminator? BY: Bloated ankles, dufus. Get your hand off my Swedish meatballs… JL: I will if you will.
GBB: Come to order, delinquents. Hey, look who just walked in – Tanya Nouwens. You’re late, put a buck in my money jar. TN: But I drove in from Canada… GBB:Hey, there will be no cryin’ for you Argentina. Try driving across Los Angeles! So give us some advice, Tanya: Should agents who are resistant to texting start doing so? TN: Yes, because it makes us seem 10 years younger than we really are. And it’s way less expensive than cosmetic surgery. GH:Did you say sexting? Hell yes! GBB: Grant, stop stalking us and go back to your post at the door. PH: Clients who text expect to be answered in the same manner; besides it’s quick and efficient. GBB: So you ladies think we need to be technologically current… I carry a Smith and Wesson – does that count?
GBB: What is the most important quality about a house? JL: If the bar is stocked. Oh, you mean buying one? The honesty in the disclosure statement and the state of repair. PH: Location. Duh. Now stop bothering me. I’m warming up my pipes for my real estate karaoke song. I plan to rock the joint with “Our House.” GBB: Did you say “Outhouse?” You’re slurring. You’ll be rockin’ with only two stumps if you touch my money jar again. KB: Whatever my clients think is most important about a house is most important to me. GBB: Good answer, Ken, but I didn’t ask you, so put a buck in the jar. And what’s your real estate karaoke song, tonight?” KB: Brandie and I are doing a duet of “Sugar Shack.” JL:Ken, you’re making a bold assumption that Brandie can walk on those meadow muffins that are squeezing out of her shoes. Gwen, shoot her in the kankles before she lifts off!
GBB: Ken, while you buy another round with Joe’s money, maybe Tanya can tell us what issue worries her clients the most. Tanya? TN: That they won’t get the value out of their property that they have already attributed to it based on a scientific study consisting of talking with their neighbors and friends and consulting Uncle Edward who used to sell real estate in the area in 1958. PH: Boy, you’re a chatty l’il thing…but I agree. They are concerned about whether or not they’re paying or receiving the best price. GBB: So we all agree on something? JL: My clients also worry about inspections…and the smells emanating from garage freezers. GBB:Zip it, Loomer.
GBB: What troubles you the most about the loan process? BY: There’s no rigor. The underwriters have way too much power. The lenders are still in panic mode. KB: You’d be in panic mode, too, if you could see your kankles from where I’m sitting! BY: Don’t make me hurt you, Ken. GBB: Joe, any loan process woes? JL: Buyers who arrive “pre-qualified” by internet or out of town lenders. Gwen, let’s team up for “House of the Rising Sun.” GBB: No, you’ll hog the microphone. KB: If you don’t pre-prepare your clients for the often bumpy and anger inspiring process in getting a loan, you’ll get blamed… GBB: That’s why I pack a Smith and Wesson.
GBB: Okay, here is my rapid fire finale: Ken, wake up – your ankle monitor is beeping! What musical instrument would most help you in real estate? KB: If I had the Pied Piper’s magic flute, that’d be cool. GBB: Brandie, when is dress important? BY: Always. Ladies! The two most important things: manicured nails and shoes that are not destroyed. It’s the little things. JL: Unlike your ankles… GBB: Brandie, I don’t think Joe can breathe with your IPhone in his esophagus. Paula, you’re on deck with “Homeward Bound,” but before your vocals shatter the neon Bud sign, when do you think agents should present an offer in person? JL (interrupts): When the client is super freakin hot. GBB: We’re cutting you off, Joe. Paula? PH: If there are multiple offers on a great non-bank owned property. GBB: No wonder you have your own team. I only have two hamsters and a ferret named “W.”
GBB: Tanya, What is the best housewarming gift for a client? TN: A house. GBB: That was a good answer for someone with a cocktail napkin on her head. You’re new at The Redhead, so you get a bonus question: What is the biggest hindrance to closing a deal? TN: Egos. GBB: You clever l’il Canadian – I love brevity! KB: That’s what Loomer’s wife says. GBB: Joe, I noticed that Grant is cutting off your oxygen. Before you pass out, can you tell me the most difficult aspect of a real estate deal? JL: Negotiating repairs or dealing with uneducated agents. That, and they rescinded the “shooting idiots” law in Georgia. GBB: And what’s your must successful means of advertising? The Playgirl spread I did, yeah, that’s how I roll. (Collective groans)
GBB: Last call, folks. Where’s Brandie? KB: (Bleary eyed and unfazed by his karaoke partner’s disappearance.) Grant bounced her and called the cops five minutes ago for stapling her business cards all over the piano. TN: She sure is a marketing wizard. GBB (yells across the bar to Grant): Hey Hammerin’ Hammond – you like your job too much! GH: Yeah, I believe Forest Gump best described my feelings here with the whole box of chocolates thing. GBB: So where’s Brandie? PH: Forget that miscreant! More importantly…where’s Waldo? JL: Probably in the cell next to Brandie. ( They all jump on stage and do a fabulous rendition of “Take me Home.” They dedicate their song to Brandie as she sobers up in L.A.’s luxurious County Lockup.)
Thanks to my colleagues for their valuable input and their willingness to participate in virtual mayhem. Ken Brand, a veteran in real estate, is the Real Estate Sales Manager of Prudential Gary Green Realtors in Woodlands, Texas. Paul Henry is the dynamo leader of the top notch Henry Group at Red Door Real Estate in Indianapolis. Brandie Young is a San Francisco marketing guru, trail blazer and founder of consulting firm MarketingTBD. Tanya Nouwens has combined 29 years of Montreal real estate experience with the home staging experience of Ready, Set…Sold! Inc to form a Canadian power team. Joe Loomer is Assistant Team Leader at Keller Williams Realty Augusta Partners and author of the wise and witty blog, Fruit of the Loomer. Grant Hammond, our “bouncer,” just joined us. He is an award winning Nashville real estate market expert. Los Angeles host and blogger Gwen Banta can be found at www.L.A.Homesite.com, or checking coats at The Redhead Lounge – tips welcome.
How becoming better listeners eliminates our culture’s growing isolation
(BUSINESS MARKETING) We have all be frustrated by someone who doesn’t listen to us; so why not make sure that you are taking the steps to not be them, and be better listeners.
We all want the same thing: to be heard. In this digital age, we’ve created an endless stream of cries for attention via comment sections, forums, and social media feeds—shares, retweets, tags, videos, articles, and photos. Worse, our words echo in our digital bubbles or specific communities, doing nothing but making us lonely and isolated. However, in the midst of a divided political climate, we can all stand to strengthen our ability to listen.
Me? A bad listener? What are you trying to say? I got enough flaws to worry about and don’t wanna hear about another skill to improve. Oh, the irony.
“Bad listeners are not necessarily bad people,” assures Kate Murphy in her new book You’re Not Listening. “Anyone can get good at it. The more people you talk to, the better your gut instinct. You’re able to pick up those little cues. Without them, you’re not going to get the full context and nuance of the conversation,” she says in an interview with The Guardian’s Stephen Moss.
Our bad listening aside, we can all remember a time when we weren’t treated with the attention we craved. Moments where you’d do anything for the person you’re conversing with to give a sign of understanding—of empathy—to validate our feelings, to acknowledge the vulnerable piece of ourselves we’ve entrusted to them is cared for. Nothing is worse when we’re met with blank expressions and dismissive gestures or words. These interactions make us feel small and lonely. And the damage can stay with us.
- Show you care by making eye contact and putting away your phone.
- Patience. Everyone opens up on their time.
- Ask open-ended questions. Yes/no responses inhibit the flow of conversation.
- Repeat what you’ve heard. This clarifies any misunderstanding and validates the speaker.
- Give space. Let the conversation breathe—silent pauses are healthy.
By becoming better listeners, we show care. We become curious about and empathetic towards others, leaving our bubbles—we become a little less lonely.
Audio branding: Is this the next big boost in brand recognition?
(BUSINESS MARKETING) Brands have invested heavily in audio branding in 2021, here’s how that is changing up the branding rankings for businesses.
Media consumption and engagement with brands across digital platforms is increasing, according to sonic branding agency amp; and companies investing in audio branding are creating a significant competitive advantage. The Best Audio Brands (BAB) index created by amp uses 5 key criteria to measure audio investment performance: Customer recognition, customer trust, customer experience, customer engagement and customer belonging. The agency claims that companies investing in high quality audio assets for their brands have gained ground by establishing a recognizable audio identity.
Michele Arenese, amp CEO said, “Making a brand heard is more important than ever before. The past 18 months have accelerated the importance of sound and voice as vital elements of the brand identity and customer experience toolbox. Meaningful and purposeful brand communication takes advantage from a ownable and authentic sound ecosystem.”
For the second consecutive year, Mastercard ranked highly across all key criteria measured by the BAB and topped the list. Other brands that fared well on this year’s index were Netflix, which moved up 27 places by using it’s famous “ta-dum” more widely and Coca-Cola which collaborated with Tyler the Creator and invested more in bespoke music. In addition, 5 new brands to make the top 10 this year were Audi, Mercedes, Netflix, Hyundai and Siemens. The highest climbing brands were in the financial sector: HSBC, American Express and J.P. Morgan. The highest climbing sector, however, was beverages followed by automotive. Brands that dropped in the rankings this year were Google, Amazon, Colgate, Goldman Sachs, and Danone.
Björn Thorleifsson, Head of Strategy & Research, amp said: “This year has shown that those who were already embarking on their sonic branding journeys have increased their lead on trailing rivals – now clearly falling behind. Given the evolving ability of sound to reach consumers whatever the device or channel they’re on, we expect to see increased investment from brands looking to stand out amongst the online noise. There are already best practice examples from leaders, such as Mastercard, and we’d encourage those who want to improve brand recognition and even performance, to adopt a little less conversation on sonic branding, and a little more action.”
Buffer’s four-day workweek experiment: Boost or bust?
(BUSINESS MARKETING) After trying out a four-day workweek last year, Buffer is moving forward with the format going into 2021, citing increase in productivity and work-life balance.
The typical five-day workweek is a thing of the past for Buffer, at least for now. The company has decided to implement a four-day workweek for the “foreseeable future.”
Last year, the company surveyed its employees to see how they are dealing with the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic and the anxiety and stress that came along with it. They soon learned employees didn’t always feel comfortable or like they could take time off.
Employees felt guilty for taking PTO while trying to meet deadlines. Juggling work and suddenly becoming a daycare worker and teacher for their children at the same time was stressful. So, Buffer looked for a solution to help give employees more time and flexibility to get adjusted to their new routines.
Four-Day Workweek Trials
In May, Buffer started the four-day workweek one-month trial to focus on teammates’ well-being. “This four-day workweek period is about well-being, mental health, and placing us as humans and our families first,” said Buffer CEO and co-founder Joel Gascoigne in a company blog post.
“It’s about being able to pick a good time to go and do the groceries, now that it’s a significantly larger task. It’s about parents having more time with kids now that they’re having to take on their education. This isn’t about us trying to get the same productivity in fewer days,” Gascoigne said.
Buffer’s one-month trial proved to be successful. Survey data from before and after the trial showed higher autonomy and lower stress levels. In addition, employee anecdotal stories showed an increase in worker happiness.
With positive results, Buffer turned the trial into a long-term pilot through the end of 2020. This time, the trial would focus on Buffer’s long-term success.
“In order to truly evaluate whether a four-day workweek can be a success long-term, we need to measure productivity as well as individual well-being,” wrote Director of People Courtney Seiter. “Teammate well-being was our end goal for May. Whether that continues, and equally importantly, whether it translates into customer and company results, will be an exciting hypothesis to test.”
Buffer’s shorter workweek trials showed employees felt they had a better work-life balance without compromising work productivity. According to the company’s survey data, almost 34% of employees felt more productive, about 60% felt equally as productive, and only less than 7% of employees felt less productive.
However, just saying productivity is higher isn’t proof. To make sure the numbers added up, managers were asked about their team’s productivity. Engineering managers reported that a decrease in total coding days didn’t show a decrease in output. Instead, there was a significant output increase for product teams, and Infrastructure and Mobile saw their output double.
The Customer Advocacy team, however, did see a decline in output. Customer service is dependent on customer unpredictability so this makes sense. Still, the survey showed about 85% to 90% of employees felt as productive as they would have been in a five-day workweek. Customers just had to wait slightly longer to receive replies to their inquiries.
With more time and control of their schedules, Buffer’s survey shows an increase in individual autonomy and decreased stress levels reported by employees. And, the general work happiness for the entire company has been consistent throughout 2020.
What’s in store for 2021?
Based on positive employee feedback and promising company results, Buffer decided it will continue the company-wide four-day workweek this year.
“The four-day work week resulted in sustained productivity levels and a better sense of work-life balance. These were the exact results we’d hoped to see, and they helped us challenge the notion that we need to work the typical ‘nine-to-five,’ five days a week,” wrote Team Engagement Manager Nicole Miller.
The four-day workweek will continue in 2021, but the company will also be implementing adjustments based on the pilot results.
For most teams, Fridays will be the default day off. For teams that aren’t project-based, their workweek will look slightly different. As an example, the Customer Advocacy team will follow a different schedule to avoid customer reply delays and ticket overflow. Each team member will still have a four-day workweek and need to meet their specific targets. They will just have a more flexible schedule.
Companies who follow this format understand that output expectations will be further defined by area and department level. Employees who aren’t meeting their performance objectives will have the option to choose a five-day workweek or might be asked to do so.
If needed, Fridays will also serve as an overflow workday to finish up a project. Of course, schedules will be evaluated quarterly to make sure productivity is continuing to thrive and employees are still satisfied.
But, Miller says Buffer is “establishing ambitious goals” that might “push the limits” of a four-day work week in 2021. With the world slowly starting to normalize, who knows when a four-day workweek might reach its conclusion.
“We aren’t sure that we’ll continue with the four-day workweeks forever, but for now, we’re going to stick with it as long as we are still able to hit our ambitious goals,” wrote Miller.
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