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Archive for December, 2008

Human sovereignty as a New Year’s resolution

I hate lies, and I hate just about everything that doesn’t hate lies. We live our lives enmired in lies — in hoke, in smoke, in hints and allusions and innuendoes, in juice and hustle and jive — and it is entirely too easy to become one of the liars, de facto, without really intending to. My post on linking is one of the best things I wrote this year, and it’s apposite to the discussion I’ve been carrying out all week:

People are so used to marketing trickery that they expect it everywhere. The challenge for anyone seeking to change minds in the Web 2.0 world is to take away that expectation. Transparency doesn’t mean I am obliged to disclose to you the color of my underwear. Transparency means that if there is any possibility that you could entertain the smallest doubt that I am effecting some kind of sleight of hand to trick you into doing something you otherwise would not do, I have to give you the means of eradicating that doubt to your own satisfaction.

On Christmas, because of the latest episode of puerile posturing, I said to Teri, “I believe in Christmas. I won’t let it lie to me.” Later it came out as, “I believe in humanity. I won’t let it lie to me.” And the final form, I think, is, “I believe in life. I won’t let it lie to me.” That’s the architecture of this year’s Christmas story. Now all I need is the story.

I smile to myself at all the ways my life has conspired to put me where I am right now: A philosophically-adept obsessive writer, enraptured by the most beautiful and rigorous kind of ethics, with a background in high-volume, high-tech publishing problems, who works as a real estate broker and who spends much of his time thinking about the marketing of everything. Where would I be, by now, but here? It’s funny for me to watch people try to whimper-whip or brow-beat me into echoing their lies — after I’ve told them every way I can think of that I would rather die than take a position I don’t hold down to my last atom — but that’s just part of the same thing.

On top of everything else my life has taught me, I end up knowing everything there is to know about how people get sucked and suckered into being yet another one of the life-liars, without ever really intending for that to happen.

In that respect, I am the best friend you could ever hope for, if you’re paying attention. I live my life as a challenge, deliberately, but most of us don’t want that kind of conflict in our lives. I don’t like it, but I also don’t hate it — and I rebel against any implication that, by my silence, I am accepting or going along with the lies. Much of what I do here consists of pointing out how to avoid becoming entangled in error — willful, intentional, self-destructive error. Certainly this post is of a piece with that objective.

Every bit of this is easy for me. I’ve been training for this job for thirty years. The hard job is yours: You have to renounce that world of cloying, addicting lies. In the world of lies, all you have to do is “play ball” — all you have to do is go along to get along — and, just like that, everything is yours — buddies, laughs, trinkets. You won’t like much of what you hear here, but that’s no surprise. No one wants to have his corruption called to mind, again and again, so you have to shut your mind to the voices you can’t shout down.

This strikes me as being a very poor choice in every possible respect. I can’t think of anything that can be gained in exchange for giving up your sovereignty that could be worth it. We talk about “selling your soul” to gain eternal life or vast riches or unequaled artistic talent. But what really happens is that people renounce their own minds and run in herds for nothing — for the false security of not having to stand alone. And then, when the herd turns on them, they have nowhere at all to turn.

The world I live in is not easier than that one, but it’s better. You may not have any buddies, but you will have the opportunity to make true friends — people who will not lie to you, for you or about you. You won’t share in the herd’s tittering xenophobia, but the absurdity of unminded human beings is comedy enough for anyone. As for the trinkets — how does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his own soul?

It’s not kind of me to express things this baldly. I believe I am just, but, because I am just, I know that softening the truth is just another kind of lie. There is no benefit to either of us in my trying to make things easy for you.

But do consider this: You are all alone. I can’t see you right now, nor can anyone else. I am a master of this medium because I understood all of this, perfectly, thirty years ago. I can muck around inside your mind like this, and you’ll let me, because you are alone, because I can’t see you — can’t see what you shrink from and can’t see what you long to embrace.

That’s a comfortable way to take on difficult ideas, actually, since there is no way anyone outside your mind can hold you accountable for a commitment — unless you make it manifest. But at least in potential, that is the lie that precedes all the others. Every single one of us wants to live as a hero, holding firm — proudly, defiantly — against every possible form of domination. And yet so many of us cave and cave and cave to the most pitiful of demands.

What accounts for the difference between the life you imagine and the life you actually lead? I think it’s whether or not you have made your commitment to human sovereignty manifest — given it an existence apart from your imagination. It’s a simple enough thing to say, out loud, “I won’t back down.” But until you actually do say it, you will back down, again and again.

I hate the lies, I hate the herds, I hate the mobs. I feel shame for the way people behave when they’re running in mobs. But I love you more than you can ever imagine the way you are right now — with your mind open to me, even if only in secret and in solitude.

I conceal nothing, and so I have never hidden the fact that I am a subversive. Why am I doing this, why am I talking to you like this on New Year’s Eve? The answer is, “So you’ll remember.”

Again and again you see people trying to shut me up or shout me down, trying to smear or insult or browbeat me into telling their particular flavor of lies. And again and again you see them getting nowhere. There is nothing that I’m doing that you cannot do just as easily. All you have to do is say “No” — and mean it — and other people can have no power over you.

Tomorrow is the first day of 2009, and I want to be in your head all year long. Every time someone tries to maneuver you into doing something you know is wrong, I want you to think of this post. Every time people try to court or cajole or bribe you into telling a lie, I want you right back here. Every time that you feel that you’ve stained your soul, I want you to remember this night. And every time you stand firm for what you know is right, no matter what pressure is brought against you, I want you to think of this moment.

You can’t shut me up and you can’t shout me down. But if you have the guts to pay attention to me, I can show you how to live the life you have always loved so much in your imagination.

I wish you health, wealth, happiness — and the most scrupulous kind of honesty — for the New Year!

Related posts:
  • Making New Year’s resolutions is easy. It’s keeping them that’s hard. How people are getting year ’round results from their year-end goals.
  • Thoughts on a New Years Resolution
  • Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3.0.3: When you resolve never to let other people dominate you, you come to be indomitable.

  • 8 comments

    Last call for end-of-the-year discounts on tickets for BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Phoenix, April 28 – May 1, 2009 — and catch us for free at Zillow’s offices in Seattle on February 12

    This is the front

    and back

    face of a door-hanger we have going out in high-equity neighborhoods starting January 3rd. In most of Phoenix, for now, listing is essentially limited to short sales and lender-owned homes, so most of our time this year will be devoted to buyers. But if this card — or variations on it — can pull the way we want it to, it should be worth around $3,000 a week, net of all expenses. The lord knows we can use it.

    Brian and I keep getting mail from people wondering why we’re going to be teaching weblogging at BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Phoenix. We’re not. All we ever teach is marketing — on-line, on paper and face-to-face. There is a piece to this door-hanger that you’re not seeing that should more than double its response rate. That’s marketing — and there is no one else in the real estate industry who teaches the kinds of marketing that Brian and I cover as a matter of course.

    You can catch a preview of our marketing curriculum in Seattle on February 12th. We’ll be doing a free Unchained preview at Zillow HQ, 999 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA, on Thursday, February 12th from 1pm to 5pm. Scott Cowan is organizing the event with help from Drew Meyers and David Gibbons from Zillow. Marlow Harris will be joining us, along with some other Seattle blogging luminaries. The grand finale will be a debate between Redfin.com CEO Glenn Kelman and BloodhoundBlog iconoclast Greg Swann, moderated by Brian Brady, American Real Estate’s Number One Marketing Maven.

    I gotta go. I’m showing this morning. But I wanted to remind y’all that today is the last day for a couple of big discounts on Unchained tickets. The Early-Bird price — $100 off — goes away altogether today. And the Unchained Alumnus discount will drop from $200 to $100 at midnight tonight. That’s $100 in savings, either way, for acting today.

    Click the appropriate button below to sign up now.

    CyberProfessionals: $397


















    Unchained Alumnus: $497 (you must act on this offer before 01/01/09)


















    Early-Bird Price: $597 (you must act on this offer before 01/01/09)


















    The full price for admission jumps to $697 tonight at midnight. If you’re planning to be with us, we’re making it worth your while to express that commitment today.

    Phoenix? Seattle? Both? Can’t wait to see you in 2009!

    Technorati Tags: , , , ,

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  • 5 comments

    A 4.5% Mortgage In Every Pot

    Embrace the New Deal!  The Bailout has made its way to Main Street.

    The Fed’s gonna do it..for real:

    The Federal Reserve on Tuesday announced that it expects to begin operations in early January under the previously announced program to purchase mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and that it has selected private investment managers to act as its agents in implementing the program.

    Under the MBS purchase program, the Federal Reserve will purchase MBS backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae; the program is being established to support the mortgage and housing markets and to foster improved conditions in financial markets more generally.

    Here’s Sean Purcell and I, talking on BloodhoundBlog Radio, about today’s announcement (15 minute podcast)

    PS:  Expect an orgy tomorrow and Friday, in the MBS markets….if the traders fly back from Cabo tonight

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  • 5 comments

    The return counter — Looking AG’s Trojan Horse in the mouth: MyMarketWare works hard for the money, almost hard enough…

    Continuing with my discussion of the bribe/gifts proffered to the contributors to Agent Blunderbuss, here’s a quick look at MyMarketWare.com.

    I looked at this product when it was introduced and was not all that impressed. I like it better on second glance.

    What is it? YASPWSS: Yet Another Single Property Web Site Solution. Like many of these services, the offering is pretty light-weight. And like seemingly all of them, it inflicts treacly music upon the end user. But, to be fair, the price for a site, hosted for a year, ain’t bad.

    Keep in mind, as you read, that my frame of reference is our own engenu sites. I can do anything I want, to any level of detail or depth that I want, and I can reorganize an entire, huge web site on a whim. There is no YASPWSS on the market that is going to impress me.

    MyMarketWare works to one level deep. That is, from a site’s “home” page, you go one level down, no deeper. Given that architecture, I would have loved to have seen at least the on-site links done within an iframe on the index page — pseudo AJAX.

    You can link to off-site pages, which is a bonus, since it makes the sites effectively infinitely extensible.

    The pages of the sites themselves are built in ASP, with a huge block of obfuscated code near the top of each one. Positioning on the pages is effected with both CSS and HTML tables, which seemed odd to me. MyMarketWare promises decent SEO from these pages, but they seemed very verbose, to my eyes.

    I personally want a lot more photos than MyMarketWare makes available, and I want to be able to sort and organize them by category. The slide show software, apparently available on one page only, was fairly robust.

    There are decent contact and scheduling forms, and MyMarketWare promises to feed your site’s details to various Realty.bots — which is probably also being done by other vendors you are using.

    My overall rating of MyMarketWare’s demo single-property web site was “eh” but not inadequate. It does a decent job at what it does, but like every other YASPWSS out there, it doesn’t even begin to do enough of the job — nor even to approach all of the other jobs you should be able to do with automated web-site construction software.

    A single-property web site can be the most important sales tool in a listing Realtor’s tool box, but it has to be deep enough, robust enough and compelling enough to do that job. Like many, many goofy “tools” sold to Realtors, a YASPWSS is just shining it on, making it look like you’re marketing the property when all you are really doing is wasting time and money.

    But: To MyMarketWare’s credit, the price for this product is right. For you to buy your own domain for a year would cost you around ten bucks. Hosting for a year is going to run $36, at least. So after spending $46, you will have an empty domain that will take you a couple of days to populate. For $39 and a few hours of your time, you can have a single-property web site. It won’t be everything it could and should be, be we all gotta start somewhere.

    I can’t find a review of MyMarketWare on Agent Shortbus, but they’re not advertisers. Sellsius weighed in, as did 4realz, but, in the very best light, these two posts simply illustrate that people who don’t actually sell real estate may not know a whole lot about what makes the frog jump, as Robert Heinlein used to say.

    I end up here: The price is right, more than right, but the product is mostly wrong. I haven’t looked at other YASPWSS vendors lately, and it’s plausible to me that MyMarketWare is the best of the bunch. But it’s still not enough. To be an effective sales tool, a single-property web site has to be like that old Christmas “Wish Book.” The ultimate buyer of the home has to be able to go back to the site again and again, staying there until she’s “full” — until she’s satisfied. Anything less than that is a wasted effort, just another business card tacked up on the web.

    I do consider this to be an honest effort, both in terms of product quality and market value, so I’m striving to be constructive. But we’ve been doing single-property websites for many years, long before the YASPWSS vendors came into existence. I think we know more about what makes single-property websites work — and what makes them fail — than anyone.

    Cheryl Johnson and I have come to the agreement that engenu is like a John Deere harvester for people who think their job is to pick a peck of corn out of their gardens. But as I wrote the other day, Realtors have a publishing problem. They’re just now waking up to the fact that their “garden” is four miles square — and growing. We don’t need vendors to solve our publishing problem, we need to learn to get behind the harvester…

    Technorati Tags: , , , ,

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  • 4 comments

    House Keeper

    Can a man save his face, his ass, and his house at the same time? The moral and Big Board gods claim naught.  But still, rooting through the year end financial rubble atop my desk—the economic equivalent of the Gaza Strip, I consider the question (pondering Realtor that I am).

    I tally my Christmas card total while I search the mail pile for fellow holiday survivors. I uncover just three scant acknowledgements this dim Season; one from my parents with a modest check enclosed (made out to my wife, of course); one from my daughter with a nice handwritten note; and one from our missing housekeeper. The latter is a nativity scene, written in Polish, and sent to our house via Air Mail.  I’m assuming it either says ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘I Quit!’ We haven’t seen her in weeks. Perhaps she moved back to her motherland where she can actually make ends meet scrubbing floors. I suppose she just resigned before we had to let her go anyway. (I mean really, who can’t keep their own house clean?)

    I turn back to the task at hand and continue sifting through the pulp, avoiding paper cuts, and careful to sidestep 2nd Notices from lesser, non FICO reporting insurgents; my dentist, the Chicago Tribune Classified Section, the lawn service guy who never picked up my leaves this year. I hear a mutter beneath the wrack before electronically mine-sweeping my Schwab account to stave off the more formidable creditors for yet another 40 days and nights (with Grace Period); Bank of America Mortgage, BMW Financial Services, my genius accountant.

    I look again at the three lone Seasons Greetings and reflect. I haven’t physically written, licked, stamped or sent out an actual Christmas card in years—not to family, not to friends, not to clients. I’m surprised I receive anything in the mail at all, to be honest. Between Twitter, Facebook, and Harry and David, all I seem to do anymore is Text and order online. Like an iPhone crackwhore, I find myself scrolling the cyber alleys for expired listings and below market abandominiums.  It has to be a cash deal and the john needs to close quickly, if you know what I’m saying.  It has to be instant. I take another digital hit…

    I immediately get pinged back. Stocks are up 1.53%  on heavy morning trading.  I just made $1232. I text my broker to do his magic and make the paper gold liquid, once again.  I decide to pay my dentist and my lawn guy but stiff the Tribune. (The Cubs will need to suck a lot less than they did this past post-season for me to pony up in that corporate direction.) Besides, I have three loads of laundry to do, there’s dog and cat hair everywhere and Oprah is on in 10 minutes.  So have a Happy 2009, all. I’d send you a card but as you know, I don’t do that. Windows either, in case you were wondering.

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  • 16 comments

    Social Media Webinar With Brian Brady & Jim Cronin

    If you haven’t caught this message on the Real Estate Tomato, Jim Cronin and I will be hosting a social media webinar at 1PM (PST) – 2:30PM (PST), today:

    Blogging ain’t enough if you want to put up big numbers on the scoreboard. I play this game to win so I’m all about scoring points.  Every day, I want to hit a grand slam, catch one in the end zone, score a hat trick, or hammer three-pointers.  I EXPECT to win, every single day, because of my social media strategy.

    Five years ago, I started learning how to use social media to circumvent the pending “Do Not Call” legislation.  Since college, I always made my living on the telephone.  A typical day consisted of me rooting through my rolodex, with two-phones glued to each ear.   That damned “Do Not Call” list threatened my very existence

    LinkedIn changed all that, in 2003.  I was invited to LinkedIn and found that I was the only mortgage guy in a roomful of well-earning tech folks, who owned homes.  Myspace came, in 2004.  I honed the rich demographic data to connect me with REALTORs by creating and promoting a group called MLS on Myspace.  Active Rain was a no brainer.  Facebook is the perfect combination to mix both consumer direct and professional referral platforms.

    I’ll be walking, step-by-step, through the mechanics of :

    1- setting up a profile on LinkedIn and Facebook

    2- adding people you know to your sphere of influence on thos platforms

    3- How to identify potential referral opportunities within your contacts’ contacts

    4- How to engage the respective communities.

    The webinar is free and has over 210 people registered.  There is room for 40 more.  If you can join us, register here.

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  • 5 comments

    The return counter — Looking AG’s Trojan Horse in the mouth: No mere API-ing ape, Dwellicious is a true dead-pool mash-up

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
    An’ ev’n devotion!

            –Robert Burns, To a Louse

    In a comment on AG’s bribe/gift extravaganza, I said:

    And, yes, the Dwellicious campaign stunk to high heaven. It’s headed straight for the dead pool, once it actually launches. The same dumbass “idea” has already failed several times. To say anything else is absurd.

    That remark turns out to be grossly unfair. Dwellicious is not all-on-its-own to the dead-pool destined, it is a mash-up and mash-note-like send-up of a vast host of future dead-pool denizens.

    Here’s the pitch. People will shop at lots of different Realty.bots, see? So Dwellicious gives them an easy way to organize all the houses they are finding on these various sites. It has social-networking tools built in, since, apparently, social-networking-type homebuyers can’t even go to the bathroom without permission from their TwitterButtBuddies. Not only that, but Dwellicious taps into every available Realty.bot and social-networking API, which will possibly prove to be astounding if anyone ever accidentally uses this silly site.

    I watched the Dwellicious PR campaign a few weeks ago, assuming that it had to be astroturf, but today is the first time I have paid even one second’s attention to the product itself.

    It’s actually quite an instructive clusterfrolic, if there are web entrepreneurs out there who want to learn how to get just about everything wrong.

    Here’s the straight dope: Dwellicious seems to have been developed by paying devout attention to the TwitWit echo chamber — without one second or one dollar being devoted to actual market research.

    Premise: People will shop at lots of different Realty.bots.

    This is almost certainly false. Homebuyers window-shop at sites like Trulia and Zillow. When they get serious, they move to a particular, robust and — important concepts ahead — complete and non-redundant IDX or VOW search engine.

    (A subsidiary premise of the entire dead-pool-bound Realty.bot movement is the idea that some strange imaginary people might want to purchase a residence in more than one major city at the same time. It turns out that most people have only one head, and therefore need only one spot for their pillows.)

    Conclusion: Dwellicious gives them an easy way to organize all the houses they are finding on these various sites.

    But they’re not finding houses on various sites. People who are really searching for a residence they intend to purchase are searching on one or at most two sites, none of which have goofy Realty.bot APIs.

    The rest of the Dwellicious “idea” is just beyond stupid, since it provides for a whole lot of options and activities for people who are not going to show up in the first place. Whatever reason an actual — non-imaginary — regular user of Zillow or Trulia has for returning to those sites, they have zero reasons to wander off to another site — to effect social bookmarking of the houses they’re not searching for in the first place.

    In a comment at Sellsius, Tony Arko wonders why a homebuyer would share a prize find in public. It’s a good question, except it presumes that buyers will show up at Dwellicious in the first place. They won’t.

    Dwellicious is all about serving a population of people who don’t exist, all while hooking-in every which way to Realty.bots and social media sites that are themselves on extremely shaky financial ground. It would be incorrect to say the site sucks, because I can’t see that it has any suction to begin with.

    (A note to zombies from boring weblogs who show up at BloodhoundBlog attempting to link-bait traffic by teaching me how to write colorlessly: This essay draws upon an arcane literary discipline known as “style.” It’s worth looking into.)

    So what’s with all the Dwellicious hoopla? I rack it up to political tendency, in this case putting beer and friendship before an honest evaluation of what is, in fact, an essentially useless product.

    Witness:

    Benn Rosales, Agent Shortbus: “It really puts into perspective what is most important in our industry and it doesn’t exclude the professional. [....] We hear rumors of a pay as you go Pro Plan that tosses out the idea of long term contracts- Genius like! Also, private party rumors are circling for Inman NYC, as well as some kick ass swag… we all love swag.”

    Well, that’s pretty much a confession of pecuniary tendency.

    More:

    The WAV Group, whomever that might be: “Like a lime in a Corona, dwellicious is cool and refreshing.”

    Wonder who paid for the Corona…?

    There’s a lot more, but it’s all pretty embarrassing. I can’t but think that the coverage of Dwellicious, so far, has been almost nothing but tendency — bloggers telling fibs for beer or money. That’s pretty sad. People will say I’m mean for pointing out the true nature of this idiot site, but it’s not as if its idiocy could be kept secret from the marketplace. Once Dwellicious actually launches the secret that the louse is naked will be well and truly exposed.

    In the mean time, my take is that developer Greg Robertson’s drinking buddies are just making themselves look like nitwits.

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  • 18 comments

    A trolley comes to Phoenix: Tendency in reporting and why it matters

    So it’s almost five days since I dropped the dime on the bribe gifts being thrust upon the contributors to AG. Has anyone publicly renounced them so far? We got to see Jay Thompson issue some tepid caveats about the gift products — from our pages, not AG’s. And we got to watch in horror as Russell Shaw imploded, which wasn’t pretty. But if anyone has actually come out and said, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” — I’m not aware of it.

    Doesn’t much matter, by now. The moment is gone.

    You — meaning you, the invisible reader — will react as you choose, and that is not only your business, but it’s your perfect right. But I can give you a very simple lens for understanding the issue, one that not even the chorus line of tap-dancers who showed up in our comments could manage to gainsay:

    Suppose you are finally about to be interviewed by the real estate reporter from your local “City” magazine. Very big deal, very exciting, maybe your chance to break through to the target market you’ve spent a fortune trying to attract. But then you discover that the reporter has taken $2,000 in in-kind gifts from your fiercest competitor. How does that make you feel? Is it possible that the reporter is on the up and up and the gifts mean nothing? Well… yeahhhh… Is is plausible to you that you are about to be served up like a plate half full of cold leftovers? That’s what’s running through your head, isn’t it? Taking expensive gifts from people you write about doesn’t mean you are necessarily corrupt, but it sure makes you look and smell corrupt.

    In our comments threads, there were a lot of specious arguments made in defense of taking these bribes, or at least not renouncing them. One of them was the notion that “everyone is biased.” This is a very common fallacious dodge — which is to say a persuasively invalid argument. We start by acknowledging the obvious facts that each of us has a unique point of view, and each of us is operating from limited information. The fallacious dodge is to imply that these facts are equal to corruption.

    Like this: Miss Misled is in deep earnest, is striving to be impartial but, alas, is factually in error in the position she has taken.

    Mister Crooked is shamelessly and recklessly mouthing the specious propaganda has has been paid to spread to a gullible public.

    Neither Miss Misled nor Mister Crooked is factually correct in their pronouncements. But those pronouncements are not morally equal — very far from it. Miss Misled has made a mistake, but Mister Crooked is deliberately lying to you.

    (Every logical fallacy can be understood at this level of detail if you take the time to take them apart. Learning to reason according to the rules of sound rhetoric could be a worthy goal for 2009.)

    In this particular instance the purpose of the rhetorical dodge is to fudge the difference between honest bias and dishonest tendency.

    Tendency or tendentiousness is an attempt to deliberately mislead people into doing something they otherwise would not do. I can think of two flavors, political tendency and pecuniary tendency.

    The latter is what salespeople are often accused of — not always without justice. It consists of fudging facts and tickling emotions to get people to do things that will be profitable to the proponent.

    We’re more apt to excuse political tendency — to our peril. Politicians lie to us in order to get more power or to pay off their supporters — themselves most often advocates of pecuniary tendency.

    The funniest stooges in this charade are the taxpayers, of course, who get whipped this way and that, getting their pockets picked all the while.

    The saddest clowns, to me, are the newspaper and TV reporters, who deploy the tools of political tendency for no gain of their own, but simply because they are puerile believers in the beauty and justice of whipping innocent taxpayers and picking their pockets.

    We’re watching all of this happen right now, in Phoenix, as we become the latest city to be encysted with that risible product of political tendency known as “light rail.”

    If you understand railroading, you will know that, whatever “light rail” might be, what you are looking at in the picture shown above is a trolley car. Absolutely everything about this boondoggle is a lie, starting with its name.

    There are many, many more lies behind this trolley:

    • Like all municipal transit systems, it cannot possibly ever make a profit
    • According to its builders’ own projections, only one car in 1,000 will be taken off the roads by the trolley
    • That same report admits that the trolley will make both traffic and air pollution worse, not better
    • There is no profitable route for a trolley in Phoenix, but the route that would lose the least money — north and south on Central Avenue from Dunlap to Baseline Roads — was not used; this is the route with the greatest concentrations of bus passengers right now
    • The second-least-unprofitable route — north and south on Central Avenue from Dunlap to Buckeye Roads, east and west from there along Buckeye Road/University Drive through the airport, through ASU, and then perhaps north and south on Alma School Road to the commercial heart of Mesa — was also not used
    • Instead, bowing to the political tendency of wealthy homeowners in Phoenix, to the political tendency of ASU in Tempe and to the pecuniary tendency of the aging burghers of Mesa, the trolley meanders along a route that is often stupid and useless — unless you understand political and pecuniary tendency
    • The failure to connect through the airport, in particular, will cost the taxpayers another $2 billion to build yet another trolley system to connect with this one — even though the stupid route chosen parallels the freeway that runs through the airport from less than one mile away!
    • ASU is building a completely redundant medical school in gritty downtown Phoenix in a give-back of political tendency; by forcing undergrads to take at least one round-trip a day for their core classes in Tempe, ASU is artificially boosting the passenger count on the trolley with young, shiny, happy, healthy and prosperous-looking students — each one traveling on a taxpayer-subsidized transit pass
    • Taking account of the truly insane route the trolley takes through the campus of ASU, my speculation is that the give-back for the bogus medical school will a rebuilt Sun Devil Stadium — even though the taxpayers just built a brand new football stadium in Glendale
    • Though much has been made of the new commercial real estate development along the route of the trolley, little notice has been taken of the hundreds of once-profitable small businesses that were wiped out, either by eminent domain or by trolley construction
    • Similarly, hundreds of homeowners were dispossessed by the trolley; going north on 19th Avenue, dozens of homes have been taken even though the trolley may never run that far north
    • As you might guess, much of that new commercial real estate development along the route of the trolley is being subsidized by the taxpayers
    • In addition, the municipalities along the trolley route have imposed a Transit-Oriented Development zoning overlay to encourage certain kinds of business and to discourage others; in particular, if your business is friendly to drivers, you’re screwed
    • As with the bogus ASU medical school, the purpose of the Transit-Oriented Development zoning overlay is to stack the deck in the trolley’s favor: If municipalities can make driving difficult or painful, they hope to compel people to use the trolley
    • Even so, in the long run the trolley will result in fewer mass-transit passengers, not more: The massive unprofitability of the trolley will require cuts in much more popular (though still unprofitable) bus lines; this has already started happening
    • Even though the trolley is a favorite pet of the political tendencies of Yuppies, particularly, it will turn out to be an unmitigated disaster for the poor — who don’t have any delusions about the “glamor” of mass-transit but have to take it anyway; this is well-established fact in other cities that have built trolley systems
    • Even so, in a city where the afternoon high temperature is very often way over 100 degrees — in blistering sunlight, sometimes with fairly high humidity — Yuppies who have to walk some distance, either to their station or from it, will not take the trolley to work; their very expensive clothing would be ruined
    • And even though the trolley runs for much of its route behind a curb, and even though the traffic lights have been rejiggered to the trolley’s advantage, nevertheless it will be the source of a huge number of automobile accidents, many of them fatal; this again is well-established fact demonstrated in other trolley-afflicted cities
    • If news reports in other trolley-trend cities are any guide, these accidents will either go unreported or will be minimized
    • And even though every bit of this is true, none of it will be reported in the mainstream media outlets — not now and probably not ever

    This is the curse of tendency. Media outlets in Phoenix have been yammering about this silly trolley system for ten solid years, but almost none of these ugly facts have been reported in the popular media.

    And please understand, I like public transportation. I’ve lived in New York and Boston, where mass-transit is actually useful — not profitable, but useful. I used to read all twelve of Ibsen’s “social” plays, in order, every summer, on the MBTA commuter rail on the way into Boston. If it weren’t for the rape of the taxpayers, I’d have nothing but praise for mass-transportation.

    And here’s the real kick in the head: Mass-transit might actually be profitable if government would get itself out of the real estate and transportation businesses. We build stupidly because the taxpayers never tire of being raped. The earth is 70% water, and yet, somehow, municipally-managed water-supplies are always in “crisis.” In Phoenix the tap-water tastes like chlorine bleach and dead fish. In preference to getting out of a business they’re obviously incompetent to manage, the city produces agitprop public-service-announcements telling people to serve up tap-water — rife with who knows what kind of poisons and bacteria — with ice and lemons to kill the awful taste and smell. One would think that the more thoughtful kind of taxpayer could catch a clue about government management of what should be commercial enterprises.

    But instead, the people want to play with their Toonerville Trolley, no matter what the cost, no matter what the opportunity costs, no matter who gets hurt. That’s really sad, but our own hands are not clean, either. As bad as the trolley might be for everyone, considered as a group, it can be very good for particular individuals — Ibsen readers, perhaps. So here we are pimping the damn thing ourselves. I’m doing a contract later today with a buyer whom I have no doubt will be taking the trolley to and from her job downtown.

    But: The point of all this is this: You are being lied to, all the time, by the very people you trust to tell you the truth. There has not been any honest reporting about this trolley system in Phoenix, nor about the water supply, nor about any other pet project of politically tendentious reporters. For seventy years and more we made fun of Soviet-style propaganda — half hysterical hectoring, half saccharine boosterism. Welcome to Soviet America. If any topic of civic life is subject to the political tendencies of reporters, you will not discover the truth by pursuing the popular media.

    And it goes for us, too. If we are not doing everything we can to make sure that political or pecuniary tendency is not creeping into our writing, then it probably is. And if we are not doing everything we can to eradicate doubts about our tendencies in the minds of our readers, there is no reason not to expect those doubts to take root.

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  • 19 comments

    2008 in Dog Years

    2008 rocked! Yeah, the economy tanked, but I do believe that crisis means opportunity so I’m not sweating that right now- I’m looking for ways to make the best of this situation.

    Professionally, this year has been productive. That shouldn’t be misunderstood to mean that I’m swimming in transactions, because I’m not. But I’m not in debt and I’ve grown professionally through some experiences. Due to my own failure to communicate, I experienced a painful wake-up call from some clients while I was at BHBU in Orlando. What can you do when you are 1000 miles away? If you are me, you stop what you are doing and communicate. And communicate. And communicate. And you do what you need to do to make things right- and I have. And then you take a drive to Coco Beach with your husband and have one of the most wonderful dinners of your life. I’m grateful for clients that let me know their thoughts and let me work to fix things. So now I’m stronger, smarter, and more prepared than I’ve ever been- that’s progress, that’s productive.

    For many reasons, mostly of my own creation, I have never been focused on my business the way I need to be. This fall a family situation changed and suddenly I had the opportunity to see things a bit more clearly. Uninterupted time is now mine. Goals? Time management? Focus? It’s mine all mine! And now I can take the tools, tips, and techniques I’ve been surrounding myself with and slowing honing and really get to work. This is good. This is very good. 2008 rocked but 2009 should be slamming and if it’s not, I’m hanging up my license.

    This was a dog’s year for being online. It was amazing to meet so many people on twitter, at conferences throughout the year, and through emails. And to all the people who have vented publicly and privately about BloodhoundBlog, thank you. I’m a better and stronger person because of you, I hope each of you can say the same.

    Greg Swann, this week, and this post, this post, and this post, and all the comments and discussion that they have inspired, or perhaps compelled is a better word, have been cathartic. Through this entire year, and last week in particular, BloodhoundBlog has forced me to grow in dog years, professionally and also in human spirit- I can’t imagine that a better gift could be given from one friend to another. Thank you.

    I love stories of transformation and growth. I love freedom. I root for the underdog, but I find that freedom, transformation, and standing strong are not always about chest-beating drama. For me, and maybe for you as well, it’s just as likely to be an introspective, often solitary, sometimes lonely, but still remarkably beautiful, journey. I can’t think of a better way to end any year than with dancing and this is a Bob Fosse’s choreography to the theme song from Cool Hand Luke.

    Wishing everyone who has touched my life this year, a healthy, prosperous, and Happy New Year!

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    Net Happiness is Not Based on Net Worth

    As 2008 comes to a close it’s important to remember… well, it’s important to remember what’s important.  Ben Stein does a pretty good job of that in this article.  He is ostensibly talking about the fallout from Bernard Madofff’s Ponzi scheme, but he says a whole lot more:

    We are more than our investments.  We are more than the year-to-year or day-by-day changes in our net worth.  We are what we do for charity.  We are how we treat our family and friends.  We are how we treat our dogs and cats.  We are what we do for our community and our nation.  If you had $100 million or $100,000 a year ago and now you have a lot less, you’re still the same person.  You’re not a balance sheet, at least not one denominated in money…

    It’s a tough thing to remember in a business measured by commissions.  Our lives are surrounded by miracles and drowned out by laughter.  Having money may improve our lifestyle, but it does not improve us.  Losing money may cause us hardship, but it does not lessen us.  Our happiness is a function of how happy we see ourselves at our core.  It is a choice of awareness.  Ben Stein gets that.  Choose to be happy – it’s more fun.

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    The Goal-Getters Game: Yes, you want to set goals for 2009, but here’s a game to make sure you actually follow through on them

    The Goal-Getters Game is a variation on some of the ideas we have been playing with in email since Thanksgiving.

    So first: ‘Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions, made in haste and forgotten more hastily.

    The Motivational Speaker Circuit, both inside and outside of the real estate world, is always all over the idea of goal-setting. But real changes in you life can only come from goal-achieving.

    In our email discussions, I brought up Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain” system of goal tracking.

    Years ago when Seinfeld was a new television show, Jerry Seinfeld was still a touring comic. At the time, I was hanging around clubs doing open mic nights and trying to learn the ropes. One night I was in the club where Seinfeld was working, and before he went on stage, I saw my chance. I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime…

    He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.

    He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.

    He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

    He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

    “Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

    Teri has mentioned that she is already deploying this technique in her real estate practice. It doesn’t matter what your goal is. If you track it by the “don’t break the chain” system, you’ll achieve results.

    There’s more. Jeff Brown mentioned the idea that, if you do something for 21 consecutive days, you will have made a habit of it. I don’t know if 21 days is the magic number, but it is a certainty that good habits, once formed, are a powerful goad to good performance.

    Here’s the game that Cathleen and I came up with tonight, The Goal-Getters Game.

    1. Select one or at most two meaningful goals that you want to achieve — consistently — in the coming year. Cathy picked prospecting for at least one hour each day and exercising for at least one hour each day. I chose setting at least one listing or showing appointment each day and exercising for at least one hour each day.

    2. Set up some means of tracking your results Seinfeld style. I built a calendar you can use, or you can try an on-line tool like Don’t Break the Chain! (We may end up building a better social media tool for The Goal-Getters Game.) Either way, track each goal separately. On the calendar, you could make a big “X” using a different colored marker for each goal.

    3. Get after your goals. As with the Seinfeld system, your objective is to achieve your goals every single day, without breaking the chain.

    4. Want to add another goal? A laudable objective. But: Here’s what you must do: Before you can add another goal to The Goal-Getters Game, you must achieve each one of your current goals for 21 days in a row. If you miss a day on any one goal, the count starts over. Only when you have achieved each one of your current goals for an unbroken chain of 21 days in a row can you add another goal.

    If anyone gets to five serious goals that you are achieving every single day, send me your picture. I want to tape it to my bathroom mirror for inspiration.

    Any ideas for making this game more fun, more motivating or more likely to succeed?

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    The Case For Paid Reviews

    As I’ve said in the past, I’m not a fan of the term “Web 2.0.”  I’ll take it a step further and say that there are many aspects of the “Web 2.0″ movement that I dislike.  There are enough aspects of the movement that I find silly that I can, and will, fill a post (but not now.)

    Contrary to popular belief, I am a fierce capitalist.  Granted, I do love the open source movement, but I also think that there are ways to monetize open source, working within our capitalist system.  Much of “Web 2.0″ seems to be anti-capitalist.  Users want everything free (no registration, no paid memberships, etc…) and in many cases don’t want site owners/bloggers to earn directly from their endeavors.  It should be a labor of love, right?  Any money earned should be earned indirectly, the 2.0′ers say.

    Chris Johnson hit some great points in his recent post, and I agree with 95% of what he says.  However, I don’t reach the same conclusion.

    In the past, paid blog reviews were fantastic for SEO, but with Google’s call to turn in paid links, and with the proliferation of the nofollow tag, this isn’t the case any longer (for white hats.)  However, Paid Reviews are still fantastic ideas for many vendors.  Why?  Highly targetted traffic.  Traffic that can, and will convert.  When was the last time you clicked on an ad when reading a blog?  However, would you follow a link to a vendor, if a blogger you respect wrote a thoughtful review, and the product pertained to you or your business?  Many people do…even when they know the review was purchased.

    I disagree with Chris’ conclusion that all Paid Reviews are bad for blogging.  However, I do agree that paid reviews can, will, and should evolve.  He’s correct that Ratespeed could possibly have become better, had an intelligent conversation occurred, and all aspects been discussed.  How much more valuable is honest criticism over blanket praise?  If the community you’re targetting recommends you change, and you make those changes, how would that community respond?  There’s real value in that discussion – value that many vendors would pay for.  If a blog owner has developed a wide, valuable readership, I see nothing wrong with the owner earning for that hard work.

    Contrary to Chris, I don’t believe that paid reviews are the “stamp of a moron,” or that they make you a whore.  I read many, many, many, blogs that have done paid reviews.  This tells me nothing except, “these bloggers like money.”

    One aspect of “Web 2.0″ that I do love is transparency.  “Web 2.0″ paid reviews should be (and often are) transparent.  Just as you should nofollow and tag all advertising on your site, paid reviews must be disclosed, and the links must be nofollowed.  Genuine discussion should be allowed, and your advertiser should welcome it.  Otherwise, you can, and will look like a…

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    “U.S adults” may not want foreclosed homes, but homebuyers sure do

    This is my column for this week from the Arizona Republic (permanent link).

     
    “U.S adults” may not want foreclosed homes, but homebuyers sure do

    Did you see in the news where only 47% of U.S. adults would consider buying a foreclosed home?

    An amazing number, isn’t it? What does it mean?

    Almost nothing, of course. The real estate market in Phoenix, along with many, many other cities, is dominated by foreclosed homes right now. They are virtually all that is selling.

    So how could so many homes be selling if so many people are averse to buying them?

    This is a nice lesson in the uselessness of public opinion polls. “U.S. adults” are not homebuyers. Homebuyers are homebuyers. Asking U.S. adults how they feel about sushi or blackberry wine will tell you nothing about their sales, either.

    What the survey does tell us is that the news has gotten out about the sometimes difficult process of buying a foreclosed home — especially a short sale — and about the often dismal condition of those homes.

    And yet, foreclosed homes are selling and virtually nothing else is.

    Why?

    Because they’re cheap, that’s why. Even in the nicest neighborhoods, a lender-owned home will sell at a discount of 50% to 80%, compared to owner-occupied homes. In not-as-nice communities in the West Valley, you can pick up a stucco-and-tile 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,500 square foot home with a two-car garage for $50,000.

    As I write this, there are 120 homes like that, all built 1995 and later, listed for $75,000 or less.

    Let the price rise to $100,000 and there are 690 available right now.

    Last month, 191 of those homes sold for $100,000 or less. That’s an implied absorption rate of 3.61 months, arguably a seller’s market.

    So on the one hand an undifferentiated population of U.S. adults, who may or may not be in the market to buy a home, has a generally negative opinion of foreclosed homes.

    And on the other hand there is a land-office business in foreclosed homes.

    We will see many years’ worth of foreclosures in our market. How we feel about that in the abstract makes no difference.

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    Psalm

    I’m kicking this back to the top of the blog, as well. I think this is a good example of the kind of behavior that has been denounced for millennia by would-be bosses, but I also think this approaches an ideal expression of how human beings should behave. Plus which, it’s the stuff I’ve been talking about all week, boiled down to its essence — and I think it’s good Sunday reading besides. I live to be proud of my life, and the moments that gave birth to this essay are among the proudest of those I’ve lived so far. This is the best I have within me. This is a seed I long to see cast to the winds, to grow wherever it can take root. –GSS

     
    Psalm

    Art is demanding, and that’s good. But art is petulant and importunate and presumptuous to a fault. Art is that damned nuisance of a snoopy neighbor who keeps knocking, knocking, knocking on your cellar door. Art goes straight for the places you forbid yourself to think about and rummages through your most terrifying secrets like a burglar tearing through your underwear drawer. Good art makes you hate it as you devour it, shun it as you immerse yourself in it. Good art makes you restless and jagged and ragged and inspired. Good art makes you shiver. Great art makes you cringe.

    Art is a vanity in precisely this way: I presume to recreate reality in my own image and likeness, and I have the effrontery to demand that you not only acknowledge that reality but prefer it. I presume to seize the universe and squeeze out of it a tiny seed of truth. And I presume to plant that seed within you — without your consent, perhaps without even your knowledge. And I presume to nurture this new universe I have caused to grow within you until you scream — if I am good enough — scream from agony and delight. And I presume to do all of this for no purpose of yours, but only for reasons of my own devising. And at the end of it you may thank me or damn me, but you will never have been more than the means to my end: I sought not you but only to spawn myself anew within you — immaculate conceptualization. Art is a vanity because it is the means by which the artist postures as a god — and not a very merciful god.

    I see all of this and yet I embrace it. I am as much art’s victim as you, although on my best days I am lucky enough to have a bit of my own back. But as a species and as individuals we are unwilling to forswear the worst of our vices without that resounding blow to the head that art alone provides. Our artists are vain and petulant god-impostors, but they do for us the job we demand of gods: They fill us with awe and wonder and terror and they give us the excuse we seem to need to repent of vice.

    As a species, as individuals, we are born enormous and we waste the span of our days and our years shrinking, shrinking, shrinking until we vanish away to nothingness. And while it would be vain and petulant and importunate and presumptuous to a fault for me to call any work of mine art, nonetheless I am come to you to give you a most resounding blow to the head in the hope that it will give you the excuse you seem to need to repent of this awful vice of shrinking.

    I love humanity in principle but I loathe much of it in practice. And that is the sort of statement I normally rebel against. The implication is that there are two universes, one perfect but unreal, one real but inherently imperfect. I don’t believe in unreality and I don’t believe perfection is beyond our reach. I love what humanity can become, but for the most part has not. One of the reasons we revere great artists is because they have nurtured the seed of greatness that each of us carries within us. One of the reasons we despise great artists, sneering at their human imperfections, is because we despise ourselves for having failed to nurture the seed of greatness that each of us carries within us. I love to envision a humanity that rejoices in its potential for greatness and therefore never has cause to despise itself.

    Is that not a godlike vision? Do not dare call it a merciful vision. I seek for you not ease, not comfort, not quiet, but their polar opposites. I would wish that you work ceaselessly, obsessively, beyond every standard of human endurance, to writhe and seethe and bleed giving birth to your greatness. And I would wish for you to undertake all of this at once, without delay. I have seen enough of this shrinking, and I want it to stop.

    Is that not sufficiently demanding? I presume to dictate to you the terms of your existence, and I do it with the utmost effrontery. I demand not just that you repent of vice, I expect you to punch out some hefty virtues, and no half measures. I am importunate by any interpretation and I am petulant beyond dispute.

    Is that not presumptuous enough for you? Surely it is, for you and I both know the nature of those most terrifying secrets, but I alone am presumptuous enough to reveal them. I am no mere snoopy neighbor, no mere rummaging burglar. I am you, you in your most furtive and delicious and concealed and coveted moments. I am you in principle, never in practice. Perfect but unreal, burnished to a glow in the utter secrecy of the imagination, hidden from every eye in the universe, even from your own. I am the seed of that greatness within you, fully grown in another garden.

    Is that not vanity personified? Indeed. But exactly. I am vanity personified, the word made flesh, the world made fresh. Infuriatingly fresh. I am a resounding blow to your head with a cold, wet fish. I don’t want to knock some sense into you; that’s not possible. I want you to unlock that horrid dungeon of the mind in which all the sense is imprisoned. You know what I am because you know what you are — in principle. I want you to be what you are in principle in practice.

    I want you to stop shrinking, shrinking, shrinking and instead nurture the seed of your own enormity. I am not another empty-headed little door-to-door salesman peddling self-esteem or self-improvement or self-advancement or self-delusion. I am a thundering god-impostor and I demand from you self-love, the total worship of the ego by the ego. Self-love cannot be bought or sold, it can only be earned at the price of enormous effort. And I demand that you make that effort to deserve your own adoration.

    The words that are running through your mind right now are the words by which you have made war on your life since your childhood. Those words are the means by which you endlessly shrink away to nothingness. You will not grow merely by ceasing to despise your potential for greatness, but you cannot grow as long as you persist in this hideous self-annihilation. You are born to live, no less than any tree or bird, and you have the potential to live in a way impossible to the plants and the animals, to live a life of beauty and meaning and achievement. But you cannot live that life while you are pursuing its destruction.

    I am a student of the base and the squalid. But I am a poet of the glorious, the immense. I imagine for myself a radiant universe and I people it with giants. In my work I write about this failure of humanity or that error, this vice or that sin, and it would be easy enough to suppose that it is humanity itself, the stuff we’re made of, that is imperfect. But I know this is untrue. Humanity’s failure is not a failure of materials, not a failure of design. It is a failure of nerve. At least until now, we have lacked the courage to become what we truly are, reasoning animals.

    I gaze into the squalor and I would wish that people stop indulging their stupidities, stop gathering into herds, stop pandering to their craven appetites — stop behaving as animals. But there is no end to the vices we could forswear and it would never be enough. We require not an end of vice, but a commencement of virtue. We need not to stop behaving as animals, we need to start behaving fully as human beings. All the time.

    Good art makes you shiver, gentle reader, and great art makes you cringe. The very best art makes you change, and I am vain enough to hope that this day and these words will mark a change in your life that will last forever. If you will dare to be as enormous in practice as you furtively imagine yourself in principle, you will have a treasure that no one — no artist and no god — can ever provide for you: A life that you will not have to affect to despise by shrinking, shrinking, shrinking away to nothingness, a life that you can revere — openly, joyously, gloriously. And if you come one day to the perfect complement of this day, the day when you birth for yourself a universe as radiant as the one I would plant within you, I hope that you will share your self-reverence as I have shared mine with you.

    Living is what you’re doing when you’re too enthralled to notice. Dying is what you’re doing when all you can do is notice. Our destiny is not to die without ever having dared to live. Our destiny is to thrive. Without shame. Without apologies. And without one instant of shrinking. I worship what you can become. I beseech you to become it and rejoice boundlessly in your enormity.

    Greg Swann, 5/20/96

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    Which is the most useful tool, on social media, to engage your audience and create offline conversations?

    I asked this question on LinkedInScott Schang‘s answer rang my bell the loudest:

    Social Media has introduced me to other professionals that has resulted in business relationships indirectly. Although I have completed transactions as the result of blog responses, that is not the norm.

    I would say that I use Social Media primarily as an idea factory to stimulate my marketing juices and utilize technology and 2.0 tools for business promotion and sales tools.

    I consistently utilize online webinars, youtube videos and constant contact which creates a perpetual cycle of automated action items that convert contact into clients.

    My product is really education and expertise. Through my internet “presence” I am perceived (rightfully so I would hope) as an expert in my field. I think there’s also a familiarity you develop by being so easily accessible on SM sites.

    I have also met many professionals like yourself that have helped me to grow and become more innovative and creative through these on-line relationships.

    I have built working referral relationships with many other professionals and I believe that my social media reputation helps to facilitate these relationships.

    Bloodhound Unchained in Phoenix last year was really the launching point for my confidence to take more chances with my commitment to social media and I realized that I was far from alone in my search for enlightenment.

    Rhonda Porter impressed me with her proactive use of Twitter to “build” a community:

    I would have to say Twitter. I have “on-the-fence” clients that follow me for rate quotes and eventually convert. Facebook is a close second as I’m reuniting w/old friends from school and their friends and so on…

    Linda Davis and Teresa Boardman impressed me the most from the REALTORs because I discounted the use of of Flickr.  I already noted their comments here.  Here are their Flickr accounts:

    Linda Davis on Flickr

    Teresa Boardman on Flickr

    Linda Davis and Kristal Kraft will be teaching at Unchained this April.  As an added bonus, here’s Kristal Kraft’s Flickr PhotoStream.  All of these ladies get a lot of comments on their pictures; I think that’s a bitchin’ way to connect with people.

    Danilo Bogdanovic always blows me away with his comprehension of how to effectively use social media.  I have no idea of how effective it is for him but I suspect it’s working well because he truly understands the concept of a social media “strategy”:

    Depends on what I’m trying to accomplish. Each platform caters to a different audience and carries a different tone.

    Twitter reaches out to everybody because I have my Twitter feed showing on my Facebook profile, FriendFeed, real estate blogs, etc. Twitter has created the most conversation overall especially with RE industry professionals. If I have a question about something, I simply tweet it and I get the question answered online or I receive an email or phone call shortly thereafter from someone who can and wants to help. And I do the same for others. Nevertheless, Twitter has not led directly to clients and real estate sales.

    Facebook has created offline conversations with friends, industry professionals and past clients who are now Facebook friends. It has not directly led to sales because I don’t really become “friends” with people who I don’t already know. If they already know me, they know I’m a Realtor and it won’t be just because of Facebook that they want to work with me.

    My local real estate blogs are my bread and butter. They have directly and indirectly brought potential clients and actual sales/deals. Most people just follow my blog and don’t comment, but when the time is right, they email or call me to chat about their real estate needs and whether we want to work together.

    Though my blogs are the back-bone to online conversations that lead offline conversation with clients, I have to give credit to Twitter and Facebook for helping. I cross-promote all of the social media/social networking sites across all platforms and it helps paint a better and more rounded picture of who I am “on and off the clock” to those who only know me online.

    Social media is not just one thing…it’s a combination of them all, but you have to point them all back to what brings you business in the end. For me, that’s my real estate blog. For others, it could be something totally different.

    There were 23 answers to the question.  Log in to Linked in and read them all.

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