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Opinion Editorials

The Real Estate Vacuum: It Sucks For Noobs

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real-estate-noob.jpgThis is my first post here at Genius, and since I probably have a much larger audience here than over at Real Estate Remix, I would like to address something that bothers me about the real estate blog world. The most popular blogs in the real estate realm seem to be saturated by posts that assume that their readers are extremely tech savvy and hip to the online world. With all of the sarcasm, name dropping, and “inside” jokes, you would think that this stuff is all common knowledge. I mean, I spend at least 2 hours or more per day just clicking around on Google reader and reading my favorite real estate blogs, and with all of this blog-world insider articles out there, sometimes even I feel like I’m out of the loop. And I know for a fact that I’m saturated in it. Who else has dreams that they get to go to Connect NYC?

Can you imagine what a first time reader would think about all this? I can tell you what my co-workers think… NERDS! What are we trying to accomplish in our writing? We are starting to write to our savvycolleagues first, customers second. True, most readers of blogs come from inside this tech-savvy tight circle… but are we really trying to reach them? If you need links from them, maybe. If you are trying to make blog friends, surely. But if you are trying to present useful, long lasting information… don’t write to yourcolleagues.

A blog positions you as an expert in your industry. Use that platform to educate, not just critique. When you start to assume that your readers know about everything you do, you will never take a step down and realize that there are millions of real estate professionals who don’t know the first thing about blogging or wordpress, much less the stories behind VFlyer, Redfin, Trulia, Google Base, Zillow, FOREM, Tomato, RSS Pieces, Carnival of RE, Inman Connect BlogFiesta, The Sellsius Bus, or even Active Rain. Of course, they all know about AgentGenius :). At this point, I see around 2,000 registered profiles in Texas on ActiveRain. Only a fraction of a percent of those people actually use it regularly. That means an enormous amount of real estate professionals in this great state have not even created a profile.

I know you may think that posting an introduction to ActiveRain article will make you look really, really behind to your fellow bloggers. They may stick their nose up at your post. You may think “that is so last year”. But the truth is, those old posts are buried in the blogging rubble, and when a bonafide “noob” hits the average real estate related blog for the first time, the first thing they will say is “WTF”. Of course, there are certain blogs (like this one) that clearly have audiences that prefer a more relaxed yet in-depth look at the industry. Like my Grandma says, there’s a place for everything and everything has a place.

The thing that floors me is when I discuss real estate marketing, SEO, or social networking with freinds or coworkers. Their unfamiliarity with online world baffles me. The basics seem like common knowledge by now. But they are not even close. They have real lives. Veteran real estate bloggers and tech experts should be happy though, the chasm between those “in the know” about online real estate and the novices is widening exponentially by the month. Just like any other skill, it takes a lot of time to catch up. And the vets are way ahead of the game.

Who’s reaching out to the noobs? But then again, who really cares?

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    October 18, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    Bang! Great post. This is what genius is all about. If you read my recent post on blog networking, Daniels post on twitter, or even his road map to social networking- we’re filling this vacuum. I’m glad you know your audience, and hopefully you can bring the marketing element needed to tie it all together… once again, great post.

  2. Shailes Ghimire

    October 18, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Carson,

    Brilliant.

    Too many bloggers talk about inside stuff. Quite honestly I get tired of reading the one-up-manship sometimes. I mean if I’m in the market for an agent I really don’t care about their views on Redfin are – okay. Show me what you know and why I should choose you.

    Even though the general population may not be aware of the nuances of blogging etc, they do know about Google. They’ll most likely search your name and find your blog. If you’re slamming some cartoon vote by the NAR in your most recent five posts – I’m not sure the potential client really will think you’re the right agent to sell your home.

    Unless you’re writing for a national audience like in the Genius or Bloodhound my philosophy is to stick with your expertise. Any potential buyer/borrower should come to your blog and leave thinking they really learned a lot and are better for it. Then they’ll call you. Otherwise they’ll tune you out. I mean seriously do you really think they care about your reaction to some blog joke? No.

  3. Mariana - Springs Realty Scoop

    October 18, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    Who IS reaching out to the Noobs??? This is the first post in a long time that I didnt just scan -I mean, I DID start to scan it, but had to go back and read each word.
    I teach internet and technology in our office of about 300 agents. Every day I am faced with how LITTLE most agents know. In fact, the word “blog” was brought up in passing and another agent said, “Oh! That is what Mariana is!” (apparently I am a blog – not even a blogger, just a blog.)… THAT is how little agents (as a whole) know.
    Do I really care? No, not really. IMHO if an agent WANTS to “be in the know” then they will figure out a way to be “in the know” – otherwise they will be successfull in their own ways.
    Thanks for the thoughtful post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  4. Chris Lengquist

    October 19, 2007 at 2:39 am

    Carson, remember that time…

    You make an excellent point. But I think newbies just have to jump in. You build relationships and without realizing gravitate towards blogs/authors you like.

    But you are right. We wall need to keep that in mind.

  5. Todd Carpenter

    October 19, 2007 at 6:15 am

    Carson,

    Great minds think alike. In addition to Blog Fiesta, My business partner and I are putting together a blog that represents the absolute most basic tutorials on how RE agents, and other sales professionals can jump into the shallow end of the Internet pool. It’s called brainious.com.

    This new blog is even more basic than agentgenius. We’ll be talking about stuff like why you should use Firefox, how to join gmail, what is RSS, and more. I think the average person who likes to read Mashable, or GeekEstate might consider it torture to read our blog, but my Mom will like it, and that’s who I’m shooting for.

  6. kellys

    October 19, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    I totally agree. I get so frustrated when a realtor asks me about blogging for real estate and wants the techie stuff up on their site but then gets agitated when they aren’t getting any leads. Realtors need to decide who their audience is and what the goal of their blog is. I sometimes think they get frustrated unnecessarily. If you want techie stuff on your blog, then expect leads to be fewer than if you put info, info, info on your site for potential clients.

    Back to the basics folks. Write for your audience.

  7. Benn Rosales

    October 19, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Genius isn’t basic- but we do keep in mind that there are about 250 agents out of 1.5 million that are actually current on what a mashup is.

  8. Scott

    October 19, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Amen, brother. As a not-quite-Boomer, not-quite-Xer in age, I’m new-ish to the tools and tone of the real estate blogosphere, but one thing I’ve noted: The cool, hip arrogance of many real estate bloggers who rail against the system, who pity those poor morons who don’t blog or understand blogs, and who attack the invisible good old boys club that (according to them) makes the real estate rules. And it’s more ironic that some of those bloggers, with their over-the-top opinions and conspiracy theories, are themselves creating a kind of closed club…that says loud and clear, “if you’re not cool enough to blog and drop names like we do and agree with us, you’re not cool enough to be a part of our little coalition of the arrogant and ill-informed. Granted, it’s NOT all real estate bloggers. But there’s definitely that thread.

  9. Todd Carpenter

    October 19, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    “Never drop names while blogging”. That’s the advice Dustin Luther gave me while attending Drew Meyer’s Geek Estate premier party on the night before Inman Connect. 😉

    I just want to add, I think the tone of exclusivity that some of you a perceiving is not completely accurate. The Internet has a way of masking a person’s otherwise friendly nature. I bet I met a hundred bloggers this summer, it totally changed my perception of many of them.

  10. ARDELL

    October 19, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks names like “AgentGenius” and “Brainius.com” are too agent-centric to be said in the same breath as blogging?

  11. Todd Carpenter

    October 19, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    I picked brainious because I thought it sounded silly.

  12. Carson

    October 19, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    I really dont see any reason (except for the love of the game) for an agent to write about hardcore in-depth industry topics and trends…

    However, it does show expertise in marketing, and industry knowledge, which would be good for attracting sellers.

    Blogs like this are exempt… otherwise, writing this post would have been extremely hypocritical.

    Oh well… forget the noobs, it’s boring to write to them anyway.

  13. Benn Rosales

    October 20, 2007 at 12:13 am

    ha

  14. joseph ferrara.sellsius

    October 21, 2007 at 1:14 am

    All true. We often forget that the new kids to the party don’t know what the heck we’re talking about. But it doesn’t take long to figure it all out. It’s like a soap opera– watch it for a week and you know who’s doing who.
    Todd– love your idea. I had someone ask me recently how to put in a link.

  15. Ruthmarie Hicks

    July 22, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Some agents just enjoy the techie stuff for its own sake. For those of us who understand technology to one degree or another, it puts us a step a head of the pack. A friend of mine is taking ePro online. I refuse unless I can get CE credit for it. But what she was describing was very Mickey Mouse and she was STRUGGLING with it! Don’t get me wrong. This person is senior to me as a broker and is far more established. In many ways she doesn’t need the internet as much as I do, but I and others like me are filling a void in our locations. We have a dearth of bloggers in my area – and I’m hoping that the information I provide will pull consumers towards me before they pick up the phone to call the “super agent” who can barely print things out from the MLS.

    The main thing that is striking is that everything is so EXTREME. A very few know how to exploit the internet – the rest seem to know little or nothing. It’s not just a void, its a chasm.

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Opinion Editorials

Dopamine detox to rewire your brain from internet addiction (it’s common!)

(EDITORIAL) So, you’re addicted to the internet. Whether your drug of choice is scrolling, posting, or interacting – it’s time for a dopamine detox.

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Upside down photo of man holding iphone case saying "social media seriously harms your mental health" representing dopamine.

Ah, smartphones. The best friend we can carry around in our pockets. This small device that’s nearly glued to our hands gives us instant access to many worlds.

It’s exciting to see what’s up on Instagram, take up to six stabs at Wordle, and scroll recipes you’ll never make on Pinterest. It’s also a place where we can share the highlights of our life and, in return, get validation through likes.

With that validation comes a small rush of dopamine, something we’ve all become accustomed – and some of us addicted – to.

While I’m not addicted to posting, I would say I have an addiction to scrolling. I can’t make it through a 50-minute episode of “Dexter” without picking up my phone to check an app or two.

And there is that dopamine rush with it, where you feel like you’re the most up-to-date you’ve ever been. But what about when this becomes too much and we’re overloaded with information and feel bogged down by the constant updates?

First, we need to understand what dopamine is.

It’s a neurotransmitter that works in two spots in the brain: first, its production helps us begin movement and speech. Second, we feel it when we receive or expect a reward. It even creates a kind of “high” similar to what’s found in nicotine and cocaine.

So, if we expect these dopamine hits from social media and we don’t get those results, the dopamine crashes to the ground creating burnout.

Well, this can cause burnout. And, while tempting, the solution isn’t as easy as just deleting all of your social media and walking away clean. Additionally, “take a break” features are too easy to swipe away.

So what can you do?

Mana Ionescu at Lightspan Digital recommends a Dopamine Detox.

While breaking an addiction takes longer than a day, Ionescu recommends starting there and tailoring it to your needs.

Here is what she describes is necessary for a detox:

  1. Turn off all notifications on your phone. ALL of them. You will be looking at your phone every 10 minutes as it is. You won’t miss anything. We lose endless hours of productivity because of those pings.
  2. Tell people to call you if it’s urgent. And teach them the difference between urgent and important. So do keep call notifications on.
  3. Stop over-messaging. The more you message, the more you’ll get responses.
  4. Shed the pressure to respond right away to messages that don’t need a response right away.
  5. Take detox days. Nothing but calls, confirming meetings, and using the GPS is allowed on those days.
  6. Put your phone on sleep mode at night. You can, at least on iPhone, set permissions so that certain phone numbers can get through, in case you’re worried about mom.
  7. If you’re dating, remember that texting is for laughing, flirting, and confirming plans. Please pick up the phone and talk to that person to get to know them. I will not take you seriously if you just keep texting.
  8. And yes, we all know the game, whoever looks at their phone first over dinner picks up the bill.

This won’t be easy, but your brain will likely thank you in the long run. And, when you’re back online, hit up the comments and let us know how the detox went!

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Opinion Editorials

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

7 sure-fire ways to carve out alone time when you’re working from home

(EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need downtime, me-time, and self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health but also our productivity at work will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well-rested, and well-treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time while working from home.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keep us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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