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Taking It To The Streets Information Superhighway.

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The Stigliano Chronicles - Taking It To The Streets

They’re only words.

Words. Words are powerful stuff. Words can hurt, elate, destroy, and effect change. They can be designed to do any of these things (and much more) or they can do it without intention. Words can be anything we want them to be. Being a blogger, I’ve become a bit more fond of words lately. I try to mix them up, use them effectively, and make sure their message is clear. I don’t always succeed. More than anything though, is the ability of words to change someone’s mind. To effect change through conversation. To influence decisions based on what you say. Power.

Yesterday was a crazy day here at AgentGenius. If you somehow missed it all (how, I will never understand), a large outcry began over a post by Paula Henry involving Google, scraping, IDX, and as many people felt, the future of internet based listing marketing and whether or not the National Association Of Realtors® really understood what’s going on in the “real world.” I spent quite a bit of the day thinking about all I was reading and the implications of the story. I read through the comments and picked up some insight I had missed and applauded some I had thought of myself. I added my views as well. Anyone that knows me, knows that I think the meat of a post is often in the comments. When you start a conversation, a post can take on a life of its own. And man oh man, did that post have a life!

Powerful words, powerful results.

If you’re out there and not convinced about the power of blogging, you need look no further. The final results of the post won’t be known for sometime, but it brought immediate attention to the issue, brought agents to the comments that you don’t see here on a regular basis (can someone say “call to action?”), and got responses from NAR itself. It opened up a next step process with Jay Thompson and Paula Henry being invited to speak before the MLS Committee next week (at NAR’s expense I might add). I fully expect the two of them will speak with passion, conviction, and the general betterment of real estate in mind. I think they’re both gifted writers and will be able to get their points across. I hope it will effect the change that will prevent this issue from spreading to other boards and associations.

The bigger picture.

Although I hope for the best from all of this, I see something else that I am excited about. Reaction. Conversation. Plans. (And hopefully) Resolution. Have you fully comprehended what just happened in a day and a half? Some of NAR’s members took a stand, voiced their opinions and were heard. This is what I envisioned the social media position at NAR should be all about. Todd Carpenter took a lot of flak as he was first on the scene (and whether or not he was speaking on behalf of NAR, as Jay pointed out, there will always be that association) and even I jumped to conclusions about his answers as I read them. Unfortunately, until the dues-paying members fully trust their own association, I feel Todd will always be a bit of a whipping-boy for the social media sect of Realtors®. Many people know him personally and although I don’t, I’ve spoken to him briefly on Twitter once or twice and know enough about him to know that he’s well respected by many. Regardless of what happens, there was a conversation at least and an opening to more in front of one of NAR’s committees.

With the internet, it’s easy to expect immediate results. Unfortunately, I don’t think those are going to be the first changes we see. I view this as a test of the might of the internet and social media to effect change. Of course, if it fails, we could easily slide backwards at a fast pace. If it succeeds, it should make all us all think of ways to continue pushing the envelope to bring about the changes that we desire. Todd said we need to get involved and I think many did, but perhaps in a new way. I don’t think we’ll see change tomorrow, but I think we may have just seen a glimpse of a possible future.

photo courtesy of alanwoo

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Lee Ellis

    May 7, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    That post is having a good, long life, indeed! Part of that future includes people who have commented, taken action and “met” online to meet in person and continue turning powerful words into meaningful actions. So before hearing Paula’s and Jay’s comments at the MLS Forum, I hope to meet many of you at the “REALTOR Mixer” next Wednesday night at Petits Plats co-hosted with Deborah Madey.

  2. Monika

    May 7, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    We’ll be at Midyear and will attend the MLS meeting to lend support.

  3. Matt Stigliano

    May 7, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I look forward to hearing all the reports.

    Lee – I had written something for my site that I was considering converting for here, but I decided to go a completely different route. I just thought the idea of what happened as the comments unfolded was worthy of its own mention.

    Monika – I wish I was heading there to listen in.

  4. Missy Caulk

    May 7, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Matthew, this was the power of social media. Our voices were heard, and it could not have happened without the blog and the passion of so many.

    Some folks just “get it” faster than others, the early adopters. I know in my own office and in Ann Arbor in general. Folks are just starting to get on board with social media and very few blog.

    They are totally in the dark on all of this and I dare say wouldn’t have understood most of what occurred. Usually 20% adopt early on and then you hit critical mass. We are not at critical mass for social media yet.

    I’m happy Paula and Jay are getting to go. Todd is a great guy and I’m glad he is there.

  5. Matt Stigliano

    May 7, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Missy – It really served as a prime example of the power of social media and being able to get involved. I saw it mentioned in several places (so it was spreading news) and could see how it was being passed from one person to the next and then to their “friends” and then on and on. I think the whole post/comments could be printed and shown to anyone who says, “I don’t get social media.” If that doesn’t explain it, I don’t know what will. AgentGenius became the town hall of the RE.net for a meeting on the new plans for our town. Arguments were made, discussions were had, and solutions were proposed.

    I wrote this about an hour ago – I forgot how to hit “submit” apparently.

  6. Joe@Augusta GA Homes

    May 8, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Matt, As an agent who has invested a significant amount of time and money in to moving my site up in the Google rankings, I hope and pray that the NAR talking heads shut those heads up long enough to open their ears to Paula and Jay at this meeting. As a dues paying member of NAR, I cannot believe they would classify the #1 search engine on the planet this way – to the detriment of our clients. I have fought tooth and nail to move my rankings up the Google ladder, and the last thing I want is to turn off that money stream because of archaic rules that do nothing to help my clients sell their home.

  7. Matt Stigliano

    May 8, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Joe – I agree that its shocking to see that Google would be classified as any thing other than a search engine. I do hope that Paula and Jay are well received, listened to, and have enough time to get their points made. I know they will do a great job, I just hope that it goes well.

  8. Austin Smith - Goomzee.com

    May 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I hope so as well. As a blogger, I can’t think of two people I would rather have represent our community than Jay and Paula. Good luck, guys.

  9. Paula Henry

    May 9, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Matt – I am only beginning to get back to look at all the posts written in support of the post I wrote. What has happened here is truly the power of social media. It’s true, there are many who do not understand and many more who don’t want to. The point is, those of us here who do understand have the power to reach across boundaries we would not have otherwise had.

  10. Paula Henry

    May 9, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Austin – Thank You!

  11. Matt Stigliano

    May 10, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Austin – It is good to have such great representation. I have admired them both for their blogs in the past, but now I have more reason to. I wish them the best in their travels. I just hope that NAR will truly listen to what they have to say.

    Paula – With the bazillion emails, posts, and comments you’ve probably generated, I’m sure you’re swamped so I appreciate you taking a few moments to stop by here. You’ve been given a heavy burden because of your post, but luckily, I know you can take it on. I have full faith in you and Jay and wish you the best. Imagine this had happened ten years ago, it would probably happened quietly and never been seen by most. Thanks to your post, the word is spreading and people are reacting.

  12. Valorie Stover

    May 11, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Glad this is going to be heard by NAR and thanks to Jay and Paul,a know they will serve us well.

    Social media gets the word out faster than any the old gossip line ever did.

  13. Matt Stigliano

    May 12, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Valorie – It was fast. Although your mention of the word “gossip” brings up a good point too. It’s easy to spread rumors, false claims, gossip, lies, and sow discontent a lot faster than ever before. Everything always has a down side to it I guess.

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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 you 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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