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Op/Ed

Brokers and agents are losing time, money by sitting back and waiting on data standards to change

Most practitioners don’t recognize that they play a role in improving data standards which means reclaimed time and money. Let’s address how this can change.

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qualify leads

Facebook is worth 277 billion dollars, with 2015 advertising revenue hitting 4.3 billion dollars. Billion. That doesn’t make much sense, does it? Why is Facebook worth so much? In no small part, it is because of the data on you that they collect and can leverage.

Data is a valuable asset, and one that brokers and agents are letting fall to the ground to spoil. Data about clients, website and app visitors and users, how those users interact with the sites and apps, and other information about leads should be incredibly valuable to brokers and agents.

Business intelligence can be gleaned from it. Amazing customer experience can be created out of it. And all sorts of products should be growing up around that data to add value for brokers and agents.

How you’re losing out

But brokers and agents aren’t getting the value out of their data because that data sits in individual product silos when available at all, inaccessible as data to others.

Why? Because brokers and agents haven’t done the work – or applied the pressure on software vendors to do the work – to create and adopt data standards.

To make this real for my readers, I’ll provide some examples of some of the types of benefits that should be available:

  • When a consumer goes from Zillow to the broker or agent website or app, they should be able to bring their preferences, saved searches and favorites with them. This would be a great user experience for consumers.
  • Likewise, when the agent wants to set up a prospecting search in the MLS, they should be able to leverage everything the consumer has already set up online on other sites. This would save agents time, and make the transition to MLS prospecting search much better for consumers too.
  • With information about how consumers and clients interact with websites available, apps could be built to analyze that behavior to let agents know what kind of contact may be immediately needed. Even knowing that a buyer is telling you they have $30,000 for a down payment but is filling in $20,000 in the website calculator could be useful.

Traditionally, the industry sits back and waits

There are all sorts of data – client collaboration, lead management, transaction management, and more that could benefit from data standards – enabling all sorts of great new applications. Not to mention, no longer would brokers and agents be stuck using a product they don’t like because that’s where their data resides and it’s hard to switch and start over.

To date, brokers and agents have sat back and waited for the MLS to develop data standards – which the MLS has, but mostly just to solve the MLS’s problems.

Brokers and agents need to realize that they have a business interest in data standards too.

I’ve written some additional articles that get a bit more technical but provide additional insight into this problem:

A few brokers are just starting to get involved in the real estate standards efforts at the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), but haven’t yet begun to push for any strategic initiatives. It’s time for brokers and agents to step up and get involved, or pressure their software providers to get involved, and free up the data that can be so valuable to their business.

#DataMoney

Matt Cohen has been with Clareity Consulting for over 17 years, consulting for many of the real estate industry’s top Associations, MLSs, franchises, large brokerages and technology companies. Many clients look to Matt for help with system selection and negotiation. Technology providers look to Matt for assistance with product planning, software design, quality assurance, usability, and information security assessments. Matt has spoken at many industry events, has been published as an author in Stefan Swanepoel’s “Trends” report and many other publications, and has been honored by Inman News, being listed as one of the 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders.

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Op/Ed

why dressing your best is important even while working from home

(EDITORIAL) Your computer will say work, but your favorite oversized t-shirt says go back to bed. You feel and work your best when you look your best!

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man working from home on laptop

There are many often discussed benefits to working from home. If you’re not spending time on a daily commute, that means you have more time to work on personal projects and share with your family and friends. Plus it saves you gas and/or fare money.

While it’s tempting to cozy up and work in your most comfortable sweatpants or yoga pants, there are a number of reasons that dressing up to go to work can help increase work from home productivity — even if you’re just commuting to your couch!

You should wear pants (yes, every day).

When you look your best, you feel your best, and arguably work your best.

It’s pretty hard to resist the temptation of vegging out a bit if you’ve rolled out of bed and headed to your desk while still wearing pajamas. If you have no plan to get dressed for the day, the temptation to hit the snooze button until the moment you need to be present and accounted for will really work against you.

Your computer will say work, but your favorite oversized t-shirt says go back to bed.

When you’re working from home, planning to get up early and prepare for your day allows you to create a transitional space that will help distinguish your home life from your work life. Dressing for success, even if you don’t see anyone during your office hours, will drive your sense of purpose and help you carve out a more productive space. It will also signify to any family members or roommates that you’ve entered the workspace and shouldn’t be bothered.

If you work from a restaurant, coffee shop, or workspaces, it can make you more approachable.

If you’re not dressed for the part, those around you may assume that you’re spending your time recreationally. Even if you are constantly answering your phone, drafting emails, or working on a project. It’s deceptively easy to look like you’re simply browsing the internet or socializing in casual attire.

There are plenty of opportunities to network and meet new people, even when you work from home. You never know who you may end up connecting with, and dressing appropriately to your profession can send the message that you’re an expert and take what you do seriously.

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Op/Ed

Finding the joy of learning during unprecedented times

(EDITORIAL) Many have had to learn new ways of doing their jobs recently and while it can be frustrating, there can also be a lot of joy in adding to your skillset

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learning on the job

There are so many different types of learning in so many stages of life. Some we may not quite remember like learning how to walk in a time in our life that we didn’t even consider giving up. We have other capabilities that still seem clear as day like learning to swim and after several lessons, you beg the lifeguard to watch you swim an entire lap across the pool so you could go on the diving board. There was also that time the training wheels came off and Grandma finally let go of the back of the banana seat on your pink bike with white wheels and you were on your first bike ride.

There are easy lessons and some really hard ones. No doubt, there were school subjects that lit us up inside and others that we dreaded – all the while feeling like we were alone and no one else quite knew what we were going through. As an adult, there have been lessons that have to be learned over and over again.

If you went to college and can think back to your senior year, do you remember wondering how you were going to demonstrate you had the skills necessary for someone to hire you and pay you for work? Did you worry that you didn’t really know all the ins and outs and how could you share in an interview that you were the perfect candidate?

Now fast forward ten years or so and hopefully, you can stand really proud of all the things you have learned while being in the workforce or a business owner. It seems fair to assume you are familiar with a new software program. You likely have found ways to please customers and/or communicate with your team or boss. At this time, you probably are PC and Mac Proficient as well as now you can lead a webinar on Zoom like the next guy.

Joyful learning is a precious gift in times of boom or bust. As adults and professionals, we make too little use of it. While the joy is a worthwhile end in its own right, joyful learning can also be used to ignite individual careers and collective productivity. Sparking learning joy, earning flexibly, and contributing productively are timelessly valuable pursuits, and are being felt especially acutely now.”

This is great advice from the article “The Simple Joy of Learning on the Job” from the Harvard Business Review and there is no better time to really challenge our personal efforts on creating joy at work than in the current climate. There is a lot out of our control but something that we can consider – what would bring us more joy in the daily grind?

Ideas:

  • Make sure everyone in your meetings knows how to create a virtual background on Zoom (because those are way more entertaining than you would ever expect).
  • Give yourself a chance maybe once per week to watch a TedTalk on a creative process around art, film, music, entertainment (or any industry that you go to for comfort).
  • Log in and click around to see if there is anything you want to learn more about on LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, or Dabble.
  • Try to attend at least one webinar every six months from the professional organization you are in and have on your LinkedIn profile but honestly just haven’t made the time for it.
  • Try Adobe’s Creative Cloud to get your juices flowing
  • If you’ve had entrepreneurial desires, is now a time to ask a family or friend if you can help them with anything as they may be shifting their business to include more (or all) virtual offerings?
  • Consider ways to cheer up colleagues by themed dress code for meetings (Hat Day, Team Sports sweatshirt, Halloween costume day) or consider starting/ending meeting with music.

This article is not meant to imply that everyone needs to learn a new coding language or how to pull insights on big data (albeit those things may interest you too). The idea here is to find our joy again and bring it into our new workspaces which for some of us, that means at home.

If you feel you may have lost your sense of joy, this Design Your Life Workbook has really user-friendly design thinking prompts to help you journal and think through what brings you joy – or even remind you what were things that brought you joy that didn’t necessarily equate to work. It was created for a Career Exploration class at Stanford. The authors also just published this book: Designing Your Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work.

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Op/Ed

The wealthy are miserable in their careers – money isn’t enough

(EDITORIAL) A high salary can be an exciting perk but records show the wealthy truly aren’t happy. You need to have a ‘why’ to live a fulfilling life.

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wealthy are miserable and should find fulfillment at work

The wealthy elite are miserable at work, or so the New York Times alleges in “The Future of Work: Wealthy, Successful, and Miserable.” My knee-jerk reaction was “boo hoo.” Of course, you’ll be miserable if you only work for yourself, a lesson that should have been easily learned and fixed in your 20’s.

The NYT’s example was a wealthy investment banker who earned 1.2 million. It’s extremely hard to find pity for someone who earned that much in a thankless job. And the article was less about the future of work and more about how to find job satisfaction. However, everyone should understand that in order to be happy in a job, you must do something that fulfills you.

Fulfillment comes in a variety of forms. It is fulfilling to help others, while working with colleagues you respect.

Sometimes the job description itself doesn’t lead to fulfillment but the way you work does. For example, I worked for two years as a personal injury paralegal helping car accident victims. If that doesn’t make you cringe, this will: I managed well over 100 cases, a very demanding case load, and was also the Office Manager. Tragedy literally walked into the door and called every day. I adored the job – it was hands down the best I’d ever had. Why? It was intense, varied, and immensely fulfilling because I made a difference every day.

I helped people get their life back and fought against big insurance companies who were screwing people out of their deserved recovery. As a victim of a no-fault car accident myself four years ago, I was on a crusade and loved it.

The reasons I left were a complicated mix of work/life balance issues, but primarily because my husband became deathly ill unexpectedly and I chose him and his life over the job I loved. And I don’t regret it – although I still miss that job that had changed my life for the better (despite being underpaid).

In addition to doing something I believed in, part of what made the job great was autonomy, something the NYT article alludes to.

Autonomy to do the job the way you see fit is a precious thing. But it’s also about finding purpose within yourself to do the job.

I was able to bring a sense of purpose to the job description, something everyone should be doing. It’s more about finding your “why,” your reason for being there every day.

And your “why” must be about more than earning a paycheck. No matter how large it is.

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