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Opinion Editorials

Wanted: Great Role Models



I am an avid believer that to be great I must stand on the shoulders of giants – learn from the mistakes of others – and have role models in my life. I am also an avid believer that good is the enemy of great.

So, here is my dilemma…

Derek and I are in the process of building our real estate team again (long story …) and although we are on the right track, staying busy and doing very well, I believe in having mentors and role models for everything
we do if we want to succeed in anything. So, we have been searching for a local role model … But …

Most agents in my market are either heavy hitters with old school business models or just “good” agents.

While neither type of agent is inherently bad, neither agent is a type of agent that I would choose as a role model.

I am a great real estate agent and I will be a great real estate agent. I have uber-lofty goals and expectations of my business. I have super high standards and strict ethical stances.

So, I refuse to old-school myself to goodness. I would rather new-school myself to greatness.

So, how do I find a role model that shares my business-belief system yet is further advanced in their business (through new school methods) and can offer me a model that I can shape my growing business after?

I hate to pose a question without potential answers. But, I ALSO know that there are some super successful … GREAT agents out in the blogosphere that may be able to help me (and others facing this dilemma).


Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?

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  1. Ines

    December 10, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Mariana – it’s not easy and we have gone through the same thought process. I do think that the Blogosphere is what can make all of this happen and although your role model may not be one single person and may not be local, I do think you can model after different aspects of people you know and respect in the blogosphere.

    I think it’s a matter of separating the different aspects of our business that need improvement and start the search from there.

    One of the things I learned from the judging in Project Blogger is that everyone had different needs and everyone of those judges (no matter how mean they seemed to be) had something good to teach.

  2. Mariana

    December 10, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Ines – Thank you for your input. I agree that there really is a need for multiple role models – one for each area of your business: client attraction (vs. lead generation), financial/economic, organizational, etc.

    You are also so right about finding a little role model in each person you meet (virtually or physically). Ultimately, that may be the answer that I am looking for… Thank you my friend!

  3. Ben Bach

    December 10, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    Mariana I’m going to email you someone to speak with

    Be Great

  4. Norm Fisher

    December 10, 2007 at 6:44 pm


    What about a real estate coach? Mentorship and accountability.

  5. Mariana

    December 10, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Ben – Thank you. We saw her at last MegaCamp … What a GREAT idea!
    Norm – I have a RE Coach and an accountability partner(s). It is the mentor that I am having a very difficult time finding – one that is close enough to my “style” of business, but ahead of me enough to be an effective role model…

  6. John Harper

    December 10, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Mariana – Sometimes in life, things evolve ass backwards. Teach the greatness you want to achieve to others. Help lift them to your level and the other thing will take care of itself. Of course, your greatness will just seem ordinary to you because you’re just being yourself.

    Everything I’ve seen about you in the last year shows more than a diamond in the rough.

  7. Benn Rosales

    December 10, 2007 at 7:25 pm


    I’m sorry, you’ve grown up. Welcome to the position of Pioneer. You’re going to have go national, or even international in hopes of finding your version of a model. You’ve stepped into the view some of us already have- that view is of YOU being the first to travel the long road ahead where others haven’t been.

    I do not look for a tech greatness in my own league- I simply look a old business techniques and ask myself- how can I modernize that into greatness?

  8. Mariana

    December 11, 2007 at 8:52 am

    John – Thank you. You know, every class that I teach I DO learn something – kind of like what Ines mentioned – finding a little role model in everyone vs. a big role model in someone…

    Benn- I SO did not just grow up… 😉 But you nailed the issue right on the head: Pioneer. Innovative. First. Forerunner. Ultimately, that is exactly what I want, but unchartered territory CAN be a bit daunting at first. Funny, but I am always asking my self a similar question: How can I make THIS more effective and useful? Thank you.

  9. Jeremy Hart

    December 11, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Paralysis by fear, but you’ve certainly shown no fear in taking control. Perhaps it’s not that you need a mentor “ahead” of you, but instead a mentor that’s willing to push you and be pushed by you? Maybe that’s too close to an accountability partner, but sometimes the leader has to find ways to be motivated …

  10. Mariana

    December 11, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Jeremy – You are right. So right. In my situation an accountability partner may indeed be better than a “mentor” …

  11. Teresa Boardman

    December 11, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Mariana – I can relate to your problem to the point where I have become an outsider, even at Keller Williams. My ideas are not embraced and not for everyone but I blieve they are the best way for me to take my business to greatness. My roll models are outside of the real estate industry. I meet with other small business owners in my community who are successful. I don’t think our role models have to be other agents . . yah I know I already said that.

  12. Mariana

    December 11, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Teresa – I am also an outsider – even at KW, myself. That is one reason why I am persuing more leadership roles, so I can help all the other “outsiders”. But you are right, outside the industry is probably the best place to look right now …

  13. Ben Bach

    December 12, 2007 at 12:15 am

    Teresa and Mariana, what do you feel makes you an outsider ? At my KW market centre, I am the ‘thought leader’ when it comes to blogging, but everyone else seems to be fascinated by it, wanting to learn how they can impliment it into their business.

    Is this different than the reaction to blogging you receive ?

  14. Teresa Boardman

    December 12, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Ben – Our offices here are very different from offices I have encountered in other states. When I do agree to speak in one of the offices it is very well received by the agents and I have gotten several started with blogs. We talk about culture a lot. I guess I am finding that I don’t feel all that comfortable in most of the offices. I belong to one office, and hang out at another. The OP at one office would like me to leave, and the TL at the other office does not like me and has made it very clear. There are two other office that want me to join them but I can’t handle the drive. Most of this has to do with the ownership groups and there is more but I think I’ll send you a note if you are really interested in any of this KW mess that I got myself into. I have to say though MO Anderson sent me a lovely personal note recently that I have hanging in my office. I am a major fan of hers and admire her very much. If I ever grow up I might even consider being more like her. A truly remarkable and amazing woman.

  15. Ben Bach

    December 12, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Sounds like something is up in St Paul 🙂

  16. Ryan Hukill

    December 12, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Marianna, you’re so speaking my language here. I too struggle with finding anyone local to “follow around” because I can honestly say that I’m the only one truly seeking the new-school way in my market. The blogosphere has definitely been my means of finding leaders to learn from, and that will probably continue to be my only means. I don’t so much mind though, because I like standing out from the crowd. It can be a lonely place at times though.

  17. Teresa Boardman

    December 12, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    There is no St. Paul office. 🙁

  18. Mariana

    December 12, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Ben – I am an outsider. Yes. Qualification: I am ALSO a thought leader – a go-to person for all things remotely innovative and tehnological. But I am still an outsider. No one to “mastermind” with inside my office or area …
    I definitely believe that my office is “better” than most other offices (both KW and non-kw) in my area, because no matter WHAT I am (outsider, thought leader …) I have the BEST support on the planet. My TL, OP, MCA … They do whatever they can to support me and what I want to do, because ultimately they know it will help their office. I DO love my office.
    Many agents that I work with/teach/mentor are great listeners/students but most are not at a place where (I believe) they are ready for a blog and all that it means, let alone in a place where they can be a role model for where I am in my business life. There is nothing wrong with that, but how I help others was not the intent of my post, here. … which leads me to …

    Ryan – Yes. Standing out from a crowd is an awesome, awesome place to be, but it can be lonely.

  19. Mariana

    December 12, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Teresa – “If I ever grow up I might even consider being more like her.” I totally agree with that. Mo Rocks! Good luck with your office, though.

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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?



Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.



Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?


At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

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Opinion Editorials

How a simple period in your text message might be misinterpreted: Tips to improve your virtual communication

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) Text, email, and IM messages may be received differently depending on your communication style and who you’re communicating with. Here’s some ways to be more mindful.



Black woman smiling in communication talking on phone and laptop in front of her.

Life is full of decisions, learning, hopefully some adventure, and “growth opportunities” through our careers and work. One that some of us may have never considered is how our text, email or IM communication comes across to the receiver – thus providing us a growth opportunity to take a look at our own personal communication styles.

It may have never occurred to us that others would take it a different way. After all, we know ourselves, we can hear our voices in our heads. We know when we are joking, being sarcastic, or simply making a statement. The way we communicate is built upon how we were raised, what our English teachers stressed, and even what we’ve been taught through our generational lens.

NPR put out an article recently, “Are Your Texts Passive-Aggressive? The Answer May Lie in Your Punctuation”. This article discussed what to consider in regards to your punctuation in text.

“But in text messaging — at least for younger adults — periods do more than just end a sentence: They also can set a tone.” Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and author of the book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, told NPR’s All Things Considered last year that when it comes to text messaging,”the period has lost its original purpose. Rather than needing a symbol to indicate the end of a sentence, you can simply hit send on your message.”

While it may seem silly that the receiver would think you are mad at them because you used a period, here are some things to consider in our virtual communication now that we are all much more digital:

  • There are no facial expressions in a text except for emojis (which, even then, could be left up to misinterpretation)
  • There’s no sound of voice or inflection to indicate tone
  • We are emailing, texting, and sending instant messages at an alarming rate now that we are not having as many in-person interactions with our colleagues

Gen Z (b. 1995 – 2015), who are the most recent generation to enter the workplace, grew up with much quicker forms of communication with their earlier access to tech. They’ve had a different speed of stimulation via YouTube videos, games, and apps. They may have never experienced the internet speed via a dial-up modem so they are used to instantaneous results.

They also have quickly adapted and evolved through their use of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok. The last two platforms are designed for pretty brief attention spans, which indicates our adaptation to fast communication.

Generational shaming is out and uncomfortable but necessary conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion are in (which includes ageism). You can’t just chalk it up as “those kids” don’t understand you, or that they need to learn and “pay their dues”.

So if you are of an older generation and even a manager, here are some considerations that you can take regarding your virtual communications:

1. Consider having yourself and your team take a DiSC assessment.

“The DiSC® model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviors with others — within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships.

DiSC profiles help you and your team:

  • Increase your self-knowledge: How you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems
  • Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
  • Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members

This quiz is designed to help you identify your main communication style. It helps you to be more conscious of how your style may come across to others. Does it builds relationships, or create silent conflicts? It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change, but you can adapt your style to best fit your team.

2. Always ask your direct reports about their preferred method of communication (call, text, email, IM, meeting).

Retain this information and do your best to meet them where they are. It would also be helpful to share your preferred method with them and ask them to do their best to meet you where you are.

3. Consider putting composed emails in your drafts if you are fired up, frustrated, or down right angry with your team.

You may feel like you are being direct. But since tone will be lost virtually, your message may not come across the way you mean it, and it may be de-motivating to the receiver. Let it sit in drafts and come back to it a little bit later. Does your draft say all you need to say, or could it be edited to be a little less harsh? Would this be better as a meeting (whether video or phone) over a written communication? Now the receiver has a chance to see you and have a conversation rather than feeling put on blast.

And finally, be curious.

Check out Lindsey Pollak’s books or podcast on the best ways to work with a variety of generations in your organization. Lindsey is a Multigenerational Work Expert and she does a great job explaining her research to drive multigenerational workplace success. She gives ideas on what all employees, managers, and even corporations should consider as we experience so many generations and communication styles in the workplace at the same time.

You may laugh that your children or employees think you are mad at them when you use a period in a text. But there’s a lot more behind it to consider. It may take adaptation on all sides as communication styles and the “future of work” continue to evolve.

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