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Opinion Editorials

Your Online Reputation: It Counts

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Your online reputation (off line too) counts. As a real estate professional, it is a huge part of your business. It’s been written about before on Agent Genius, (here and here for a couple) but apparently it bears repeating…

Your Online Reputation is Critical

And it can be damaged oh-so-swiftly.

Today Carol Hian with Redfin in San Diego wrote what I called The Most Asinine Real Estate Blog Post Ever. She shamelessly attacked an agent many of us know and respect, Kris Berg. In some twist I have yet to figure out, she drug into the fray the fact that Kris and Steve Berg organized a food drive in their community.

I know, it makes absolutely no sense. You can read the disgraceful post here if you are so inclined.

Glenn Kelman, often real estate blog fodder but really a pretty stand-up guy, commented on Ms. Hian’s post:

This post makes me physically ill. It is not consistent with how those of us at Redfin who have met Kris Berg feel about her or her charitable activity. Kris is a wonderful human being and a credit to our profession.

We have a clear policy that the contractors who contribute local posts about the real estate market should focus only on the real estate market, not on competitors. We are clear with everyone with whom we work that Redfin works as a partner with other real estate brokers, not as an antagonist.

Had we known that Ms. Hian felt this way about Realtors, we would not have commissioned her to write for Redfin at all.

As much as we would like to, we cannot take the post down because it would be sneaky to do so. But we will take steps to ensure something like this never happens again.

I apologize on behalf of Redfin for this post, both to Kris Berg and to the real estate profession.
Regards, Glenn

Thank you Glenn. That couldn’t have been easy to write and speaks volumes.

But sadly, the damage to both Ms. Hian and Redfin is done. Google never forgets. Within 15 minutes after I clicked “publish”, my post on this travesty was showing up in position #4 on Google for the search term Carol Hian. Others are also writing about it. It’s quite likely that soon, virtually every result on Page 1 of Google will be a reference to Ms. Hian’s insertion of foot into mouth. And though it’s not Redfin’s opinion, the Redfin name will be attached to this mess.

Think twice people before you fire off a post that will live in infamy. The real estate Internet space is surprisingly small. Word travels swiftly.

And people do Google names to check the reputation of service providers.

Others Opine:

Daniel Rothamel: Wanna Know How You Can do Irrevocable Damage to Your Brand and Your Reputation?

Joseph Ferrara: Rabid Redfin Bites Barbie… and Self

Eric Bryant (on Geek Estate Blog):
A word of advise to Real Estate Agents who Blog, the power of social networking can be a “double-edged sword”

Jim Duncan: Kudos to Glenn Kelman

Jonathan Dalton: Timely Proof of an Old Axiom

Glenn Kelman: Something I’ve Been Meaning to Say for a Long Time.

Jay is the Broker / Owner of Thompson's Realty in Phoenix, Arizona. A self-professed "Man with a blogging problem" he can be found across the Interweb, including at the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog where he opines on all things real estate and tosses out random musings.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Glenn fm Naples

    April 22, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    It is truly ashame that such a good deed was turned into a negative post. Anyone associated with any non-profit organization knows how difficult it is to motivate people to take on a project as a food drive within a large neighborhood.

    Unfortunately, a bad experience travels 17 times farther than a good experience. So my kudos to Kris and her family for the task that they accomplished.

  2. ines

    April 22, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Jay – talking about on-line reputation, at least Kris had a bunch of people jump in to defend and make the accusations baseless. How about those who stab in the back and hire the underground geek mafia to do damage.

    I’m still trying to recuperate from a backstabbing coward – I would have much rather been hit in the open for everyone to see.

  3. Jay Thompson

    April 22, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    “How about those who stab in the back and hire the underground geek mafia to do damage”

    Well, in my book it can’t get much lower than that.

    If you’re going to attack someone, at least have the …. guts … to say it to their face.

    Coward is the perfect word.

  4. Wade Young

    April 23, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    I know a 40-yr-old man who hit on my wife’s Grandma. None of us could believe it. Why make a play for Grandma? It was strange, and we all bad-mouthed the guy. To make matters worse, he was married to the Grandma’s ex daughter-in-law. It was highly inappropriate, for many reasons. Shortly thereafter the guy wound up in the hospital. He had lung cancer — in his brain. The cancer was the cause of his bizarre behavior. We all felt wrong about the way we had bad-mouthed him. He died a couple of months later.

    This Carol’s post was odd, in my opinion. It hardly even made sense. Inappropriate? Yes. However, the woman may be on medication; she could be going through a tough time; lots of things could be going on. I think people need to back off of this woman. Let the what-comes-around-goes-around law do its thing.

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Opinion Editorials

9 ways to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive at work

(OPINION EDITORIALS) With more and more people joining the LGBTQIA+ community it’d do one well to think about ways to extend inclusiveness at work.

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LGBTQIA+ people may have won marriage equality in 2015, but this momentous victory didn’t mean that discrimination was over. Queer and LGBTQIA+ identified people still have to deal with discrimination and not being in a work environment that supports their identities.

Workplace inclusivity may sound like the hottest new business jargon term on the block, but it actually just a professional way of making sure that everyone feels like a valued team member at the office. Business psychologists have found when people are happy to go to work, they are 12 percent more productive.

Making your business environment a supportive one for the queer community means you’re respecting employees and improving their workplace experience.

Here’s nine ways you can make your workplace more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ people.

1) Learn the basics.
If you’re wanting to make your workplace more open to LGBTQIA+ people, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. Firstly, the acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual and the plus encompassing other identities not named; there are many variants on the acronym. Sexual orientations (like lesbian, gay, bisexual) are not the same as gender identities.

Transgender means that that person “seeks to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.” Cisgender means a person identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. If you need a more comprehensive rundown about sexual orientation, gender identity, and the like, visit the GLAAD reference guide.

2) Stop using the word “gay” as an insult.
Or insinuating people you don’t like are “gay” together. This is the most basic thing that can be done for workplace inclusivity regarding the queer community. Anything that actively says that LGBTQIA+ people are “lesser” than their straight counterparts can hurt the queer people on your team and make them not feel welcome. It’s not cool.

3) Don’t make jokes that involve the LGBTQIA+ community as a punchline.
It’s not cute to make a “funny quip” about pronouns or to call someone a lesbian because of their outfit. This kind of language makes people feel unwanted in the workplace, but many won’t be able to speak up due to the lack of protections about LGBTQIA+ identities in anti-discrimination statutes. So stop it.

4) Support your colleagues.
If you’re in a situation and hear negative or inappropriate talk regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, stick up for your co-workers. Even if they’re not there, by simply expressing that what was said or done was inappropriate, you’re helping make your workplace more inclusive.

5) Avoid the super probing questions.
It’s okay to talk relationships and life with coworkers, but it can cross a line. If you have a transgender colleague, it’s never going to be appropriate to pry about their choices regarding their gender identity, especially since these questions revolve around their body.

If you have a colleague who has a differing sexual orientation than yours, questions about “how sex works” or any invasive relationship question (“are you the bride or the groom”) is going to hurt the welcomeness of your office space. Just don’t do it.

6) Written pronoun clarity is for everyone!
One thing that many LGBTQIA+ people may do is add their pronouns to their business card, email signature, or name badge for clarity. If you’re cisgender, adding your pronouns to these things can offer support and normalize this practice for the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only does it make sure that you are addressed correctly, you’re validating the fact that it’s an important business practice for everyone to follow.

7) Tokens are for board games, not for people.
LGBTQIA+ people are often proud of who they are and for overcoming adversity regarding their identity. However, it’s never ever going to be okay to just reduce them to the token “transgender colleague” or the “bisexual guy.”

Queer people do not exist to earn you a pat on the back for being inclusive, nor do they exist to give the final word on marketing campaigns for “their demographic.” They’re people just like you who have unique perspectives and feelings. Don’t reduce them just to a token.

8) Bathroom usage is about the person using the bathroom, not you.
An individual will make the choice of what bathroom to use, it does not need commentary. If you feel like they “don’t belong” in the bathroom you’re in due to their gender presentation, don’t worry about it and move on. They made the right choice for them.

An easy way to make restroom worries go away is creating gender neutral restrooms. Not only can they shorten lines, they can offer support for transgender, nonbinary, or other LGBTQIA+ people who just need to go as much as you do.

9) Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone will slip up during their journey to make their workplace more inclusive. If you didn’t use the correct pronouns for your non-binary colleague or misgender someone during a presentation, apologize to them, correct yourself, and do better next time. The worst thing to do is if someone corrects you is for you to shut down or get angry. An open ear and an open heart is the best way to make your work environment supportive for all.

The workplace can be a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ people, or it could be a hurtful one, depending on the specific culture of the institution. But with some easy changes, it can be a space in which queer and LGBTQIA+ people can feel respected and appreciated.

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Opinion Editorials

“Starting a business is easy,” said only one guy ever

(OPNION EDITORIAL) Between following rules, finding funding, and gathering research, no business succeeds without lifting a finger.

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While browsing business articles this week, I came across this one, “Top 10 Business Ideas You Can Start for Free With Barely Lifting a Finger.” These types of articles make me mad. I can’t think of many successful freelancers or entrepreneurs who don’t put in hours of blood, sweat and tears to get a business going.

The author of the article is Murray Newlands, a “VIP Contributor.” Essentially, he’s a freelancer because he also contributes to Forbes, HuffPro and others. He’s the founder of ChattyPeople.com, which is important, because it’s the first business idea he promotes in the article.

But when I pull up his other articles on Entrepreneur.com, I see others like “How to Get Famous and Make Money on YouTube,” “Win Like A Targaryen: 10 Businesses You Can Start for Free,” and “10 Ventures Young Entrepreneurs Can Start for Cheap or Free.”

I seriously cannot believe that Entrepreneur.com keeps paying for the same ideas over and over.

The business ideas that are suggested are pretty varied. One suggestion is to offer online classes. I wonder if Newlands considered how long it takes to put together a worthy curriculum and how much effort goes into marketing said course.

Then, you have to work out the bugs, because users will have problems. How do you keep someone from stealing your work? What happens when you have a dispute?

Newlands suggests that you could start a blog. It’s pretty competitive these days. The most successful bloggers are ones that really work on their blog, every day. The bloggers have a brand, offer relevant content and are ethical in how they get traffic.

Think it’s easy? Better try again.

I could go on. Every idea he puts up there is a decent idea, but if he thinks it will increase your bottom line without a lot of hard work and effort, he’s delusional.

Today’s entrepreneurs need a plan. They need to work that plan, rethink it and keep working. They have to worry about liability, marketing and keeping up with technologies.

Being an entrepreneur is rewarding, but it’s hard work. It is incredibly inappropriate and grossly negligent to encourage someone to risk everything they have and are on the premise of not lifting a finger.

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Opinion Editorials

Why freelancers should know their worth

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Money is always an awkward talking point and can be difficult for freelancers to state their worth.

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Recently, I delved into what I’ve learned since becoming a freelancer. However, I neglected to mention one of the most difficult lessons to learn, which was something that presented itself to me rather quickly.

“What is your fee for services?” was not a question I had prepared myself for. When it came to hourly rates, I was accustomed to being told what I would make and accepting that as my worth.

This is a concept that needs multiple components to be taken into consideration. You need to evaluate the services you’re providing, the timeliness in which you can accomplish said services, and your level of expertise.

Dorie Clark of the Harvard Business Review believes that freelancers should be charging clients more than what they think they’re worth. The price you give to your clients is worth quite a bit, itself.

Underpricing can send a bad message to your potential clients. If they’re in the market for your services, odds are they are comparing prices from a few other places.

Having too low of a number can put up a red flag to clients that you may be under-experienced. What you’re pricing should correlate with quality and value; set a number that shows you do good work and value that work.

Clark suggests developing a network of trustworthy confidants that you can bounce ideas off of, including price points. Having an idea of what other people in your shoes are doing can help you feel more comfortable when it comes to increasing prices.

And, for increasing prices, it is not something that is going to just happen on its own. It’s highly unlikely for a client to say, “you know what, I think I’ll give you a raise!”

It’s important to never take advantage of any client, but it’s especially important to show loyalty to the ones that have always been loyal to you. Test the waters of price increasing by keeping your prices lower for clients that have always been there, but then try raising prices as you take on new clients.

At the end of the day, keep in mind that you are doing this work to support yourself and, theoretically, because you’re good at it. Make sure you’re putting an appropriate price tag on that value.

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