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Opinion Editorials

What does loyalty mean to you?



photo courtesy of Michael Cornelius

1: unswerving in allegiance: as a: faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful sovereign or government b: faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due c: faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product

Friends and family.

Everyone tries their best to be loyal to their friends and family. The “unswerving allegiance” to those we love and care about goes without saying. When a friend needs help, when a loved is sick; we are there for them. We will do what it takes to make the situation better for them. To take care of them. To fix their problems and help them move on.

What about your business?

Today I had a long talk with my local title company’s business development rep. We were discussing the different actions that are a violation of the law when dealing with lenders and title companies. We were talking about the old days that I’ve heard tales of; where lenders and title companies wined and dined their agents and agents were loyal…to a fault. Agents stopped caring about quality service and instead were caring about where their next free meal, martini, or vacation was coming from. I’ve seen it in the rock ‘n roll industry (it still exists, despite the anti-“pay for play” rules), so I’m familiar with the idea of it. Now, we are much more regulated in how we interact with these other businesses, but I think there are still ways for these businesses to help agents and gain their trust, their business, and their loyalty. When I say loyalty, I guess I am redefining it slightly, as “unswerving in allegiance” is not my mode of operation with these companies, but I do know who I can trust, who will treat my clients well, and leave my clients with a positive experience that leaves them with positive thoughts about me. The people I work with and call upon for advice and opinions are my tools that I can use to make my services better and my client’s experience enjoyable. By using these “tools,” I gain something as well – not gifts or wine or martinis or vacations to tropical islands, but people I can expect to answer my calls, to help with advice on a subject I don’t know enough about, to tell me about new opportunities, technology, and things that I can better my business with.

My local business development rep is just that for me. She is my trusted adviser and friend. We don’t do lunch or go to parties together, but I always talk to her, update her on my business and ask her questions. In return, she “pays” me in kind – showing me things she’s learned over the years from top agents, introducing me to new technology, and always taking my call. Her loyalty? She met me early on in my career and we started talking immediately. I had no business and no need for a title company. By talking to me and helping me understand the world of “title” through my constant questions, she became someone I trust and rely on for help when I have a question I can’t answer. I know when I do bring business her way, she will be on top of it and make sure that the closer takes great care of my clients. She never treated me differently whether I had business for her or not. That’s the definition of loyalty to me.

So the lesson I learned?

That loyalty she has to me, to treat me fairly and the same at all times, is what I show my clients and potential clients. I want all the people I come in contact with to get to where they want to be, whether they are five days away from making their purchase or 2 years away. By treating them all to the same loyalty as people treat me with, I enable them to build a relationship with me. And as we all know, a relationship is what we’re all after. Once you have the relationship, the business follows all by itself. Its a natural progression. Call it “organic growth” if you will. That’s what I’m after. If I can earn the loyalty of my clients and they can expect the same loyalty from me, then what more can I possibly ask for?

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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  1. Bob

    December 18, 2008 at 12:27 am

    There are limits to many things, including loyalty, especially in this business. What matters most is fiduciary.

    Some title companies are going to start to pay the price for certain business practices they employed in the past to gain loyalty.

    For example, some lenders will no longer fund a transaction where the title company or escrow company has ABAs, even if there is no ABA involved in the transaction. Just the fact that the title company has them is enough to screw things up.

    In order to close one recent transaction, the escrow had to be moved to a true nuetral 3rd party escrow company. in my neck of the woods, that means all but two title companies can create a problem depending on the lender.

  2. Missy Caulk

    December 19, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Loyalty in strategic partnerships is invaluable. I have one with my title company as well. No gifts or other help that would violate RESPA, just good old fashion service all the time.

  3. Matt Stigliano

    December 19, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Bob – I do agree there are limits to loyalty (you just stabbed me? not feeling so loyal now.). I view loyalty as a two way street. I’m not loyal to those that aren’t loyal to me. I’m not saying that the other person has to send 100% of their business to me and I have to do the same for them. But knowing that I have someone I can rely on to help me whether I am bringing them business or not and knowing they are there for me – to me that’s loyalty. And I return the same. If the title company business development rep needed 5 minutes of my time to ask a question, she would get it. I guess my definition of loyalty is closer to that of what they speak of when they refer to animals (particularly dogs). I am loyal to those that treat me well, not treat me to material things (although dogs do love a giant bone from time to time – this is NOT part of my loyalty).

    Missy – That’s it exactly. Good old fashioned quality service and the reliability of someone who says “Oh wait, that’s Missy calling, I better get this.”

  4. Matt Stigliano

    December 19, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Bob – I was just reading my comment and realized it looked like I was said that YOU stabbed me (and since I used stabbed there’s all sorts of connotations with that, ie, being stabbed “in the back”). Just to be clear (I hate when things get misread or my writing isn’t clear) the “you” referenced is a general “you,” not you, Bob, specifically.

  5. Vance Shutes

    December 20, 2008 at 3:30 pm


    Above all else in my business, I value integrity and loyalty. You’ve summarized the aspects of loyalty very well in this article.

    Earlier this year, a trusted lender with whom I had done business for over a dozen years “retired.” I still miss him, both for the professionalism he showed my clients, and for his unswerving loyalty to both his clients and his friends. While our friendship continues, that business loyalty has ended. You know what they say – sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

    You’re very fortunate to have developed that loyalty with your title business development rep. Continue to build and strengthen that business relationship.

  6. Linsey Planeta

    January 1, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I so loved reading this post. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see the new regulations in place. I have a long standing relationship with a wonderful title rep. I have become friends with her over the years and have been utterly astonished at what my colleagues actually ask of her. She’s lost business due to an unwillingness to ‘prostitute’ herself to some of these agents.

    The sad thing is that while they asked her for all kinds of illegal favors, they missed some of the most valuable tools that she offered – simple but amazing business planning and brainstorming with her agents, connecting people, and a real partner in their business. The kind of loyalty I have with her allows for mutual enjoyment in eachothers growth and success.

    I’m thrilled to hear about the new regulations and hope to see a much needed difference on that side of the business.

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Opinion Editorials

Facebook fights falsehoods (it’s a false flag)

(EDITORIAL) Facebook has chosen Reuters to monitor its site for false information, but what can one company really do, and why would Facebook only pick one?



Reuters checks facebook

So Facebook has finally taken a step to making sure fake news doesn’t get spread on it’s platform. Like many a decision from them though, they haven’t been thorough with their venture.

I am a scientifically driven person, I want facts, figures, and evidence to determine what is reality. Technology is a double edged sword in this arena; sure having a camera on every device any person can hold makes it easy to film events, but deepfakes have made even video more questionable.

Many social media platforms have tried to ban deepfakes but others have actually encouraged it. “I’ll believe it when I see it” was the rally cry for the skeptical, but now it doesn’t mean anything. Altering video in realistic ways has destroyed the credibility of the medium, we have to question even what we see with our eyes.

The expansion of the internet has created a tighter communication net for all of humanity to share, but when specific groups want to sway everyone else there isn’t a lot stopping them if they shout louder than the rest.

With the use of bots, and knowing the specifics of a group you want to sway, it’s easy to spread a lie as truth. Considering how much information is known about almost any user on any social media platform, it’s easy to pick targets that don’t question what they see online.

Facebook has been the worst offender in knowing consumer data and what they do with that data. Even if you never post anything political, they know what your affiliation is. If you want to delete that information, it’s hidden in advertising customization.

Part of me is thrilled that Facebook has decided to try and stand against this spread of misinformation, but how they pursued this goal is anything but complete and foolproof.

Reuters is the news organization that Facebook has chosen to fact check the massive amount of posts, photos, and videos that show up on their platform everyday. It makes sense to grab a news organization to verify facts compared to “alternative facts”.

A big problem I have with this is that Reuters is a company, companies exist to make money. Lies sell better than truths. Ask 2007 banks how well lies sell, ask Enron how that business plan worked out, ask the actors from Game of Thrones about that last season.

Since Reuters is a company, some other bigger company could come along, buy them, and change everything, or put in people who let things slide. Even Captain America recognizes this process. “It’s run by people with agendas, and agendas change.” This could either begin pushing falsehoods into Facebook, or destroy Reuters credibility, and bite Facebook in the ass.

If some large group wants to spread misinformation, but can’t do it themselves, why wouldn’t they go after the number one place that people share information?

I really question if Reuters can handle the amount of information flowing through Facebook, remember almost a 3rd of the whole world uses Facebook. 2.45 Billion people will be checked by 25,800 employees at Reuters? I can appreciate their effort, but they will fail.

Why did Facebook only tag one company to handle this monumental task? If you know that many people are using your platform, and such a limited number of people work for the company you tasked with guarding the users, why wouldn’t you tag a dozen companies to tackle that nigh insurmountable number of users?

I think it’s because Facebook just needs that first headline “Facebook fights falsehoods”. That one line gets spread around but the rest of the story is ignored, or not thought about at all. If there is anything Facebook has learned about the spread of fake information on their platform, it’s how to spread it better.

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Opinion Editorials

Will shopping for that luxury item actually lower your quality of life?

(EDITORIAL) Want to buy yourself a pick-me-up? Have you thought of all the ramifications of that purchase? Try to avoid splurging on it.



shopping bags

In an era of “treat-yo-self,” the urge to splurge is real. It doesn’t help that shopping – or what ends up being closer to impulse shopping – provides us with a hit of dopamine and a fleeting sense of control. Whether your life feels like it’s going downhill or you’ve just had a bad day, buying something you want (or think you want) can seem like an easy fix.

Unfortunately, it might not be so great when it comes to long-term happiness.

As you might have already guessed, purchasing new goods doesn’t fall in line with the minimalism trend that’s been sweeping the globe. Being saddled with a bunch of stuff you don’t need (and don’t even like!) is sure to make your mood dip, especially if the clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Plus, if you’ve got a real spending problem, the ache in your wallet is sure to manifest.

If that seems depressing, I’ve got even more bad news. Researchers at Harvard and Boston College have found yet another way spending can make us more unhappy in the long run: imposter syndrome. It’s that feeling you get when it seems like you’re not as good as your peers and they just haven’t caught on yet. This insecurity often arises in competitive careers, academics and, apparently, shopping.

Now, there’s one big caveat to this idea that purchasing goods will make you feel inferior: it really only applies to luxury goods. I’m talking about things like a Louis Vuitton purse, a top of the line Mercedes Benz, a cast iron skillet from Williams Sonoma (or is that one just me?). The point is, the study found that about 67% of people – regardless of their income – believed their purchase was inauthentic to their “true self.”

And this imposter syndrome even existed when the luxury items were bought on sale.

Does this mean you should avoid making a nice purchase you’ve been saving up for? Not necessarily. One researcher at Cambridge found that people were more likely to report happiness for purchases that fit their personalities. Basically, a die-hard golfer is going to enjoy a new club more than someone who bought the same golf club to try to keep up with their co-workers.

Moral of the story: maybe don’t impulse buy a fancy new Apple watch. Waiting to see if it’s something you really want can save your budget…and your overall happiness.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer got you down? Does it make your job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment without budget worries.



better equipment, better work

Aside from bringing the boss coffee and donuts for a month before asking, what is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes. In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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