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Op/Ed

Everything the tech gurus are telling you is bullshit, and here’s why

Tech gurus have fun tools to sell you and tricks to teach you, but I can tell you first hand that it’s mostly bullshit.

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I am known as a technologist. An avowed geek. An unapologetic adopter of shiny new objects. My passion is finding out how technology – specifically the internet, can make my job better, faster, and more profitable. It is also figuring out how the consumer intersects with the internet and how I can leverage this to create more business.

In 2014, I bet heavily on internet lead generation, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and video email marketing. I researched the best platforms and practices, sought the counsel of the foremost experts, and hired the best talent.

I had some great wins and surprising losses this year. I’ll get into that in a bit… but I realized that the real estate industry often markets tech on the internet as a replacement for human connection, as a convenience for the agent, and as a crutch for a basic lack of knowledge and expertise. In the real estate industry, technology is marketed as a shortcut to profits and that is complete bullshit.

Fair warning- this post is likely to get you riled up and deny that any of it applies to you. That’s cool. It probably doesn’t, so move along. I am not trying to derail your successful train. But this category of business tools creates stress for a lot of agents who feel left behind or “less than.”

About those gurus on stage at your favorite conferences

Listen to the gurus on stage and the vendors hawking their wares. According to them, the internet can provide a never ending source of people who want to buy and sell (leads). It can eliminate the need to chase signatures or show homes. It can sell homes without the need to open it to strangers or tell you a home’s value instantly and automatically.

Wow. Get clients without dealing with real time rejection. Show and sell homes with no physical effort. Find values with no expertise or local knowledge. Makes you wonder what human Realtors are going to do. Flip burgers, maybe?

Internet-based tools are an amazing enhancement to traditional skills and techniques, but it is often promoted as the miracle cure and wholesale replacement of skills and knowledge. I call this bullshit – but our industry is buying it.

The enticement of internet lead generation

Let’s start with internet lead generation. The surface promise is very enticing. Write a check and get a never ending stream of people interested in real estate who have given up their contact information. No physical effort. No skill required. No face to face rejection. Who wouldn’t sign up for that program?

But here is the problem. It takes a lot of money to do internet lead generation effectively. It takes a lot of resources to follow up and it generally takes time to create a sale. When you factor in all of these resources, internet lead generation is far sexier on paper than in practice.

Now, this does not mean lead generation isn’t a viable way to run a business. But it is best done in a team setting with proper resources to handle these leads effectively. In a team setting, internet lead generation is less likely to divert attention away from relationship building. And, for a single agent it is a very dangerous place to “bet the farm”.

So I can pay more but get the same results?

The number of portals and agents competing for attention increases every month, so the resources required to stay level will also increase. This means it continually takes more money to get the same result… and this is where I call bullshit. The average agent is only seeing the tiny fraction of people making a profit from internet lead generation and they have no clue how costly internet lead generation actually is.

And that is another problem. How many agents use internet lead generation as a replacement for the much less “sexier” work of face to face prospecting? My guess is quite a few. I’ll confess. I tried replacing my traditional prospecting in 2014 with a lead generation site. It was bullshit.

Another bullshit problem: social media

Here’s another technology coming between the consumer and the agent. Facebook, Twitter, and email marketing- loosely categorized as social media. When used as an easy, thoughtless, broadcast machine (as most agents do) the agent is following the idea that being seen- frequently- is the way to make the phones ring.

Agents have been doing this sort of “look at me!” advertising with postcards and print advertising for years. However, print cost lots of money and most will give some thought and attention before doing each piece. Social media is essentially free and nearly effortless, allowing agents to completely alienate their audience with their avalanche of tone deaf posts and emails.

Now, at least this stuff is nearly free and the agent has resources left over for traditional relationship building. But, how much damage is done to potential real life relationships with poor and uninformed social media tactics? The bullshit part is that free and easy should not mean tacky, thoughtless and loud.

E-sigs aren’t the next coming of Christ

Here’s another thing. I thought electronic contracts and e-signatures were the best technology tool since sliced bread. And, used properly, it still is. Contracts can be signed at the consumer’s convenience and that can be a huge benefit for busy lives. All too often, though, e-signatures serve the agent or brokerage more than the client. There are situations where the client is best served with an in-depth explanation of the documents, but they are given an e-signature package instead.

This was one of my hardest realizations of 2014 – I was completely guilty of choosing convenience over great representation. I told myself it was for the convenience of the client, but it really made my job a lot easier. This is not cool, it is bullshit.

I love technology, but…

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am still the technology fan girl you know and love. But with each passing day, I am convinced that a lasting and enduring business is made with an authentic connection to the people in my community. Technology simply gives me the opportunity to make more of those connections.

I meet and interact with hundreds of people on local Facebook groups and these interactions have led to wonderful real life meetings and lasting relationships. It is an amazing and efficient layer to my traditional community building and prospecting. But it is a layer. Nattering on Facebook all day long does NOT create enough engagement to create a business.

So, what were my wins in 2014?

I used technology to publish my internal checklists to my clients, bringing a new level of transparency and accountability to our transactions.

I went deep on an unreasonable number of CRM systems and I am getting close to having a system that enhances both the creation of business as well as the transaction.

I went even deeper into the concept of the paperless office. There are a lot of benefits to a paperless office, but for the consumer, it means anyone on my team can answer any question, anytime, anywhere.

And my losses for 2014?

What were my losses? The biggest loss was my investment in internet lead generation, and that was a real surprise. I invested heavily in the platform, in the tools and in the human resources necessary to make a profit.

I learned what it takes to make this business strategy work, but I also learned that I would rather use my resources to build a local community.

Another “loss” was the lesson learned on e-signatures. I have retooled my process to make sure that certain critical points in the process- the purchase contract, escrow instructions and going over disclosures, are no longer a simple e-signature packet.

Moving forward – join me?

As I enter 2015 I am focused on a few principles. Belly to belly rules. Technology done right is invisible. Build a community to build long term trust. Make a difference.

Wanna join me?

Kendyl Young is Division Chief at DIGGS, and an industry veteran. She has been named to the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders, contributed to industry books and speaks about social media and technology. However, her purpose is to help people buy or sell their perfect home in Glendale, La Canada and La Crescenta, CA.

Op/Ed

Why “The Complete Guide to Not Giving a F**k” is Bulls**t

(EDITORIAL) Having thick skin is great, but a famous blog, “The Complete Guide to Not Giving a F***” misses the point that for most, it’s a carefully choreographed marketing tactic, and a luxury.

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Warning: cuss words ahead…

One of my favorite pieces ever penned on the web is called The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck by Julien Smith, first published on his personal blog and recently republished on Medium. The piece is well written and argues a point that is so rarely argued effectively – constant worrying about what others think is a prison and you should regain your self-respect by putting less emphasis on every single person in the world’s opinion.

The theory is well founded and is totally true, but the Guide has been shared for years on the web as an excuse to be an asshole, so I’m calling bullshit on the entire Guide. Not on Smith’s words (they’re right and I have emailed them to over 50 people over the years), but on how non-readers are taking it. People skim the story, share it, tag me because I like cuss words and have thick skin, and move on, thinking that Smith meant to tell everyone that they should never care what others think.

First of all, if you’re here, you’re most likely a business professional, right? If so, you typically can’t just puff your chest in this world and act like a dick. Sure, there are people that have made lucrative careers out of being hated, but they work very hard to appeal to other haters and attract like minds, which isn’t exactly not giving a fuck about what others think – that’s the dirty secret of today’s villains, particularly online.

Smith’s point was that developing a thick skin is freeing. And he’s right. But, it’s a process that takes time, and must be carefully choreographed. Constantly lobbing grenades because you’re now a badass who doesn’t care what others think is self-destructive and misses the point.

There is a substantial difference between “not giving a fuck” and letting irrelevant commentary and judgment roll off of your back. Guess what? Not all commentary is irrelevant. Your boss tells you that you suck at something? Better not give her the middle finger or you’re unemployed. A client calls and you’re hostile with them because you don’t have to take their shit? Bye bye, customer.

A now unemployed former Sprint kiosk sales guy comments on your blog that you’re wrong and stupid? Sure, let that roll off of your back. But not the rest. Don’t “not give a fuck” for the sake of not giving a fuck. Don’t be a moron.

Here’s the part where I disagree…

So far, I’ve agreed with Smith, but over the years, and particularly since his editorial was republished, I’ve put a lot of personal thought into why the piece rubs me the wrong way, and I’ve finally figured it out.

I have thick skin. For the most part, people like me. I don’t know why, but people like me – I’m told often that I’m likeable. That’s cool.

I am also well respected in my industry and by my peers. Also cool.

Therefore, my not giving a fuck is a luxury. I’ve already built a personal brand and helped build extremely large communities online and off, so I get to have thick skin because I somehow magically earned it. If some kid signs up for a Twitter account and starts throwing grenades, they’re blown off as a punk turd. If I take to my own airwaves to attack an idea, people listen because I’ve earned an audience. Do you see the difference?

“I get asked a lot how I developed such a thick skin, and the truth is that it took many years and a natural maturation process to realize that not everyone will adore me, and that I can be wrong. A lot.”

I was able to develop a thick skin because I had collected a huge army of supporters over time should I need it, and so I am not often attacked (but when I am, guess what happens??). Let’s be honest, I also have the advantage of being a younger woman, so I get to be a little more brash than my counterparts, and people like that – but that isn’t me not giving a fuck, that’s me being silly for the most part.

I disagree with Smith on his guide, because some people don’t have the luxury of not giving a fuck. It is freeing and something everyone should try, but it does not apply to all situations at all times, and the bizarre truth is that it has to be earned in most situations.

This editorial originally appeared on The American Genius.

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Op/Ed

The rest of the world has caught up to the Realtor way of working constantly

(EDITORIAL) How do you respond to people that complain they’re working at all hours? Just welcome them to the Realtor way of life!

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Until you practice real estate, you have no idea how many hours per week that entails, how insanely late or early clients will call with urgent needs, how much you live in your car, and how novel the memories of a 9-5 are.

From the outside, it looks like you can do anything you want when you want, and yes, you have flexibility, but successful agents are seriously devoted to working their tails off. Many sacrifices are made, meals missed, and the idea of a non-working vacation is not usually a reality for practitioners (even when there is an assistant and/or team at play, there’s always something only you can answer).

You’ve changed a shower head in your client’s listing to appease a picky buyer and get the dang closing done, you’ve kept your promise to attend every closing (even on your wedding day (true story, my husband did that secretly)).

The internet has only changed the process, not the number of hours worked.

Technology has made Realtors more efficient, but as a population, you’ve just added more to your plate and worked even harder.

With the advent of smartphones and wifi, other industries have now adopted the same always on pace and mentality, and it occurred to me recently that the entire workforce has now adopted the Realtor method of working all day and figuratively all night.

“So to the rest of the world, I say, welcome to the club!”

Veteran Realtors can tell you that the pace can be grueling, but that the concept of work/life balance isn’t some new wave buzzword-filled theory, no, it’s been the Realtor way for decades upon decades.

So when people complain on Facebook about their boss calling them for some arbitrary reason at 10pm, or complain on Twitter that a customer expected an instant response at 1am, just tell them gently, “Welcome to the Realtor way of life!” because you’ve been adapted since the day your license number was issued!

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Op/Ed

Less sleep, less life. Science says so

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Sleep can be a great thing. In fact, a new study has proven that the more you get the longer your life will be — that’s pretty neat!

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Entrepreneurs, business owners, and freelancers, listen up: sleep is important and you need more of it.

We all know how important sleep is, but we try to ignore it anyway. New research from neurologist Matthew Walker states quite plainly that if you get less than seven hours at night you put yourself at higher risk for Alzheimer’s, dementia, heart attacks, strokes, and several different kinds of cancers. If seven hours feels indulgent, read on.

Walker, a sleep scientist at the University of California, has just written a new book entitled Why We Sleep in which he discusses the biological mechanisms of the processes that allow you to drift off.

Walker also discusses all of the things that our constantly busy and interconnected lives do to disrupt that process.

“First, we electrified the night,” Walker said in a quote to The Guardian. “Light is a profound degrader of our sleep. Second, there is the issue of work: not only the porous borders between when you start and finish, but longer commute times, too. No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead.”

Another thing killing our restfulness at night? Our attitudes towards catching z’s.

Walker said that there is a strange increasing stigma around sleep, and that many consider it “lazy and shameful.”

Considering that so many problems arise from lack of sleep such as impaired functioning, amplified risk of diseases, weight gain, and mental health issues, a more appropriate attitude toward this necessity needs to be taken.

Entrepreneurs and business owners may have a hard time cutting themselves slack whenever choosing their bedtime, but in order to continue to operate at peak efficiency, bedtime must be a priority.

Here are some easy tips from sleep scientists to incorporate in your bedtime routine. First: no all nighters. They totally wreck your ability to function, and make you as cognitively impaired a drunk person.

Secondly, try to set a bedtime alarm every night so you can train your body to have an appropriate slumber pattern, which will help your ease of sleeping in the long run. Another easy tip being super strict about the “no screens” rule before bed, as the light emitted from our devices blocks melatonin (the sleep hormone) from secreting in the brain.

It may be hard to leave that email to another day, but your brain will thank you for it as you drift off to dreamland.

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