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Thursday WTF

Happy Friday

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Yippie.

I hear the IRS is releasing stimulus cash to anyone that direct deposited their refunds beginning next week.  The balance by mail will be released about the 2nd week of May. 

Thank God.

Just in time to write a check to Exxon Mobile.

They’re obviously hurting.

Thanks Uncle Sam for stimulating the oil and gas industry.

Reality Check.

China announced that (Cadillac) Escalade outpaced hybrids in sales, but it sure feels like we’re paying the tax on it…

And by the way- don’t warn the middle and below the middle class about conserving, driving less, or even about getting a hybrid.  When was the last time you saw a below the poverty level family sporting a new hummer anyway.  Geez.

I’m just sayin…

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Matthew Rathbun

    April 25, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Yep, last night I went and traded in my beloved Expedition and got a Nissan Versa. Not very cool, but very commuter friendly and it took me from 14 mpg to 35 mpg – with a cheaper payment.

    I’ve been ignoring the “green” movement; but have recently been changing my ways.

    On NPR last week I did hear a news report telling consumers to eat less beef (I will draw the line here on my movement to become more green) because the entire process of feeding, raising, shipping and cooking beef was bad for the environment. Two stories later they were talking about how there is a pending grain crisis because of the reduced production, since farmers can’t afford to produce it. They also said that the move to using grain as a cleaner fuel meant less for eating. I give up.

    Sky rocking gas prices, housing slump, environment, food prices, lack of food – yeah a new president will make it all better – whatever…

    Ok, now i just need a bottle of Jack Daniels.

  2. Matthew Rathbun

    April 25, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    …oh yeah and a crappy war…. Thanks for freaking pick-me-up, there Benn 🙂

  3. Brad Coy

    April 25, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    $75.00 at the pump last time I filled up. My ride is about do for a trade in. Am I looking at options? You betcha! https://flickr.com/photos/bradfordcoy/2441522284/

  4. Jim Duncan

    April 25, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Is this where we commiserate on our pain? 🙂 my fillup on 21 April. Since then, gas has gone up nearly thirty cents.

    Changing ways? Abso-freaking-lutely. In many, many ways … I smell a post coming …

  5. Brad Coy

    April 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Ha! Jim. It’s either here or over at Jessica’s post on Inman were I just followed you with a comment. Maybe we could meet up here again and commiserate when we’re all North of a C-Note. That is unless you are driving a Ford F-150. In that case, you’re already there. Who’s drinking? It’s Friday :O

  6. Glenn fm Naples

    April 26, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Benn – you managed to defy the old TGIF saying. My economic stimulus rebate check is already planned to contribute to the big gasoline companies.

  7. Eric- New Orleans Condos and Lofts

    April 26, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Exxon Mobile is not the cause of high gas prices. They in fact control less then 3% of our supply. I am glad an American company is helping getting us more supplies and hiring Americans. The Chinese will be drilling near Cuba in the near future which is almost to Florida. There is something wrong with the entire blame someone.

    Its time we conserved instead of talking about it all the time. I think more blame should be placed on Congress for the Ethnol mess we are in. Does anyone remember how this was going to help the world? We have some rich farmers and a lot of poor people facing increased cost for basic food stuffs.

  8. Genuine Chris Johnson

    April 26, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    The green movement should stop the preaching, and just go with “it’s cheaper anyway.”

    The Libertarians should say, “end corporate welfare, vote libertarian.”

    And then, we should all remember that the consequence of free enterprise is the right for osmoene that bears the risk of an investment to also reap a reward.

  9. Glenn fm Naples

    April 27, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Chris – excuse my ignorance, but what is an “osmoene”?

    Eric – do you think the big energy companies are using NIFO accounting as it seems the price at the pump goes up as the price of crude goes up?

  10. Benn Rosales

    April 27, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Exxon Mobile is not the cause of high gas prices.

    Yes, Eric, we know.

    Its time we conserved instead of talking about it all the time.

    Did you know that electricity and water providers have a minimum use tax? Example: I use an average of 1050 kwh to run my home yet I am charged for 1500 kwh no matter what I conserve- I use roughly $20 a month in water, yet I am charged for $40. We’re not a wealthy family here Eric, we conserve, we’re still taxed- Eric, where is the incentive in this style of economics? There isn’t one.

    We bumped off of 99 cents per gallon (gasoline) during Katrina.
    Then the excuse was refining was down due to storms off of Mexico
    The next excuse was hard winters which we’ve not had in two winter seasons
    The next excuse was refining offline due to upgrades
    The next excuse was tensions with Hugo and Iran
    The next excuse is China and India learned how to drive
    The next excuse is…. All of this in a span of 3 years. I smell bullshit. The problem is speculation. the answer is someone standing up and saying enough- ie. Americans.

    The point of my post is I was talking to some great everyday average folks this past Friday as they described how they had just paid $5.45 for a gallon of milk, Eric. They are absolutely stretched to the bare bone. We talked about the check coming from the IRS and I asked would it help, several said they would put it in their gas tanks, as one said it took to fill her little toyota $50. Yes, Eric, I said Toyota. I asked her how many times she would fill up this week she said probably twice. You see Eric, conserving is in her nature (we live in Austin) but her children live so close to school they have to be driven (they’re kindergarden and 3rd grade) twice a day to and from. On top of that she will need to visit the store several times during that week to manage her household, and pile on that the job she drives to twice a day to and from. I asked about her husband and could they carpool and share the burden but because they live in the burbs carpooling is not an option. He also fills his vehicle (a small pickup) twice a week to make the 10 time journey to and from. Eric, the point of all of this is you can multiply this across America a million times and still not count them all- they’re regular folks who live pay check to paycheck- they’re not out on the boat dropping $300 a fill just for the hell of it.

    So yes Eric, regardless of whether Exxon is at fault, they’ll pull in their biggest earnings this quarter as a result, and yes they’ll hire Americans, and yes, we should all not blame the 20 billion they’ll pull in this quarter in profit, but you know what? Who cares, the family I mentioned will spend their IRS money at the pump not at best buy. The money is a joke. The crisis is a speculation, and the victims are young families who will not be buying a home this year, much less a new car, a tv, a fridge, and if this keeps up- milk.

    So thanks for educating me on your lofty economics, they mean nothing to regular people. I’m all for our free market system, but when it all boils down to it, regular folks should not have to ration their milk.

    Now anyone who wants to give me their play on how it’s a free society and no one owes these folks anything needs to know that I totally agree- what do I not agree with is when we begin to ignore the fact that kitchen table issues to average folks mean nothing anymore. They absolutely mean there is one industry in this country taking down the rest of the country and that is- yep, gasoline. And until someone reels the speculators in on this one, we’re in big f’n trouble.

    Gasoline is killing supply, supply will kill all else.

  11. Glenn fm Naples

    April 28, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Benn – your response to Eric was super. There are many people that are in the same boat as the family you discussed above and you have to feel for them being hit so hard in today’s economy.

    I especially liked your comment regarding the minimum use charge by utility companies. There is no incentive for people to conserve and it only penalizes those individuals that practice conservation of utilities.

    Being an older person (almost the big 60), I heard for many years the price of fossil rising and the issues that it would cause. It is finally happening and it took about 35 years. Maybe a solution should be to price gasoline taxes based upon the mileage per gallon a vehicle is rated for. The less mileage the higher the gas tax. Ops we can do that – it would hurt the automobile industry in the US. 🙁

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Housing News

Spare me your Excuse Party

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My business is slow because the market’s down. Buyers are hiding in the woodwork and sellers don’t want to think about selling right now. My marketing is just not working and I need something new and shiny. It’s the fall and it’s always like this in the fall. But when spring rolls around, and when that stimulus passes, and when those leads start rolling in and when that software brings discipline to my business and when I attend that conference and when I start reading blogs every morning, and as soon as this social media thing kicks in…and…and.

I don’t want to hear it.

Do you want to know the Truth: You don’t want it bad enough. Nothing more, nothing less. Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in a South African prison for his opposition to apartheid and overcame it to become the country’s president and and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Elie Weisel was put in Auschwitz-Birkenau at age 16 and not only survived but went on to become a best selling author, professor and lecturer. But these are special people, you might say. Regular folks  not only survive tragedy, extreme financial problems, disease, poverty but flourish to become what others deemed impossible, EVERY DAY. The human power of will is strong enough to surpass the toughest obstacles life can pose. You mean to tell me, it can’t overcome your slow season, anemic conversion rate or weight loss troubles?

You already know “The Dance”

We all have been through a period of time (albeit, short) when we were on the ball, focused and productive, locked in and intense. We all have gone Nazi on ourselves when we decided to lose weight and stop trying to do so. We all have tucked away Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Hulu, Drudge Report or HuffPost to focus solely on closing business. I don’t need to tell you the results because you  know them. You know exactly what works because you have done it before. So what’s stopping you?

Troubling Trends

Two trends that I see in social media on a regular basis bother me like a pack of flies in a backyard cookout. The first is the Extreme Honesty Bridge to Nowhere trend. This is when someone is brutally honest about the troubles that they’re facing and go public with them in their blog or social media sites. The idea here is to involve your peers in your struggle and have them hold you accountable for results by proxy. This part of the idea I actually like. What happens next is … nothing. They move on to the next best idea they have only to return with another lame post about the same thing. You can do whatever floats your boat to get your focus in order, but DO something. The second is the “I’m an Idea Collector” trend. This is when someone reads articles from blogs and newspapers religiously every morning collecting great ideas but never acting on a single one of them. That’s the ultimate preparing to prepare surefire recipe to wasting your time. Antidote: Take one idea per week and put it to work. Internalize it and make it part of your repertoir. Way before I became a contributor on AG, I read a post by Lani on how to find Creative Commons licensed images to use in your posts with Flickr. Since that day, that’s what I do every time I blog. I read another post from Ken on the power of sending handwritten notes to clients to generate referrals. Now, that’s part of my M.O. Reading great content is better than not reading it but not doing something with the information will lead you to the exact same place. Nowhere.

Harsh?

I hope I wasn’t unclear. Did you find this a bit harsh? I can understand that. But I hope knowing that this rant was not only directed  to you but to me as well, can heal some of those bruised feelings. Now go out there and DO SOMETHING.

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Opinion Editorials

NAR & Local Boards Should Go Back to Being Broker-Only Organizations

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puntAnd Agents Should Form Their Own Membership (Union)

I think that maybe NAR and local boards in their zeal to capitalize on dues by a larger membership may have bitten off more than they can chew when they allowed regular agents to join the boards (as is evident by continued tensions between the boards and average agents on the ground).

The Punted Football That Has Become The General Membership

It’s true, in every instance we’re told to get involved, however, involvement has become to complicated, that one hand has no idea what the other is doing.  Rules are consistently created by Broker boards, and enforced and agreed upon by the NAR that have absolutely no Agent interest protected.

So Maybe It’s Time to Protect Ourselves

Once upon a time, the membership really was Broker only, and maybe it needs to be that way again.  The birth of an actual membership of agents could be born with a proper voice at the table, similar to a real trade union with real votes in our best interest.

Such representation could beat down costs for Realtor.com, and other services we’re producing content for, thus reducing costs to the agent.  Such representation could seek out better, more competitive boards that would spring up in contrast to existing boards and the NAR.  It’s conceivable that an opportunity such as this could fracture the entire MLS cluster flip, allowing for possibly a smaller more nimble MLS that could be provided to the agent membership at a much more fair price as it has now cut out the middle men.

The Time May be Near..

…that enough is enough, that when and if a rule greatly disrupts the agents’ ability to adopt new technology, that a simple vote of no says that the massive bureaucracy that has become the collective board needs to clean up, scale down, and take it’s policies back to the drawing board for a decision that weighs all things equally.

The Broker Can Pick Up the Shortfall for NAR

This would force the Broker to pay a larger premium to the board and the NAR I’m sure, but in reality, that in and of itself would force Brokers to become more competitive where the rights and interests of their agents were concerned.

NAR would only need engage with Brokers, simplifying the conversation of progression.

The Agent Membership Now Represented

  • Has a larger voice, and choices.

Yeah, if they really want to go backwards in time, maybe we should. And yes, I am aware that there are independent versions of the current NAR that have never really taken hold, but if the current state of affairs continues, I can see a day in the future where the concept has a more stronger footing.

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Thursday WTF

Anti-DIY

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It might come as a shock to many, but I am extremely anti-DIY.

I am not trained as a plumber, electrician or mechanic and I have no interest in doing so even though I know it could potentially save me a lot of money.  I am not a REALTOR, lender, home inspector or stager and I don’t pretend to be.  I am a graphic designer, videographer, photographer, SCUBA instructor, welder, marketer and coder.

The things I DO are all things I either am or was interested in.  Only a few of them I got into because I thought they’d be business ventures.  The big issue is I value my time.  I know I’m only going to learn things I am interested in (there are many such topics) and that I should just pay people who are good at other skills to let them do what they’re best at.

The reason I mention this is that here and other sites in our industry are constantly encouraging REALTORs to do it yourself.  Don’t use/pay for a web site, just setup a WordPress site yourself.  Don’t pay for a single property web site, build it yourself.

I understand many people in this industry came from somewhere else.  Some of you are geniuinely interested in learning how to code a web site.  But to me, the tone has almost turned to a browbeating.   “You paid for that site? Why didn’t you just setup WordPress, it’s free!”

I mention this in many of my classes: if you run your business being chief cook and bottle washer, why can’t buyers and sellers do it themselves also? Now don’t get me wrong, I will use a REALTOR when it’s time to sell my house and buy a new one.  I value my time.  It’s not something I know how to do or want to learn (from a paperwork/liability standpoint, I teach REALTORs to market listings all day, so that I could do).

I really came to this realization at the Seattle REBarCamp and chatting with the ActiveRain guys.  I’ve setup close to triple digit WordPress sites now and didn’t see the point in AR.  The discussion was that there are (many) people who do not want to take the time to learn and setup a system and a turnkey site like AR is perfect for those people.  At least they’re blogging.

So I encourage those of you who are hesitant in setting up a new web site or becoming an “expert” overnight on a new social network: evaluate your time and consider letting someone help, otherwise the DIY concept may put this, and many other, industries out of business.

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