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You Can’t Handle the Truth….From a Certain Point of View




Knowledge is Power

Swanepoel’s Treands Reports and NAR’s (yes NAR’s) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is just full of useful information for practitioners. Both reports should be required reading for all agents. Recently Jonathan Dalton wrote a post called Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics. In the post he discusses how individuals have perhaps, slanted statistics to serve their own perception. The fact that the information is being used to fit an individuals theory is not nefarious in and of itself. Information is critically important. Here’s my theory of some numbers. The NAR Profile says that at the end of the transaction, those consumers who were interviewed; stated that in the process of buying a home they found the real estate agent useful 70% of the time and the internet 78% of the time. Most people would summarize that this means the Realtor is becoming antiquated. It tells me that Agent’s need to be aggregating more information, that would otherwise on the internet. Agents should be the source of the source and spend a bit more time finding out what consumers were looking for and providing it.

Perception is Reality – Or Is It?

What makes my interpretations of the above statistic more relevant than someone else’s? I would say that it’s my personal perception. I will break down the information to make it usable and typically will integrate it where it is most resonates with me. Information is ubiquitous and easy to find. It’s our previous experiences and influences that makes this information reality. Therefore, since none of us have the same experiences or influences we create these bits of knowledge into a thought stream that is unique for us.

What’s Truth?

Ok, pulling from my inner-geek; do you remember that scene with Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan when they are discussing Luke’s heritage? Obi-Wan told him:

“Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

This is very true in real estate. Recently on Twitter I was making fun of an agent for her support of Open Houses. I never had much luck with them and they didn’t, at all, fit into my marketing plan. However, NAR’s study showed that 48% of buyers visited Open Houses before buying. Wow, that means that almost half of all buyers encountered an agent in an Open House. That’s a fantastic opportunity and good tid-bit to know. So, let’s combine my on-line marketing ideas, with Heather Elias’ Open House support and think of the number of consumer contacts; with valid interests in being served, we could find!

You Can’t Handle the Truth

Ok, another movie reference… One of my favorite movie is “A Few Good Men”, wherein battle worn Jack Nicholas, is worked up into a uncontrollable “spontaneous utterance” of guilt. The most memorable line of the fantastic repartee is “You can’t handle the truth!” Well, most of us can’t handle truth that is said at us, but most of us can handle it, if it’s delivered to us in a modality, by which we can understand that you have a valid level of concern for the recipients understanding and success. So, if you are delivering your perception, as truth, in vernacular that seems condescending and degrading you’ll most likely hit resistance. Many practitioners tend to try and coach their Seller’s through the selling process by hammering them with statistics and updated CMA’s. However, if you haven’t gained the trust of the consumer and if they feel belittled, than your job has gotten twice as difficult. Now, you have to not only convince them that the information you are trying to deliver is relevant, you need to overcome the barriers and gain trust. Those issues will cause the perfect storm for the loss of a consumer that you’ve already put time and effort into.

Break it Down

The next time that you have the opportunity to share your knowledge and want it to make sense; remember that communication requires at least two people, the information needs to be relevant and it must be delivered in a way that the recipient can know it’s intent is to help them. Otherwise you’re wasting your time and damaging your business.

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is

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  1. Barry Cunningham

    May 1, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I watched an interview with Supreme Court Justice Scalia on 60 minutes this past weekend.

    I loved a statement that he made in reference to his good friend and liberal Justice Ginsburg.

    He said, he “never attacks people, he attacks their viewpoints”. He also said that “sometimes good people have bad opinions.”

    In this regard I applaud you for reading the information I wrote about and come to a conclusion that all agents should most assuredly read both.

    It seems we respectfully disagree as to the future of the real estate business model..and that’s fine. It’s not a zero sum game and what works for you…well works for you.

    If only more agents would follow your lead. Salute!

  2. Matthew Rathbun

    May 1, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    I think one the big issues is that the future isn’t written. Of course the industry will change, but I think agents will adapt out of necessity. Sometimes we predict so much, that it become self fulfilling prophecy. This post was really more about generally using information in one’s business and not just about projections of the future.

    I am not, by nature an open-minded person. But, I am learning!

  3. Athol Kay

    May 2, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Dude… Obi-Wan was just trying to tap dance out of a lie. He plainly told Luke in SW:ANH that Darth Vader killed Anakin Skywalker, and completely omitted that he himself had maimed Lukes Father and left him to die on the banks of a river of molten lava, and by stowing away on Padme’s spaceship played a part in the situation where Luke’s mother is killed. Really Obi-Wan should have finished Vader off and leaving him alive was a colossal failure of duty. No motive to hide anything I guess.

    When Luke calls Obi-Wan on the lie, Obi-Wan basically says “oh well, that was just kind of a metaphor”.

    “True from a certain point of view” comes shockingly close to “embrace a wider view of the Force” as Palpatine suggested.

    But I digress… things that are perceived to be real, are real in their consequences is the phrase I remember from Sociology of the somethingerother I did way back when. So yes basically agree.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?



Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.



Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.



Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

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