There’s always something to howl about

Telling Secrets


Censorship has been on my mind. Not the definitive, prescribed and documented “heavy hand of authority” variety, and not the “thou shalt not be mean to NAR” Memorandum of Paranoia allegedly being unveiled in November, but the worst and most pervasive kind.

What I find more concerning and most stifling is the triple-secret censorship. Unless you are a Broker Owner, with no one to answer to but your own inner voice of reason, you are being judged by what you write. Every word I click onto the page is subject to scrutiny, and I must choose each oh-so carefully while perched atop my podium of egg shells. Sometimes I fail and trash the whole dozen. Independent contractor? Not entirely independent, I’m afraid.

Many topics are safe. Statistics and trend analyses are the poster children of the benign blog entry. Pictures of pretty buildings, diatribes on transactional intricacies, and advice on “how to pick an agent” are all fair game. It’s black or it’s white, and no one can make a compelling argument to the contrary. Fielding questions on contracts leads us closer to the mine field, but if we preface each thought that hits the page with “I am not an attorney,” we mitigate the risk of having to rephrase our post for His Honor.

We can talk about technology. It either is or it isn’t, and my broker is probably not going to hunt me down like a dog for taking a bold stand challenging the site design of Terabitz, nor will he give much thought to my in-depth expose on the accuracy of the Zestimate. While I am cautiously treading water with my choice of topics, however, I am risking either offending the reader with the triviality of my content or boring him senseless.

This blog scares me, because I think it scares my broker. The tone is sometimes caustic, mostly serious, and always challenging of the status quo. I enjoy satire, and I like to laugh. Many things make me laugh, and so many of those are related to common, every day life, the life unrelated to the job. I weave those stories into my writing, too often I suppose, but you can only get away with so many “You won’t believe what my daughter stuffed up her nose today” stories on a business blog.

If one wishes to find humor in a business, there is none better than our business of real estate. Yet, I can’t tell the stories I want to tell. If I reveal the dumb agent tricks I am forced to witness daily, I offend. That’s not the image we want to portray. If I write about the hilarity that is the typical real estate office, I offend. I may tarnish a brand. Speaking negatively about a consumer experience is the ultimate offense. They may not want to work with me, not to mention that I may tarnish a brand.

I understand these triple-secret and unspoken rules, and I have had the pleasure of actually hearing them spoken. If I was in my broker’s britches (figuratively speaking), I would be telling the same secrets. But, this speaks to the conundrum that befalls the blogger over time. I would submit that anyone who has shown consistency and commitment to blogging, who has a measure of longevity communicating in this manner, has made a personal discovery along the way. They have discovered that they enjoy writing, maybe as much or more than they enjoy their real work. To be completely committed to one, however, you must show infidelity to the other. And, using the Ben Franklin approach, I have concluded that I still have bills to pay. Advantage broker.


9 Comments so far

  1. Larry October 31st, 2007 10:37 am

    Telling Secrets,

    Kris, maybe this helps…

    You’ve got to be tough when consumed by desire
    ‘Cause it’s not enough just to stand outside the fire’

    Garth Brooks
    Standing Outside the Fire

  2. Kris Berg October 31st, 2007 10:42 am

    Country music never helps. 🙂

  3. Bob in San Diego October 31st, 2007 11:52 am

    “tarnish a brand”.

    Kris, you are the brand. No one gives a hoot about the broker.

  4. Kris Berg October 31st, 2007 12:01 pm

    Except maybe the broker.

  5. Dan Green October 31st, 2007 12:21 pm

    I have a friend that has a nasty habit of talking about people while they’re in the room. She whispers in my ear, “Look at so-and-so, her hair is Bon Jovi”.

    Only, it’s not really a whisper and everyone can hear her. It makes the woman look foolish, and it insults the Big Hair.

    There’s a time and place to gossip, kvetch, or otherwise act like a yenteh and it’s not on a blog; it’s best left for one-on-one conversation.

    So, Kris, if you have some stuff to get off your chest, I’ll be at NAR, roaming the Expo halls Wednesday, November 14. Let’s grab some coffee, listen to Garth Brooks, and kibbitz about whatever.

  6. Don Reedy October 31st, 2007 12:38 pm


    “Two paths diverged in the woods, and I, I took the one least traveled, and that has made all the difference.”

    The two paths most of us real estate types walk are those that are clearly marked “Independent Contractor” and “Broker.” And while clearly marked, the trick in taking either path is to be able to reach across, touch, or at least see or hear someone who is traveling on the other path.

    I know and love your path, and grow, laugh and expand when traveling with you on that path. And I, too, travel with the “Broker” along his path, feeding along the way, sometimes hoping that he will want to close the distance between our paths, or at least turn up the volume so he can hear what’s going on there.

    Musing, which I do now, is safe enough. Traveling along both paths, which we both do, is safe enough for now. But let’s not kid ourselves. We have “diverged” along a different pathway, and whether we can get “convergence” from the broker’s side……well, that’s for another conversation. In the meantime, I’m listening to voices from both paths, growing my business, growing intellectually, and growing in my appreciation of voices like yours who sound out ideas like they really aren’t secrets at all.

  7. Eric Blackwell October 31st, 2007 12:48 pm

    We must be living in a parallel universe!

    My relationship to my broker is a bit different, since I help manage his business and handle the technology needs of 120 agents.

    But the net result is the same…I have had the same feelings when I posted on my blog about how to stop getting hosed by…a potentially debilitating career move! (grin)Scared ME a bit when he said that he’d read it.

    I only rest in the knowledge that I write with passion about what I know and what I know to be right (more importantly).

    While I won’t divulge exactly what he told me about reading the post. I DO think that sometimes we are writing what they wish they could.

    Courage has it’s own brand of attractiveness…IMO.

    Great post!

  8. Bob in San Diego October 31st, 2007 1:15 pm

    When I first started almost 18 years ago, the broker told agents where we could farm. We couldn’t step on the toes of those who had already staked their claim to a neighborhood, even if they never mined anything of value.

    Then someone stood up and cried, “Restriction of trade!” and brokers changed their tune. This will happen soon enough with regard to brokers interference with the blogs of independent contractors.

  9. Jeff Brown October 31st, 2007 9:10 pm

    Bob — The difference between controlling who farms where, and blogging content, is normally farmers weren’t, for the most part, opening new frontiers in legal liability for their brokers. 🙂

    Kris — First, greetings from the land of duck nachos. 🙂

    Assuming the agent’s blog isn’t posting nude pictures of clients, or writing anything equally silly, the broker, from my viewpoint as a broker myself, is interested in results.

    If, as a quick example, the agent’s website and/or blog is generating truckloads of closed sales, the broker will probably leave them alone.

    Brokers tend to error on the side of — here comes that word again — results. Producers produce, and the rest….

    What I often wonder, is why bloggers continue to plug away when their blogs aren’t producer folks wanting to make use of their professional services.