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How you can help NAR’s efforts to combat hunger & homelessness

(EDITORIAL) Partners since 2019, NAR and the FRN have been joining forces to aid in food & shelter initiatives in the US. Here’s how you can help!



NAR CEO Bob Goldberg on the global food crisis

Recently, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned that the world is at risk of a “food crisis,” as the War in Ukraine displaces millions and disrupts the supply chains of key global crops. Scores of refugees were expected from the early days of this conflict. Now, with more than 3 million Ukrainians having already fled to neighboring Eastern Europe nations, the world begins to grapple with the humanitarian challenges that always accompany war.

In Ukraine, America, and across the world, hunger and homelessness are intrinsically linked. This may seem obvious, as food and shelter are two of life’s most basic necessities, but the implications of the connection in this country are both broad and significant.

While an abundance of food and the comfort of a safe, reliable home leaves one free to focus on life’s other pursuits, their absence is all-consuming, rendering every other priority secondary, irrelevant, or altogether unattainable.

Last summer, research conducted by the National Association of Realtors® found some eight million U.S. households lacked enough food to eat. The same report, Housing Affordability and Food Sufficiency noted that roughly 40% of respondents had difficulty paying for household expenses like food, medical bills, mortgage payments, and other loans.

Worse yet, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, half a million Americans were homeless on any given night in early 2019. As the nonprofit group Move for Hunger explains, “Hunger often precedes homelessness because people who are forced to decide between paying for housing or groceries will, more often than not, choose the former.”

I am fortunate that I cannot claim to have experienced the anguish of homelessness or the dull pains of hunger. But as NAR’s CEO, I am inspired every day by the work our members do to ensure people in their communities have a roof over their heads and a place to feed their families.

The 1.5 million members of NAR are seen not only as brokers of the American Dream but also as one of the more engaged, civic-minded groups in our nation. Realtors®, in fact, volunteer at three times the rate of the average American (67% compared to 23%), while 82% of Realtors® made a financial donation at some point in 2020.

Incidentally, the sheer size of our association and the scope of our annual events operation has created a unique opportunity to capitalize on our members’ philanthropic spirit.

I first learned of the Food Recovery Network while attending a function organized by my daughter on the campus of the University of Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.

At the time, I was awed by the innovative techniques employed by this little-known group—following strict guidelines to preserve food served at events in order to ensure any excess could safely and legally be donated to local food banks, food pantries, and homeless shelters. And I quickly learned of the very real impact this was making in nearby communities.

Right away, I knew NAR—given the dozens of events our association hosts or is in some way affiliated with throughout the year—was a perfect fit for FRN.

Today, less than three years later, roughly 5,000 pounds of food recovered from our events has been provided to hunger-fighting groups across the U.S.

In total, FRN has united universities, food, and dining services, and private sector entities in the fight against hunger for now more than a decade, facilitating the donation of some 5.7 million meals in that time. Ultimately, as FRN’s Executive Director Regina Anderson often says, small actions translate to big results when it comes to ensuring people are fed.

“NAR members know that calling FRN can ensure their bigger events have a recovery program in place without having to dedicate their whole career to the effort of food recovery,” Anderson noted recently. “Knowing the right people to call means NAR members are part of the solution.”

And while FRN is more than happy to answer calls from those who want to ensure their excess food finds a proper home, the non-profit is also taking proactive steps to further the nation’s fight against hunger.

Capitalizing on the abundance of available, public data, FRN is working to create a nationwide, digital mapping system that will help the group identify where surplus food is plentiful and where food insecurity is most prevalent. These efforts have produced an effective visual aid that allows FRN to make more efficient—and impactful—decisions regarding where its time and effort are best spent.

“All with the goal of feeding more people, faster,” Anderson said.

FRN recently released preliminary results of its pilot project in Atlanta, GA. The program, centered around gleaning, the act of harvesting surplus produce from farm fields or farmers’ markets, helped the group recover 15,600 pounds of the most sought-after fresh food items in just 21 weeks. One of every three Atlanta residents are food insecure, Anderson notes, and some 125,000 pounds of food are wasted in the area each year.

NAR is immensely grateful to have located a partner like FRN, which identified an area of real need in our world and found a practical, effective way to address it. While expanding and enhancing its current efforts, the group is always looking for new allies and new opportunities to serve. Any individual or organization interested in partnering with FRN can email, or visit or for more information.

Food security, just like shelter, is not a luxury – it’s a basic right of life. At NAR, we’re seeking out chances to build off this relationship and we encourage our industry and trade partners to explore similar opportunities in their communities. The need is great. But so is our desire to help. And that would be a terrible thing to waste.

NAR CEO on the global food crisis: 'The need is great. But so is our desire to help. And that would be a terrible thing to waste.' Click To Tweet

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Tips to become one of those people who is good with their money

(EDITORIAL) In real estate, it’s difficult to anticipate which years will be the busy ones and which will be eerily empty. So how do you manage money?



money for transactions

I’m a firm believer in making mistakes. Specifically, the all-out, crash-and-burn kind. You know those people who say “own it” – yeah, that’s definitely me. That’s the sort of high-risk, high-reward mentality that leads to really thrilling moments onstage and in life. And when the reward is that intense, so is the loss. It’s the same with money.

My formal background is as a professional opera singer. The level of training for a full-time career in the field includes Olympic-level physical, emotional, and intellectual training. Opera singers don’t use microphones, which means they must use their bodies in a perfect, practiced physiological balance to become a human megaphone.

They learn several languages, with enough facility to jump into rehearsals with colleagues who are relative strangers, singing about passionate love, and infuriating politics while maintaining that physical balance in a foreign tongue.

Unlike the Olympics, regular opera singers don’t get endorsement deals. (Okay, famous tenor Plácido Domingo is sponsored by Rolex, but that’s a particularly singular example.) So despite its extreme training, opera is a medium that requires its artists to manage themselves as freelancers. Freelancers and be-your-own-boss types, I know you feel me:

It’s difficult to anticipate which years will be the busy ones and which will be eerily empty.

Preparing for financial uncertainty

So how do you manage finances with so much up and down?

Invest time instead of money. I rethink how I’m approaching my everyday needs. I’m talking about what methods of transportation I use and how often; I’m talking about regular doctor’s visits or self-care; I’m talking about any payments that you owe regularly. Is there any way to reassess seemingly non-negotiable expenses? Can you refinance a mortgage? Can you drop the gym altogether and commit to really learning and developing an exercise routine? Find something convenient you can replace with a free education; the Internet is an insanely abundant resource and should be milked for information.

Develop multiple interests and invest in them. I am a professional singer, but I also love to cook and am serious about it. I write frequently and across a wide spectrum of interests. I read avidly. When you invest in other ideas and interests, you make yourself a more powerful candidate for the workforce, and you give yourself more ability to seize opportunities. Who knows – you might find yourself pivoting careers.

Design a financial contingency plan before you need it (but go broke at least once). Do you have a place to crash if you can’t afford your own place? How much money do you really need to get through the month? How far can you stretch $50? If you can’t define your limits, you’ll never be able to develop a plan with thoughtful security.

What’s life without risk?

The freelancers who truly succeed are the ones who failed. It’s that Oscar Wilde quote, right? “Experience is merely the name men give to their mistakes.” And so have I before, and so will I again. The only way forward is up. I’m going to take my experience along with me for the next chapter. I hope mine will help color yours a little, even if with a passing thought. Dare to lose it all — and see where it leads.

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Tips to combat lack of participation in virtual meetings or online events

(EDITORIAL) Even after the pandemic, virtual meetings and online events have no end in sight. But how do we get people to participate?



Online conference call on skype, without Meet Cam widgets.

Online meetings are here to stay and increasing participation is key to making them fun and inviting for everyone involved. Those little icons of our faces and initials showcasing the fact that cameras are off-strike dread in the heart of the presenter. Or even worse, the camera-on view of the ceiling fan or mic-on sound of the smoke detector that needs a new battery.

Instead of leaving the success of an online meeting to chance, presenters can help make their meetings more fun for everyone with a few easy practices.

Send out an agenda with meeting expectations early. If attendees know the time investment, expectations, and what will be covered, it’s easier for them to be involved. Do you want cameras on? Share that. Be specific with what that means. If you don’t make that expectation clear, be prepared for bookcases instead of people, ceiling fans instead of people, and other distractions. Do you know specific questions you will be asking? Include those in the agenda so people can be thinking about them ahead of time. Often people don’t talk because they don’t understand what you want them to say or they’re not sure you really want them to participate.

Ask participants to help create the agenda ahead of time. What questions do they want answered? What do they need from you?

Let people know you will be asking questions regularly and answers are appreciated either on the mic or in the chat. If you can, include when you will be taking questions or opening up for conversation in the agenda. The chat feature can run seamlessly throughout the meeting. Allowing and encouraging the use of the chat feature regularly increases participation and leads to a more conversational feel for the session. If you can have a co-facilitator who can answer questions on the chat so they don’t get lost, that helps. If you don’t have one, consider asking an attendee to watch to help make sure questions are answered throughout the meeting.

Break the meeting up into sections. Don’t throw all the information out at once. Instead, make sure you pause regularly for feedback and questions and answers. If the group is large consider breakout rooms where smaller groups can answer questions, work through agenda items or participate in roundtable discussions, then come back to the large group with their ideas and answers.

Know your end destination. What’s the purpose of the meeting? What do you want or need to accomplish? Make sure everyone involved knows what that is and why. That helps keep everyone focused.

Set a time limit for responses if needed.

Be prepared. It’s even more important to be prepared for your online meeting than in-person meetings where you have multiple resources at hand and the energy of the crowd to bounce off of.

If these online meetings are a regular occurrence, consider adding a fun element like bringing your pet or plant to the meeting day. If it’s a brainstorming session, consider creativity ice breakers. And again make sure attendees know the expectations.

Use the poll feature to help encourage participation. Then follow up with participants to go deeper with those answers.

Instead of asking are there any questions at the end, ask everyone to either tell at least two things they learned or share two things they still have questions about. Again utilize the chat feature here. Some people are more comfortable chatting than speaking on the mic.

Consider offering prizes and give-aways to those participating. It’s not always necessary, but it’s fun when you can.

If you can, run the meetings live instead of recorded presentations with the leader in front of a slideshow. The sit and get PowerPoint and speaker presentation leads to bored participants who aren’t invested in the content. However, if that’s not possible, make sure you have a real-time chat session available for participants who are watching and make sure your slides are light on text. That chat session can change “sit and get” boredom to excitement, fun, and learning for all.

As always remember the meeting needs to last long enough to cover what’s essential but should be short enough to keep people engaged. Use surveys to gather meaningful feedback throughout the meeting and at the end. You can’t get better without feedback from your participants.

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Social media addiction is 100% real, but whose responsibility is it?

(EDITORIAL) Social media addiction is not only real, but it is proven to be real. The question is who is to blame for it – the users or the providers?



Man giving out phone number using his phone representing addiction.

I’m not on Facebook. I don’t have a Twitter account. You won’t find me on Snapchat, Pinterest, or any other social media platform.

It may seem hard to believe that a Millennial – one who reports at an online news network, no less – would forgo participation in social media entirely. But it’s true. I deleted all of my social media accounts several years ago.

Cold turkey

When I was a Facebook user, I obsessively checked my newsfeed multiple times a day. I thought I was staying connected to friends, entertaining myself, keeping up with the news, and distracting myself from loneliness. Yet, the more I used Facebook, the more anxious and depressed I became.
When I read a study confirming that social media does, in fact, correlate with a host of bad feelings, I took a daring leap and left the platform, never to return. My life improved tremendously.Let me repeat that: My life improved. Tremendously.

But choosing to cut oneself off may be a lot more difficult for folks who have a genuine internet addiction.

While the American Psychological Association has yet to acknowledge addiction to the internet or to social media as an official disorder, they have published literature describing some of the negative effects of spending too much time online, and have acknowledged Internet gaming disorder in patients who spend so much time gaming that it affects their ability to work, go to school, or maintain healthy relationships.

Addiction wears many hats

Addressing addiction to popular (and profitable) products takes time. Undoubtedly, people were suffering from emphysema long before science proved that cigarettes were unhealthy. Cigarettes used to be ubiquitous; you could smoke in your office, in restaurants, even on public transportation.

It has taken decades of activism to create a culture wherein smoking is confined to designated areas, and where smokers are warned of the health risks by labels on the pack.

These days, folks can be found checking Facebook on their smartphones in all of the same public places where smoking used to be the norm. Nowadays, the idea of someone smoking a cigarette at the dinner table seems pretty gross. Will we one day look back at Internet-enabled devices at the dinner table with the same disgust?

Easier said than done

Cigarettes, truth be told, are far more easily avoided than social media. If you don’t want to be tempted, don’t buy a pack, and don’t go to the smoking patio. However, most of us require internet for our jobs and basic communications, making social media almost unavoidable.

Some jobs even require you to have social media accounts to apply.

So, who is responsible for social media addiction? Are people to be expected to cut themselves off, as I did? Or should the tech companies themselves try to intervene?

Helpful or harmful?

Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products admits that the strategies he wrote about in his book “intended to help product designers build healthy habits in their users… are the same tactics used by some to keep people un-healthfully hooked.”

Eyal believes that tech companies, who have a wealth of data to keep track of their customers’ usage habits, have a responsibility to help customers who exhibit signs of addiction, offering to limit their hours on the platform or blacklist their credit card. Eyal says that “tech companies owe it to their users simply to reach out and ask if they can be helpful, just as a concerned friend might do.”

Unfortunately, social media is not your concerned friend.

Tech companies have no particular incentive to limit use from addicts, and with just about everyone constantly glued to their smartphones, it will take a larger cultural shift to acknowledge that a smartphone between you and your dinner date is about as sexy as puff of tobacco smoke in your face.

In the meantime, I suggest that addicts take matters into their hands and do what I did: quit cold turkey. Delete your accounts, and never look back.

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