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How to make technology work for you, not against you

Technology brings us closer together yet pushes us further apart, so how do you overcome this and other conundrums to make tech work for you not against you?

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The conundrum of technology

Technology is a conundrum; a confusing and difficult problem or question, indeed! It is the double-edged sword that simultaneously arms you with the powers of productivity and the perils of procrastination. It gives you the WORLD in the palm of our hand yet may prevent you from listening to the person standing right next to you. Technology is a gift that can sometimes feel like a curse. It is becoming more simple and easy to use, yet with increasing complexity and capability. Such is the irony that is technology.

Don’t get me wrong because I love technology! Perhaps even a little too much. It is difficult to fathom what my life would look like without the technologies I am accustomed to using on a daily basis. Yet the relationship I have with technology is…well, complicated. Perhaps it is for you as well.

There is hardware to buy, storage to manage, accounts to setup, passwords to store, accessories to buy, data to synchronize, apps to update, emails to read (or not), receipts to save, alerts to acknowledge, more accessories to buy, software to upgrade, documents to scan, to dosto do and of course calls to take, voice messages to listen to, texts to read and AGBeat articles to clip and share. There is no end to what you can do (and not get done) when you use and interact with the latest and greatest technologies available to you.

Real Estate & Technology

When it comes to real estate practitioners and technology, I’m of the opinion that it will ultimately be an ‘Adopt, Adapt or Die’ scenario within the next 10-15 years, if not much sooner. Regardless of age, background, upbringing and love (or lack thereof) for technology, those who call themselves real estate professionals must be willing to do what it takes to adopt relevant technologies and adapt to using them effectively or be prepared to see business significantly dwindle as a result.

Agents and brokers don’t necessarily need to become 100% paperless, but should decide in what areas a paperless approach may make sense. Then take the steps necessary to put a paperless process into place.

There will always be those that have no desire to adopt and adapt to technology innovations. They may seem to know everyone or simply have enough sheer social grit to keep their business going and growing, even without using all the latest technologies available to them. While power agents that are technology-averse may see little to no change in their business in the near term, they could be out of business within the next decade. When we limit the value we provide to our clients, we limit our results. Ultimately our results will be in direct proportion to the services we render; the value we create in the market.

We live in an age where we are becoming hard-wired to be wireless. Sure, you can opt-out of technology, but in so doing you would also opt-out of the challenges and opportunities technology brings us. We need to be able to have an open mind, be flexible and recognize thatchange is the only constant in our lives. We need to release negativity and let go of any mental blocks or self-limiting beliefs which tell us we can’t do something, learn something or use something…just because we don’t understand it.

I believe my future success in real estate will, in large part, be directly correlated with my willingness and ability to adopt and adapt to technology innovation. Keep in mind that even the sharpest techno-gurus out there have their moments of difficulty, frustration and even fear. They just work through those emotions and keep learning; keep getting better. You and I can do that, too! Here’s how…

Be An Early Adopter of Relevant Technologies

While you don’t want the influence of technology to overrun your life, you need to be able to embrace it to the extent that it can benefit you personally and professionally; to the extent that it can help you to do what you do more effectively and efficiently.

One way to do that, starting today, is to become an early adopter. An early adopter is simply anyone who learns about a new technology that seems like it could be of value, and jumps right in to test it out to see how well it works.

A word of caution though – beware of the never-ending rabbit-hole of NEW. Just because a device or application or gadget is NEW or popular it doesn’t mean it is for you. In fact, when discussing technology it is particularly useful to keep in mind that less is more. Having an overwhelming number of devices, accessories, applications and programs will likely tend to unnecessarily complicate your life rather than simplify it.

Leonardo da Vinci’s wise words from a past era are still applicable today: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

Keep It Simple… Without Getting Left Behind

Frequent interaction with technology (hardware, software, applications, cloud computing) throughout each day is not just the norm, it is often a necessity. An inability to understand and effectively utilize and embrace both old and new technologies can disqualify you from being able to work within certain industries and professions.

I have been implementing and testing the following methods and mindsets for keeping it simple when it comes to technology. Through some experimentation you too can determine the approach that will work best for you.
  • Eliminate unnecessary alerts and distractions: If technology ends up distracting you more than it focuses you, then it is not to your benefit. It owns you rather than you owningit. I choose to turn off all audible and vibration alerts on my computer and mobile devices with the exception of phone calls, text messages and certain work emails. I often close unused programs and windows when not in use to remain focused on the task at hand. I work best when my desk or work area is clear of clutter and visual distractions.
  • Remember that multi-tasking is a myth: This statement alone may possibly launch a wave of controversy so I will devote a future article solely to this subject. Yet it is true. Computers can multi-task; people cannot. You and I can switch tasks, but can’t do two things effectively at the same time. Obviously you can do certain things simultaneously, and we all do, but when it comes to using the mind, focusing and being productivity, don’t kid yourself into thinking that you are being productive when you bounce from one thing to the next in a flurry of busy-ness. Being busy and being productive are two entirely different things. They are not synonymous, unfortunately. Set your priority and focus on it until complete. Then set your sights on the next one. I think we all inherently know this is the surest path to productivity, yet it is difficult to consistently do it. We live in the age of distraction after all.
  • It Only Takes Half a Dozen of…Whatever: Jim Rohn certainly knew what he was talking about when he said that it only takes about half a dozen things to make the difference in our lives. If we look closely at what really matters, what really produces results, it would be about half a dozen things! And since the subject is technology, I’m here to tell you there are probably about half a dozen apps and/or software programs that are essential for your business success. The take away? Start deleting some apps, removing some programs and freeing up some space in your life.
  • Use It Or Lose It Baby: This statement is so true in all facets of life, isn’t it? If you consistently workout, you get stronger; you have more energy! Find ways to consistently use technology. By creating daily habits related to technology that serve you well you can find creative ways for making your life more simple, productive and fun. Enjoy the process of learning and growing with all the advances in technology. If you are overwhelmed by it all, just devote 10-15 minutes a day to practicing and working with whatever it is that happens to intimidate you. You could also take a local class or online course to gain a better understanding and increase your confidence with technology.
  • Implement Your Social Media Strategy: Social media platforms can be a huge time suck if left unchecked; though they can also be a great way to meet people and to provide value for others. You need to be strategic and mindful with the way you approach social media to ensure you are not just wasting time. There is a lot to it so keep it simple and if you need to, work with one program at a time until you are comfortable enough with it to add others into the mix. I still consider myself somewhat of a social media novice, but my current approach is based on using content that I’ve published in various blog formats to then be pushed out through the social media networks that I have accounts with. That gives me a chance to share something of value and to hopefully create some dialogue with others related to the topics that I have written about.

The ultimate take-away I would hope you remember from all of this is that you own your technology; it does not own you. You can setup and configure your devices and applications to either work for you or against you. You can let technology drive you crazy, or you can utilize it efficiently to help drive you towards your goals with greater speed and precision. The power lies in your hands.

Munro Murdock is a Realtor-Associate in the Kahala office of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers in Honolulu (catch "Hawaii Life" episodes on HGTV). His passion is for luxury real estate and exclusive Hawaii vacation rentals. He enjoys writing about technology, travel and real estate trends. Munro’s active lifestyle also includes SCUBA diving, stand-up paddle boarding, cycling, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

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How to safeguard your small company’s data without distrusting staff

(TECHNOLOGY) Even a tiny company has valuable data that can be stolen from inside – without adopting a policy of distrust, you can take preventative action

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Data breaches are scarily common in today’s digital world, and even gargantuan businesses can easily be brought to their knees should a wayward phishing attempt (or a disgruntled former employee) succeed in making off with valuable information.

While your small business probably doesn’t have all of the same calibre of worries as your more monolithic counterparts, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your data can’t be stolen to devastating effect, even if you think the data you have is irrelevant and not worthy of being stolen (you’re wrong).

Cloud storage and increased collaborative tool use means that things like sensitive documents and files are at increased risk of theft. Small businesses are especially susceptible to this due to a lower likelihood of advanced security usage, so it pays to know what kinds of things you might be at risk of losing.

According to MUO, employees are most likely to steal collaborative documents, consumer databases, and any resources devoted to research and development.

Safeguarding these items can be tricky due to their relatively high-traffic use, so a preventive strategy is your best defense.

It should be noted that trust in your employees is crucial, and treating them like they’re poised to steal from you at any moment is not a particularly effective management strategy.

However, it’s important to be aware of the following reasons – and possible preventive measures – for employee theft of data.

Firstly, corporate espionage (as dramatic as it sounds) is still something you have to worry about as a small business owner. It isn’t uncommon for competitors to bribe (or even simply persuade) current employees to share data, even if your competitors are relatively small themselves.

Your employees should know that data is sacred (and confidential), but employing things like intrusion systems and holding trainings for recognition of espionage can help prevent this problem.

Those competitors might also try to snag some of your employees, and not just for their work ethic. Employees may save their own copies of documents that they think will be helpful in their new workspace; in doing so, they can unwittingly aid your competitor with much more than their skillset. Again, reminding your employees that all work documents are both confidential and property of your brand can cut down on accidental data theft in this category.

Non-Compete agreements and NDAs can also prevent this kind of theft, intentional or otherwise; if an employee chooses to leave your business, making sure they are aware of their contractual obligations is key. Perhaps the worst competitor you can have is a former employee who launches their own business in your field, though, and this is a situation in which data theft can be intellectual. Once again, Non-Competes and NDAs are helpful in mitigating damage in this context.

Finally, angry employees can find themselves doing a myriad of dumb (and harmful) things, up to and including data theft.

As mentioned earlier, early prevention is the best way to keep your data on your servers and out of your departing employees’ hands. Restricting employee access to files and folders can limit the number of possible breaches, and the aforementioned Non-Compete and Nondisclosure agreements are absolutely crucial in any business that deals in data–just make sure you’re discussing the terms of those agreements with employees as they come and go.

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Twitter bid on hold, Tesla stock plummets: What’s next for Musk?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The surprising bid of $44B coming in for Twitter from none other than Elon Musk is now on hold and Tesla stock is down. Is Musk in hot water?

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In the largest corporate privatization deal in U.S. history, Twitter has accepted Elon Musk’s offer to buy 100% of Twitter for 44 billion.

Musk plans to privatize the company and do away with ads, a nearly 5-billion-dollar revenue source for Twitter, which accounts for 90% of their total income. Musk’s plan to do away with ads was nothing short of strategic. Musk is a free speech absolutist – or someone who believes that free speech should be unrestricted at all costs.

Advertisers are the main reason speech is restricted on social media platforms. For social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter who rely on advertisers buying space on their platforms, as well as sponsored content, to make most of their profits eliminating this revenue stream is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Without these restrictions or community guidelines, advertisers would not advertise on social media, and the sites could not generate much of their revenue.

But, when your pockets run as deep as Musk’s, I suppose revenue doesn’t particularly matter.

Some changes Musk plans on making are as follows: He claims, that despite the lack of advertisements, he will quintuple Twitter revenue by 2028. He plans on doing this while cutting Twitter’s reliance on ads to less than 50% of the total revenue. He also plans on growing the platform’s user base. He claims by 2025 there will be 69 million users on Twitter (however, considering 69 is his favorite number I’m not sure if this is accurate or another one of his famous trolling stunts). He also plans on offering a paid service, Twitter Blue, which will allow users to customize their Twitter experience for only $3 a month.

However, advertising is not the only hurdle to free speech on a social media platform.

Now Musk will face a barrage of questions and restrictions from government watchdogs, regulators, and activists. Twitter could even end up being banned in other countries if Musk attempts to skirt regulations. Musk wants to strip back content moderation rules and stop the censorship of new organizations; he has also not answered questions about how he plans to go about this, only stating that he’d only allow free speech that “matches the law”.

However, several European countries are changing their laws. New laws in the United Kingdom and The European Union (which comprises 27 European countries). The EU, for example, has enacted the Digital Services Act and The Digital Markets Act which aims to create a safer digital space, while protecting the rights of users and leveling the playing field for businesses. These acts extend to social media. The acts, in part, heavily fine companies that refuse to curtail illegal content on their platforms. However, as of May 9th, 2022, EU Industry Chief, Thierry Brighton, met with Elon Musk in Texas and they have reached an agreement regarding free speech and The Digital Services Act. Yet, the pair has not gone into detail about what exactly their agreement entails. When asked, Musk simply stated that it “totally aligned with his thinking”.

Musk may have circumvented the largest spanning cyber laws, but that does not mean he’s out of the woods regarding governmental regulation of Twitter around the world.

Now, the decision for Musk to purchase Twitter, and go public was a polarizing one and was met with mixed reactions. People did not hold back, and many roasted Musk for his decisions.

Some of my favorite reaction tweets are:

Elon Musk Twitter Tweet

Okay, but they make a good point. He’s been heralded as a “Real-life Tony Stark” and there’s nothing technically stopping him from being Iron Man.

Elon Musk Twitter Tweet

Live your dreams I guess, Elon.

Disgruntled Tweet about Musk Bid.

Disgruntled Tweet about Musk Bid.

Sure some people are disgruntled by the whole ordeal, but there’s really not a way to boycott this. In fact, the user base is only projected to grow for Twitter, with Elon at the helm.

Elon Musk Meme

And, in true Musk fashion he trolled Twitter users, critics and fans by tweeting a series of Tweets detailing which companies he was going to buy next.

Elon Musk Twitter Tweet

Musk then said would buy America’s most popular fast-food chain, and fix the most common complaint. I have to admit, I kind of want him to follow through on this one.

First, he threatened to buy Coca-Cola and put the cocaine back in, referring to the inception of the popular soft drink, when it first contained cocaine.

Elon Musk Twitter Tweet

Lastly, the new Twitter CEO threatened to shut down the entire platform altogether, so that all the users go outside.

Elon Musk Twitter Tweet

UPDATE:

As of Friday the 13th (spooky), Musk announced his Twitter bid of 44 billion dollars is currently on hold.

He claims he still plans on following through with the acquisition, and he will owe Twitter a one-billion-dollar breakup fee if he does not follow through. However, if he can afford to spend 44 billion on a social media website, I have to assume one billion dollars isn’t much of a deterrent for him. The bid could be on hold for multiple reasons.

He could be trying to negotiate a better price for Twitter, the deal could be falling apart or he could simply be walking away. One issue is that he was going to borrow against his smart car company, Tesla, but Tesla stock has been plummeting as of late. A part of me wonders if this is some kind of bizarre stunt in order to get media coverage and attention prior to unveiling a new concept at either Tesla or SpaceX. After the frenzy the news of Musk purchasing Twitter has caused, the deal may not even go through, and once again, the future of Twitter remains uncertain.

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How to audit your site to really make sure it’s built for visitors, not for YOU

(ENTREPRENEUR) As a business owner, you may find yourself taking a more “set it and forget it” approach to your website, but this isn’t getting you visitors

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As a business owner, your business is likely on your mind more often than not. It should be. But the way you design your website should reflect your readers, clients, and customers. As hard as it may be to let go of your personal taste, that’s exactly what you need to do to better serve customers.

Let’s be honest; how often do you actually look at your website? Probably when something’s broken or right when you roll it out, but not much beyond that.

I’ve had more business owners than I can count that have wanted me to fix their site… but are clueless about how long there’s been an issue. It could be a months-long problem they were simply unaware of until someone brought it to their attention—or worse, they don’t even realize there’s a problem because no one spoke up. They just went elsewhere.

Prospective clients or customers want to do business with professionals. When they visit a broken website, they don’t see you as a serious business owner, but as someone who doesn’t even care enough to operate a functioning site. It’s harsh, but it is the truth. First impressions matter. Your website is that impression, and it needs to appeal to everyone who visits it.

If you’re fortunate enough to make a great first impression in person, you might be okay. But if not, say goodbye to all those potential clients and site visitors—they don’t have time to waste waiting for your website to load or to refresh the page to get what they need.

Don’t set it and forget it

You’ve got so much going on with your business that your website simply won’t be top of mind for you. I get it. It’s like the guest bedroom or bathroom in your home. You set them up once with fancy towels and soaps, brand new pillows that aren’t crazy comfortable, and bedspreads that never change. Not exactly the best experience for your guests—the same goes for your website.

Did you design your guest bathroom with no input or consideration for your guests? If so, you may have done the same with your website, which means you’re not addressing their needs. What do they need from you? What are they looking for on your site? Are you giving them a great experience? When you launch your website without input and then just set it and forget it, you can forget new clients and customers, too.

What do your clients or customers want from you?

“But I want a pretty website that looks like a brochure!” I get this all the time. I tell my clients that we can certainly build a website like a brochure in the sense of it being a sales tool, but it needs to have substance. Your website should be based on your visitors’ needs and it should be functional. You wouldn’t print a brochure with blurry photos or dozens of typos. Why launch a website that doesn’t operate how it’s supposed to?

Your visitors’ wants and needs

You can add all the bells and whistles to your website, but if they don’t serve your customers, who cares? Instead, start small. Hubspot suggests video:

  1. Adding video to your email marketing campaigns can boost click-through rates by 200-300%
  2. Embedding videos on your landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%
  3. 90% of customers use product videos to help them make purchasing decisions
  4. 65% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after they watch a video about it
  5. 59% of decision-makers would rather watch a video than reading articles or blog posts

With numbers like that, why wouldn’t you add video?

Your customers are telling you they want video—do it! Consumers are also sharing interesting information about what they want and need, and how they respond when these needs aren’t met:

  1. 57% of internet users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile
  2. com revenues skyrocketed by 35% when they listened to their community by incorporating suggestions into their homepage redesign
  3. 88% of online customers won’t return to websites that are difficult to use and have a poor user experience
  4. 85% of UX issues can be resolved by leveraging a usability test on a group of as few as seven users
  5. Visitors judge a website’s credibility based on its aesthetics, concluding within 3.42 seconds
  6. 81% of website visitors think less of a brand if the website is outdated
  7. First impressions are 94% design-related
  8. 75% of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on website design

Are you focusing on the right things?

Arbitrarily making decisions about your website to cater to what you think customers want doesn’t do any good for you or your customers. Have you been obsessing over what colors to use on your site? Or what your logo should look like based on trends? Instead, focus on how to effectively market your company to your customers based on their needs.

It’s easy to pour yourself into your business. You may have built it from the ground up and be attached to your design, name, or logo. And hell, you may have even seen a lot of success. Congrats! But remember, you don’t want to set it and forget it. If you’ve reached a plateau or are spending too much on marketing, you may consider revamping your company’s image.

How do I get there?

Everyone needs help—yes, even you. Work with someone who can create an exceptional customer experience that isn’t dictated by your specific taste and preferences. They can help you build a website that helps them understand your business and what it’d be like to work with you. You’re creating that welcoming, comfortable guest bedroom—that first impression—online.

Gain an understanding of what potential visitors, clients, or customers are looking for when they come to your site. Once you’ve got that down, work with a creative team to bring your business to life. You’re here to tell them everything you know about your customers and their wants and desires. You’re not here to micromanage them and end up with a website that caters to you and you alone. Remember that.

A note to the creatives

You create stunning websites, designs, content, and more for your clients. But with your portfolio, everything seems to fall by the wayside. Clients want to see your work and how professional you are to work with. You may be very artistic, but do your clients understand what that means? Or are they looking at your portfolio, wondering what exactly you do?

Make it easy for potential clients to understand what you do, how to work with you, and how you’ll meet their needs. Remember, as much as your clients can get in their own way of success, so can you. Be clear, be professional, and highlight all you can do… for your clients.

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