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Opinion Editorials

You’ll See it in the Mirror

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Remember When…

…the real estate market was booming and the big question was “Is there a real estate Bubble?”

And then the real estate market started to slow down, the question was “When will the bubble burst?”

When there was acknowledgment that the market was in difficulty, the question became “When will we hit bottom? (When I think it should have been When will the market recover?)

Now we are in a surreal world where the Federal government has taken over Fannie Mae , Freddie Mac and AIG, while huge financial  institutions have been the victims of closings and fire sales to their competitors. Each time the stock market opens, it loos like a water slide, and mid-day rallies are the bright spots as people watch their pensions and IRAs dwindle.  Each day seems to bring new surprises – mostly unpleasant. And now the question is “When will this get better?”

Not My First Rodeo

Having been through other “economic readjustments” in the past, I thought I might share a couple of things I learned. Maybe they’ll provide you with some help, or at least a sense of perspective.

  1. Nothing lasts forever. Good times or bad, our business has always been cyclical. The trick is to not spend it all when the times are good, and keep in mind that it will bet better when times are bad.
  2. If the news has nothing good to offer you, don’t watch it. You don’t need to spend a lot of time reading negative articles or watching prophecies of doom and gloom. They don’t help you do your job better, and may actually impede you
  3. Its OK if there are fewer homes selling in your marketplace as long as you’re one of the people selling them.
  4. If the prices on the properties you sell are lower than before, you need to sell more houses.
  5. If you only work as hard as you used to , you’ll make a lot less money.
  6. If you work harder than you used to, you’ll still make less money (but maybe not a lot less) and you might even make more
  7. If you work a lot harder than you think you need to, you will probably make as much money as you used to – and probably at least as much as you need to.
  8. If you need to go get a “real job” you probably didn’t treat this as one.
  9. Be diligent about looking for new ways to increase the number of buyers and sellers you work with without abandoning the old ways that work.
  10. When people ask you how the business is say “Unbelievable!” They probably aren’t interested except for shadenfruede (Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others) – That’s why people slow down to look at the scenes of car accidents

You’ll Know When its Over

Real Estate is always an economic leader.

We were the first to enjoy the benefits of the boom. We were the first part of the economy to feel the slowdown. And we will be the first part of the economy to recover – possibly even while there are continued consequences being realized by other sectors of the economy. So you may see your business improving before the rest of the economy has completed this cycle.

You might remember late 2008 when the federal government announced that we were in a recessions – that started in 2007. You weren’t surprised were you? You knew we were in a recession, regardless of what the papers or television or the government called it.

Recovery will be the same thing. If you keep doing the right things, as exhausting at it seems at times, you’ll only recognize the end of the market in retrospect because you’ll be too busy making a living to concentrate on predictions. You’ll be doing the things that work for you, in the methodical and repetitive way that such things work, when you realize that the responses you’re getting are more frequent and more pleasant, and that there seems to be more money left at the end of each month.

Rates are great, prices have been readjusting, credit liquidity needs to improve, but that should be a matter of time. People still need someplace to live and we’re still here to help them find that place. Stay flexible, stay focused, and continue to work on improving your skills.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Lisa Sanderson

    January 28, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Thanks for the pep talk, o wise one! 🙂 You are so right. I’ve been filling my pipeline w/people just waiting for a reason to make their move. As soon as there is a little good news and they feel comfortable, they will buy.

  2. Vance Shutes

    January 28, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Bill – Perspective is everything, and I thank you for sharing the wisdom of your perspective on this market. My first broker always told me “Things are neither as bad nor as good as they seem.” We all know that this will turn around, but our crystal ball is a bit cloudy as to when. In the meantime, we sharpen our skills, push the frontiers of marketing, and keep up the communications with our clients, who so desperately need to hear from us on a consistent basis.

  3. teresa boardman

    January 28, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I like your first point the best. I live by that rule and it gets me through the bad times and allows me to put money away during the good.

  4. Laura Cannon

    January 28, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    -very helpful post. I think we need more voices of moderation and calm like yours. I have a relative who keeps sending me bad economic news every other day. What’s the point? News, good or bad, doesn’t sell houses; only hard work does. I need to be out there at open houses, on the phones, on-line, networking, and following leads whether the sky is falling or not.

    I appreciate your sobering comments and sensible approach.

  5. Russell Shaw

    January 28, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Bill, LOVE it! And very nice photo too.

  6. Sherry Baker

    January 29, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Those are wise words, my friend. Printing this one and pinning it to the wall over my monitor. Good stuff!

  7. Paula Henry

    January 29, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Bill – This is the shot in the arm we all need from time to time. Better still, is it coming from you, a veteran who has seen it all. We need more encouragement and positive messages in this biz.

    Working harder, smarter and keeping our eye on the task at hand will prove to be the difference between staying in the business or being one who checks out.

  8. Gary Ashton

    January 30, 2009 at 12:25 am

    I guess the one good thing about the bubble bursting is that the relative values of homes for sale will now remove a lot of the price barriers to entry level home buyers. Once the confidence of the consumer is re-established and the banks make the ability to buy a home a little easier I think we will see a return to the traditional real estate model where low prices leads to sales and a reduction of inventory and in the long run an increase in demand for the dwindling supply…which should raise home values…hopefully 😉

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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Opinion Editorials

5 secrets to a more productive morning, free of distractions

(EDITORIAL) Productivity is king in the office, but sometimes distractions and other issues slow you down. So what can you do to limit these factors?

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distractions stop productivity

Regardless of whether you’re a self-proclaimed morning person or not, more efficient mornings can be catalytic in your daily productivity and output. The only question is, do you know how to make the most of your mornings in the office?

5 Tips for Greater Morning Productivity

In economic terms, productivity is a measure of output as it relates to input. Academics often discuss productivity in terms of a one-acre farm’s ability to produce a specific crop yield, or an auto manufacturing plant’s ability to produce a certain number of vehicles over a period of time. But then there’s productivity in our personal lives.

Your own daily productivity can be defined in a variety of ways. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting the desired results with less time and effort on the input side. And as a business professional, one of the best ways to do this is by optimizing your morning in the office.

Here are a few timely suggestions:

  1. Eliminate All Non-Essential Actions

    Spend the next week keeping a log of every single action you take from the moment your eyes open in the morning until you sit down at your desk. It might look something like this:

    • Turn off alarm
    • Scroll through social media on the phone
    • Get out of bed
    • Eat breakfast
    • Take shower
    • Brush teeth
    • Walk dog
    • Watch news
    • Browse favorite websites
    • Get in car
    • Starbucks drive-thru
    • Arrive at office
    • Small talk with coworkers
    • Sit down at the desk

    If you do this over the course of a week, you’ll notice that your behaviors don’t change all that much. There might be some slight deviations, but it’s basically the same pattern.

    Now consider how you can eliminate as many points of friction as possible from your routine. [Note from the Editor: This may be an unpopular opinion, but] For example, can you skip social media time? Can you make coffee at home, rather than drive five minutes out of your way to wait in the Starbucks drive-thru line? Just doing these two things alone could result in an additional 30 minutes of productive time in the office.

  2. Reduce Distractions

    Distractions kill productivity. They’re like rooftop snipers. As soon as they see any sign of productivity, they put it in their crosshairs and pull the trigger.Ask yourself this: What are my biggest distractions and how can I eliminate them?Popular distractions include social media, SMS, video games, news websites, and email. And while none of these are evil, they zap focus. At the very least, you should shift them to later in the day.
  3. Set Measurable Goals and Action items

    It’s hard to have a productive morning if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be productive. Make sure you set measurable goals, create actionable to-do lists, and establish definitive measurements of what it looks like to be efficient. However, don’t get so caught up in the end result that you miss out on true productivity.“There’s a big difference between movement and achievement; while to-do lists guarantee that you feel accomplished in completing tasks, they don’t ensure that you move closer to your ultimate goals,” TonyRobbins.com mentions. “There are many ways to increase your productivity; the key is choosing the ones that are right for you and your ultimate goals.”In other words, set goals that are actually reflective of productivity. In doing so, you’ll adjust your behavior to come in proper alignment with the results you’re seeking.
  4. Try Vagus Nerve Stimulation

    Sometimes you just need to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. There are plenty of ways to shut out interruptions but make sure you’re also simultaneously cuing your mind to be productive. Vagus nerve stimulation is one option for doing both.Vagus nerve stimulation gently targets the body’s vagus nerve to promote balance and relaxation, while simultaneously enhancing focus and output.
  5. Optimize Your Workspace

    Makes sure your office workspace is conducive to productivity. This means eliminating clutter, optimizing the ergonomics of your desk, reducing distractions, and using “away” settings on apps and devices to suppress notifications during work time.

Make Productivity a Priority

Never take productivity for granted. The world is full of distractions and your willpower is finite. If you “wing it,” you’ll end up spending more time, energy, and effort, all while getting fewer positive results.

Make productivity a priority – especially during the mornings when your mind is fresh and the troubles of the day have yet to be released in full force. Doing so will change the way you operate, function, and feel. It’ll also enhance tangible results, like income, job status, and the accolades that come along with moving up in your career.

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