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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

6 skills humans have that AI doesn’t… yet

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It’s not unreasonable to be concerned about the growing power and skill of AI, but here are a few skills where we have the upper hand.



Man drawing on a roll of butcher paper, where AI cannot express themselves yet.

AI is taking over the workforce as we know it. Burgers are already being flipped by robotic arms (and being flipped better), and it’s only a matter of time before commercial trucks and cars will be driven by robots (and, probably, be driven better).

It may feel unnerving to think about the shrinking number of job possibilities for future humans – what jobs will be around for humans when AI can do almost everything better than we can?

To our relief (exhale!), there are a few select skills that humans will (hopefully) always be better at than AI. The strengths that we have over AI fall into 3 general categories: Ability to convey emotion, management over others, and creativity.

Let’s break it down: Here are 6 skills that we as humans should be focusing on right now.

Our ability to undertake non-verbal communication

What does this mean for humans? We need to develop our ability to understand and communicate body language, knowing looks, and other non-verbal cues. Additionally, we need to refine our ability to make others feel warm and heard – if you work in the hospitality industry, mastering these abilities will give you an edge over the AI technologies that might replace you.

Our ability to show deep empathy to customers

Unlike AI, we share experiences with other humans and can therefore show empathy to customers. Never underestimate how powerful your deep understanding of being human will be when you’re pitted against a robot for a job. It might just be the thing that gives you a cutting edge.

Our ability to undertake growth management

As of this moment, humans are superior to AI when it comes to managing others. We are able to support organization members in developing their skillsets and, due to our coaching ability, we are able to help others to grow professionally. Take that, AI!

Our ability to employ mind management

What this essentially means is that we can support others. Humans have counseling skills, which means we are able to help someone in distress, whether that stems from interpersonal relationships or professional problems. Can you imagine an AI therapist?

Our ability to perform collective intelligence management

Human creativity, especially as it relates to putting individual ideas together to form an innovative new one, gives us a leg up when competing against AI. Humans are able to foster group thought, to manage and channel it, to create something bigger and better than what existed before. Like, when we created AI in the first place.

Our ability to realize new ideas in an organization

Think: Elevator pitch. Humans are masters of marketing new ideas and are completely in-tune with how to propose new concepts to an organization because, you guessed it, we too are human. If the manager remains human in the future (fingers crossed!), then we know what to say to them to best sell our point of view.

Using what we know, it’s essential for almost all of us to retrain for an AI-driven economy that is most likely just a few years away. My advice for my fellow humans? Develop the parts of you that make you human. Practice eye contact and listening. Think about big pictures and the best way to manage others. Sharpen your mind with practicing creative processes. And do stay up to date with current trends in AI tech. Sooner or later, these babies are bound to be your co-workers.

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Opinion Editorials

Questions you wished recruiters would answer

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Job searching is anxiety inducing, and not getting feedback can be tough. What can job seekers, recruiters, and HR do to make it easier?



Two men interviewing at a table, job searching.

Job searching can be frustrating and stressful – not to mention anxiety-driven – but also sometimes filled with hope and excitement for a new opportunity on the horizon. Most people aren’t huge fans of multiple interviews, constantly selling themselves, or the uncertainty of when an exciting offer will come their way. Here are some considerations to try to put it in to a healthy perspective.

Yes, you will feel stressed and anxious. If you can, allow yourself to accept these feelings as part of your journey in life. Take note of what can you do to move forward, and hopefully it will propel your energy into time and space that is well spent.

Just know that you are not alone on a myriad of questions that no one has really answered for you. That is mostly due to the other side of the table which usually includes Human Resources and a Hiring Manager.

Question: What is the status of my application?

Answer: It really depends. Did you apply online? Is it sitting in an ATS (Applicant Tracking System = software to track job applicants and open job requisitions)? Has anyone looked at it? Have you gone through a recruiter and are waiting to hear back? Have you sent it to a friend or former colleague who works at that institution? Do we know if this position is still open?

Ideas to move forward: If there is anyone you can get in touch with about your application, do it. Send a polite email to them asking if there’s any chance if the position is still open and/or if your application has been reviewed. If there is no one to get in touch with, keep moving forward in your job searching. ATS’s are GREAT for the employer. They help track applicants and scan for keywords. The challenge is they may not be great for the job seeker and might be sitting in a black hole. Consider that 300 job searching applications are sitting there with yours.

It’s not that you are not good enough. And it’s not that you don’t have what it takes. It’s that your resume is combined with a lot of other information and may not even have been reviewed. They may have also filled the position and didn’t take the posting down.

OR, clients change their minds all the time – maybe they are going in a new direction with this role. See if you can find out the status first. And if you can’t, move on. You can learn more about ATS here from Jobscan.

Question: May I have feedback from my interview(s)?

Answer: Most likely, no. They may give you some simple answer “You didn’t quite have the experience they were looking for” or “We’ve hired an internal applicant.” Without getting into too many details and legal guidelines (that I’m not even sure I’m aware of), company representatives often cannot give too much feedback to an interview for fear of being sued. They don’t want to be sued for ageism, sexism, etc. so it’s easier to not give any feedback.

Please excuse the gross oversimplification here, but also think about the company. They may be trying to recruit new employees for 100s of positions. If they interview even 3-5 people per position, they just don’t have the time to give detailed feedback to every interview. Try to think back to a time that maybe you had a crush on someone and or were dating and it just didn’t fit or feel right. Did you want to have to give a detailed explanation or did you just hope you (and they) could move on? Move on if it’s not a right fit. NEXT.

Question: If not a fit for this role, am I fit for other roles within the organization?

Answer: You can certainly ask this if you are given a rejection (and not ghosted). The truth is, the team (or people) you were interviewing with are most likely not concerned with too many other roles in the organization. They may not have been briefed on what others are looking for nor care – going back to the time thing, they just don’t have a lot of it.

However, it could be worth asking on the off-chance that Jim from another department did mention to them he was looking for someone like you. However, if you don’t hear back on that, definitely do not take it personally. They likely have no clue and it may take you applying to another position or another person in your network helping you to identify this other role during the job searching process.

Question: Why did the recruiter ghost me?

Answer: Honestly, I’m sorry that they did. It’s crappy and doesn’t feel good. It’s disrespectful and really doesn’t leave a good impression. I don’t have an excuse for them other than to say that they’re busy working to fill roles. It’s unlikely that they are on a 100% commission basis but if they are, think about how they need to move on to the next thing to keep food on their table. And even though most get paid a decent base salary, each role does lead to commission for them. It is part of their job responsibilities to find and hire the right talent. Recruiters have a lot of metrics they need to hit and they only have so much time in the day like everyone else. They may not have the luxury of time to follow up with every person that is not the right fit.

I still believe they should let you know, but chalk it up as something out of control, do your best to move on.

Request to HR/Recruiters

If there is any way at all that you can make sure you keep in touch with your job searching candidates (even if it’s to say you don’t have new updates), you will really help their anxiety and help them balance timelines and possibly other interviews and offers.

As this article from Evil HR lady shares, if you are unable to give them feedback regarding their rejection for a position, consider offering a couple things you feel they could approve upon. Your advice may not even be job specific but here are some ideas to consider that may be helpful to the job seeker:

  • Make sure you answer the phone with enthusiasm and not sound like I interrupted you or you just woke up.
  • Be sure to do company and role research for every single interview.
  • Dress to impress – even if it’s a virtual interview (and don’t forget to test your camera and audio before).
  • Turn off your phone and IM notifications when interviewing to minimize distractions.
  • Thank you emails or snail mail are still more than welcome and a nice gesture.
  • Google yourself and do a quick look at what a recruiter might see if they Google you – are impressive and professional details coming up? If not, you may want to work on pushing out some thoughtful content.
  • Tread lightly with insincere LinkedIn connection requests.

You cannot control the process so you must hold onto your hope and continue to make efforts. Hopefully this help shares some insights and helps to normalize this process.

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Opinion Editorials

Woman fired for premarital sex, raises questions of company culture

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) This unfortunate circumstance for a former David Ramsey employee has raised the age-old conversation of how to enforce a company culture.



Company culture being established around a meeting table with dark colored drinks and notebooks.

America, the land of the free, and the opinionated. And in company culture, this is no different.

Over the years the US has grown and changed. A nation that over the centuries formed from the amalgamation of beliefs and cultures. Now let us be frank, there is a majority in certain beliefs and practices. Those groups can also sometimes come with rather large mouth pieces as well, but that isn’t always a bad thing. People’s moral and cultural compasses influence the world around us. Ultimately, we can create cults or communities. We can be harmful or helpful with how we choose to influence those around us.

When you combine that with economics, though, that’s when things can get tricky. The difficulties of mixing the cooperate world with morals and beliefs can get expensive. There are numerous instances of companies being sued for wrongful termination. Currently, Dave Ramsey’s company has recently come into the spotlight due to a lawsuit being filed against them by a disgruntled employee. The company culture has strict rules against certain extracurricular activities. Now usually people would think they would mean recreational drugs, but not in this case. As of March 8th, Ramsey Solutions has reportedly fired 8 employees over the last 5 years for engaging in premarital sex.

Caitlin O’Connor is the latest employee to deal with this situation. Now, while some of us may have seen this company culture and decided to just keep life and work separate, there’s another difficulty here. Ms. O’Connor has recently become pregnant, which leaves no doubt about her outside of work activities. Now there is a number of different emotions that happen here. A woman who is now pregnant is losing her job. This may be a person who has no desire to get married and now she’s thrust into unemployment for doing nothing but enjoying a part of life. It is a frustrating situation to say the least on her side.

In that frustration on the part of Ms. O’Connor, however, there are also similar issues on the part of the company. While they have set up this company culture and laid down rules for all their employees, they now have to uphold and find a replacement for this resource completely unexpectedly. It was not only clearly laid out in their company guidelines that they do not condone this behavior, nor its implications, but Ms. O’Connor openly admitted that she was aware of the implications of her actions as well. This company has built a community with expectations and is willing to uphold them. That is their right.

I remember growing up there was a cake shop in Colorado that refused to create a cake for a gay couple based upon their religious beliefs. It was back in 2012. In 2018 the Supreme Court ruled that the shop had the right to refuse service based on their beliefs, which to be honest was my expectation. However, in the process of this that particular his business has not flourished. Ultimately one has to decide whether they want to follow their beliefs in the face of economic hardship. It’s a true show of faith of course but also, is it practical.

Living your life, your way, is the point of this country. We have to remember to share that space with those who believe differently. Bringing no harm to others is one thing, but can we truly be a common people if we refuse to go outside of our own beliefs and morals?

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