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Opinion Editorials

You Are Terrific!



Real Estate Smiles

Who doesn’t complain about the real estate industry and all the crap we have to deal with on a daily basis?  But today is not one of those days, today is a day to look around and realize that there are professionals out there that make our business a good one.  People that go out of their way to do their job right and to be pleasant.We are dealing with 3 Realtors right now with 3 different transactions that are a real pleasure to work with.  We have never worked with them before because our markets have never crossed, but you better believe we will refer business their way!

You know those transactions where the cooperating agent is unaccommodating and makes things so difficult you want to pull your hair out! From making it impossible to schedule inspections and appraisals, not providing documentation, not returning phone calls, never meeting deadlines…….the list is endless.    Not this time – 3 different agents on top of their business, ready like we are and always thankful that we have the same business ethic.

One particular guy tells me, “Ines, you are Terrific!”,  every time I speak to him – talk about making my day!

So my question is this – Do you think The Real Estate Industry is better now? Do you think that the down market has eliminated the lazy real estate agent that wanted easy money?  Has there really been a clean-out process in our industry where the weaker real estate agent has had to leave the industry?

Of course there are plenty of apathetic ones left, but  I’m encountering great people around me and it feels great!

(and on a side note: don’t forget to compliment people that do their job well)

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors,, and and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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  1. Ines

    March 11, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    ooops! can I say CRAP?

  2. Mariana

    March 11, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    I am noticing that people are nicer. No longer are real estate agent EGOS getting in the middle of a transaction. I like the “thinning of hte herd” and I am also having great experiences.

  3. Kristal Kraft

    March 11, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Ines, Actually “crap” is a word that has a copyright on it by Carnac of Connecticut. Seeing how you are using it, I think she might allow it.

    You are so right about complimenting folks when they are a pleasure to deal with. It certainly makes for a smoother transaction when you have cooperation.

    I’ve had both. I can tell you when an agent give me a parcel of aggravation, I go out of my way to not cross their path again. Considering what a small world we live in, that could be bad for business…their business that is.

    Should I care?

  4. Ines

    March 11, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Mariana – maybe there will be a day in the future where all will smell like roses and we will all get along……with no regrets and great smiles and of course, a mojito in hand! 🙂

    Kristal – Of course that’s a Carnac word!! What was I thinking?
    I also go out of my way to avoid the aggravating agent, sad but true, and to think there are still many of them.

  5. Larry Yatkowsky

    March 11, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Ines “Did I heard C word!”

    up here we still have many with a dangerous comprehension of English. I spend more time helping them correct their agreements only because I don’t want to be sued. It’s painful but yah gotta do what yah gotta do.
    Strange part is the Seller’s never figure out the extra effort that you put out to make the deal work for them. A ‘thanks’ or an ‘attaboy’ would be nice. The commish isn’t everything. Like any good dog I like to get a warm fuzzy too.

  6. Toby Boyce

    March 11, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Now, I wasn’t in the business during the “good times” so I don’t know how things used to be. But in 18 months, here is what I’ve figured out. Giving some nice compliments early, getting a “nice repoire’ with all the people involved make for a much nicer deal.

    My problem is with agents that will still think of affiliates as second-class citizens. We are all people, stop being jerks.

  7. Sarah Cooper

    March 12, 2008 at 4:00 am

    Ines, have I told you lately that you make my day? 🙂

  8. Blue Ridge Georgia Land For Sale

    March 12, 2008 at 5:24 am

    I saw a blog one day that all the realtors in a town got together and decided to get these foreclosed homes sold they all came together as one and went to tour the homes together and made notes and they all got busy trying to get them off the market. They all said they came from this experience not feeling that they were the competition and enjoy the process to get it done. Sometime good things come from bad. They also got to know each other capabilities and style and will work together in future better.

  9. Mack in Atlanta

    March 12, 2008 at 5:55 am

    You are talking about the lost art form of negotiating. We have all had the experience of being in a transaction with an agent that thought they needed to be adversarial. Guess what, you really don’t need to be. Protect your client but don’t be a jerk in doing it.

    I heard a story recently about an agent that was negotiating an inspection and the buyer was asking for the gutters on the home to be cleaned. The seller was opposed to it. Once the selling agent explained that the buyers son had fallen off a roof while cleaning gutters the seller could see things from the buyers eyes and was OK with getting the gutters cleaned. This may be over simplified but having pleasant conversation with the coop agent can help in getting your view seen.

  10. toby & sadie

    March 12, 2008 at 6:40 am

    life is so much better when you smile and leave the ego at home. I love allowing the ego agent to giive me what I want – thinking they ‘won’.

  11. Greg Cremia

    March 12, 2008 at 7:46 am

    I wish the market was cleaning up the agent pool but it isn’t around here. We just did a deal with a part time egomaniac that had to arrange all the inspections so she could be there for her seller. She didn’t show up for anything and complicated everything to the point where the appraiser had to make 4 trips to the house to get in. It cost her sellers $20,000 in a low appraisal. It does pay to be nice.

  12. Toronto realtor

    March 12, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Ines you are very negative about real estate agents and the whole industry. I’ve been working in this business for more than 6 years and I can tell you that competition between agents is very tough nowadays. I can’t even take a week off because of the rush in our office. It could easily happen that one of my colleges will take my position as soon as such a possibility appears. Now I am working hard on adding different kinds of applications which could offer better comfort and clear information to all people who are somehow involved in the business.(calculators etc.) You can check what I’ve done if you visit my real estate Toronto webpage.

  13. Ines

    March 12, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Good feedback everyone – thanks!

    Larry – we have the language issue here as well with Spanish-speaking agents, but our board has now come up with contracts in Spanish, not bad huh? We translate for our customers that don’t speak English, I’m still waiting for that transaction where the contract is supplied in Spanish and the seller objects.

    OH……and everyone likes a good scratch behind the ears!

    Toby – I’m with you – there is no room for Jerks

    Hi Sarah! as a matter of fact you have and thank you!! 🙂

    Mack – it’s funny what a little communication can accomplish isn’t it?

    Toby – I have a huge ego when it comes to certain things (my kids for example) – but those of us that have the ego, need to learn where to check it in because we end up causing more damage than good.
    Now, learning to play with other’s ego… THAT’s a game! 😉

    Greg – OUCH!! – you may not think it’s cleaning, but it is….just wait a couple more months.

  14. Ines

    March 12, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Toronto Realtor – did you read the post?? Or are you just plain spamming Agent Genius?

  15. Toronto Realtor

    March 12, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Hello Ines,

    I’m sorry. You came down so hard on agents in the first part of your post that I didn’t realise you came not to bury Caeser but to praise him.

    I’m glad you’ve found some realtors you like. That’s what we try to be too!

  16. Suzy

    March 12, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I have definitely noticed that people are leaving their egos at the door in favor of actually making money, which is really refreshing.

  17. Ines

    March 12, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Toronto Realtor – I’m glad you came back to actually read – I’m on your side remember, I’m a Realtor myself.

    Suzy – and let’s hope it continues! We should have an official “ego check-in area” at every listing.

  18. Ponte Vedra Beach Real Estate

    March 15, 2008 at 10:18 am

    It is so funny that the agent on the other side can make the transaction seem easy or hard. They should teach how to negotiate while maintaining common professional courtesy in real estate school.

    I have had closings where everybody was laughing from the moment they walked in and other closings where the buyers & sellers wouldn’t even be in the same room. Most of this had to do with how the other agent treated and explained the sales process to their clients.

    If you create an us vs. them mentality then it will be a rocky purchase. But if you can explain to your cient that they can still get what they want but we just need to phrase it and explain it in terms the other party will understand then it will go a long way towards making the transaction a smoother, more relaxed process.

  19. Ines

    March 18, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Ponte Vedra – sorry I missed your comment. I think you have something there – to think that it is as easy as setting the tone for the transaction from the beginning, we would make more of an effort to make those first negotiating tweaks a little smoother.

    the “us vs. them” mentality can ruin it from the get go.

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Opinion Editorials

Basic tips on how to handle common (and ridiculous) interview questions

(EDITORIAL) There will always be off the wall questions in an interview, but what is the point of them? Do interviewers expect quick, honest, or deep and thought out answers?




We’ve all been asked (or know of friends who have been) some ridiculous interview questions:

  • What type of fruit would you be in a smoothie and why?
  • If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is one item that you couldn’t live without?
  • Could you tell us a joke?

Sound familiar? You may have worried about stumbling in your response, but the reality is, you will receive questions in an interview that you may not know the answer to. Many of us sweat bullets preparing for interviews, trying to think through every possible scenario and every question we might be asked. Usually the hardest part about these questions is simply that you cannot prepare for them. So how do you approach questions like these?

First and foremost, you have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and do your best to answer them in the moment. Interviewers are not expecting you to know the answer to these question. Instead, they are literally looking to see how you handle yourself in a situation where you may not know the answer. Would you answer with the first thing that comes to mind? Would you ask for more information or resources? What is your thought process and justification for answering this question? Please know that how you answer this particular question is not usually a deal-breaker, but how you handle yourself can be.

Now, with more common questions, even though some can  still feel ridiculous, you have the opportunity to practice.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

They want to be able to see that you have confidence and know your strengths – but also that you are human and recognize where you may have areas of improvement, as well as self-awareness. This isn’t a trick question per se, but it is an important one to think through how you would answer this in a professional manner.

If you’re not feeling super confident or know how to answer the strength question, it may be worth asking your friends and family what they think. What areas of business or life do they feel comfortable coming to ask you about? Were there subjects in school or work projects that you picked up really quickly? This may help identify some strengths (and they can be general like communication or project management.) One great way to delve in to your strengths is to take the CliftonStrengths Test.

“Your CliftonStrengths themes are your talent DNA. They explain the ways you most naturally think, feel and behave.” It gives you your top 5 strengths (unique to you), as well as a detailed report on how those work together and amongst groups. Per the research from Gallup, they say time is better spent on growing your strengths than trying to overcome your weaknesses.

The thing with the “What is your weakness?” question is that you cannot say things like “I really cannot get up in the morning!” or “I absolutely hate small talk!” – even though those may be true for you. They are looking for a more thoughtful answer demonstrating your self-awareness and desire to grow and learn.

They know you’re human, but the interviewer is looking for what you’re doing to address your weakness. An example of a response may be, “I have struggled with advanced formulas in Excel, but have made sure to attend regular workshops and seek out opportunities to practice more functionality so that I can improve in this area”. Another example might be, “I have a very direct type of communication style and I have learned that sometimes, I need to let the other person share and speak more before I jump to a decision.” Many times you can also find some great insights in self-assessment tests too (like DISC, Myers-Briggs, Enneagram for examples).

“Why do you want to work for this company?”

Let’s be real. Companies want people that want to work there. They want you to be interested in their products/service because that usually means you will be a happier employee. You should be able to answer this question by doing some company research, (if any) drawing from your personal experience with the company, or getting “insider insight” from a friend or colleague who works there and can help you understand more about what it’s like to be employed by that company.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

All companies have goals and plans to make progress. They ask this question to see if you, a potential future employee, will have goals that align with theirs. Jokingly, we are all curious about how people answered this question back in 2015…but in all seriousness, it is worth asking yourself and thinking through how this company or role aligns with your future goals. This question is similar to the weaknesses question in that you still have to remain professional. You don’t want to tell them that you want to work there so you can learn the ins/outs to then go start your own (competitive) company.

Take a few minutes to think about what excites you about this job, how you can grow and learn there, and maybe one piece of personal (hope to adopt a dog, travel to India, buy a home) but it doesn’t have to be anything super committal.

When it comes to behavioral interview questions, these are also much easier to prepare for. You can take out your resume, review your experience, and write out 3 examples for the following scenarios:

    • Handled a difficult person or situation
    • Decided steps (or pulled together resources) to figure out a problem/solution that was new to your team or organization
    • Brought a new idea to the table, saved expenses and/or brought in revenue – basically how you made a positive impact on the organization

These are very common questions you’ll find in an interview, and while interviewers may not ask you exactly those questions verbatim, if you have thought through a few scenarios, you will be better conditioned to recall and share examples (also looking at your resume can trigger your memory). Bring these notes with you to the interview if that makes you feel more comfortable (just don’t bring them and read them out loud – use it as a refresher before the interview starts).

Practicing is the best way to prepare, but there’s always a chance that you’ll get a question you might not know the answer to. Do your research and consider asking friends (or family) about how they’ve handled being in a similar situation. Ultimately,  you have to trust yourselves that you will be able to rise to the occasion and answer to the best of your ability, in a professional manner.

Whatever you do, please also have questions prepared for your interviewers. This is a great opportunity to help you decide if this is a right fit for you (projects, growth opportunity, team dynamics, management styles, location/travel, what they do for the company/what are they proud of/how did they choose to work here). Never waste it with “Nope, I’m good” as that can leave a bad final impression.

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Opinion Editorials

Be yourself, or be Batman? A simple trick to boost your self-confidence

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) “If you can’t be yourself, be Batman.” We’ve heard it before, but is there a way that this mentality can actually give you self-confidence?



Batman symbol has long been a way to boost self-confidence.

The joke with scary movies is that the characters do stupid things, and so you scream at them. No you dumdums, don’t go FURTHER into the murder circus. Put down the glowing idol of cursed soda gods and their machine gun tempers. Stop it with the zombie dogs. STOP IT WITH THE — WHAT DID I JUST TELL YOU?

We do this as the audience because we’re removed from the scene. We’re observing, birds eye view imbued ducklings, on our couches, and with our snacks. Weird trick for horror movies to play — makes us feel smart, because we’re not the ones on meat hooks.

But if a zombie crashed through our window, like RIGHT NOW, the first thing we’re going to do doesn’t matter, because that thing is going to be stupid. So so stupid. You can’t believe how stupid you’ll act. Like, “I can’t leave behind my DONUT” stupid, as a zombie chomps your arm that was reaching for a bear claw you weren’t even really enjoying to begin with. “Oh no my DOCUMENTS I can’t leave without my DOCUMENTS.”

There’s a layer of distinction between those two instances — removed versus immersed. And really, this colors a lot of our life. Maybe all of our life. (Spoiler: It is all of our life.)

It’s Imposter Syndrome in overdrive — the crippling thought that you’re going to fail and be found out. And you tell yourself that all the little missteps and mistakes and mis…jumps are entirely your fault. Feedback loops reiterates, and then you get paralyzed. And man, what a time to be alive — what with the world on fire — to start up a self-deprecation engine shame machine. No way our self-confidence is suffering now, right?

The point is: You — as a being — experiencing things first hand is the perfect time to see your shortcomings. You can’t help but do it. You are living in your skeleton meat mecha human suit, and all the electronics in your head strangely remember all the times you struggled. And weirdly, if you look at someone else in the exact same situation you were just in, you suddenly have this powerful insight and awareness. It happens naturally. It’s why you think I would never head on down to the basement in a creepy mansion. Watch any cooking competition show to see this in action. Armchair quarterbacks, hindsight 2020. It’s all the same.

But when it’s just you and you’re doing things in real time? You lose focus, you stumble, and you wonder why it’s suddenly so hard to make rice, or why you fell for the really obvious fake punt.

So where does that leave you? How do you solve this problem? There are ways. But the journey is arduous and hectic and scary and difficult. Time tempers your soul over and over, you harden in ways that build you up, and you become better. The process is ages old.

I bet you’d like at least… I dunno, there’s gotta be a small trick, right? Life has secrets. Secrets exist. Secrets are a thing. Let’s talk about one to boost your self-confidence.

Stop seeing things in first person, and instead, talk to yourself in the third person. Yes, just like George did in that episode of Seinfeld. Don’t say, “I need to finish the project today.” Say “Bob needs to finish the project today.” If your name is Bob, I mean. Substitute in your name. In effect, you are distancing yourself from the situation at hand, as you begin to view it from outside yourself.

Studies have shown that doing this causes a fascinating side effect — an odd insulating barrier that can give someone just enough distance from the problem at hand, which in turn lets someone more calmly examine the situation. Once that is achieved, a plan can be written and executed with great results.

There’s some research demonstrating this concept, and as truly crazy as it sounds, marked improvement in behavior has been measured when participants are told to think of themselves as a different person. It’s like the “fake it ’til you make it” principle — suddenly you’re sort of cheering on this other person, because you want them to succeed. It’s just that in this case, the other person is still you.

I’ve heard the concept also said that “your current self can give your future self an easier life if you work hard now.” It seems like distancing functions on that wavelength — that by thinking you are supporting some other entity (and even when that entity is still you), some empathetic mechanisms spring into play, and your natural desire to see success rebounds back onto yourself. This is you eating your cake, yet something still having cake.

So that’s magic in and of itself, right? I want you to try it. Don’t think in terms of what you have to do, but what you watching yourself will do. All these fun tiny benefits concurrently happen — encouragement, pressure removal, controlled thought, drive, momentum, and motivation. It’s all there — a trail mix built out of emotions and psychological buffs. And they’ll all fire off at once and you’ll start noticing how much better you feel.

Here’s the best part — we can take this further. At least two different studies have shown with children that thinking of an alter ego and then distancing creates even stronger outcomes. Now we’re not just hyping ourselves up — we’re hyping up an impressive figure. Batman is already taking down jerks. So what if you say you are the night and combine that with self removal? Even in children, the conclusion was fascinating. When they were given a menial task to complete, those who were told to believe they were Batman had an improvement of 23% in focus and productivity over a group who was given no directive. Even without the consequences of adult life and its inherent complexities, children naturally showcased that they work harder if they undergo an alter ego transformation. Now you’re not just there for yourself, you’re there for Batman himself.

“But that’s just children.” Ok, well, it works in adults too. Beyoncé and Adele would psych themselves up by creating onstage personas that were confident, successful, fearless versions of themselves. It’s an act within an act, with a performer further elevating themselves away from reality through the substitution of a personality built and engineered for success. Set aside that these are powerful, fierce, intimidating entertainers in their own right; the focus here is that they also used this mental trick, and it worked.

(There’s an aside here that I think is worth mentioning — in the midst of performing to a crowd, you are 100% in control, and I think this simple realization would help scores of people with their fear of public speaking; a concept to write about another day.)

Distilled down: If you think you’re a hero, you’ll act like one. Easier said than done, but give it a try by taking yourself out of the equation, even if for a moment. You’re not changing who you are so much as you are discovering the pieces of innate power you already had. You aren’t erasing yourself — you’re finding the hidden strength that’s already there. Having a way to kickstart this is perfectly fine.

The ultimate goal with all of this is to build the discipline that lets you begin to automatically engage this mode of heightened ability – that you’ll naturally adopt the good parts into life without the need for ramping up. Armed with that, you’re unstoppable.

Life — as a series of interactions and decisions — can be gamed, to a degree, with tiny and small shifts in perspective. Dropping a surrogate for yourself gives you enough room to have the chance to take everything in, and augmenting this concept further with the thought of having an alter ago creates even wilder possibilities. Psychologists are finding that this sidestep phenomenon can potentially help in different areas — improved physical health, learning how to better handle stress, emotional control, mastering anxiety, and a host of others.

So put on a mask, and then put on a whole new self. It’s almost Halloween anyway.

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Opinion Editorials

Don’t forget about essential workers in a post-COVID world (be kind)

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) As the world reopens, essential workers deserve even more of our respect and care, remembering that their breaks have been few and far between.



Tired essential workers wearing an apron leans against the doorframe of a cafe, eyes closed.

Anxiety about returning to work post-COVID-19 is real. Alison Green, of Ask A Manager, believes “much of that stems from a break in trust in the people and institutions that have shown they can’t be counted on to protect us.” Green also goes on to remind us that a lot of people don’t have the luxury of returning to the workplace – the essential workers who never left the workplace. The grocery store clerks, janitors, garbage collectors, and healthcare providers, just to name a few. As the country reopens, we have to be more sensitive to these essential workers, who often are left out of the discussion about safety, work norms, and benefits.

Essential workers got lip service during the pandemic

At the start of the pandemic, the essential workers were hailed as heroes. We appreciated the grocery store workers who tried to keep the shelves stocked with toilet paper. We thanked the healthcare workers who kept working to keep people healthy and to take care of our elderly. I remember being more appreciative of the person who delivered my mail and the guy who came and picked up the trash each week. Now that the pandemic has been with us for more than a year, these workers are still doing their jobs, just maybe not so tirelessly.

Some of these workers don’t have sick days, let alone vacation days for self-care, but they are still making it possible for their community to function while being treated with less than respect. They’ve weathered the pandemic while working in public, worrying about getting sick, dealing with the public who threw tantrums for policies beyond their control, and managing their health while employers didn’t enforce safety measures. I’d hazard a guess that most of the C-level executives didn’t bring in any of their essential employees when writing new policies under COVID-19.

Bring essential workers into the conversation

In many cases, it has been the workers with the least who are risking the most. In Oklahoma, even though Gov. Stitt deemed many industries as essential, those same workers had to wait until Phase 3 to get their vaccine. Please note that elected officials and government leaders were eligible under Phase 2 to get their vaccine. Society pays lip service to the essential workers, but in reality, these jobs are typically low paying jobs that must be done, pandemic or not. In my small rural town, a local sheriff’s deputy contracted COVID-19. The community came together in fundraising efforts to pay his bills. It’s sad that a man who served the community did not have enough insurance to cover his illness.

As your office opens up and you talk to employees who are concerned about coming back to the office, don’t forget about the ones who have been there the entire time. Give your essential workers a voice. Treat their anxiety as real. Don’t pay lip service to their “heroism” without backing it up with some real change. As offices open up to a new normal, we can’t forget about the essential workers who did the jobs that kept society going.

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