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Opinion Editorials

Shall I Be Trendy?



According to the 2007 Swanepoel Trends Report, the Top 10 trends of Real Estate there are a lot of changes on the real estate horizon (oh wait, are we there already?!?). The concept of Web 2.0 is in the forefront of these changes.

I happen to like the whole Web 2.0 thing, and I like real estate … but now this makes me trendy?!? I do not know how “okay” I am with this. I spent the better part of my youth going against the grain – being the anti-trend. And since I still consider myself young (Didn’t you hear? 32 is the new 21 …) I still have that “If every one of my lemming colleagues are going THIS way, then I will go THAT way” kind of attitude. And yes. It IS an attitude.

So in looking at these Top 10 Trends, I am now facing a grain I am not too interested in going against. Ugh …

  1. New real estate business models: What is the impact of ABM’s (Alternative Business Models) on the real estate industry … Internet Real Estate Companies, Flat Fee MLS Shops? I believe that ABM’s are essential in the balance of the business of real estate. Although I disagree with several of them on various points, I still value their place in the business.
  2. What is happening to our local MLS? : The IDX systems out there are giving the local MLS systems a run for their money. A National MLS is definitely on the horizon … but IMHO it won’t be a TRUE National MLS as disclosure laws vary from state to state. (For example, in Colorado it is illegal to disclose that a house may be haunted, whereas other states demand that disclosure.) However, the exclusivity to listings that the MLS once had is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and that is FINE by me. I have no need to hoard my listings. I would rather SELL them.
  3. How does Web 2.0 fit into your life? : I know plenty of agents who run screaming from anything remotely “new fangled” like that pesky “internet”. Okay. Fine. I know that (just like their fashion sense and Glamour Shots) they are stuck in the day where door knocking and cold calling reined king. Well, they can HAVE their gold embroidery blouses and PUSH their advertising into everyone’s lap. I would rather answer the phone call of a new client that has researched me, like what I say and do and wants to do business with me, than cold call a “lead” that doesn’t know me from Adam.
  4. The New Consumer: Great time to plug a post I wrote a year ago about being a GenX Consumer (opens in new window). … Oh how the landscape is different when dealing with a Baby Boomer vs. a GenX or GenY consumer. I get it.
  5. How to deal with the poor image of real estate agents: Um. They suck and deserve that image. So there. Okay … not all of them, and definitely not
    you, my genius friends. But, c’mon! I REFUSE to deal with that poor image. I would rather CHANGE it. GO RENEGADE REALTORS!®
    (BTW, go to Google and type in Renegade Realtor®…)
  6. Consumer and Realtor® Demographics: Who IS a consumer? Who IS buying and selling and investing in homes right now? Who IS representing them? Who IS successful in real estate? Somehow, I am under the impression that thick polyester blend suits and greased back hair do’s are not in the picture as much … Yah, not so much.
  7. Race for/with/against/because of CHANGE: Things are changing so fast that those who are not “in the know” will be left “in the snow”. You might as well just wrap yourself up in toilet paper and ride the Subway to Manhattan … This report mentions CRITICAL MASS. AH! I have been brewing that phrase in my little head since I started real estate and saw the changes coming faster and faster and faster. If we are not on top of the wave of this “new” business of real estate, it will be too late. Early adopters of this Web 2.0 / Life 2.0 way of thinking and doing business will be the ONLY ones still doing business before long. Oh well. So Sad. No. Not really.
  8. Opportunity is knocking: 2.3 kids, a dog and a white picket fence are not the norms anymore. (I could argue that it never was, but that is a whole different post… )The home buying and selling public is a whole new breed of consumer – sprouting from every corner of every possible way of life and culture. Opportunity is endless and many avenues are untouched in regards to niche marketing and making a name for yourself. Yay for niche marketing!
  9. WTF are Realtor® Associations for, anyway? : Who cares? I know they serve a purpose, and I happen to really like mine, but their usefulness even 5 years ago is pretty obsolete today. To be seen as worthy – even a little bit – they are going to have to make some hefty changes in WHO they are and WHAT they offer their members.
  10. The Legacy of Today: Remember the Housing Bubble? What happened to the foreclosure rate? Where did all the Sub-Prime lenders go? Major events of yore are shaping the business that we call Real Estate, today. Do you ignore the importance that each of these have on your business, or do you find ways to make your business BETTER because of (or in spite of) it? I am always up for a good challenge, and these recent events have taught me more about the housing market and my business than any CE class ever could.

I am actually quite excited about these new TRENDS. So, shall I hang up my roller skates, pack up my skate board, put away my stripey tights and Doc Martins and be trendy? No. But, in real estate … if it means making this business a better place to be, then trendy I shall be. (But my yellow Doc’s are still great to wear to closings …)

(All photos courtesy of the Photo Archives of Mariana.)

Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?

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  1. Kevin Sharkey

    November 8, 2007 at 4:24 am

    Got goose bumps on this one. Nice job of wrapping your hands around the greased pig of current real estate conditions and keeping a focus of where we could go. Inspired!

  2. Mariana

    November 8, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Hey thanks, Kevin. Ultimately, it’s all good…

  3. ines

    November 9, 2007 at 2:52 am

    Mariana is trendy, mariana is trendy

    You crack me up every time! number nine even made me spit my water out (I’ll remember not to drink and read your blog next time).

  4. Mariana

    November 9, 2007 at 3:23 am

    Yea Ines … No drinking and commenting! 🙂

  5. monika

    November 10, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Love it Mariana! Trendy…you go girl! I like this trendy …Just Please don’t go the glamour shot route

  6. Ann Cummings

    November 10, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Mariana – trendy?? Yep, I think so! Love that picture of trendy Mariana!

    I do remember that “Renegade REALTOR” post……

  7. Mariana

    November 10, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    Monika – Thanks! yoah … No Glamour Shots for me!
    Ann – “Trendy” has never quite been in my list of “things about Mariana” … Guess it has something to do with that “box” I refuse to stay in…

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Opinion Editorials

Interviews shouldn’t include ‘how did you improve yourself?’ during or after COVID

(EDITORIAL) Emotional Intelligence will be even more needed in recruiting talent and Interviews shouldn’t look the same as they did pre-COVID.




Question: Remember that last time you dealt with a global pandemic?
Answer: No, because most likely, none of us have.

This is new for many of us. We’ve likely each felt the rollercoaster of emotions or even grief as our ways of lives changed, some were quickly moved to working remotely while others were deemed essential workers and were not able to work from home. It was disheartening for many that no matter what position they were put in, it was with no choice. And then there were the millions of jobs eliminated as well, affecting people’s ability to pay their bills and fulfill their own safety, and even basic needs. Everyone entered survival mode, and it looks the same yet different depending on your unique situation.

All of this comes at a price that seems hard to predict. Moving forward will be different albeit many of us don’t know exactly how yet, and are imagining a wild range of possibilities. Now that the US unemployment is up to 14.7%, there will also be many people job searching and finding themselves in interviews answering the typical “Tell me about yourself”, or “Tell me about a time when…” Most likely many candidates will be able to tell you about their previous work experiences, but here’s what we ask of future employers:

  1. Be more understanding (less judgmental or pushy) if you see folks looking to switch careers, or you see Small Business Owners applying for your open position. This may have been an opportunity for them to explore another avenue, or it may have been forced if their previous type of position (or business) is no longer available. Of course, you can ask them why they are interested in the position, but try not to look down your brow if they seem to be an unlikely or unexpected candidate.
  2. Do not ask what this candidate did to be productive during the quarantine. Just surviving may have been enough. If they did take up a new hobby, learn a new coding language, write a book, or start a new work out program, I’m going to guess it will come out in conversation. If they literally had to utilize the majority of their energy for coping skills, that should be enough. Don’t believe all the sourdough starters you saw on Instagram (and why has banana bread been so popular?)
  3. Try to avoid some of the ridiculous questions that tell you nothing about their skill set. We get it, interviews can be boring so you thought it might be fun to ask the interviewee for their favorite joke such as “What 5 items would they want on a deserted island?” or “What fruit they would be in a smoothie?” This has been an extremely traumatic situation for many. The goofy questions are not really applicable, and will only lead to additional stress after they leave thinking over if they “got the answer right”.
  4. Please do your best to really utilize this time to hire with diversity and inclusion in mind. Do not dismiss someone because they have several years of experience in another sector or because they didn’t attend the Ivy League school. If they applied, chances are they do have an interest in your company, so exploring how they can be a great fit, bring in a refreshing perspective, and may be a better option than hiring something that exactly matches the job description (which may be hard to find anyway) is a smart idea. Please be open to a variety of ages, races, and sexes.

Interviews in general can conjure up lots of negative feelings, anxiety, and stress. Most people don’t like the stress of interviews but yet they have accepted that this is part of the job search process. There will be even more people out there looking again, and likely not because they want to. The mental toll this is taking should be handled with care. As this Ask a Manager article beautifully states:

“If someone is teaching themselves a new language or building their coding skills during the pandemic, that’s great. But to present it as an expectation during a time when millions of people are struggling to keep their homes, feed their families, and stay alive — to imply people might be less worthy of employment if they needed to focus on their finances and their safety during a f’ing global crisis — no. No. Something has gone very wrong in anyone who believes that.”

The companies with openings may have an advantage with many available and interested candidates but they also have a huge responsibility to not take this lightly; don’t waste people’s time, and don’t ask really INSENSITIVE questions. If you need help reviewing your questions or interview processes, it may be great to assign someone to review Emotional Intelligence tips and see if they can incorporate that in to what you normally do.

Emotional Intelligence is touted as the most required skill of the future (that may have been pre-pandemic), which is, “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” This means really reading the room and not putting candidates in an awkward position, or placing unrealistic expectations on them. Oh, and please have a little grace with those virtual interviews – that is also new to some people, so maybe cut them some slack if the nerves have really kicked in.

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Opinion Editorials

Press mute when you’re sobbing on a Zoom (and other COVID mental health observations)

(EDITORIAL) COVID-19 had been hard on everybody, but a group often not thought of are those who have mental illness, they struggled in the world before, what about now?



mental illness help

Editors note: This editorial was written anonymously and brings important insight into an issue not often brought up or thought about. We at The American Genius believe this is an important topic to keep in mind about an often silent group that may think they are alone and face extra challenges everyday.

Whether you’re a veteran of working from home, or if you are someone newly learning that muting your mic is important, welcome. Working from home is both rewarding and challenging. This is not an instruction manual on how best to work from home. It’s a guide to working from home and not losing an already delicate mind to existing or potential mental illness.

Some ideas I’d like to convey should ring true now and in the future. However, one aspect is unique to now. I’m writing from the time of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Workers have been divided into two groups, “essential” and “non-essential.” Those considered non-essential were sent home with hopes of slowing the spread of the disease. Those deemed essential, like doctors and grocery store clerks, were considered too vital to our way of life to stay home. One group unable to work, the other unable to stay home.

Then there’s us. A quasi third group. Those who have a job that is so tied to the glowy screen in front of them that it could be performed, in theory, from any location with a computer and internet. Theory was put to practice as many people – accustomed to commuting each day – suddenly learned the joy and perils of working in their jammies.

Working from home is not a new idea, but there had never been such a reason to push so many people to practice it. Some companies, historically, felt uncomfortable with workers staying home. With the arrival of COVID-19 they had a change of heart and now insist on it. Once and for all we will find out which meetings could have just been an email.

The pandemic has been hard on many people. If one is able to avoid the disease itself, they are still subject to staying in and staying isolated. Many never leave their home except for groceries or prescriptions. Some people thrive in this situation, but for others, it puts pressure on the mind and spirit. What about those who already have such a toll on their state of mind due to mental illness?

Working a job, or doing anything, with mental illness can be its own challenge. Mental illnesses and disorders that can affect your work include depression, PTSD, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and borderline personality disorder – just to name a few. So what happens when those who suffer from one or more of these mental health issues have to stay at home every day for work?

There are advantages. If a moment strikes you when you can’t be your professional self, you can often step away and have that cup of tea and peace of mind. Going heads-down and focusing on your task is where you might thrive. However, working from home can still mean having dead-lines and going to live meetings. Needing help or coordination from distant workers can quickly tax your social resources.

There will be a great deal of communication through multiple methods ranging from group video calls to instant messages. Things can get out of control quickly if you don’t set limits. When you want to reach someone it may be unclear which method to use. “Should I email or call them?” you might find yourself pondering. This can frustrate you to the point of not taking action at all. Getting a handle on the lines of communication is vital.

Request to have as few modes of communication as possible. You might find yourself responding to text messages, reading emails, taking phone calls, or answering instant messages from WhatsApp, Slack, or more. It will certainly create a growing obsession towards monitoring notifications rather than actual work.

If a consensus can not be found, give your coworkers clear communication on how you want to be reached, and ask them what they prefer. Needing to check the notification on so many apps is a recipe for a panic attack and overwhelming yourself.

Let’s consider meetings. You’ve seen it by now – or you will – a Zoom meeting with people saying “hello hello, is this thing on?” It’s amazing that in a time we all have computers in our pocket, that it’s still hard to coordinate things like your own audio, video, and even lighting conditions. If you suffer panic attacks it’s best not to be unknotting your earphones while the CEO is about to make a big presentation. Get ready early, check that you can be heard and can hear others. If another meeting is about to start, leave on time. Respect the start time of that new meeting. Overlapping meetings that never end are a sign that boundaries are not being observed. Boundaries are hard for most, but if you have a mental illness they can feel impossible to set.

On a similar note, let’s look at the start and end of work. Being on time is important. Wait, you just need to roll out of bed and turn on a computer? Great, but is it though? You get there just in time to say the proverbial “here!” If you are not ready to work, you are falling behind. Extend this idea to the day itself. When is the day over? Did you start a little late so you feel obligated to work a little later? Do you have a time when other people can expect that you won’t get their message until the next business day? Does working-from-home turn into working-all-the-time?

Getting to work on time also means leaving work on time. Those who have had a reactive or abusive partner know that setting boundaries can escalate situations instead of repairing them. Telling your boss “I’ll like to be offline after 6:30.” can result in the fear that you’ll just be told to close your computer and never return. But these are the boundaries one must set. Finding this work-life balance is doubly important for the mentally ill because we need to reserve time for ourselves for repair and growth.

Among all my reminders to you, remember to leave the house. In the time of COVID-19, this gets convoluted because “Stay home, stay safe!” is the phrase of the day. Having issues going outside can be a part of mental illness. In extreme cases, some people are afraid to go out the front door. With nearly everything being available for delivery now possible to stay home for days, but this is not a good recipe for mental health. When your day ends – and make sure it ends – get some fresh air and possibly some exercise.

Plan the rest of your day ahead of time. Look forward to it and go out and enjoy it. Day to day life is already hard with mental health issues. Don’t let working from home be another hardship. Breath deeply, take care of your mind and don’t let the mixture of home and work overwhelm you. Don’t forget your most important job is to take care of yourself.

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Opinion Editorials

5 Secrets to a more productive morning in the office

(EDITORIAL) Productivity is king in the office, but sometimes distractions and other issues slow you down. So what can you do to limit these factors?



distractions stop productivity

Regardless of whether you’re a self-proclaimed morning person or not, more efficient mornings can be catalytic in your daily productivity and output. The only question is, do you know how to make the most of your mornings in the office?

5 Tips for Greater Morning Productivity

In economic terms, productivity is a measure of output as it relates to input. Academics often discuss productivity in terms of a one-acre farm’s ability to produce a specific crop yield, or an auto manufacturing plant’s ability to produce a certain number of vehicles over a period of time. But then there’s productivity in our personal lives.

Your own daily productivity can be defined in a variety of ways. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting the desired results with less time and effort on the input side. And as a business professional, one of the best ways to do this is by optimizing your morning in the office.

Here are a few timely suggestions:

  1. Eliminate All Non-Essential Actions

    Spend the next week keeping a log of every single action you take from the moment your eyes open in the morning until you sit down at your desk. It might look something like this:

    • Turn off alarm
    • Scroll through social media on phone
    • Get out of bed
    • Eat breakfast
    • Take shower
    • Brush teeth
    • Walk dog
    • Watch news
    • Browse favorite websites
    • Get in car
    • Starbucks drive-thru
    • Arrive at office
    • Small talk with coworkers
    • Sit down at desk

    If you do this over the course of a week, you’ll notice that your behaviors don’t change all that much. There might be some slight deviations, but it’s basically the same pattern.

    Now consider how you can eliminate as many points of friction as possible from your routine. [Note from the Editor: This may be an unpopular opinion, but] For example, can you skip social media time? Can you make coffee at home, rather than drive five minutes out of your way to wait in the Starbucks drive-thru line? Just doing these two things alone could result in an additional 30 minutes of productive time in the office.

  2. Reduce Distractions

    Distractions kill productivity. They’re like rooftop snipers. As soon as they see any sign of productivity, they put it in their crosshairs and pull the trigger.

    Ask yourself this: What are my biggest distractions and how can I eliminate them?

    Popular distractions include social media, SMS, video games, news websites, and email. And while none of these are evil, they zap focus. At the very least, you should shift them to later in the day.

  3. Set Measurable Goals and Action items

    It’s hard to have a productive morning if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be productive. Make sure you set measurable goals, create actionable to-do lists, and establish definitive measurements of what it looks like to be efficient. However, don’t get so caught up in the end result that you miss out on true productivity.

    “There’s a big difference between movement and achievement; while to-do lists guarantee that you feel accomplished in completing tasks, they don’t ensure that you move closer to your ultimate goals,” mentions. “There are many ways to increase your productivity; the key is choosing the ones that are right for you and your ultimate goals.”

    In other words, set goals that are actually reflective of productivity. In doing so, you’ll adjust your behavior to come in proper alignment with the results you’re seeking.

  4. Try Vagus Nerve Stimulation

    Sometimes you just need to block out distractions and focus on the ask at hand. There are plenty of ways to shut out interruptions, but makes sure you’re also simultaneously cuing your mind to be productive. Vagus nerve stimulation is one option for doing both.

    Vagus nerve stimulation, which gently targets the body’s vagus nerve to promote balance and relaxation, while simultaneously enhancing focus and output.

  5. Optimize Your Workspace

    Makes sure your office workspace is conducive to productivity. This means eliminating clutter, optimizing the ergonomics of your desk, reducing distractions, and using “away” settings on apps and devices to suppress notifications during work time.

Make Productivity a Priority

Never take productivity for granted. The world is full of distractions and your willpower is finite. If you “wing it,” you’ll end up spending more time, energy, and effort, all while getting fewer positive results.

Make productivity a priority – especially during the mornings when your mind is fresh and the troubles of the day have yet to be released in full force. Doing so will change the way you operate, function, and feel. It’ll also enhance tangible results, like income, job status, and the accolades that come along with moving up in your career.

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