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What Are Managing Brokers Actually Managing?

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A New Manager

Today’s my first day as the new Managing Broker of one of our brokerage offices. For 6 years, I’ve been a real estate agent. A year ago, I got my broker’s license. Since New Year’s, I’ve been “training” to be a Managing Broker. It’s exciting — I’m excited. It’s the beginning of a new journey in real estate.

Most of our Managing Brokers continue to sell real estate. I will do the same. However, with rank comes responsibility — instead of just dealing with problems that arise in my own transactions, I’ll be dealing with everyone else’s too. In a busy office of 40 agents, this will no doubt keep me very busy.

What Do Managers Manage?

Real estate sales is different than just about every other industry. Agents are all independent contractors — whether they act like it or not, they all are running their own businesses — Me, Inc. Thus, apart from making sure that agents do not run afoul of the law or the REALTOR Code of Ethics, or various company policies, there is very little control that a Managing Broker actually has over the agents in his or her office.

So what do we manage?

  • Reputation — an agent’s and a company’s reputation are the most important assets in real estate. Mess up and forever tarnish your image in the eyes of the public. One agent screws up and it can (rightly or wrongly) diminish the reputation of the entire office forever.
  • Motivation — a managing broker’s job entails keeping the agents in their office motivated. Whether the market is good, bad, or otherwise, it’s the manager’s job to keep the agents focused on their goals. Agents who don’t have their goals in writing should meet with their managing broker to discuss this. A Managing Broker must be a cheerleader for the office and their agents.
  • Education — one of the largest roles any broker can fulfill is to educate the agents in the office about the newest developments in the market, the laws, the policies of the MLS, etc. Moreover, making sure that brand new agents are up to speed about the ins and outs of real estate is crucial to the success of the office. This is why we have a mentoring program in place.
  • Ethics / Law — more than anything else, a broker is responsible (and liable) for ensuring that agents do not do anything unethical or illegal. I’m fairly certain that my background as an attorney and having practiced real estate law helped in my selection to be a managing broker.

Unlike traditional managers in the corporate world, managing brokers do not tell their agents what to do. We may advise on how to do it. We’re there to answer questions and help an agent discover a solution.

Perhaps I need a Couch in my Office

In training to become a Managing Broker, my “mentor” explained that the most important attribute of a manager is the ability to listen. Listen to what an agent says — listen intently. And then ask a question — “Is that it? Is there anything else you want to tell me,” wait and listen some more. According to him, agents rarely, if ever, tell the full story. You need to listen, listen, listen and listen some more.

We all repeat the maxim that “Buyers are liars. And sellers are too.” Now, before I go accusing any agents of this character trait during my first day on the job, let me just say, that I’ll wait and listen. Hmmm… How does that make you feel?

Some New Things to Focus Upon

As an agent, my focus has always been on how to get more prospects, how to sell more homes, how to help my clients and how to solve their problems. Since I’m still selling, these priorities will still remain.

However, there will be some new things to focus my energies as a manager. Yet the same skill sets will be applied. As a broker, the priority shifts to recruiting new agents for the office, helping agents focus on and exceed their goals, making sure that the office is profitable, and maintaining an esprit du corps within the office.

I’m looking forward to this new adventure.

Any advice from those who have been down this road is appreciated.

Brian Block practiced law until he heard every single attorney joke and decided becoming a real estate broker was a more fun way to earn a living. Proud of the plaques and diplomas adorning his office wall, he's even more proud of his marriage to a beautiful and talented ballroom dance teacher and fellow entrepreneur. Every day, you can find Brian, doing what he does best – advising Northern Virginia home buyers and sellers. If you want, you can follow him on Twitter @blockrealestate.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Matt Stigliano

    March 23, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Brian – While managing perhaps you should work to strike this from the real estate lexicon:

    “Buyers are liars. And sellers are too.”

    Is it any wonder our reputation is less than stellar when these sorts of things were passed around offices for years? I actually heard this at licensing school. Whether its an old phrase or not, it needs to go away. We change language to adapt and this is one phrase that I will fight to my death to get rid of.

    For the record – its not a maxim for me, its just plain disgusting that we would say that, then turn and smile at our clients and tell them we’ll take good care of them.

    (Other than that, I enjoyed the article and if I can pass on anything I’ve learned from my broker and the way he deals with us, it would be to learn how to motivate each individual separately. What works for one agent, might not work for the next.)

  2. Missy Caulk

    March 23, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I managed for a year and hated it. I had a sign on my door, “do not disturb” because as you know RE/MAX Brokers sell too.

    No one listened everyone thought they were the exeception.

    Yes my advice get a couch.

  3. Brian Block

    March 24, 2009 at 6:09 am

    Matt, I agree. While I wrote that “we all repeat the maxim,” it’s not a phrase that I’ve ever used or ever believed — just a trite one that I’ve heard over and over from others.

    Missy, I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy your experience with managing. I doubt I’ll ever have a “do not disturb” sign on my door however.

  4. Cindy Jones

    March 24, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Brian congratulations on your new role. I’m curious on your opinion of being both a manager and a “competitor” with the agents in your office. Do you anticipate any issues with agents who may consider it a conflict of interest?

  5. Brian Block

    March 24, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Cindy,

    I don’t see myself as truly in competition with the other agents in the office. Most of my business comes through the internet, referrals from current and past clients, and sphere of influence, I don’t anticipate crossing paths with many of the agents. Everyone has their own ways of marketing and I don’t plan on sending postcards to anyone else’s farm. Besides, there’s enough business to go around for everyone.

  6. Matt Stigliano

    March 24, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Brian – Good to see you agree. I was a bit concerned as when I read it, it sounded as if you were saying the phrase yourself. Perception of the written word is a difficult thing sometimes.

    The good thing is that you’ve inspired me for a post, so I can’t complain there.

    PS I had a feeling that an AG writer wouldn’t have this feeling towards their buyers – Lani and Benn are too good at picking people to allow that to happen.

  7. Dee

    March 24, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I was in the same position for a short time, did the non-compete deal but missed selling!
    I’m BIC of my current company in my MLS area but it’s set up differently than other companies so my selling doesn’t conflict with the agents that I bring on. Heck, half of them are in other markets!
    Much success with your new position, I’m sure you will be a great asset!

  8. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Brian- Best wishes on your new position- I agree that you can manage and produce without competing. Even ass the CEO of my company I am still productive as a listing agent, and have been for my entire career. There is not one of those listings that would have gone to my company if I were not here, so that doesn’t strike me as competition either.

  9. BawldGuy

    March 25, 2009 at 10:41 am

    The cliché about buyers/sellers reminds me of the first time I heard the expression, back in 1969. I too questioned the validity of the old saying. An old salt told me to ponder how clichés become clichés.

  10. Danilo Bogdanovic

    March 25, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I wish you luck in your new position. You have more patience than I do, that’s for sure.

  11. Brendan from San Mateo

    March 25, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Forgive me if I’m wrong here. But, aren’t one of managers main objectives to be as profitable as possible too? Are you guys running only on desk fees or are their commission splits?

    All the things you manage are very important but without money, companies can’t survive.

  12. FSBO ads

    March 27, 2009 at 2:47 am

    i’m curious on your opinion of being both a manager and a “competitor” with the agents in your office.

  13. Cleve Gaddis

    March 28, 2009 at 11:22 am

    A comment on “Buyers are Liars and Sellers are too.”

    When I first got into real estate I didn’t have any idea what people meant when they said “Buyers are Liars.” I felt sure that buyers and sellers were not lying to real estate agents intentionally. Over the last seven years I realized just what the phrase meant. Both Buyers and Sellers make decisions based upon the informaiton they have up to the point of decision. This information changes nearly every day during the buying and selling process, so it only makes sense that the decisions they make change along with this added informaiton. Example – the last two houses I purchased (Chicago and Atlanta) were absolutely, positively going to have a three-car garage. Want to know how many houses with three-car garages I’ve ever owned? NONE. Now you could say it’s a case of “Buyers are Liars” (because I did send my poor agent looking all over town for houses with three-car garages) or it could be that I just changed my mind during the buying process based upon what I had learned(a house with a three-car garage wasn’t in my budget). Just a thought – for what it’s worth.

  14. Judy Fithian

    April 12, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    What kind of compensation structure is fair for a managing broker who also sells and lists?

  15. Matt Wolff

    April 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I’m trying to find out information about Managing Broker compensation. I’ve been offered to be a managing broker of a small firm – 4 other agents. I see the question asked here, but no responses are visible. Does anyone have any thoughts they can share?

    Thanks,
    Matt

  16. Darius Bailey

    October 16, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Brian, congratulations on the new position. I’m a REALTOR® licensed in Georgia and Florida. I’m planning to open a brokerage in mid-2018 and am looking forward to it. I’m very aware that there will be challenges but when I consider the only alternative, which is branding another company and sharing $$$, my own brokerage makes more sense to me.

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Opinion Editorials

20 bullsh*t buzzwords that should be banned from tech forever

(OPINION) As the language of tech ebbs and flows, there are linguistic potholes so over-used, so annoying, they make you want to scream. Here’s 20 of the worst offenders.

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buzzwords

There’s specific lingo in any industry. Buzzwords, if you will. Get a group of friends who work together for beers after clocking out, and chances are you’ll get lost quickly once they start trading war stories – outsiders beware.

But, there’s one community who puts even nurses (marry a nurse, and you’ll learn what prophylaxis means) to shame with insider speak and bullshit buzzwords: the tech community.

Tech folks are like business and marketing people but mutated. There’s so much free-flowing jargon that goes unchecked and evolves a la Origin of The Species within days. The words and phrases become gospel and, before you know it, people are sharing these nonsense phrases that become the industry norm, leaving anyone on the outside scratching their heads, trying to decipher the tech code.

But, as the language of tech ebbs and flows, there are linguistic potholes so over-used, so annoying, they make you want to scream. There are words used so out of context that make you want to turn them into a snarky meme and pass it around the office because you’re a jerk like that. (Well, I’m at least a jerk like that.)

These are some of those words.

The words that need to die a horrible, 24 hour, “what does it all mean” death.

Words that should be locked away in a prison so vile Charles Manson would be like, “Nah, bro. I’m good.”

Please don’t use these words in your marketing, pitch meetings, or just ever. They suck.Click To Tweet

Strap in and lock it down, here we go:

1. Sync
Can’t we just say “everyone knows what’s going on” instead of sync? This is one of those metaphors alluding to tech as melded with the products and culture, serving as interchangeable. We’re people, not iPhones to be plugged into our laptops. We don’t need to sync. We can meet up.

2. Robust
Robust is coffee, a strong tea you imported from India. It’s not a tech software experience. A can of Folgers can claim to be robust, your project tool cannot share this claim.

3. Pain point
Are we still using this one? A pain point is an elbow that’s got an owie, not what a customer thinks sucks.

4. Delight
I’m delighted to eat an excellent meal or get an unexpected call from an old friend. I’m delighted to leave work early to have drinks. I’m not delighted to use enterprise software. Sure, it makes my day easier. Does it offer a view of heaven when I can use self-service? I think not.

5. Disrupt
One of the godzillas of Jargon Mountain. I get that this worked in context a few years ago. But, now? You’re not “the Uber of…” and you’re not “disrupting” anything.

You built a parking app, Pat. You didn’t change the world.

If you dethrone Facebook, you’ve disrupted the world. ‘Til then, keep your pants on. Your algorithm for the best pizza place in town ain’t changing the block, let alone the face of communication.

6. Game changer & Change agent
Does anyone buy into this one? Was the game changed? This goes in the bin with “Disrupt.”

7. Bleeding Edge
Some jerk in some office decided “the cutting edge” wasn’t enough. It wasn’t hyper progressive enough, so they labeled their work the “bleeding edge”.

If this phrase were any more douchey, it would have a neck beard and a fedora and argue the tenants of socialism on IRC with strangers while sipping Mountain Dew.

8. Dog food
Who came up with this? When did a beta test get labeled as “dog food” I’m still lost on how this one became the industry standard. “We’re eating our own dog food.” This doesn’t even make a lick of sense, people. Just say we’re testing something. It’s a lot easier.

9. Alignment
What happened to just saying you agree? I thought alignment was for tires, not for working. I’ll give you parallel, but alignment? Not buying it.

10. Pivot
Pivot is just a fancy, non-finger point-y way of saying change. And typically, that change is reacting to something not going the company’s way. “Pivoting” means reacting to bad news or undesired outcome and making everyone involved feel smarter about the process.

11. Revolutionary
Unless you’ve built software that cures cancer, does something better than Elon Musk, or gets you laid faster than Tinder, you’re not revolutionary. You’re an element of evolution in a steadily progressing world.

12. Internet of Things
I still don’t even know what the hell this means. Really. It’s one of those phrases people use and pretend to know but really don’t.

13. Bandwidth
I thought bandwidth was Internet stuff, not how busy you are at work. Can’t we say, “if you’re not too busy,” instead of, “if you have the bandwidth,”..?? These are people, not routers.

14. Low-hanging fruit
You mean the easy work? “Easy win” even applies here. But the whole gardening metaphor is tired. It’s ok to say, “Do the easy work first” in a meeting. Hiding behind a metaphorical phrase doesn’t make the work any less important.

15. Deliverables
Do we need to break everything down into words to make the process more complicated? Aren’t deliverables, just work? It’s an adjective to describe what work you’re completing… so… it’s just work. Throw in a “key, ” and you’re jargon-y as all get out.

16. Circle Back
Translation: I don’t want to continue talking about this right now, so I’m going to schedule more pointless meetings to discuss this thing I don’t understand and don’t want to talk about in a few days. Likely, scheduled on your lunch break.

17. Action item
What happened to the good ole’ “to do List”? Instead, we’ve got “action item”. You come out of a meeting with a sore ass. The boss pounds on your for the stuff you need to do. You’re up to your ears in homework, yet, it’s not work you need to do – it’s “action items, to be delivered upon.” WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS EVEN MEAN?

18. Take it offline
If there was ever painful corporate-speak, this one is a granddaddy. Instead of burning minutes in a meeting, someone will announce, “let’s take it offline.” Always happens. What about, “let’s talk about this face to face,” or “I’ll swing by your desk”, or “let’s figure this out.”

We appreciate you not annoying the rest of us with your A+B problem, but we’re not all living in the matrix. Or, at least we think we’re not.

19. Buy-in
Committing to something – a culture, an idea, a feeling. We’re equating life to a poker game and expecting everyone to get the idea, too. So lame.

20. Rockstar – Ninja – Wizard – whatever descriptive verb
This one. Holy horse crap. Can we PLEASE STOP with trying to slap a descriptive label on good work? I get it. You want to exclaim your person is a badass, and they’ve got chops. But this labeling of people in fantastical ways just sucks. When did the craft of a ninja, or the fantastical abilities of a wizard relate to code? And the rockstar thing?

Dudes, you’re not Keith Richards, you wear a startup hoodie and complain when you’re not getting free lunch at work.

Also, these names suck because they imply some male-dominance-cum-brogrammer mentality. They’re shadowy ciphers that are such machismo, it’ll barf up a steak. When a woman gets labeled a “ninja” it’s in an entirely different context, and that’s not cool. Writers have to get creative and use terms like “acrobat” or “juggler” to give off a sentiment of equal playing field, and it’s obnoxious. Just stop with these lame titles.

And there you have it. 20 bullshit buzzwords that should be banned forever and ever. Comment away, and add the jargon you loathe in the comments section. If it goes well, maybe they’ll ask me to write a part two, and we’ll make even more people mad.

This editorial was first published here in 2017.

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Opinion Editorials

Study says women need to be seen as “warm” to be considered confident

(EDITORIAL) A new study reveals that despite progress, women are still successful when they fall into a stereotype. Let’s discuss.

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About 15 years ago, I took a part-time job in a mental health clinic handling bookkeeping and billing. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I attacked the job with what I felt was confidence. For the first few days, I simply felt as if I was an imposter. I kept asking questions and pushing forward, even though I didn’t make much progress. Within just a few days, I felt the hostility of the office manager.

It got progressively worse, and I couldn’t figure out what the heck I’d done to make her so confrontational with me. I thought I was pleasant and respectful of her position, and I was getting along with the other employees. When I talked to our boss, I was told that I intimidated the office manager. HUH? Me? Intimidating? I was a complete mess at the time. I could barely put together a business casual wardrobe. My emotional health was so fragile that I rarely went anywhere new. And she found me intimidating?

Researchers have been studying how people judge others. Susan Fiske, researcher out of Princeton, found that competence and warmth are two of the dimensions used to judge others. Based on that research, Laura Guillén, Margarita Mayo, and Natalia Karelaia studied the competence and warmth at a software company with 236 engineers.  Guillén and her team collected data at two separate times about these engineers and their confidence and influence within the organization.

They found that “men are seen as confident if they are seen as competent, but women are seen as confident only if they come across as both competent and warm.

Women must be seen as warm in order to capitalize on their competence and be seen as confident and influential at work; competent men are seen as confident and influential whether they are warm or not.”

We encourage women to be confident, but based on current research, it may not be enough to close the gender gap in the workplace. A woman must be seen as helpful and dedicated to others to have the same influence as a man. As a woman, it’s easy to be seen as the #bossbitch when you have to make tough decisions. Those same decisions, when made by a man might be considered just “business as normal.”

I guess the lesson is that women still have to work twice as hard as men just to be seen as equals. I know that I have to work on empathy when I’m in an office environment. That office manager isn’t the only person who has thought I’m intimidating. I’ve heard it from it others, but you know what? As a self-employed writer, I’d rather be seen as undeterred and daunting than submissive and meek.

This editorial first appeared here in 2016.

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Opinion Editorials

Don’t avoid starting a business just because you’re broke

(EDITORIAL) If money isn’t always a prerequisite to entrepreneurship, how can you start something from nothing?

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starting a business

Breaking into the business world can be an intimidating venture, especially if you don’t have the money or experience to back up your ambitions. Experience, however, can be earned – or at least approached through a “fake it until you make it” style approach. But what can you do if you dream of launching a business but you don’t have the cash? Is money a prerequisite to entrepreneurship?

Money helps but isn’t a requirement for those hoping to start their own business – you simply need to get creative. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few things to consider.

One of the best ways to build your confidence around the topic of entrepreneurship is to refocus your attention towards those who also started from nothing, but have since made it big.

Steve Jobs started out tinkering in his garage as a teenager and went on to found the tech giant Apple, while multimillionaire consultant Sam Ovens publically discusses his finances – he was broke just a few years ago but had made over $10 million dollars by the time he turned 26.

Such stories attest to the fact that anyone can ascend to great heights.

Even though many people think money is the most important part of any business endeavor, successful people will tell you that true self-understanding far outranks cash on the list of necessities. Take some time to reflect on your goals and on how you view yourself as you pursue them.

If you think you can’t achieve your goals, then you won’t be able to. The mind is a very powerful thing.

If introspection reveals that you’re low on self-esteem, work on improving your view of yourself and begin developing a more positive perspective. You may find it helpful to write down what you think and then revise this description, working all the time to internalize this improved view of yourself. Though it may seem like a pointless process at first, you’re actually participating in your own transformation.

Another key determinant of success that far surpasses money is passion.

People succeed when they pursue goals that matter to them on a deeper level.

Typically this is the case because passion leads you to accumulate expertise on your chosen topic, and this will draw people to you.

One incredible example of the transformation of passion into profit is 17-year-old Jonah, who makes thousands of dollars a month selling watches online. Jonah comes from a family of jewelers, so he had ready access to the necessary knowledge and cultivated an outstanding selection of timepieces on his site, but it was his ability to combine his material knowledge with real understanding of his customers that made his business successful.

At the end of the day, he wanted his customers to have the perfect watch, and he brought his own passion for the field to bear on creating that experience.

Finally, if you hope to start a business but don’t have any cash resources, the best thing you can do is learn your field and network with those in it – without bringing them on board as professional partners.

It helps to have contacts, but you can’t grow a fledgling business by paying others to do the hard work.

Hunker down and work from home, working at night if you have to keep your current job, and start from the position of humble aspirant. If you show you’re committed to the real work of starting a business, you’ll find that others support you.

If you hope to start a business, but don’t have the money, don’t despair – but also don’t put your dream on hold. The only way to build the foundation you need to live that dream is by doing the hard work in the here and now.

Lots of people started just where you are, but the true successes are the ones who had the courage to push past the barriers without worrying about the financial details. You already have what you need, and that’s the passion for innovation.

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