Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

What I Want from the National Association of REALTORS

Published

on

NOTE– The inspiration for this post came from my wife (and fellow REALTOR), Kari. The idea is all hers, I am merely putting it in writing in the hope of accurately expressing it to all of you. I can take credit for the writing, but she deserves the credit for the inspiration.

As group, the blogosphere has been pretty tough on the National Association of REALTORS. Much of it has been absolutely warranted. Some of it has been, in my estimation, overly harsh at times. I’m not particularly interested in adding to the already voluminous canon of NAR criticism. I am, however, extremely interested in seeing things change. So in this case, I think I might have to forgo my desire for the former, in order to fulfill my desire for the latter. I have also been encouraged by the recent effort on the part of NAR to actually engage the membership and address some of the criticism (after much pleading, both here and elsewhere). This makes me hopeful that perhaps NAR is not only hearing, but also listening.

So here, goes. . .

Kari and I were recently on a drive out to house an open house at one of our listings. Since we live in what could be described as the middle of nowhere, we do a lot of driving. We like driving, because it gives us a chance to discuss. On this particular drive, we began discussing the state of the real estate profession. Specifically, we were discussing the fact that not only are there not a lot of young real estate professionals, but there seems to be no effort or steps being taken to change that fact. It would appear that we are not alone in this assessment.

Chief among the reasons that real estate seems unable to attract people dedicated to the profession, especially young professionals, is the overall culture of the real estate profession. It is not at all inclusive. There is little true cooperation (except when it is motivated by commissions). The “Look at Me!” attitude that is pervasive in much of the real estate marketing and advertising just isn’t attractive to many members of Gen-Y.

NB– The distinctive lack of a “look at me!” attitude and the undying commitment to cooperation and collaboration exhibited by the AgentGenius community is precisely what attracted me, and precisely why I continue to participate and promote it to anyone who will listen.

We came up with all kinds of reasons, but culture and attitude were the biggest. All of our discussion lead us to the same place– ok, now what? Can the culture be changed? How can the culture be changed?

The culture of the real estate profession can most certainly be changed, but such a change cannot occur without leadership. Such leadership can certainly come from people like Kari, me, and you, but it will have a tough time gaining any real momentum or traction if there is no commitment to change from those who occupy the positions of leadership within the profession. The leadership that change requires must come from within NAR if it is to have any sort of real, lasting effect on the industry. If not, change will literally take an entire generation to achieve. I’m impatient, I don’t want to wait that long, and I don’t think the consumer does, either.

The more we thought about it, the more we thought about what NAR is, and what it must become if it is going to be valuable in the future. It was at this point that Kari came up with what I think it the perfect metaphor for how I perceive NAR, and why I don’t feel like it relates to me. She looked at me and said:

You know what NAR is? I feel like a girl scout who has to learn how to sell cookies to earn a badge, and rather than helping me learn how to sell the cookies, NAR is that mother who buys all my cookies so that I can have my badge.

BAM! That’s it, in a nutshell. That is exactly the feeling that I get from watching all of the NAR ads on TV, and from reading the Newspaper ads, and reading the articles copious vendor ads in REALTOR magazine. I feel like NAR is trying so hard to either create business for me, or trying to sell me something, or generally getting in my way, that I don’t get any value from it.

I DON’T NEED NAR TO BUY MY GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!

I NEED NAR TO PROVIDE THE RESOURCES TO ALLOW ME TO SELL MY COOKIES SUCCESSFULLY!

I WANT TO EARN MY OWN DAMN BADGE!

To that end. .

I want honesty from NAR. (this was a good start)
I don’t want to be told how things should be, I want to know how they are.
I want all those vast resources being put to use informing and preparing me, not promoting and selling to me.
I don’t want NAR to speak for me, I want NAR to enable me to speak and be heard as credible.
I want to know if change really is taking place.
I want to feel like I have a stake in such change.
I want to know that I’m not just talking into a black hole.
I want to know that my input and opinion matters.
I want to be as proud to be a member of NAR as I am to be a member of my state association.

I don’t think I’m asking for very much. In fact, what I am asking for takes little or no money at all. Moreover, I know that it is possible, that is why I included that last “want” on the list. 2 years ago, if you would have asked me about VAR, I would have told you that I could care less. That has all changed. It didn’t change over night, but it did change.

NAR can change, too. I know it.

So, c’mon, NAR! I’ve got some cookies I need to move, and they taste sweet. How you gonna help me sell ’em?

I'm a REALTOR, basketball referee, happy husband, and Community Manager (in no particular order). I have a passion for the real estate industry and officiating, a passion that I try to turn into inspiration on my blog, The Real Estate Zebra. I am also the Community Manager at Inman News. When I'm not blogging here on AG or the Zebra, you can usually find me on Twitter.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Bob Carney

    March 16, 2008 at 11:13 am

    THAT’S IT!!! The problem with these “badges” is they claim to be educational but the under current is the profit that NAR makes from it.

    Wonder if they will contact me to monetize my eTWIT designation?

  2. Bob Carney

    March 16, 2008 at 11:14 am

    The blockquote didn’t work for me. I love the analogy!!!

    “You know what NAR is? I feel like a girl scout who has to learn how to sell cookies to earn a badge, and rather than helping me learn how to sell the cookies, NAR is that mother who buys all my cookies so that I can have my badge”

    Perfect!

  3. Russell Shaw

    March 16, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Excellent post, Daniel!! Tell Kari she did really really good. (I get most of “my” great ideas from my wife too:-)

  4. Benjamin Bach

    March 16, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Great post, Daniel and Kari.

    re: Youngins in the Industry – One of the reasons I love my firm so much – and there are many 🙂 – is that the major partner of the ownership group is 30. I think that’s unique in town – and our culture is a testament to that.

    BenjaminBach.com

  5. Mariana Wagner

    March 16, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Daniel – BRAVO! This is an excellent post. I want to sell my own NARscout Cookies, too. But we DO need a good NARscout leader and a few awesome, local NARscout Den Mothers to help focus and lead the way.

  6. Bob in San Diego

    March 16, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I see discussions about NAR to be like the Blind Men and the Elephant.

    Daniel, how do you define NAR?

  7. Brad Nix

    March 16, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Daniel:

    I am young, but have 11 years experience and have recently worked my into a leadership position with my local Realtor Association. I believe this is where the change needs to come from, bottom up. If local associations create change that ripples to the state level, then NAR must take note and action. My question is simple, but the answers are tough for me to put into action…

    How would you suggest this “want” list gets answered?

  8. Blue Ridge Cabin Rentals

    March 17, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Great post and you seem motivated with your decision and wish you all the success. I see young people in our area in the field not overwhelmingly but somewhat. Maybe talking to high schools and career fair opportunities to approach young people and explain the industry.

  9. Daniel Rothamel

    March 17, 2008 at 8:26 am

    @Bob in San Diego–

    My definition of NAR really doesn’t matter. What matters is how NAR defines itself and attempts to fulfill its own mission and vision. From the NAR website:

    I have no problem with either of these statements (although I’m not convinced of the “working on behalf of America’s property owners” bit). I do think that in order to live up to these statements, NAR is going to have to do a much better job of communicating and engaging its membership. It is also going to have to do a much better job of being aware of changes in consumer psychology and listening to and engaging them as well.

    @Brad–

    I agree with you, to a point. Bottom up change is good, but if a local association is having trouble with change on its own level, strong leadership from above is going to be necessary to affect that change. As I said in the post, I am very proud to be a member of the Virginia Association of REALTORS, and I have personally witnessed the change in culture that is beginning to take place at the state level here in Virginia. There is no reason why we should have to wait for change to happen in each local or state association individually when NAR has the power to lead by example.

  10. Daniel Rothamel

    March 17, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Ok, the blockquote was really screwed up, there, Bob. Sorry. Here is the NAR mission and vision statement:

    Mission

    The core purpose of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is to help its members become more profitable and successful.

    Vision

    The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® strives to be the collective force influencing and shaping the real estate industry. It seeks to be the leading advocate of the right to own, use, and transfer real property; the acknowledged leader in developing standards for efficient, effective, and ethical real estate business practices; and valued by highly skilled real estate professionals and viewed by them as crucial to their success.

    Working on behalf of America’s property owners, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® provides a facility for professional development, research and exchange of information among its members and to the public and government for the purpose of preserving the free enterprise system, and the right to own, use, and transfer real property.

  11. Brad Nix

    March 17, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Daniel:

    I agree. Strong leadership from NAR would help all local and state boards. However, I am still looking for help in how to affect change now. I don’t like waiting on people who I have little faith in delivering. I would love to hear the “how” to your “wants”.

  12. Daniel Rothamel

    March 17, 2008 at 9:01 am

    @Brad,

    Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot to answer the second part of your question. Here is what I have for “how’s.” (I’m sure there are many that I am overlooking, as NAR has resources that I am sure I am completely unaware of).

    Stop running “Now is a great time to buy.” “Now is a great time to sell.” “Now is a great time to buy or sell.” ads. Stop doing this RIGHT NOW. Consumers are too smart for that type of touting. I think that the recent backpedaling and change in NAR’s national ad campaigns proves that.

    Stop trying to be a consumer advocate (for now). In the minds of most consumers (even the ones that I meet personally) NAR has little or no credibility. If NAR is going to insist that being a real estate agent is a sales profession, I can’t think of anyone in the world that thinks their salesperson is working on their behalf.

    If NAR does, in fact, want to be a consumer advocacy group, NAR is going to have to work much harder to establish the profession as closer to consultation and away from sales. We all know that doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, etc. have a sales component to their job. Every profession has that. That component must take a back seat to the consultative/advisory role of the real estate agent. Don’t tell me you want to be talked about in the same breath as those other professions, and then run articles and full-page ads in REALTOR magazine about lead generation.

    The NAR convention is a joke. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that even approaches cutting-edge, innovative, forward-thinking at the NAR convention. (Well, that’s not entirely true. Dustin Luther did give one presentation at the recent NAR convention in Vegas. I guess one session out of a whole conference isn’t so bad). Were it not for the speakers who were sponsored by Contrywide at the last convention (Seth Godin among them), their would have been little or no value to any agent who has any hope of sticking around in the profession for the next 15 years. Incidentally, Brad, you probably know this intuitively. I imagine it was part of the reason that you helped create such a strong program for RETechSouth. No? There is no reason NAR should not be doing something similar at its convention.

    There is a lot of conversation amongst agents in the blogosphere and other places around the internet, and NAR’s voice is completely absent. There needs to be better engagement on the part of NAR. There is too much discussion going on for NAR to not be paying attention. And if they are, in fact, paying attention, how about a sign?

    Rather than our REALTOR benefits being made up almost entirely of “stuff,” why not dedicate some resources to helping REALTORS with actually establishing and running their business. Provide access to people and sources who can help REALTORS be successful professionals. That would mean a whole lot more to me than a discount on cell phone service.

    Those are just a few. Like I said, I’m sure there are more that I would be completely unaware of, but my knowledge only goes so far since I am not privy to the inner workings of NAR.

  13. Russell Shaw

    March 17, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    To learn how to establish and run your business read, “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber and also “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” by Gary Keller. Probably safe to skip most of the “success instructors” as they are either themselves failed agents or have become so money motivated that actually helping others is is not really very high on their list of priorities. To the best of my knowledge those two books are the most important to read and understand.

    As an additional note, my comments on this are not intended to disagree with anything you have written here – because I don’t.

  14. Laura S Flournoy

    March 17, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    So what your saying is NAR is buying your buyers?
    I think you sell the houses.
    I don’t believe that NAR is buying your cookies.
    NAR does give you great resources to allow you/help you sell your cookies.
    Dig thru the website. Article after article about selling, techniques, technology…
    Take Designation classes. You have to earn those passing grades.
    You know that. Your all education junkies.
    Pick at NAR.
    Make valid points like: NAR is the “Look at me” genre I find distasteful.
    That is the age of the management (I can’t comment too harshly here, I am an old lady myself.) But, that “look at me” concept is how they ran their businesses in the past. Admit it, successfully. Do you see the classic parent trap in our organizations?
    Baby Boomers, codling Gen Y-ers, who coddled the Gen X-ers, who are complaining about being coddled…. And still living at home.
    Lots of room to talk in here.
    I think you’ve done a good job bringing the complaints to the forefront. Now you can bring the solutions. After all, you’re the ones actually selling those cookies.

  15. Daniel Rothamel

    March 17, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Russell,

    I wouldn’t construe your comments that way, nor would I be offended if you did disagree. I’ve read “Millionaire Real Estate Agent,” but I’ll have to look up “The E-Myth Revisited.” Your recommendation is golden.

    Laura,

    I’m not saying at all that NAR is buying my buyers. I’m saying that NAR shouldn’t be trying to to generate my buyers. They shouldn’t be doing this because it isn’t in their best interests if they want to be seen as consumer advocates. I haven’t met anyone, I mean ANYONE who thought that NAR’s advertising is effective. Most people I talk to either blow it off, or find it utterly self-serving (which is a bit ironic).

    I’ve taken some of the designation courses. After taking the designation course, I then have to pay money to continue to use the designation that I ALREADY EARNED. Colleges don’t require you to continue paying fees after you have received your degree. People donate to colleges because of the added value they receive from strengthening the alumni base and the university, ABR hasn’t added any value to my career since I received the designation.

    Sure, people have run the “look at me” type of business successfully. I’m not denying that. The first blimps were flown very successfully. They were filled with hydrogen. Then came along a blimp named the Hindenburg. We don’t fill blimps with hydrogen anymore.

    All I’m saying is that there should be alternatives to the traditional methods. NAR has a duty to its membership to at least make them aware of such alternatives. Someone should be looking forward, looking out onto the horizon to see what might be ahead. At least I hope that is what is being done, at least on some level. As I said in the post, we can all affect change on an individual level, but change can be much more meaningful if it is practiced from the bottom up AND the top down.

    You, yourself, are a blogging REALTOR Association Executive. I would think that the Eastern Shore Association is all the more better for that. Why can’t NAR do the same thing, just as effectively? (I love Chincoteague, by the way)

    As I said in the post. I want to be proud of my national association. I want it to be respected by the public, not ridiculed. Sure, I will do everything I can that is within my power to make this happen on my end, but NAR is going to have to do some things, as well. Unfortunately, I can’t bring all the solutions. I’m not in a position to do that. I can work as hard as I can (and I will), but my actions can only go so far, my influence only extends so far. NAR has access to people I can’t reach, and has the power to implement decisions that I can’t implement.

    I have no need to be coddled. But I am paying dues. This ain’t a free ride I’m on. The solutions I have suggested require little or no money at all. I’ve already put-in, and I’m willing to put-up.

    Oh, and just for the record, I don’t live at home. I just live really close to it.

  16. Matthew Rathbun

    March 17, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    E-Myth Revisited is a must read! It’s one of the best books for running your biz like one! Great suggestion!

  17. Laura S Flournoy

    March 17, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Daniel,
    Fabulous! Fabulous!
    I enjoyed your comments to my comments.
    And I hear what your saying….
    Let me put one more honest blurb on your blog.
    If VAR and NAR are working so hard for the future Realtors we don’t have….
    What happens to the ones we do have?
    How disconnected can we be from our main stream members.
    The “older” generation of Realtors.
    In associations right now… they are the ones paying our bills.
    I agree that we need to step into the 21st century. In fact, heck lets just go straight to the 23rd century. I see the finances during transition being difficult, and so do others…. That probably has a lot to do with any hesitation. That and just not knowing what to do. As “management” not in the know…. Please tell us how to actually fix the problems you see us having. We are listening, granted, while licking the wounds….

  18. Brad Nix

    March 17, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I am seeing those same issues at my local board. As a director, I want to do so much to make things better, but here are the obstacles I have before me.
    1) Staff confidence in new technologies
    2) Leadership’s fear/resistant to change
    3) Lack of volunteers from membership to help with changes

    I took it upon myself to convert our associations website (static and boring) into a blog site, but there is very little progress in adaptation. Heck, my association still uses email address from “bellsouth.net” – Bellsouth was bought out by ATT 3 years ago. So I took it upon myself to set up Google Apps, yet they still use @bellsouth.net. The old guard needs to accept and adapt to new ideas. Else I grow tired of endless work to no avail. Check at our local board at https://caor.info (much shorter than http://www.cherokeeassociationofrealtors.com).

    I just realized how tired it makes me feel just by typing out these frustrations.

    Thanks for the great topic Daniel.

  19. Late Night Austin Real Estate

    March 17, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    This is one of the best posts I have seen on the NAR issue. I feel like instead of NAR wasting money telling everyone to buy a home now it would be better to work inside the organization to increase the satisfaction cusumers have when working with realtors.

  20. Bill Lublin

    March 18, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Daniel:
    I hear your frustration but I think you miss some of what’s actually going on in your perception of what you think is going on – Though I don’t actively Blog (having a pretty full schedule doing lots of other things) I wish I could help you understand more fully that part of what you see is based on where you view it from, which is never an objective viewpoint –

    The NAR ads that now is a great time to buy a home is aimed at countering negative media that has a large “the sky is falling component”. Having been in the business since I was 21 (and no, I didn’t go to work in Dad’s business – I just couldn’t get a “real job”) I have been through several contractions in the market and each time, the people who bought homes prospered over the long term – And you need to remember this message is primarily for homeowners – people who should be buying because of genuine need, not for speculative profits – that doesn’t mean they should buy without trying to buy at the best price, or buy for the short term, or buy for the return instead of the practical benefits of homeownership- and it doesn’t mean that the market isn’t a challenge, and frankly a problem in many areas – it does mean that when rates are low and there is a surplus of supply in the market, if you can buy and fill a need for you and your family, you probably should buy – All of that having been said, I can understand how the ad would strike a sour note when you’re out at work every day meeting new challenges and then more new challenges ad nauseum

    But you need to understand that NAR is not some insidious organization detached from the real estate business – it is a trade association – YOUR trade association, and the way to make it better is to participate -and if there are enough people with like thoughts, thoe thoughts will provide thedirection of the organization – and if there are not enough people that agree with you , or that you can persuade to share your vision, you might have to consider that you might be wrong (or at least “not right”)

    As far as NAR generating leads, that isn’t their job, and I don’t believe anyone involved in moving the organization forward believes that it is – NAR does work ceaselessly toward increasing professionalism – in fact, its purpose when it was founded 100 years ago was just that – and our code of ethics – first ratified in 1913 predate most real estate license laws in the US- And we’re still working on that as a living document 95 years later – (and that’s a whooe ‘nother conversation we can have when you like)

    As far as NAR’s resources, I agree with Laura – there are a huge number of resources that are available to our US – the members – me and you – but you may need to go look for them. I just read a blog written by an agent who was thrilled with the idea of farming through speaking – I was amazed by his new discovery that an agent can speak to a group of consumers, sharing his knowledgeof the process and the market and generate business at a relatively low cost – I was amazed because real estate practitioners have been doing that for the 37 years I’ve been active in the business. I did it as an agent, and the agents at my company do it now – and they use the library at http://www.realtor.org to find resources to help them plan them – and there are lots of them to chose from – but if you don’t use them – who is responsible NAR or you?

    And I understand your comment about designations, but they are quite different from a college degree, both in the expense and time taken to obtain them – but mostly because they are designations subject to an ongoing membership in the organization that provides that designation. I have maintained, and continue to maintain designations that I earned (GRI,CRS,CRB) because my support of each of those organizations is a part of what enables them to continue their provide the directories and events as well as additional learning experiences , networking opportunities and other benefits (which you might or might not wish to participate in) I would encourage you to not to resent the dues expense, because from a business perspective, the return is substanitally greater – And finally, you need to engage with the Associations (Local, State, and National) – and if you do, believe me you will get a great return on that engagement – they want your participation – and your ideas (even if they can’t stop everything and do things they way you percieve they should be done right away), and just as every young member before you, some of the time (maybe even a lot of the time) you’ll be frustrated that things take so long, and frustrated by the democratic process that says that the majority gets to make the final decision (right, wrong or indifferet) but sometimes you’ll feel that incredible sense of acomplishment that comes from doing something that really makes a difference – Remember that the more you engage, the more people hear your voice, learn your reationale and acknowledge your input, until yours is a larger voice with a larger audience that creates results when you speak – You know the old cliche that all great journeys start with one step – and you know that most cliches have at least a kernel of truth in them-

    I know that it is easier to have a conversation with your wife in the car, write a blog at home, and criticize the organization then it is to join committees or run for office and actually start working on the changes you percieve it needs, but you seem to be an articulate and intelligent couple – the type of active member that the associations need if they are to move in the directions you believe they need to move in – And while there are challenges in changing the direction of any large or existing group, this group was founded to create change and has been changing for the past 100 years – Check ou the Centennial Book and you’ll be amazed at the state of the industry in the past, and the challenges it has overcome- Learn where we came from – and don’t decide that everything with the organization is bad until you know everything about the rganization – intimately- and know when you’re throwing out the good as well as the bad-

    Let me wrap up with one of my favorite quotes (because I find so many others are more articulate then me) “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke (who would have been a blogger the 18th century had been more forgiving)- so go do something –
    Bill

  21. Mark Lesswing

    March 18, 2008 at 8:20 am

    I think that the examination of the medium has started at NAR. I also have seen some well known RE.net folks engaging committees. These are both good signs because member to member communication is how things get done.

  22. Jay Thompson

    March 18, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Mark Lesswing wrote: “I think that the examination of the medium has started at NAR”

    That fact you are commenting here is evidence of that Mark. Add a post from Dale Stinton on NARWisdom.com, and a comment on NARWisdom from the Editor-in-Chief of Realtor Magazine and I see signs of progress. It’s a very positive start….

    Bill Lublin wrote: “. . .and the way to make it better is to participate . . .” and “. . .you need to engage with the Associations (Local, State, and National) – and if you do, believe me you will get a great return on that engagement – they want your participation. . .”

    I’d say Daniel is participating and engaging Bill. This very post is far more participation in affecting change in the NAR than 99.99% of other NAR members will ever attempt.

    “As far as NAR generating leads, that isn’t their job, and I don’t believe anyone involved in moving the organization forward believes that it is”

    ???? I’ve read and re-read this post and must be missing where Daniel even remotely implied the NAR should generate leads.

  23. Bill Lublin

    March 18, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Jay :

    In one of his replies (#13) Daniel states “If NAR does, in fact, want to be a consumer advocacy group, NAR is going to have to work much harder to establish the profession as closer to consultation and away from sales. We all know that doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, etc. have a sales component to their job. Every profession has that. That component must take a back seat to the consultative/advisory role of the real estate agent. Don’t tell me you want to be talked about in the same breath as those other professions, and then run articles and full-page ads in REALTOR magazine about lead generation.”
    As I read that statement, I believed that he was indicating that NAR was in some manner being percieved as wanting to generate leads – If I misread the statement I apologize for my error.

    That being said, I would respectfully disagree that blogging about what a group is doing is limited participation – If I write about something a group is doing so that I might make an impact on that groups policies or actions, I have to assume that they won’t misread my statement (as I may have done earlier – or as you may have done in your response if I did not) and then I have to assume they will be moved in the direction I wish them to go (rather then reacting in opposition to my position) then hope that they don’t have something else more pressing to distract them from my opinions, and after all of that, if they found my opinion valid, interpeted it properly, saw my point, and want to act – I have to hope that there is no one in the room who raises issues I didn’t answer.

    Don’t you think that attending a meeting, serving on a committee, chairing a committee, running for office etc. etc might be a more direct method of engaging and impacting the group? While blogging is a method of expressing an opinion, and an effective one at that, bloggin is, by itself, not as effective as participating in the group if changing the group’s direction is the desired result. I am sure that the people like you and Daniel who write in this arena are well motivated, and I read some very articulate posts and comments, but in my humble opinion, blogging (or writing more formally, or talking) is not a substitute for acting – and in my own world, I feel I loose some of my right to complain about a situation if I choose to observe rather then act (or at least lose some of the impact my opinion might otherwise have). I do believe that the pen is a mighty instrument (or the keyboard) and the blogosphere is a great place to hang out, but I would respectfully disagree with your assesment that a post is more participation than 99.9% of the other NAR members – there are thousands and thousands of NAR members who are active in thei local, state and National Associations. In my company alone we have 5 past presidents of the local association, as well as people who have served as Local, State and National committee members and chairpeople. I would suggest that the contributions of time,intellect and effort made by those thousands of members are far more substantial in making and shaping change then the effect they might have had if what they had done was post an opinion, no matter how well considered or thoughtful. And please understand I am not critical of the blogging process, I’m just suggesting that if Daniel, and you , and the other intelligent thoughtful and concerned members were to engage and participate in a more tangible manner you might see the change you desire come more rapidly – and I do think that both you and the Associations would mutually profit by that participation

  24. Jim Duncan

    March 18, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Don’t you think that attending a meeting, serving on a committee, chairing a committee, running for office etc. etc might be a more direct method of engaging and impacting the group? While blogging is a method of expressing an opinion, and an effective one at that, bloggin is, by itself, not as effective as participating in the group if changing the group’s direction is the desired result.

    I’d say that it’s a two-way street. There are some of us who do participate in committees – local on up – who also see the value in the blogs. I would also argue that blogs are where you find more up-to-date information and dialogue than you find in many committees. Many committees I have seen are isolated from the boots-on-the-ground Realtors – the ones who recognize that we’re not in sales (I smell a post … ) that we’re in the business of client representation.

    Change has to, in my opinion, come from without (the blogs) and within (the association) – but part of the change has to come from the associations’ recognition of the credible resources and voices that exist here — on the blogs.

    Thank you sincerely, Bill and Laura, for your participation in this conversation.

  25. Liz Luby

    March 18, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Bill…really appreciate your contribution here. Thanks for speaking up and showing that you are taking some real steps toward learning, listening and sharing ideas. I look forward to seeing some of the changes the committee discussed on Sunday. It was nice to meet you. Take care, Liz Luby

  26. Ryan Hukill

    March 18, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Absolutely fabulous post, Daniel. It couldn’t have been expressed any more perfectly than the girlscout analogy. The self-promotion of the NAR, rather than the building up of the REALTORS is the root of the problem, and until that ass-backwards approach is corrected, things the car will continue to spin out of control. Bravo my friend!

  27. Brad Nix

    March 18, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    As a blogger, agent, local broker/owner and a volunteer on my local Realtor Association, I feel confident speaking to the difficulties outlined in these comments. First and foremost, there is a mindset difference between generations, between bloggers, between real estate 1. 0 and 2.0, whatever you want to call it. The point is…there is a mindset obstacle. So many good-hearted, well-intentioned leaders have been in a position of prominence for so long that change is the last option and never the first. I don’t know if it is a power struggle ir just a lack of understanding, but it is hard to initiate change with any sort of pace.

    I have volunteered and attempted to improve my local association for 3 years. At this pace, it will take 3 more years to reach any semblance of adaptation to real estate 2.0 at the association level. I feel that I need more volunteers of like mind, but also a new mindset of existing volunteers and staff. How do you change people? It’s frustrating, but I continue to endeavor. My goal is to challenge every decision and suggest alternative solutions until I get enough people thinking outside of their comfort level. I feel then and only then will valuable change occur. Then the next problem is training staff to work under the changed environment.

    In summary, I feel this will take 3 to 10 years to see any real movement to a better way of association interaction and service to it’s membership. Unless I can get 10 volunteers to join now with similar mindsets to counteract the old guard. A small group can change the entire environment on a local level. I need just need to find the volunteers.

  28. Matthew Rathbun

    March 18, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Brad,

    I felt the same way. I’ve been active (so much so, that I’ve turned the RE over to my wife and went on staff at my association as the ED Director) for about five years. I was, by far the youngest volunteer leader for the Tech and Ed workgroups and have made a few enemies with my approach to improve where we’re at; but i’ve made FAR more friends. I’ve encouraged and worked with other like minded folks (I’ve given up trying to separate folks by age… we put too much emphasis on generational gaps) and have helped and sponsored so many other great folks, that we’re seeing fantastic changes. We’re getting buy-in from even the skeptics… because we’ve proven ourselves.

    I think if we’d all step back, we’d see that the influence we’ve had as “web 2.0” in even getting noticed at NAR is fantastic. I still hold to the fact that influencing our members, to influence their Broker, to influence the local association and then the state is best approach at getting what we want from NAR. Honestly, There maybe less than 50 influential RE Blogs…. That’s 50 blogs out of over a million members. I am glad we’re caring enough to influence the very best, but we need to realize that as crazy as it sounds, there are some members who are just happy with what “is.”

    Hate to be a cliche, but change starts with me….

  29. Bill Lublin

    March 18, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    JIm you were so right when you smelled that post coming 🙂 – I agree that we are in the business of client representation, but a my company we define sales as “helping people to make a good decision that they might not have made if we were not present”. – and therefore I don’t mind being in sales – and being the advocate for my client (and often just for the consumer or REALTOR who needs some help)

    That being said, I see your efforts(and Brad’s and Liz’s and Matthews and all of the other people in the blogosphere) as the interface that can help to bring the change – I htink that Matthew and Brad both help clarify my point – you not only have to engage in these activites you need to be articulate enough (and persistant enough) to bring others sround to the points of view that help us all bring a higher level of service to the profession and to show others in the association the benefits of this high speed almost global conversation regarding our industry and our daily challenges- I am proud to have all of you as colleagues, hope to count you as friends (even when we disagree) and give big shout outs for your responsible and articulate approaches to the communications you create and the dialogues that arise from them-

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

Popular opinion: Unemployment in a pandemic sucks [EDITORIAL]

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) I got laid off during the pandemic, and I think I can speak for all of us to say that unemployment – especially now – really, really sucks.

Published

on

Stressed man thinking over laptop about unemployment.

Despite not being in an office for what feels like an eternity, losing my job stung. Holding onto work during The Worst Timeline was rough, considering Rome was burning all around. My job was the boat of sanity I could sit in while the waves of bullshit crashed all around. Pre-pandemic, I had just separated from my wife, so my emotional health wasn’t in tip-top shape. But then millions of people go and get sick, the economy took a nosedive, and well, the world changed. When everything around you sucks, and people are on the news crying about unemployment and potential homelessness, you’re thankful as hell that you’re not with them – until you are.

I was writing for a startup, one that came with a litany of headaches thanks to fluctuating budgets and constant directional pivots, but it was steady work. When the Coronavirus hit, it was a scenario of “we’re going to get through this,” but as we switched gears again and again, I started to get an unsettling feeling: I’ve seen this story before. When you live in Austin and are in the creative field, you’ve worked with startups. And there are always trappings on when something lingers in the air – hierarchy shuffles, people aren’t as optimistic, and senior folks start quietly bailing out. Those are the obvious moves that make your unemployment-related Spidey sense tingle, but with COVID, everything is remote. There aren’t the office vibes, the shortened conversations that make you, “I know what’s happening here.” Instead, you’re checking Slack or email and surviving like everyone else.

We were happy to be working, to see the direct deposit hit every two weeks and sigh, knowing you were still in the fight, that you might see this thing through.

We saw our entire business change overnight. Leadership rose to meet the challenges of an old model rooted in hospitality, restaurants, and events, which died with a viral disease shotgun blast. Because the infrastructure was there, we managed to help out workers, and grocery stores work together to keep people fed across the nation. It was legitimately a point of pride. Like all things, though, the market settled. We bought time.

In July, I had a full-blown depressive episode. The weight of the divorce, the lack of human interaction, my work having less value, my career stalled felt like a Terminator robot foot on my skull. I couldn’t get out of bed, and everything I wrote were the smatterings of a broken man. And to my ex-bosses’ credit, my breakdown was NOT my best work, I could barely look at a computer, let alone forge thoughts on an entirely new industry with any authority, or even a fake it till you make it scenario.

When the CEO put time on my calendar, I knew it was a wrap. Startup CEOs don’t make house calls; they swing the ax. When you’re the lone creative in a company trying to survive a nearly company-killing event, you’re the head on the block. Creatives are expensive, and we’re expendable. Site copy, content, media placements, all that can kick rocks when developers need to keep the business moving, even if it’s at a glacial pace. When I was given my walking papers, it was an exhale, on one hand, I’d been professionally empty, but at the same time, I needed consistent money. My personal life was a minefield and I’ve got kids.

I got severance. Unemployment took forever to hit. The state of Texas authorized amount makes me cringe. Punishing Americans for losing their jobs during a crisis is appalling. Millions are without safety nets, and it’s totally ok with elected leaders.

There are deferments available. I had to get them on my credit cards, which I jacked up thanks to spending $8,500 on an amicable divorce, along with a new MacBook Pro that was the price of a used Nissan. I got a deferment on my car note, too.

I’ve applied to over 100 jobs, both remote and local. I’ve applied for jobs I’m overqualified for in hopes they’ll hire me as a freelancer. There are lots of rejection letters. I get to round two interviews. References or the round three interviews haven’t happened yet. I get told I’m too experienced or too expensive. Sometimes, recruiters won’t even show up. And then there are the Zoom meetings. Can we all agree we’re over Zoom? Sometimes, you don’t want to comb your hair.

I’ll get promised the much needed “next steps” and then a rejection email, “thanks but no thanks.” Could you at least tell me what the X-Factor for this decision was? Was there a typo? Did you check my Facebook? The ambiguity kills me. Being a broke senior creative person kills me. I interviewed President Obama and have written for Apple, but ask myself: Can I afford that falafel wrap for lunch? Do you think springing for the fries is worth that extra $3? You’ve got soup at home, you know.

I’m not unique. This is the American Experience. We’re stuck in this self-perpetuating hell. We keep looking for jobs. We want to work. There are only so many gigs to fill when there’s constant rollercoaster news on unemployment recovery. And as long as unemployment sucks, there’s going to be a lot of people bracing for impact come Christmas. Hopefully, the brass in Washington can pass a few bills and get us back to work. At least get Americans out of the breadline by pumping up what we’re surviving off of – across the board. Working people shouldn’t have to face getting sick to bring in an income, while casualties of the Corona War should be able to look at their bills and not feel like the assistant on the knife throwers wheel.

I’m about to be a line cook to make extra cash till an intrepid manager hires me. Who doesn’t want a writer working the grill who reads French existentialist essays for enjoyment? I’d rather sit on park benches and day dream, but that ain’t reality. I’ve got bills to pay in a broken America. Who wants a burger? Deep thoughts come free but an extra slice of cheese is extra.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

Published

on

Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Improve UX design by tracking your users’ eye movements

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Research shows that the fastest way to determine user behavior and predict their response is by watching their eyesight. Use this data to improve your UX design.

Published

on

UX design being created by a designer on a laptop.

By design, an ice cream truck is meant to entice. It is colorful, stupidly loud with two whole songs from the 30s (usually off key because no one is left alive who can service those bells), and lots of colorful stickers that depict delicious frozen treats that look nothing like reality. If you need an off model Disney character that already looks a little melted even when frozen, look no further.

This is design in action – the use of clever techniques to drive engagement. Brightly colored decor and the Pavlovian association of hearing The Sting in chirpy little ding dings is all working together to encourage sales and interaction.

These principles work in all industries, and the tech sector has devoted entire teams, agencies, companies, groups, and departments to the study of User Experience (UX) explicitly to help create slick, usable applications and websites that are immediately understandable by users. Tools to improve utility exist by measuring user behavior, with style guides and accepted theories preached and sang and TED-talked all over.

The best way to check behavior is to observe it directly, and options to check where someone clicks has proven invaluable in determining how to improve layouts and designs. These applications are able to draw a heat map that shows intensified red color in areas where clicks congregate the most. An evolution of this concept is to watch eyesight itself, allowing developers a quicker avenue to determining where a user will most likely go. Arguably the shortest path between predicting response, this is one of the holy grails of behavioral measurement. If your eyes can be tracked, your cursor is likely to follow.

UX design can benefit greatly from this research as this article shows. Here’s some highlights:

Techwyse completed a case study that shows conversion on landing pages is improved with clear call-to-action elements. Users will focus on objects that stand out based on position, size, bright colors, or exaggerated fonts. If these design choices are placed on a static, non-interactive component, a business will lose a customer’s interest quickly, as their click is meant with no response. This quickly leads to confusion or abandonment. Finding where a person is immediately drawn to means you should capitalize on that particular piece with executable code. Want it boiled down? Grocery stores put Cheetos front and center, because everyone want them thangs.

Going along with this, Moz found that search results with attractive elements – pictures and video – are given much more attention than simple text. We are visually inclined creatures, and should never undervalue that part of our primal minds. Adding some visual flair will bring attention, which in turn can be leveraged usefully to guide users.

Here’s an interesting study – being that we are social animals, follow the gaze of others. If you’ve ever seen kittens watching a game of ping pong, they are in sync and drawn to the action. Similarly, if we notice someone look to the left, we instinctively want to look left as well. While this sounds very specific, the idea is simple – visual cues can be optimized to direct users where to focus.

The Nielsen Group says we look at things in an F pattern. I just think that’s funny, or at least a funny way to describe it. We follow from left-to-right (just like we read, and as websites are laid out using techniques first developed for newspapers, it naturally makes sense that we’d do the same). Of course, cultural or national differences arise here – right-to-left readers need the opposite. Always be sure to keep your target audience in mind.

Of course, there are several other findings and studies that can further promote idealistic layout and design, and it should always be the goal of designers to look to the future and evaluate trends. (Interestingly, eye tracking is the first option on this list!)

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!