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Why CENTURY 21’s partnering with Udemy to offer interactive self-paced study will be emulated

CENTURY 21 is on a mission to be the best at real estate training – a lofty, but potentially real vision with the help of online learning platform, Udemy.

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Anyone who has gone through continuing education in the real estate industry knows that it can be a joke. In some parts of the world, you get your credit hours for sitting in a room for a few hours and playing Angry Birds while some poor fella stands up front and plays a PowerPoint presentation that looks like it was drawn with crayons. For this reason, thousands of real estate professionals seek out professional associations, conferences, books, news sources like this one, and internally to their own broker for self improvement.

But even those don’t always offer a complete picture that empowers the professional to be well rounded and up to date (remember those two descriptors, they’ll come up again… ).

For this reason, CENTURY 21 has set out on a mission to be the leader in real estate education, a lofty, but very real vision. So how will they do this in a sea of existing options? They’ve teamed up with Udemy, a platform for online learning to flip the classroom.

Delivering education in multiple formats

David Birnbaum, VP of Learning at CENTURY 21 tells us that they’ve collaborated with Udemy (as opposed to other platforms), because it allows C21 to “deliver training in a number of ways – live, or self-paced,” adding that the newly launched program delivers multiple formats and adapts to what their commission-based associates or independent owners would need.

Bingo. It’s adaptable, so instead of offering their teams a lame, outdated book or presentation, the content adapts over time.

Interactive platform keeps the content fresh

Tying technology into traditional programs, C21’s Udemy program addresses the gap that exists with self-paced programs by offering collaboration between those taking the courses, and between instructors and students via discussion group, giving the program life and keeping it truly up to date and interactive.

So with the 12 modules comprising of several two to five minute videos each, the self-paced attendees are grouped together in a way that there’s always someone on say, module 4, and the moderators are the trainers who are now equipped to lead a full program while also addressing students one-on-one.

Ease of access is a challenge. Consider it solved.

Birnbaum notes that Udemy is unique in that it offers threaded discussion groups at a user level, it is easy to add new content, very video based, and can be broken into smaller segments. “The [Udemy] user experience is very intuitive, even the backend is intuitive.”

“Ease of access is a challenge,” Birnbaum states, adding that “even companies that mandate training struggle with this,” noting that if something as simple as a log-in is complicated, users quit.

One of the challenges solved by C21’s program is that unlike the corporate world with user-issued devices (say everyone at Megacorp is issued a Blackberry), independent sales professionals use every type of device, making the program’s responsiveness extremely important to this particular industry.

A more effective approach – watch for others to emulate

C21 feels that they’ve flipped the model so that instead of offering a webinar where everyone has to register (and registration information is rarely stored or used effectively anyway), these new courses allow the proper people within the brand to monitor who is attending. This way, a broker knows when a new agent has completed their new agent class, instead of a trainer in another state promoting the class to a new agent in hopes that they’ll take it. #MoreEffective

This learning program is part of a broader program a brokerage gets when they affiliate and is accessible through the brand’s intranet, so that all affiliates are one click away from C21U, making it a one-stop shop for all learning. In an extremely competitive business where agents can jump ship at any time, this gives C21 another draw to keep their rank and file well educated, well rounded, up to date, and ahead of the curve. Kudos to CENTURY 21 for thinking outside of the box and keeping it fresh.

#C21U

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The Real Daily and sister news outlet, The American Genius, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Real Estate Brokerage

How do you know it’s time to become a broker?

(BROKERAGE) It sounds dreamy to open your own brokerage and be your own boss, but when is it TRULY time become a broker?

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Everyone joins the real estate workforce for a different reason. Some to flip houses, others to represent buyers, and so forth. And most are happy with their broker of choice, but for others, the itch to become a broker becomes so great that it cannot be ignored.

But how do you know when it’s time to become a broker? Maybe it’s time for a new broker because you’re unhappy, but it’s also possible that you have the skills and drive to lead your own company.

To find out, we asked three brokers with thriving businesses:

Jennifer Archambeault is the Broker/Owner of Urban Provision, REALTORS®, a growing Texas brokerage.

We asked her how to know when it’s time to create your own brokerage:

It is time to create your own brokerage when the limitations of your current brokerage restricts your personal or professional growth, hinders your ability to serve your clientele at the highest level or you are no longer able to see the value your current broker brings to the table.

Regardless of the reason, it is important to be mindful of your competency and ability to handle the responsibilities involved with running a brokerage and/or managing or mentoring agents.

Is there a tipping point?

There are often many tipping points causing an agent/broker to dream about having their own brokerage, but they often only clue in on one when they are parting ways. A lack of respect or dissatisfaction within your current company, the inability to come to terms on differences with management, not seeing eye to eye on the company’s mission or vision and not being able to serve clients to the desired standard often top the list of tipping points if the agent leaves disgruntled.

However, there are times it is purely a natural transition having nothing to do with any reason mentioned above and solely taking your career and income to the next level.

Is it better to do so because of a gap in the market or because someone’s independent streak is unavoidable?

Personally, I think it is the latter more than the former. Gaps in the market will change over time but often the desire to be independent doesn’t ebb and flow as easily. If someone’s independent streak is unavoidable they often exude qualities that allow extreme focus to continuously keeping their eyes on a prize.

There are benefits of having your own brokerage, but there are also limitations as well. Some people’s independence can be a hindrance to their business especially when they want to start their own brokerage because they simply do not like or cannot continually follow the rules.

I believe it is better to part ways to build your own brokerage or brand because it satisfies a personal or professional growth need rather than leaving your previous company disgruntled. The latter generally allows for a flawed mindset.

What do you wish you had known before starting a brokerage?

Do not always focus on Plan A because often you’ll end up with the most perfect fit with Plan D.

Being nimble is a must-have quality for anyone in the real estate industry, but owning a brokerage often requires stretching far beyond being nimble and reaching for superhero status. Initially, I believed every agent could be molded into a specific model or a way of doing business but quickly realized that there is a not a one size fits all brokerage regardless of someone with decades of experience said so.

The perception of a brokerage with a large number of agents on the surface implies success. However, the old saying quality over quantity rings very true in a brokerage setting. Stop worrying about what others are doing – be different because that’s how you get noticed. Do what you do well and what works with your clients, for your personality or in your marketplace.

Tyler Forte, Co-Founder & CEO of Felix Homes saw a need to marry technology and real estate.

Here is his take on starting a brokerage:

Prior to starting Felix, I was a venture capital investor and I can tell you that any successful business, whether or not it’s a brokerage, is started because the status quo does not solve the market’s distinct needs.

Speaking specifically to why we started Felix, home sellers are facing a number of challenges that the traditional brokerage model does not address. When I sold my home last year, I saw firsthand how the home selling process is broken. I knew that starting a disruptive real estate brokerage was what I needed to do in order to make the experience of selling a home better.

The challenges homeowners currently face include hiring an agent who does not have their best interest in mind, to the uncertainty of not knowing if their home will be sold and for what price. At Felix, we are looking to provide consumers with the best home-selling experience period.

As far as the challenges we faced when starting a new brokerage, there are many. For one, the real estate industry is slow to adopt new innovative models. This is because current incumbents have built moats around the data and distribution of homes all at the consumer’s expense. In addition, because real estate is governed on a state-by-state basis, educating ourselves on the laws and regulations of each state was a challenge.

Jeff Brown, Owner of BawldGuy Investing has been a broker for decades and is never ever EVER shy about telling it like it is.

How do you know when it’s time to create your own brokerage?

I’ve always contended Dad was right, as you always thought most folks didn’t know when to create their own firm. Over the years I’ve spoken with countless brokerage owners about this very question.

Roughly a third of ‘em actually thought they knew the right time. Me? I did it WAY to soon, though in my defense, I had my dad’s infinite brokerage experience IN the office daily to back my rookie play, stop mistakes BEFORE I made ‘em, and generally mentor the crud outa me.

Most brokers told me they knew when decisions made by their broker bosses just were not what they would’ve done. They usually came a tipping point, where the decision made itself. But again, that was just a third of those with whom I talked. The rest just did what I did, rush in willy nilly. The huge advantage I had was a decades experienced brokerage owner mentoring me daily, in real time, and who, you know, actually gave a damn about me.

So what is that tipping point?

The most often heard tipping point was the feeling of being constrained by their boss’s operating policies. For example, and a gigantic tipping point, was a friend of mine who wanted to run his own office using the Broker-Centric model, not the Agent-Centric model run by the broker for whom he worked.

Is it better to do so because of a gap in the market or because someone’s independent streak is unavoidable?

The latter is merely personality. Sometimes it works to breakaway, and sometimes it’s been catastrophic. Being independent has nothing whatsoever to do with knowing what you’re doing as the person in charge.

The whole ‘gap in the market’ thing has always puzzled me as a reason to open a brokerage. The exception clearly would be that the policies of operation under which you’d run your own office would substantially improve your chances of taking advantage of whatever market gap you perceived. I find that to be uncommon, at least in my experience.

What do you wish you had known before starting a brokerage?

Without even a hint of maybe having a doubt, I wish I’d understood the good news/bad news joke that says: “Well, Jeff, the good news is you’re now the Go-To Guy. The bad news? See the good news.” 🙂

The difference between signing the backs of checks and the front of those checks cannot be overstated. Every single buck stops at your desk, period, end of sentence, over ’n out. Some folks find that to be too daunting.

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Real Estate Brokerage

Don’t settle for mediocrity: How to be a better leader

(BROKERAGE NEWS) There tends to be two camps of leaders, those who lead from strength and those from weakness. But who says you can’t do both?

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Leader in a meeting

A lot of leadership literature has become “strength’s focused” – using inventories like StrengthsFinder (developed by Gallup). The logic in many ways, is sound. Capitalizing on your strengths as a leader and those of your team is significantly more effective than attempts to cover perceived flaws or weaknesses.

The business world has been cited for being too focused on weaknesses (and now parents are too). This a natural inclination for people. For leaders however, we should be bringing our strengths (and the strengths of our teams) to work and making “it” happen.

However, an over focus on strengths isn’t without its own challenges. Tony Schwartz writes for Harvard Business Review, a “well-rounded leader” has a greater opportunity to be more effective. As we seek to leverage our “strengths” let us not forget the complexity of our skill set and how those negatives we see about ourselves can become assets – resources – that we use to manage ourselves and our teams.

Metaphors are common in leadership articles, so I won’t break tradition.

Much like in physical exercise, poor form often causes the overuse of a muscle versus a group of muscles. Poor leadership form, while doing the lifting, leads to an overuse or over-reliance on what is good and comfortable for us.

A pragmatic leader may find themselves unable to make dynamic change move forward. Today’s leaders have to deal with a more complex environment in terms of technology, skills, and demographics. One style of leading will simply not be enough.

The big lesson here is to workout things you don’t think are your best strengths. What are ways you can take those weaknesses and utilize them? How do your rebranded weaknesses make you a good leader for a project or a team? Create opportunities to use your “positive opposites” – those weaknesses that you have rebranded.

PRO TIP: Find a mentor, find a coach, or keep reading about leadership.

You may never be able to develop those skills as strong as your primary, but you will have more leadership muscle to work with. You’ll be delivering a better leader to serve, build, and develop yourself or the organization.

Schwartz discusses the role of choices. We make a lot of choices as leaders – resources, people, what risks, what resources, what costs. When we make those choices working with clients or employees we are always using our mental tool kits.

It doesn’t hurt us to have more tools, most of the time, to allow us to handle situations.

SIDEBAR: It is important to recognize that we only have a limited amount of time. You’re still going to benefit more from developing your strengths – but don’t forget to work out those rebranded weaknesses (the triceps of leadership!). I love an 80/20 perspective – spend 80% of your learning time focused on building up those strengths, spend the other 20% on flexing those rebranded weakness.

A well-balanced leader is not a one-trick pony – they are leaders who can take an organization through many life cycles. If you seek to be some kind of leader, take some time to appreciate your own mix of strengths and weaknesses, and the unique qualities that you bring to a complex world of complex organizations.

Leadership is a whole person endeavor, and don’t skip those weaknesses (just like leg day!).

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Real Estate Brokerage

4 tasks your business should consider outsourcing

(REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE) As your business becomes busier and more successful, you may find outsourcing will streamline your workflow. Let’s talk what’s best to outsource.

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Freelance worker at a laptop writing notes in a notebook, outsourcing work.

As your business grows, it becomes impossible to continue doing everything in-house. At some point, you have to think about outsourcing. The question is, which tasks do you hand off in order to maximize efficiency and leverage better talent?

The Pros of Outsourcing

Outsourcing, which is basically the act of taking a job duty or responsibility and paying someone outside of your organization to handle it on your behalf, has become more popular and practical with the rise of the internet and various freelance marketplaces. The advantages of outsourcing include:

  • Cost savings. Outsourcing is a very cost-effective decision, regardless of whether you go with an offshore agency or a local freelancer. Offshore partners can cost as much as 60% less than a similar professional in the U.S. Onshore freelancers are more expensive than offshore options. Still, they’re cheaper than hiring an employee.
  • Time savings. If you hire an outsourced partner to do 20 hours of work per week, that’s 20 hours you’re saving your team. This allows you to reallocate time to focus on the internal tasks that matter most to your organization.
  • Better talent. When you hire full-time employees, your talent pool is often restricted by location and budget. When outsourcing, you have access to more talent than you’d be able to afford when hiring.
  • Leaner business. There’s something to be said for keeping a small team with low overhead and minimal fixed costs. By outsourcing, you’re able to keep your business lean and scalable.

Outsourcing has always been a useful option, but with the current state of remote work and online freelancing, it’s now a practical choice for both small and large businesses.

4 Tasks You Should Outsource

Not all tasks are created equal. But as you consider outsourcing more of your business, here are a few to consider:

1. PPC

PPC advertising can be a significant revenue driver for businesses. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can also be a waste of money. By outsourcing to a PPC marketing agency, you can maximize ad spend and get the best possible results. They’ll charge you a fee, obviously, but the ROI of outsourced PPC almost always overperforms the ROI of in-house PPC (when there’s limited internal experience).

2. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important investment for any business. But much like PPC, it’s highly technical and requires some expertise in order to master. While you can certainly learn some of the basics, you’d be wise to outsource the overall strategy and execution to an experienced professional. (Just make sure you research your options and choose a partner that practices white hat SEO.)

3. Accounting

Is there any task more universally boring than accounting? And yet, at the same time, it’s arguably one of the most important tasks a business owner has on their plate. (If you screw up accounting, you could sink your business in a major hole.) Outsourcing to an accountant or CPA is a great option.

“Having had my own business for 12+ years now, I can say without hesitation that the one area I immediately outsourced was taxes! I’ve never regretted hiring a professional to take care of this tedious – yet vital – task,” entrepreneur Michelle Garret writes. “My accountant saves my money and provides peace of mind, which is priceless.”

The good news is that you can get an outsourced accounting partner fairly inexpensively. Whether you want them to do all of your daily bookkeeping or just your taxes, you should be able to find a good option.

4. Graphic Design

Graphic design is one of those tasks where there’s a huge gap between basic skills and advanced skills. In other words, anyone can learn how to use some basic graphic design tools, but it takes a seasoned and creative professional to truly master the craft. By outsourcing, you can save yourself thousands of hours of learning and advance straight to expert-level output.

Maximize Your Internal Resources

At the end of the day, outsourcing allows you to maximize your resources and do more with less. And while you shouldn’t delegate core business tasks, handing off things like copywriting, PPC, SEO, accounting, and graphic design can free you up to focus on the projects and investments that matter most.

Give it a try and see what it does for you.

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