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Archive for the 'The Odysseus Medal' Category

Google and the artifacts of inefficiency

The interwebs are BUZZING about Google Buzz and how benevolent Google co-opted everyone’s contact lists from their Gmail accounts. I wonder how many million valid email addresses Google captured in the first 30 minutes of Buzz going live? I try to remember that Google is the same benevolent company that assisted the Chinese communists in censoring the internet for the billlions imprisoned in the PRC. More recently Google has gotten a Federal bailout in the form of assistance from the NSA to secure Google’s servers from the same ChiCom hackers they used to happily work with ‘doing no evil’, except for entrenching the folks who invented the involuntary liver donation.

The point is this: be aware of the cost of “free stuff”, no matter how cool. The price may be more than you are willing to pay in terms of your professional reputation. I would suggest that a cost benefit analysis is in order. What is the cost in professional reputation for all your social media efforts? Are your friend lists, contact lists and customer rosters available for any non-#RTB data scraper to start spamming with listing flyers? It is surely something to think about.

I don’t care if Google renders a contextual ad in my gmail account. I do care if my clients start getting real estate spam from competitors. Below is a relevant video.


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  • 3 comments

    I received the Nobel Prize in Real Estate Today!

    Sorry if I’ve been a bit punchy – I think there’s a 9 hour time difference between Stockholm and Berkeley.. and those guys call on their schedule, so they woke me up in the middle of the night.  This is a picture of my neighbor Albert, and he plays a role in the story … keep reading on.

    Albert Ghiorso who discovered more elements than any humanoid in the galaxy

    The phone call came early this morning!

    I’d heard the rumors, but was thrilled to find out that I received the 2009 Nobel Prize for Real Estate!

    It was awarded for two different discoveries:

    The Quantum Theory Of Home Buying and
    The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Real Estate

    Quantum Theory
    After a buyer writes an offer on a home, they either get the house… or they don’t get the house – there is no other state

    Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
    The act of writing an offer on a home changes the home’s final sales price… even if you’re uncertain as to what the other offers are.

    If there are multiple offers on a home, and you write a low priced offer, your probability of getting the home is very low. You affect the outcome, because someone who really wants the home will raise their bid and the home sells for a higher price!

    And how does Albert Ghiorso fit into the quest for my Unified Real Estate Database Field Theory of Data Integration? He’s my inspiration.

    Albert, one of our 90-something year spry neighbors, was co-discoverer of more elements than any other person in the galaxy! Albert’s Wikipedia entry lists the following elements:

    * Americium ca. 1945 (element 95)
    * Curium in 1944 (element 96)
    * Berkelium in 1949 (element 97)
    * Californium in 1950 (element 98)
    * Einsteinium in 1952 (element 99)
    * Fermium in 1953 (element 100)
    * Mendelevium in 1955 (element 101)
    * Nobelium in 1958-59 (element 102)
    * Lawrencium in 1961 (element 103)
    * Rutherfordium in 1969 (element 104)
    * Dubnium in 1970 (element 105)
    * Seaborgium in 1974 (element 106)

    Cogito Ergo Blogo in Berkelium Californium Americium

    Degrees Of Separation
    I looked at the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of Bay Area Nobel Prize winners, and realized I was one or two degrees of separation from several…. one neighbor works with someone who won the award in Medicine Award, a client’s father received one… and I went to Bronx Science, Cooper Union, and UMass Amherst at with a real Nobel Prize Recipient… Russell Hulse (is that a one degree of separation?).

    Breaking Bad
    Being trained as a Chemical Engineer, I just love watching Breaking Bad, the TV show which could be the poster child for “Chemists Gone Wild”  And having Walt using the pseudonym of “Heisenbeg”… well that just brings tears of delight to me.

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  • Comments are off for this post

    Bar At The Raddison Phoenix?


    The Raddison In Phoenix is great so far. Everyone’s friendly. Coffee
    was tasty tasty.

    But hey, we’ve got like 5 hours to kill before the fun starts at
    Unchained. So where’s the Bartender?

    It’s noon in Phoenix, but it’s about time for happy hour for those of
    us still on the (ET)!

    -Ryan Hartman
    (Sent From My Fancy Phone…)

    Latest Videos From Youtube.Com/BloodhoundUnchained!

    [tubepress]

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  • Comments are off for this post

    The Odysseus Medal competition will be postponed this week

    We’re busy with real estate stuff, and I’m grinding on all gears to push engenu out the door. Plus which, there were only 65 nominations, suggesting, perhaps, that the rest of the world has Teri’s Spring fever.

    In the mean time, here’s a blog post from Mark Steyn illustrating why a reactive, me-too, catch-up strategy is likely to fail in the net.world:

    Old media dinosaurs looking to the Internet to make up for declining print sales will find this analysis disquieting:
    In the first three months of this year, the average amount of time visitors spent on newspaper sites fell by 2.9% to 44 minutes and 18 seconds per month, or less than 1½ minutes per day. In the same period, the average number of pages viewed per unique site visitor dropped by 6.6% to 47.2 per month…

    The decline in the average duration of sessions at newspaper web pages suggests that visitors are not utilizing the industry’s sites as primary destinations, but, rather, as places to episodically view individual articles highlighted by Google News, Drudge, Digg, blogs or any of the thousands of other places they might be.

    So, if you happen to see a link at, say, NRO to something in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, you’ll click and read it, and then go away and not return to the paper until you click another link that tickles your fancy. That’s a hard model to sell to advertisers.

    American newspapers have only themselves to blame. Instead of recognizing the necessity to reinvent their approach online, for the most part they simply transferred their old dullness to the new technology. Their print drabness derived mostly from the complacency of their local monopoly, and that’s the one thing you can’t transfer to the Internet. It will take more than the web to save these sclerotic franchises.

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  • 2 comments

    The Odysseus Medal: “This stuff is simple to learn. No heavy lifting.”

    Sunny and 93 degrees outside right now. This is warm for April, but not hugely so. I rode my bike when I should have been writing this post. Dock my pay. I deserve it.

    There was a lot of great stuff on the nets this week, but nothing totally slayed me, so I’m not awarding an Odysseus Medal. We’ll see what next week brings. (I’ve already see one insanely great Black Pearl.) Here are this week’s awards:

    The Black Pearl Award this week goes to Russell Shaw for I Want To Be A Lister – The Listing Presentation – The Objections:

    About a year ago I wrote what was really part 1 of The Listing Presentation. Anyone wanting to increase their listing skills will likely find time spent on this post and that first post time well spent. I have mentioned the short list of different things a seller might say (or objections they might have to listing) to you. All good listers know these objections and are not startled or thrown off by the seller bringing them up. In fact, great listers know the objections so well that they want the seller to bring them up and if the seller does not bring them up the agent will bring them up. That’s correct. If you already know what they are thinking, why not just address it before they even mention it? It is usually fun to hit a softball when it is a slow underhand pitch.

    As the nature of the objections has never really changed it is really sort of silly for any agent wanting to take a lot of listings to not know – in advance – that these are the concerns of the seller. I know that the internet and these new-brand-new-all-new-discount-really-really-low-maybe-even-no-commission companies have changed the very nature of life on earth, as we know it – but I am pretty sure the main objections that you could hear from a home seller back in 1968 were still the same in 1978.  They are still the same in 2008. I am thinking they may be still quite similar in 2048. Just a guess, but if you are planning on sticking around in this business for a while, perhaps it might be a good idea to know how you are going to respond when they bring these up.

    As a really humorous aside, there were also discount companies in 1978 that would list and sell homes for practically nothing. Those companies too were going to change the very nature of how real estate was done. Life just wouldn’t be the same anymore after consumers found out about the existence of those lower cost companies. No one was ever going to pay 6 or 7 % again. Not now, not with them here. Those companies expanded and prospered during the hot seller’s markets and then went broke and shut down completely during the later, much longer buyer’s market. Just like now. If you’re young enough you will get to see this again a few more times before you retire.

    I believe that almost all long-term successful residential Realtors in the English speaking world have a listings based business. The three component parts of getting listings are: 1. effectively market oneself or effectively prospect for customers (note: these are the only two methods of getting customers – so get good at one or both). 2., The listing presentation. 3., Closing techniques. I believe that any agent who relies on closing techniques has a crappy or non-existent listing presentation.  I also believe that any agent who will not effectively market themselves or effectively prospect for sellers has a crappy or non-existent listing presentation. This stuff is simple to learn. No heavy lifting. None.

    This week’s People’s Choice Award goes to Courtney Tuttle with 10 Ways to Improve Blog Traffic in 30 Minutes or Less:

    5. Edit your post one more time
    How can you improve your title? How can you improve your first paragraph? Small details in your post, especially in the beginning of your post, can make an enormous difference in its ability to draw social traffic and links. You can definitely improve your title, first paragraph, formatting, and grammar within 30 minutes.

    6. Stop writing about yourself. Start solving problems
    Surfers become readers when a blog provides something that is wanted. A casual visitor may read your blog because they find training, answers to problems, entertainment, or something else they want. This more than likely will mean that they won’t want to read about you, your girlfriend, your cats, your kids, or your catastrophes (unless you have a personal blog that your friends read). Discontinuing the off-topic posts will help you to develop more repeat traffic and takes exactly 0 minutes to implement.

    7. Subscribe to the feeds of your industry’s major players
    That way, you won’t miss important news releases. When news breaks in your industry, there will be a lot of extra traffic searching for information on the event. Adding your thoughts will almost always generate extra traffic. Subscribing to the feeds of your industry’s top sites should take no more than 15 minutes.

    If you didn’t check out this week’s nominees for The Odysseus Medal, you should.

    We have a brand new tool for promoting The Long List of Odysseus Medal nominees. The Long List will be shown in that little gizmo until the current week’s Short List is announced and then I’ll update it with the new week’s nominees. This is link-love back from BloodhoundBlog, but my reason for building the tool is to promote the best ideas in real estate any way I can. To that end, read this post so that you can learn how to echo The Long List on your own site.

    The Long List also has its very own weblog, a link blog of the latest Long List nominees as they are nominated. Feel free to visit, but probably the best way for you to keep abreast of the best in real estate weblogging is to subscribe to The Long List RSS feed.

    And as always, if you hear a great objection, close on it and then nominate it.

    Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own work or any post you admire here.

    Congratulations to the winners — and to everyone who participated.

    Technorati Tags: , ,

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  • 1 comment

    The Odysseus Medal competition — Voting for the People’s Choice Award is open

    We have 17 entries on the short list this week, out of a long long list of 60 posts. This week I’m showing nothing but Black Pearls, practical hard-headed ideas for working better, faster and more profitably.

    Vote for the People’s Choice Award here. You can use the voting interface to see each nominated post, so comparison is easy.

    Ahem: Please don’t spam all your friends to come and vote for you. First, what we’re interested in is what is popular among people who would have been voting anyway. And second, I’ll eliminate you for cheating. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    Voting runs through to 12 Noon MST Monday. I’ll announce the winners of this week’s awards soon thereafter.

    Here is this week’s short-list of Odysseus Medal nominees:

    Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own weblog entry or any post you admire here.

    Technorati Tags: , ,

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  • 1 comment

    What happens when a hi-tech entrepreneur sells real estate in Silicon Valley? Introducing Steven Leung, our newest contributor

    Steve Leung was the second person to win The Odysseus Medal. This was before I started the formal competition, but, at the time, I made a standing offer to Steven to join us if he wanted to do. More than a year later, here he is:

    Steven Leung has too many credentials to list: An MIT graduate, he has worked for Microsoft, Oracle and several internet start-ups. He brings that hi-tech experience to the hi-tech Silicon Valley real estate market.

    If you read the Silicon Valley Real Estate Blog, you know the kind of thoroughgoing analysis Steven brings to real estate. I’m delighted to have him here.

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  • 5 comments

    The Odysseus Medal: “It makes no difference what has happened. That is the past. Live in the future. Create it.”

    I think I have a pretty good track record at picking contributors for BloodhoundBlog. The people who write here are a cut above, clearly, but I think what sets them apart is that they are all so interested in getting better. We’re all constantly reading, learning, thinking, inventing, re-inventing, and we all end up driving each other to new ideas. I love this, as you might guess, since it pushes me to do better, also.

    Here’s a true confession: When Russell Shaw approached me to write with us, I wasn’t quite sure what to do about him. It was still just me and Cathy in those days. We knew of Russell, of course — no one who lives in Phoenix does not know of Russell Shaw. I have no idea what Russell’s firing clause looks like, but I built our firing clause from the literal words on his radio commercial: “Fire me at any time.”

    Even so, I would not have thought to trust the Russell Shaw I knew through the radio. I had no reason to distrust him, nothing except the generalized mistrust in which I hold all Realtors I don’t know. In truth, there are a lot of genuinely nice people out there, but our business attracts more than its share of crooks, misanthropes and morons. I had no reason to think ill of Russell, but I had no reason to think well of him, either.

    Two facts swung the balance for me. Second was Russell’s having mentioned that he had read Hugh Hewitt’s book on weblogging. Anyone who actually prepares for a new undertaking can’t be all bad. But first, I had read in The Millionaire Real Estate Agent that Russell knew that in the previous year his team had gotten 519 listings from 912 listing appointments. My impression of Russell was changed from then on — not the production, but the presence of mind to have tracked the statistics.

    You can laugh at me, if you want, for having been so careful about what has turned out to be such a great decision. BloodhoundBlog is what it is because we don’t do anything — not even the obvious thing — half-assed.

    In any case, Russell Shaw is this week’s winner of The Odysseus Medal for What Do I Do Now?:

    So what to do? Lets start with attitude. Ignore anyone who says or (even worse, without saying) gets you thinking you aren’t going to come out of this just fine. Do whatever is necessary to get that kind of crap out of your head and straighten out, blunt or cut any communication line that has you “wondering”. It isn’t that all of those people have it in for you but as they themselves are failing, it just wouldn’t be “right” for you to do real well. Anyone spewing failure, succumb or any of that stuff in all of its various guises can be safely ignored. Whatever the activity, if you don’t feel “more up” as a result of doing it or being there, stop it. Real estate offices can be a giant cesspool of contaminating failure. Stop watching the news and stop reading it in the papers. If there is something vital you won’t be able to stop hearing about it anyway.  People, places, things and activities that make you happy – do them. A lot. Every day do something just for you.

    Production is the basis of morale. You want to have a high morale? Produce. Find a statistic that you can control. That is vital. Find something that can be measured (number of new contacts, for example) that you can control. Every day work on getting that stat up. Do not focus on the deals or listings you don’t have, focus on that stat. From the Bible, it is Leads, Listings, Leverage. Right now you are only working on leads. Cut out all “lead generating activities” that cost money that are not productive. If it works, keep it in. If not, change the “button” and make it work or get rid of it. You are in the lead generation business. You have no other job.

    This week’s People’s Choice Award goes to Brian Brady for Zillow Mortgage Bourse: How To Acquire Long-Term Clients and Zillow Mortgage Marketplace: One Way Transparency Like A Bad Online Dating Site:

    Two people contacted me, via e-mail, from the Zillow Mortgage Bourse. Both are cost-conscious and both need advice. I directed both consumers to the article I wrote about lock-execution (with my recent performance results) and my article about ARMs. Both customers talked to me on the telephone, this morning.

    The first was the customer I feared; the foot-stomping, “you’re just a middle-man” brat. The consumer gleaned some free advice, then invited me to “re-quote” my loan recommendation, on the Bourse. That consumer seemed stunned that I wouldn’t re-compete for the business. That consumer will lock at the wrong time and it will cost lots of money.

    The second consumer is EXACTLY who I want as a client. That consumer valued my advice, was astonished with my track record, and extremely excited to be in relationship with me. The loan solution I offered, Thursday, cost the new client a few hundred dollars more, today. This new client locked the loan, paid the deposit, and was relieved that I would be monitoring future “trade” opportunities.

    Because I restricted the Short List to posts about Zillow’s Mortgage Marketplace, I’m not awarding a Black Pearl Award this week. But: Here’s a Black Pearl to take away: Because ZMM and other forms-based ways of interacting with clients will tend to flatten out the curve for those incidental factors salespeople have always depended on — looks, charm, connections, etc. — you must not ever pass up those small opportunities you have to exercise your sales skills. In the case of Zillow’s Mortgage Marketplace, this means that you should take full advantage of the personal remarks section of your quote. What should you put there? How about reasons to believe in you even if you’re not the cheapest rate in the hopper? How about links to weblog posts that establish your bona fides. I think about this all the time — I have 680 characters in an MLS listing available for pure selling, and I rarely waste more than three of those characters. How do you make money when everyone is lined up like a platoon of uniformed soldiers? You find a way to stand out from the crowd, that’s how.

    Also: My apologies that both of this week’s winners are Bloodhounds, but I only picked one of them.

    If you didn’t check out this week’s nominees for The Odysseus Medal, you should.

    We have a brand new tool for promoting The Long List of Odysseus Medal nominees. The Long List will be shown in that little gizmo until the current week’s Short List is announced and then I’ll update it with the new week’s nominees. This is link-love back from BloodhoundBlog, but my reason for building the tool is to promote the best ideas in real estate any way I can. To that end, read this post so that you can learn how to echo The Long List on your own site.

    The Long List also has its very own weblog, a link blog of the latest Long List nominees as they are nominated. Feel free to visit, but probably the best way for you to keep abreast of the best in real estate weblogging is to subscribe to The Long List RSS feed.

    And as always, take a chance on untested brilliance and nominate it.

    Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own work or any post you admire here.

    Congratulations to the winners — and to everyone who participated.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

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  • 1 comment

    The Odysseus Medal competition — Voting for the People’s Choice Award is open

    We have 14 entries on the short list this week, out of a long long list of 96 posts. I’ve already decided on the winner of the Odysseus Medal, so I’m not linking that way. This week’s Short List is all Zillow Mortgage Marketplace posts, all of them written by lenders. If you’re not interested, you’re just not interested, but I can’t imagine how you wouldn’t be.

    Four of the Short List contestants wrote two posts each, so I’m going to count a vote for either as a vot for that person. If one of them wins, I’ll split the People’s Choice Award between both posts.

    Vote for the People’s Choice Award here. You can use the voting interface to see each nominated post, so comparison is easy.

    Ahem: Please don’t spam all your friends to come and vote for you. First, what we’re interested in is what is popular among people who would have been voting anyway. And second, I’ll eliminate you for cheating. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    Voting runs through to 12 Noon MST Monday. I’ll announce the winners of this week’s awards soon thereafter.

    Here is this week’s short-list of Odysseus Medal nominees:

    Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own weblog entry or any post you admire here.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

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  • 4 comments

    The Odysseus Medal: “I feel like I too, am losing market share quickly in this wildly out of control time warp where one second I’m a kid and the next, I’m in my 50s selling real estate in a down market.”

    The Odysseus Medal this week goes to Geno Petro for Geno’s Wrong (bang a gong):

    My mother brings in a ham sandwich on a kaiser roll from the kitchen. It has mayo, mustard and a pickle on it. Onion, too. I rarely eat any of those things but I dare not say a word for fear of offending her.  “Diet Coke?” she asks.

    “No mom…you know what Paris Hilton says about Diet Coke, don’t you?”

    “Oh, I don’t like her.” declares Mitzi.

    “What?” my dad pipes in, apparently with a different opinion of the media icon.

    “Only fat people drink Diet Coke,” I say.

    “Fat people?”

    “Yeah, it’s a joke I think.” I say,  now wondering myself if it’s even funny. They don’t get it and now, I don’t get it either. My wife Mona, is taking a nap upstairs, belly full with as many sandwiches as she’s probably eaten in a month. The volume is turned down on the television and closed captions are streaming across the top third of the screen, covering  the faces of everyone on the Fox News Network. My parents read, watch and comment unfavorably whenever someone bashes Hillary or Obama and hiss in unison when anything positive is said about Bush or the War. I ask them why they even watch Fox at all if they are Democrats but they don’t really get the question. I guess I don’t really get it either in this particular election year. Perhaps they just have trouble working the remote and are afraid to mess with the Dish. There are Post-it notes taped to everything electronic in the house and most things static, as well.

    And despite what I have just witnessed, I feel like I too, am losing market share quickly in this wildly out of control time warp where one second I’m a kid and the next, I’m in my 50s selling real estate in a down market.  In 10 minutes, I’ll be my father looking for any small victory I can muster. I sometimes feel as if I’m lagging behind all the youth and technology in my chosen industry of real estate. I have to read something three times before it makes sense, lately. I can only buy my way out of so much of it before I get lapped by the genius youth who have only known an iPhone/Facebook/Starbucks existence on this planet. I am now the age my parents were a mere 28 years ago. My goodness, it was just the other day that I graduated college and…

    The man takes my breath away every time he sits down at the keyboard. Todd Carpenter posted an interview with Geno earlier this week.

    The Black Pearl Award this week goes to Jeff Turner with Panasonic Lumix FX35 vs. Kodak v705:

    Lots of you purchased the Kodak v705 based on my recommendation. So many, I wish I were making some form of commission, that’s for sure. But the Kodak v705 has been discontinued and no replacement has been announced.

    Enter the Panasonic Lumix FX35.

    The Panasonic Lumix FX35 was announced in January, but was not officially launched to the public until last week. Mine arrived yesterday and I tested it this morning. For me to recommend a camera for the average user, it has to do one thing very well, take a great photo right out of the box without changing a single setting. Why? Because I know most people will never take the time to learn how to use all of the feature of any camera. So, if a camera doesn’t allow you to take a good photo with it’s basic, default settings, I can’t recommend it.

    How does it compare?

    • Cost: $239 – $349 online.
    • Portability: It is slightly smaller than the Kodak v705.
    • Simplicity: The photos below were taken using the default settings.
    • Ultra-Wide Angle: The Panasonic Lumix FX35 has a 25mm wide angle lens.

    You must not underestimate the importance of a really wide angle lens.

    It took me a long time to find a replacement for the Kodak v705, mainly because most of the “wide” angle lenses touted by camera makers are 28mm. The Kodak was 23mm and really showed off rooms in a home. A 28mm lens doesn’t come close enough. The Panasonic Lumix FX35 touted a 25mm lens, so that caught my attention.

    The Lumix features a Leica lens, as well, which sets it apart from the herd. If you’re in real estate, you need a real estate-ready camera with you all the time. It should be parked with your car keys, and it should go wherever your car keys go.

    This week’s People’s Choice Award goes to The Queen of Controversy, Mary McKnight for Real Estate blogs are stores, not newspapers – so blog like you are selling houses, not writing for your local paper:

    I’m going to say this up front, so there is no misunderstanding. The entire point of this post is to get you to understand that if your business is about real estate and you want to attract customers that have a real estate need you MUST write about real estate not skateboards and restaurants. Why? Because a home is not a whim purchase, it is typically a well planned decision. There are very few of us that pass by the local real estate office and say, “hey honey, I know we set out to buy a skateboard for Timmy, but let’s buy a house instead, this store has pretty ones.” Therefore, it is inconceivable to me that by driving people into your blog with an article about local skate parks, you will snag a home buyer. Seriously, find me one person that ever set out in the morning to buy a skateboard and came back with a house.

    Mary’s post generated quite a bit of heat — more than it merited, I thought. The point of her post seems pretty non-controversial to me, except that it’s essentially a straw man argument: There is no one insisting that anyone should write about skate boards or restaurants instead of real estate. Todd Carpenter thought Mary went too far overboard in pursuit of the great white SEO, and, while I can agree that many real estate weblogging advocates talk way too much about SEO and way too little about making direct contact with targeted prospects, I didn’t think Mary’s post was over the top. To the contrary, I’m on the record arguing that the purpose of real estate marketing is to sell real estate. I thought Sean Purcell struck the right balance, overall.

    And the question came up in email, so I’ll answer it here: Does a Long List or Short List nomination imply any sort of endorsement from me?

    The answer: No.

    For the Long List, I will vet a nomination to this extent: Is it there? Is it on topic? Is it of moment? Is the idea developed enough to be worth thinking about? Is it primarily the original work of the author? Around ten percent of nominated posts get cut for failing one or more of those criteria.

    For the Short List, my only criterion is this: Is the idea worthy of greater attention? I like for things to be well written, but a great idea blasts through everything. I don’t care if I disagree, I care if the author is going to make readers think.

    People might choose to think of me as being their friend or their enemy, but I don’t approach the world that way. When I’m looking at the quality of your thought, all I am looking at is the quality of your thought. If I happen to like you, that scores you zero points with me. If I happen to think you behave like an ape, that scores you zero points with me.

    I judge two of these awards — The Odysseus Medal and The Black Pearl — and I strive for an Olympian detachment. I want to highlight the best work, that’s all. I almost never vote for The People’s Choice Award, and only then to break a tie.

    Nothing emerging from human judgement can emerge free of bias, but the process I use to pick nominees and winners is as free of bias as I can make it. I’ve had email from people telling me that they use the Long List as their RE.net feed reader, so I guess I must be doing something right.

    If you didn’t check out this week’s nominees for The Odysseus Medal, you should.

    We have a brand new tool for promoting The Long List of Odysseus Medal nominees. The Long List will be shown in that little gizmo until the current week’s Short List is announced and then I’ll update it with the new week’s nominees. This is link-love back from BloodhoundBlog, but my reason for building the tool is to promote the best ideas in real estate any way I can. To that end, read this post so that you can learn how to echo The Long List on your own site.

    The Long List also has its very own weblog, a link blog of the latest Long List nominees as they are nominated. Feel free to visit, but probably the best way for you to keep abreast of the best in real estate weblogging is to subscribe to The Long List RSS feed.

    And as always, if you come across a tasty sandwich and a Diet Coke, nominate it.

    Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own work or any post you admire here.

    Congratulations to the winners — and to everyone who participated.

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    The Odysseus Medal competition — Voting for the People’s Choice Award is open

    We have 13 entries on the short list this week, out of a long long list of 74 posts. I’ve already decided on the winner of the Odysseus Medal, so I’m not linking that way. Instead, again this week I’m showing nothing but Black Pearls, practical hard-headed ideas for working better, faster and more profitably.

    Vote for the People’s Choice Award here. You can use the voting interface to see each nominated post, so comparison is easy.

    Ahem: Please don’t spam all your friends to come and vote for you. First, what we’re interested in is what is popular among people who would have been voting anyway. And second, I’ll eliminate you for cheating. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    Voting runs through to 12 Noon MST Monday. I’ll announce the winners of this week’s awards soon thereafter.

    Here is this week’s short-list of Odysseus Medal nominees:

    Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own weblog entry or any post you admire here.

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  • 1 comment

    The Odysseus Medal: “Lions in the wild seem about ten times more alive”

    The Odysseus Medal this week goes to another truly amazing essay from outside our little RE.net cloister. I knew when I saw this on Saturday that it had won. Teri Lussier convinced me on Sunday that I have a leadership opportunity with the ten dozen people following me on Twitter — so I led them to this article. What is it? You weren’t meant to have a boss by Paul Graham. Ostensibly he’s writing about programmers, but that’s a superficial characteristic. What he’s writing about is the nature of human beings. What he’s writing about it you:

    A few days ago I was sitting in a cafe in Palo Alto and a group of programmers came in on some kind of scavenger hunt. It was obviously one of those corporate “team-building” exercises.

    They looked familiar. I spend nearly all my time working with programmers in their twenties and early thirties. But something seemed wrong about these. There was something missing.

    And yet the company they worked for is considered a good one, and from what I overheard of their conversation, they seemed smart enough. In fact, they seemed to be from one of the more prestigious groups within the company.

    So why did it seem there was something odd about them?

    I have a uniquely warped perspective, because nearly all the programmers I know are startup founders. We’ve now funded 80 startups with a total of about 200 founders, nearly all of them programmers. I spend a lot of time with them, and not much with other programmers. So my mental image of a young programmer is a startup founder.

    The guys on the scavenger hunt looked like the programmers I was used to, but they were employees instead of founders. And it was startling how different they seemed.

    So what, you may say. So I happen to know a subset of programmers who are especially ambitious. Of course less ambitious people will seem different. But the difference between the programmers I saw in the cafe and the ones I was used to wasn’t just a difference of degree. Something seemed wrong.

    I think it’s not so much that there’s something special about founders as that there’s something missing in the lives of employees. I think startup founders, though statistically outliers, are actually living in a way that’s more natural for humans.

    I was in Africa last year and saw a lot of animals in the wild that I’d only seen in zoos before. It was remarkable how different they seemed. Particularly lions. Lions in the wild seem about ten times more alive. They’re like different animals. And seeing those guys on their scavenger hunt was like seeing lions in a zoo after spending several years watching them in the wild.

    The Black Pearl Award this week goes to Sean Purcell for Every Day a Birthday:

    Staying fresh is a difficult concept in real estate.  Essentially, a good agent is someone who endlessly repeats the same tasks around an ever changing core – yet does so as if it were the first time each and every time.  In this way good agents are quite similar to good stage actors.  It may be the 100th time they have given their listing presentation, but the best know that their current audience is hearing it for the first time.  Embracing change and supporting a willingness to recreate yourself is a formidable weapon if you earn your living in the arena competitive – which real estate most certainly is.

    Over the past few days we have been privy to posts on super real estate companies, being entertaining, virtual remodeling and, believe it or not, talking signs!  Lots of good ideas, but only really useful to those among us that are willing to rearrange ourselves; root around inside and make changes.  Sometimes a new idea will require letting go of a long held belief.  In the 2.0 world these ideas fly by us at breakneck speed and the blessing is this: when you miss one it is OK because another one is coming.  We do not have to assimilate every innovation that lights us up.  But the ability to assimilate anything is made difficult if we are not ready to be new.

    Yesterday was the first day of spring, a day traditionally celebrated as a day of rebirth.  The secret… is to celebrate today in exactly the same way.

    This week’s People’s Choice Award goes to Barry Cunningham with Would You Hire Yourself?:

    There is an ongoing argument as to the value of a real estate agent in today’s real estate market. It can’t be settled with rhetoric and mantras. In order for there to be an effective resolve, the Realtor industry must reach out to the American consumer and seek to validate the need for their existence in a transaction.

    This should not be a hard feat. However most agents, for some unknown reason, find it to be beneath them to quantify their “value” much less dollarize it. When posed with the notion that they may be required to actually prove their worth, many ignorantly say that doctors and lawyers and professional athletes don’t have to justify their fees so why should they. Oh really?

    Is that the answer you want the Consumer to walk away with? If you are not willing to justify yourself to the Consumer, how about justifying your commission and worth to yourself?

    Would you hire yourself? Be honest. You know what you have done…lately. Don’t tell me, the Consumer or yourself that you USED to be great. At one point Carl Lewis was the fastest man in the world. At one time Bear Stearns was a respected fixture on Wall Street. At one time you may have been a high performing agent.

    Banks only allow appraisals going back 6 months, some are only allowing data that goes back just 3 months. In doing a realistic appraisal of yourself, it’s not accurate to say what you have done. The Consumer wants to know what you have done LATELY.

    If you haven’t read Barry’s post, don’t miss it. Every question he asks is a Black Pearl.

    If you didn’t check out this week’s nominees for The Odysseus Medal, you should.

    We have a brand new tool for promoting The Long List of Odysseus Medal nominees. The Long List will be shown in that little gizmo until the current week’s Short List is announced and then I’ll update it with the new week’s nominees. This is link-love back from BloodhoundBlog, but my reason for building the tool is to promote the best ideas in real estate any way I can. To that end, read this post so that you can learn how to echo The Long List on your own site.

    The Long List also has its very own weblog, a link blog of the latest Long List nominees as they are nominated. Feel free to visit, but probably the best way for you to keep abreast of the best in real estate weblogging is to subscribe to The Long List RSS feed.

    And as always, if you see a work of genius stalking like a lion in the wild, nominate it.

    Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own work or any post you admire here.

    Congratulations to the winners — and to everyone who participated.

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    The Short List goes to the dogs: Voting for the People’s Choice Award is open

    By the time I had time to deal with The Odysseus Medal last week, it was pretty late in the week. The week had been pretty light on nominations, and we were heading into Easter, so I made a command decision to combine these two weeks into one award.

    Then today, when I went to look at The Long List, I found a whole lot of Bloodhounds in there. There were a total of 70 unique posts from 17 of our current contributors. Just short of 40% of all of the nominated posts were written by Bloodhounds.

    You can say what you want about this weblog. It seems to be some sort of badge of dishonor to make snarky remarks about BloodhoundBlog or its contributors. About this I have one thought only — predictably a marketing issue: If your clients observe you talking trash about us behind our backs, might they not reasonably conclude that you are also spewing bile about them behind their backs? Everything you do establishes your character in the eyes of your clients — now more than ever before. That’s a Black Pearl — and the more you want to reject it, the more valuable it is.

    In any case, I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone says, but I care a great deal about what people can demonstrate. The quality of work our contributors do, here and at their home blogs, is a potent demonstration of its own — a demonstration of the quality of minds who work here, and, I think, of the quality of thought we inspire in each other.

    In consequence, this week’s People’s Choice is given over to BloodhoundBlog contributors, to one post from each of them who made this week’s Long List.

    We end with with a total of 17 People’s Choice nominees. You can vote for the People’s Choice Award here. You can use the voting interface to see each nominated post, so comparison is easy.

    Voting runs through to 12 Noon MST Monday. I’ll announce the winners of this week’s awards soon thereafter.

    Here is this week’s short-list of Odysseus Medal nominees:

    Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own weblog entry or any post you admire here.

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    The Short List is the delayed list, alas

    I’m showing right now (I wrote this post earlier), so I won’t be posting The Short List for a while. My apologies.

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    The Odysseus Medal: A breathtaking Daisy in the deserts of the mind

    I was talking to Teri Lussier in email last week about Desert Daisies, an annual wildflower you find in the Sonoran Desert. People harvest the seeds and bring them home, and the flowers will eventually take over the whole yard — for the few weeks they’re around.

    Beautiful little clarions of Spring, announcing in advance the blossoming of the citrus trees — when Phoenix is at its ultimate perfect best and god himself is green with envy.

    When I picked Teri to be my partner in last Spring’s ProjectBlogger competition, I chose better than I knew. I admired her spark, her spunkiness — what the Irish might call the soul of a poet. But I could not have foreseen her depths — although I have been more than delighted to discover them over the last year. I hope BloodhoundBlog has been good for her. I know she has been very good for BloodhoundBlog. Working here and at TheBrickRanch.com, she has blossomed into a powerhouse weblogger.

    So it’s a delight for me to announce that Teri Lussier is the first person to win The Odysseus Medal, The Black Pearl Award and The People’s Choice Award all in the same week.

    The winning entry? Zillow creates the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine, of course.

    I know some poor benighted soul will have to go digging for evidence of corruption, so I will tell you now that the fact that Teri and I happen to be on the same side of the issue of real estate licensing had nothing to do with my choice. She hit not just a home run but a grand slam with her essay, and the position she took says nothing at all about the quality of her work — except insofar as writing the heartfelt truth puts the writer at one with the gods.

    I normally quote from winning entries, but, in this case, I want you to go and read Teri’s whole post. Print it out and tape it to your monitor. Inscribe it into your mind as a particularly worthy example of the truth well told.

    This is a truly remarkable achievement by a truly remarkable talent. I am so glad I got to be a part of it.

    If you didn’t check out this week’s nominees for The Odysseus Medal, you should.

    We have a brand new tool for promoting The Long List of Odysseus Medal nominees. The Long List will be shown in that little gizmo until the current week’s Short List is announced and then I’ll update it with the new week’s nominees. This is link-love back from BloodhoundBlog, but my reason for building the tool is to promote the best ideas in real estate any way I can. To that end, read this post so that you can learn how to echo The Long List on your own site.

    The Long List also has its very own weblog, a link blog of the latest Long List nominees as they are nominated. Feel free to visit, but probably the best way for you to keep abreast of the best in real estate weblogging is to subscribe to The Long List RSS feed.

    And as always, if you spot a breathtaking Daisy in the deserts of the mind, nominate it.

    Deadline for next week’s competition is Sunday at 12 Noon MST. You can nominate your own work or any post you admire here.

    Congratulations to the winners — and to everyone who participated.

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  • 16 comments

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