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What would Greg Swann do? Integrity, transparency and Web 2.0

Kicking this back to the top in response to Chris Johnson’s post on bribe-offers from vendorsluts. — GSS

 
Hey, y’all! Are you in the mood for a truly incredible offer?

You’ve seen the kind of single-property web sites we do at BloodhoundRealty.com. Dozens of pages. Hundreds of photos. Maps, movies, PDFs, off-site links — the works!

What if I were to tell you that you could have a single-property web site just like ours — with your choice of style templates and your own domain, hosted for a year — all for just $99.

Or, for just $99 more, I’ll mimic your weblog’s theme. Your single property web site will look just like your weblog — to promote and protect your brand identity.

That’s actually not a bad business, and I already have everything I need to start it. The software we use to build our single property web sites is called engenu. I give it away for free, but no one uses it. If I built it to be forms-based with everything hosted on our servers, it would be easier — but much slower — for end-users, and I could make a ton of money milking Realtors by selling them the same thing over and over again.

Why not do it?

Because it’s a piece of everything I hate in the real estate industry as it is presently comprised. It’s the vendorslut syndrome in action. I write a piece of software, then sell it to you over and over again, taking a huge profit every time you pull out your credit card. You get pitches like this every day — with the difference being that our single-property web sites are a lot richer in content than the ones you can buy from sleazy vendors.

I’ve been wanting to write a post about leadership in the RE.net. I don’t like hierarchies, or none beyond the sort of adhocracy that works so well in the Web 2.0 world. We are thought leaders at BloodhoundBlog because we think wisely and well — and write wisely and well — about issues that most other people prefer to skirt.

But: I don’t kid myself: We don’t have any huge influence — nor do I want one. We have a healthy influence on thoughtful people, which I like a lot, and we have a nagging influence on the ninety-and-nine — the people who want to work better and to do better. My own interest in abstract leadership doesn’t stretch very far beyond that.

But in the comments to my post on vendors offering bribes to real estate webloggers, Jay Thompson said this:

[T]he people that become my clients swiftly come to understand my goals, motivations and integrity.

It’s an interesting statement, because it goes against what we already understand about the Web 2.0 world. Most of the time, the people who are considering hiring you as their listing or buyer’s agent, or as their lender, will not take the time to personally explore your “goals, motivations and integrity.” They are shopping for an agent or a lender, yes, but the buying process consists not of looking for reasons to accept and embrace you, but, rather, of looking for reasons to reject you. They pick the person they want to talk to by eliminating the ones they don’t want to talk to.

In that same comments thread, Bloodhound Teri Lussier says:

I would not want the people that matter to me — personally or professionally — to ever question my character.

And that’s exactly the right way of thinking. In the Web 2.0 world we each of us must be above reproach because we will not get the opportunity to issue the “But, but, buts” that undergird the defenses we devise for objectionable behavior.

Watch: This is me in May of 2007:

This is real life inside my skin: When Inman Connect rolled around in January, I took a little poke at it. No big deal, except I had just started posting as a guest blogger at the Inman Blog, a position I have since resigned. Some sleazoid insisted that I wouldn’t say the same thing in Inman’s salon. And that would have been, true, too — until he said it. Instead, I wrote an extended evisceration of all things trade show — at Inman Blog. I didn’t care if I got fired as a guest blogger, but I did care that anyone could even think that the fear of getting fired would serve to silence me.

Here’s a slice of the trade show evisceration:

The RE.net is all atwitter about this week’s Inman’s Real Estate Connect in New York, but the coming week owns an embarrassment of trade show riches. Also on tap this week: The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And, best of all: The Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

These are all basically vendor shows, despite the hype — or, rather, in support of the hype. The big announcements will come from Apple, of course, and much of the ‘news’ coming out of the other two shows will be fun to make fun of. At BloodhoundBlog, I get no end of mileage out of the goofy crap corporate weenies try to foist off on long-suffering Realtors.

The goofy crap is the true purpose of all of these shows, and far and away the biggest profit center. And from the vendor’s side of the table — like the casino’s side of a Blackjack table — they’re a good bet. On the punter’s side of the table, the camouflage of meaning will come in the form of keynote speeches and breakout sessions — providing uncomfortable chairs as a welcome respite from the hours and hours of aimless walking up and down the aisles of vendor booths, each one offering cheap pre-printed promotional premiums in support of very costly unbreakable contracts for useless, goofy crap.

If any of the webloggers who were offered bribes — and I now realize I have no idea how many real estate webloggers might have been offered bribes by sleazy vendors — want to establish beyond all doubt that they haven’t been bought, the solution to their problem is to be found in one simple question: What would Greg Swann do?

A reputation for integrity is earned, not presumed, and if there is any possibility of doubt about my integrity, it’s my job to clean the slate. You see me doing exactly that in the matter quoted above, but, if you pay attention, you will see me doing it all the time.

Now the cartoon cowboy’s retort to a challenge like this is, “I don’t hafta prove nuffin’ to nobody!” That’s right. But if my reputation has been soiled, if I don’t work to clean it, no one else will do it for me.

The fact is, whether they admit it or not, these webloggers have had their reputations soiled. You can argue that this was not the intent of their immediate benefactor, but this changes precisely nothing. So what would I do, if I were stuck where they are now?

What would Greg Swann do?

Starting with the bribe “gift” I liked the least, I would write reviews of the “gift” products, one by one — on the pages of AG. Both Jay Thompson and Russell Shaw insist that they have never been told what they cannot write on AG. But Benn Rosales wrote in a BloodhoundBlog comment, “[W]e ask that our writers not endorse products for Ag, but rather do it on their own sites.” That suggests that the first such review might be very interesting. In any case, I would establish my independence by establishing my independence beyond any possible quibble or doubt.

But, of course, first I would renounce the damn bribes altogether, again on the pages of AG. I like the idea of writing the reviews enough that I just might do it here. I have nothing to prove in this matter, but the fact of the bribery itself is revolting to me. In any case, taking expensive “gifts” from people you write about is exactly the sort of behavior that should call your character into question. If your plan is to earn a reputation for integrity, it were well not to seem to be seen selling it in public.

But that’s all one. I’m not talking to them, I’m talking to you. People almost always dig in, in situations like this, when they’ve thoughtlessly made the wrong choice. A moment’s thought would have made all the difference: “Why would vendors want to give $64,000 worth of merchandise to real estate webloggers?” That’s not a hard question to answer, but you have to think of it before you can hit upon the obvious objective of the beneficent vendors. But now they’re trapped by their acceptance of the “gifts” — which was also part of the vendors’ objectives.

That’s their problem. Here is your problem. You need to figure our how to keep yourself out of this kind of mess. This sort of dilemma is not new, and it is not rare. If you take the PR-whores like Inman “news” and Realtor magazine and combine that with the sleazoid vendors they pimp for and then combine all that with the vast, tentacular National Association of Realtors and all of it reptilian subsidiaries — you have yourself some excellent enemies! The whole thing is like a huge tar pit, and if you dip your toe in anywhere, you’re very likely to be trapped forever.

I suppose I could write my own code of ethics for wired Realtors and lenders. But the trouble with any sort of Tablets-of-Moses proscriptions is that people treat them as being exhaustive. Why shouldn’t you put advertising on your weblog? Because it implies that you don’t make your living in real estate. Why shouldn’t you make fun of your clients in amateur videos? Because you don’t like it when salespeople make fun of you. Why should you never, ever even seem to take a bribe, disclosed or undisclosed? Duh.

I don’t even think it would help to ask, “What would Greg Swann do?” — although that certainly would provoke that critical moment’s thought.

But here’s what I do, inside my own mind. It’s the Golden Rule, only backwards: How would I see this — and what would I think about it — if the tables were turned? What you are considering doing may not actually be morally wrong, but if it would smell bad to you from the other side of the table, you need to think it through some more.

The time of your life is your sole capital, but that’s an inexact statement. Your life, in essence, is your awareness of your life — experienced now, remembered and anticipated. When you do something you know in advance is wrong, you have to make war on your own mind. You have to renounce your real-time awareness while it is happening, pretending to yourself that something else is happening instead. And then you have to try to paper over the memory of what you have done — even though it calls itself to your attention again and again. This is self-destruction — the deliberate and on-going dismantlement of your one, real, irreplaceable life.

I think it’s possible that the sanest, most healthy thing you could do is to print out the paragraph just above this one and then tape it somewhere where you have to read it at least once a day. It may not be the most important thing I have to say, but it is the one that will make the biggest difference in your day to day life.

Take a look at yourself as your potential clients will see you on the web. If you don’t like what you see, fix it. If you don’t like who you’ve been — fix that. But if you don’t sculpt and burnish your reputation for integrity in everything you do, you probably won’t have a chance to explain yourself later.

Related posts:
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  • Engenu Webinar w/ Greg Swann TONIGHT @ 8:30 EST/ 5:30 PST
  • Per-capita wealth and poverty in a given political economy is strongly correlated both with economic freedom and oppression and with the perception of integrity or corruption among government officials.

  • 30 comments

    30 Comments so far

    1. Teri L December 26th, 2008 5:27 am

      >The time of your life is your sole capital, but that’s an inexact statement. Your life, in essence, is your awareness of your life — experienced now, remembered and anticipated. When you do something you know in advance is wrong, you have to make war on your own mind. You have to renounce your real-time awareness while it is happening, pretending to yourself that something else is happening instead. And then you have to try to paper over the memory of what you have done — even though it calls itself to your attention again and again. This is self-destruction — the deliberate and on-going dismantlement of your one, real, irreplaceable life.

      That is truly beautiful.

      Life can be full of epiphanies- both large and small- but only if we are open to them.

    2. Greg Swann December 26th, 2008 8:17 am

      Earlier this week, someone was insisting to me that evil is not running sleazy games, it’s the Taliban. Evil is self-destruction. Everything else is a secondary consequence. Ridding the world of evil is actually a simple thing to do. All we have to do is stop doing things we know in advance are morally wrong — that is, stop doing things that cause us, internally, introspectively, to try to obliterate our own awareness of our lives.

    3. Jay Thompson December 26th, 2008 8:59 am

      Greg –

      You are presuming that I have accepted these so-called “bribes”. I have not. In a previous comment, you mentioned my quote on the AG post and alluded that I have taken these gifts. What I said in that comment was “Well how cool is that”. That’s the extent of it.

      I can see how my comment could be translated to “Thanks, I’ll take it!”, so bad on me. But the fact is, I haven’t taken a plug nickle. And I don’t know if I will or not. It amounts to roughly $2000. I don’t know where the magical cut-off line for accepting gifts/bribes/sponsorships lies. The amount doesn’t matter to me — $2000 isn’t going to affect my business one way or the other. Some of the “gifts” I already use. Some I wouldn’t use if they were wrapped up in $100 bills. I have a decision to make, and I’ll make it.

      I will make that decision not based on “What would Greg Swann do?”. I will make that decision based on “What would Jay Thompson do?”. No offense, but I could give a damn what you would do, or Benn, or anyone else. You may like the decision I make or not — and I don’t really care what you think of it either way.

      Question my integrity all you like Greg. You rant against “vendorsluts” and yet have repeated posts here that are nothing but advertisements for Unchained. You accepted some amount of money from Zillow to sponsor the first Unchained. Maybe you’ve disclosed how much that was, I don’t know. And really, I don’t care.

      And the fact that you advertise Unchained, and sell Unchained DVDs, and the fact you accepted sponsorship money from Zillow is perfectly fine. BHB is “your house”, is your blog, your server and you are completely free to do whatever you want with it.

      Just as Benn is completely free to do whatever he wants with AG.

      If Benn does something I don’t like, I leave. Just like I did here.

      I don’t have to answer to you Greg, or to your readers, or to Benn or to anyone else but me (and quite possibly my wife). I do hold my character and integrity in high regard, and I have never, ever had it questioned by any of my clients. I don’t think I’ve had it questioned by anyone else that matters to me. Maybe someone has questioned my integrity behind my back, I wouldn’t know. If they have, well call me simple-minded, but they’ve just become someone whose opinion doesn’t really matter any more.

      I appreciate you taking the time to outline WWGSD. It’s a great read and proffers good insight. But in the grand scheme of things, WWGSD doesn’t matter one iota to me, WWJTD matters.

    4. Teri L December 26th, 2008 9:16 am

      >Evil is self-destruction.

      Oh! There’s so much in that short sentence- volumes- oh my. I alone could write volumes about that… Anyway.

      I doubt that I would ever ask myself, or could answer, WWGSD. ;-) But if I asked, “Is this self-destructive in any way at all?” well, the answer is either yes or no.

    5. Brian Brady December 26th, 2008 11:03 am

      “The amount doesn’t matter to me — $2000 isn’t going to affect my business one way or the other. Some of the “gifts” I already use. Some I wouldn’t use if they were wrapped up in $100 bills.”

      Which of those free gifts wouldn’t you use if they were wrapped up in $100 bills? Here’s why I ask this, Jay:

      “I will make that decision based on “What would Jay Thompson do?””

      I’m being dead serious when I ask this. WWJTD is a terribly important question because you are considered as an expert in the RE2.0 space. Hell, I consider you an expert in the RE2.0 space.

      You’ve opened this door, Jay; I’d like to see you walk through it not because you’re “painted in a corner” but because I’d like to see you show the leadership that’s been vested in you.

    6. Barry Cunningham December 26th, 2008 12:13 pm

      oh that was a good one Brian…

    7. Chris Brown December 26th, 2008 1:37 pm

      Good Lord, I go away for a few weeks and what happens? The world as we know it begins to fall apart! Looks like i have some back reading to do to see what the heck went on!

    8. Vlad December 26th, 2008 1:57 pm

      Oppps, Greg, sorry for misspelling your name.

    9. Vlad December 26th, 2008 2:17 pm

      Ok- this is strange. Just left a comment then followed up with an apology for misspelling Greg’s name- the apology is here the original comment is gone.

    10. Greg Swann December 26th, 2008 2:21 pm

      > Ok- this is strange. Just left a comment then followed up with an apology for misspelling Greg’s name- the apology is here the original comment is gone.

      Not in the spambot. Probably you hit Preview or Subscribe instead of Post. Ny apologies.

    11. Jim Gatos December 26th, 2008 2:35 pm

      >”“I will make that decision based on “What would Jay Thompson do?””

      Well, have you seen the name of MY blog, LOL..?

      I read Jay’s blog faithfully, and sometimes I get inspirations from that. However, I am, therefore, I think! (I think that quote from from a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode). I can decide for myself what I want to use, lose, or whatever. Sometimes I regret it, mostly I am happy. Someday I hope to find a product that some folks will like. Has anyone ever checked out “Zoho Polls”?

      Ads or no ads, I hope we won’t start monitoring and censoring each other. An exchange of ideas is what we should be doing; I don’t think most of us are THAT impressionable…

    12. Vlad December 26th, 2008 2:51 pm

      Yes, that is probably what happened “preview” instead of “submit”- my comment is long enough to make it into a post, your post awakened many emotions associated with sponsored reviews- specially the one that earned me quick $25 but ended up costing thousands of dollars in legal fees – more on my blog.

    13. Todd Carpenter December 26th, 2008 4:32 pm

      I happen to think I solved this problem well over a year ago, in true web 2.0 fashion.

      I let/make vendors review their own products on Lenderama. Any vendor who sells a legitimate product to loan originators. Any product. They can write the prettiest, most biased, least objective review of all time. They can pay me $0 for it, or I will accept unlimited amounts of gifts, bribes, products, or back room considerations. I publish the review EXACTLY as they write it. They simply have to except that my readers have free reign to comment.

      oh, and I disclose who wrote the review.

      Greg, I happen to disagree with you concerning vendors. I know I could build my own server, and host my web sites from home, but it’s easier to pay a HostGator. I know I could generate my own email campaigns, but I use Constant Contact. I know you might feel like it’s a ripoff to charge agents $99 for Single Property web site hosting, but that would be money well spent for a lot of agents who don’t want to learn how to do it themselves. In many cases, vendors rock!

      I also figured out that me reviewing the product myself was pretty stupid. I’m more tech savvy than most LO’s. I’m not as good at working at a retail level as most good LO’s. Why should they care what I think? Who’s the most knowledgeable person to talk about any one product? The vendor.

      Let’s just be clear. I have taken gifts. I’ve taken money. I take advertising dollars. I’ll do it again. lenderama is my business. But to my knowledge, nobody has ever accused me of being corruptible, and I don’t care if they do. I never claimed to have integrity in the first place. If it’s been assigned to me, I must have earned it.

      In my opinion, web 2.0 transparency is not about having integrity beyond reproach, it’s about being ultimately approachable.

    14. [...] the newest ‘vendor’ product to interest me big time is Greg’s new single-property websites. For a relative pittance I can give him the pictures and whatever else he needs, and voilà! [...]

    15. Greg Swann December 26th, 2008 6:17 pm

      > your post awakened many emotions associated with sponsored reviews- specially the one that earned me quick $25 but ended up costing thousands of dollars in legal fees – more on my blog.

      Good on ya, Vlad. I’m looking forward to it.

    16. Teri L December 26th, 2008 6:36 pm

      >But to my knowledge, nobody has ever accused me of being corruptible, and I don’t care if they do. I never claimed to have integrity in the first place. If it’s been assigned to me, I must have earned it.

      Yer a lender. Of course you claim to have integrity.

      Todd, I love this comment, because you lay it all out there, but if you didn’t “claim to have integrity” c’mon. Say it ain’t so, Joe…

    17. Brian Brady December 26th, 2008 6:57 pm

      “Yer a lender.”

      You’ll note that Todd has been removed from lending, for 2-3 years now. Todd has disclosed that his income is derived from ads on Lenderama (and I suspect his Blog World). Todd’s primary business is social media consulting, not lending.

      I distinguish this point because his recommendations, as disclosed, have bias. I easily comprehend his bias and consider him a member of the “new media” now, when he makes recommendations to originators.

    18. Rebecca Levinson December 26th, 2008 7:17 pm

      I can’t speak to the Re.net talk. I just don’t follow the back stories enough to participate in the conversation in this way. Most all of the back and forth, well, I just don’t make time for it. I really enjoy the nitty gritty real estate posts in the blogosphere and I also enjoy the nitty gritty marketing posts here on BHB. I leave the rest on the table, that’s time for my kids:-)

      As far as integrity, this is my first and most important guidance. I have never been comfortable in a sales or marketing postion where it has become a choice between my integrity and the product/service that was being sold. EVERY time it has come down to that line, I have walked away….even in some cases with no savings to speak of. I know how to survive and thrive and I don’t need to compromise my integrity to do that. No company is worth that.

      I will personally attest there are many r.e. vendors who have questionable integrity and who sell r.e. professionals crap through manipulating maneuvers. The r.e. professionals succumb out of desperation because they don’t educate themselves on what they actually need and how to get it. They are desperate for business. In times like this, the vendors get tight on cash and so promises made to r.e professionals get left on the cutting room floor after they have already paid their money and then the r.e professionals are left with zero results and zero marketing dollars left for the year because they paid $2000-$15,000 on a pipe dream. Sometimes as a result of a one call close.

      At least 25% of r.e. vendors will be gone in 2009 if not more. They cannot all take up this space. There’s not enough willing marketing dollars to go around. There are some viable products and some good companies…some. There’s a lot of crap too and I will be happy to see that gone.

      Change is inevitable, thank goodness for that.

    19. Teri Lussier December 26th, 2008 7:32 pm

      Thanks Brian. When I tell people I’m not of the RE.net, they don’t always believe me.

      >You’ll note that Todd has been removed from lending, for 2-3 years now.

      I didn’t know that, but it doesn’t change the question of integrity as this conversation is not about a member of the new media. Although Todd’s understanding of new media is arguably unparalleled and his insight is always refreshing to me.

      If you don’t claim integrity, if it’s unimportant… Interesting. But only coming from Todd. Anyone else and it would suck. Can you imagine a working lender or a working real estate agent saying something like that?

      Look. This isn’t about WWGSD, or WWToddD or WWJTD or WWTeriD. It’s about what would you do? You being no one who has commented here. You being the person who will find this post a year from now. What would *you* do- what will you do? And that’s really all that matters.

      Is it too early to say Happy New Year? :-)

    20. Todd Carpenter December 26th, 2008 10:16 pm

      >Todd’s understanding of new media is arguably unparalleled and his insight is always refreshing to me.

      Wow, thank you Teri. For the record, New Media is my business. My first mortgage job was during high school, just over twenty years ago, but I am happy to have transitioned away from it.

      I have never felt the need to manage, defend, or establish my integrity. Not now, not as a wholesale lender, not as a loan originator like Brian. I’ve never seen that much value in it either. Bernard Madoff was a man of great integrity. So was Ted Haggard.

      It’s my belief that everyone has an axe to grind. The ones who are most transparent about what it is that motivates them are the one I trust the most.

    21. [...] I don’t care, either. The only behavior I control is my own, and, as I discussed last night, I never take an action I know in advance is morally wrong. Doesn’t mean I’m never in error. My contributions to BloodhoundBlog, very often, are [...]

    22. Teri L December 27th, 2008 6:53 am

      >I have never felt the need to manage, defend, or establish my integrity.

      Does that mean if a client of yours, then or now, feels that you’ve done something corrupt, you wouldn’t care? You wouldn’t try to repair that? You wouldn’t acknowledge that damage has been done?

      Not trying to bust yer chops, Todd. You do have a perspective that is unique here, and I like to hear what you have to say.

    23. Greg Swann December 27th, 2008 7:14 am

      > Does that mean if a client of yours, then or now, feels that you’ve done something corrupt, you wouldn’t care?

      Cathy and I were talking about this yesterday. When a homebuyer looks down at the HUD-1 and realizes for the first time that you will be getting paid 8% of the purchase price for your representation — what happens? Nothing. By that point, it’s too late to say anything. But that buyer will never trust you again, and may actually tell other people not to do business with you.

      This is me on an idea I call the implied accusation:

      Here’s another one, and it is everywhere: The Implied Accusation. It is communicated — if at all — by glares and sighs and harrumphs and scowls. Everyone knows what is going unsaid and nobody says anything. The Implied Accusation works beautifully, because, if you want the accusation made explicitly, you’ll have to explicate it yourself. Except you don’t explicate it yourself because you know that, even though you are without guilt here, you have too much to answer for elsewhere.

      The Implied Accusation is the underground river flowing through every unhappy relationship. To address good and evil, all you have to do is bring things out into the open. But after a while, there is simply too much to go through, too much that is too shameful to be cheerfully borne and revisited. Nothing lives underground, but nothing ever really dies, either, its just rots, becoming its own graveyard. In the end, it becomes easier to destroy the relationship than to go to all the work necessary to repair it.

      Here is The Implied Accusation in real estate: “Realtors are stupid.” “Realtors are corrupt.” “Realtors are lazy.” “Realtors are self-serving.” “Realtors will say anything to make a deal.” These ideas are epidemic, a cultural undercurrent.

      You know these charges are untrue, but what do you do about them? To leave The Implied Accusation unnamed, unaddressed is to seem to confess to it, or at least to plead no contest. Your clients begin their relationship with you with unstated doubts about your integrity, and you hope to counter those attitudes by your behavior.

      This is not enough. You have to make the issue explicit. You have to make every bit of it explicit, and not just once. At any point in your relationship with a client — possibly years after a transaction has closed — you may have to address The Implied Accusation. When, specifically? When there arises the possibility of a colorable doubt about your motives. The trouble is not that your client might complain, but, rather, that he might not complain and yet walk away from your relationship feeling aggrieved.

    24. Jay Thompson December 27th, 2008 10:09 am

      Brian asks: “Which of those free gifts wouldn’t you use if they were wrapped up in $100 bills?”

      Fair enough question. But first let me clarify one thing Brian. You said something on another thread that I had “denounced” some vendors. I don’t have a vendetta against vendors in general as some here apparently do. Are there lousy vendors? Of course. Are they all twisted and evil? Of course not.

      So I’m not sure “denounced” is the right word. I still don’t know what I’ll do with these “gifts” from AG. But there are clearly some that I will not use for one simple reason — I don’t need them.

      Real Estate Shows. I like Jeff Turner. I think he’s brilliant and as about as far from evil as one can get. But my web provider includes a solution that is very similar to what RES offers. I don’t need this gift, I already have the capability.

      The exact same thing is true with ML Broadcast.

      I think both of these vendors offer a product that many people could use. I already have a viable solution.

      Similarly, I build all my own single property websites on the WordPress platform. I don’t need MyMarketWare. I’ve looked at their product and it’s certainly a viable solution to building single-property sites. I just don’t need it, so why would I accept this gift? (Incidentally, this particular vendor is also far from “evil”.)

      MadMimi – I don’t particularly care for bulk email. When I do feel the need to use it, again my website provider has a solution that works perfectly well.

      BringTheBlog – I write my own stuff, I don’t need this. Dan Green (another decidedly non-evil vendor) and I have had this conversation. In public. And I’m fairly sure on AG. Is Dan’s service useful to some? Sure. Is it the best solution? Not in my opinion. But “evil”? puhlease.

      RealSeekr – I signed up for this when it was first released, just like I do about every social media tool that comes along. I like the interface, and the concept is kind of cool. But here’s the bottom line, for me. It doesn’t fit into my SM “plan”, and I use the word plan lightly. I don’t think RealSeekr is bad, and Grant and Gia are clearly not evil. I simply don’t have time to utilize it. If I’m not going to utilize something, why take it as a “gift”?

      Dwellicious – I will freely admit right here on a public forum that I just don’t get this one. Maybe I’m stupid, I just don’t see the point. I have a beta account (picked up long before the AG post came out), and I still don’t get it. I plan to talk to these guys at “vendorslut central” in a few days to educate myself on their product. But for now, I just don’t get it.

      Diverse Solutions – I love this product. More importantly, the feedback I get from people using it to search for homes is far superior to the previous IDX solution I used (KillerIDX). Is it for everyone? Of course not. Short of Estately, which IMO is the best IDX solution out there (but not available in Phoenix) I don’t think ANY IDX solution fits all or everyone’s needs. And yes, I have sung the praises of DS on my blog and they have an ad block. I sang their praises LONG before they had an ad block and I will continue to sing them after their ad expires in 4 days. I sing their praises because I like the product, and it helps me sell homes — not because they buy an add on TPREG for $100.

      What I’d really like to do with these gifts is “re-gift” them. I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to or not. But to accept a gift I don’t want or need seems silly. Not because I think it’s inherently evil to take a gift, but because taking a gift that I won’t use seems like a waste of my time and the vendors resources.

      I don’t have an expressed distaste — some might say hatred — toward all RE vendors. They are typically small business people too, trying to scratch out a living. Yes, there are a few bad apples that prey on ignorant people. I get calls from them almost every day. But that doesn’t make all vendors inherently evil. I happen to know many of the vendors personally that are providing these gifts. Some I consider friends, some I’ve had conversations with about how to improve their product.

      Again, maybe it’s just me, but I find the rants here against advertising and vendors unbelievably ironic. The accepting of “gifts” is “evil” but I guess the accepting of “sponsorship” is perfectly fine. Whatever. For someone to preach morality out one side of their mouth while personally attacking and being incredibly condescending out the other side boggles my mind. But so what? This is “your turf” and you guys can do whatever you feel like, however you feel like doing it. It’s not my place to tell you, or Greg, or anyone anywhere what to do and how to act, nor is it my place to push my value system on you. (I use the term “you” not to indicate “Brian Brady” but you as in whoever might be reading this comment.)

    25. Brian Brady December 27th, 2008 10:38 am

      Thank you, Jay Thompson. I’ve always considered you to be a cowboy.

    26. Todd Carpenter December 27th, 2008 11:21 am

      >Does that mean if a client of yours, then or now, feels that you’ve done something corrupt, you wouldn’t care? You wouldn’t try to repair that?

      If the same client thought this corruption had lead a less than satisfactory transaction on their part, YES. I might work to fix that. But not for the sake of my own name or integrity. I’d do it because I depend on relationship selling and would like every client I work with to consider working with me again.

      However, I’m rarely in such situations.

      Please don’t get me wrong here. I think Greg is more right then Benn in this situation. I do not lend my name to reviews anymore because I wished to avoid such entanglements. I make sure my readers know I have a relationship when I do talk about products. But I’m also in this for the money. So long as I’m open about that, and create a fair platform for everyone, I don’t think I have a problem. You tell me.

    27. Teri L December 27th, 2008 2:32 pm

      >I’d do it because I depend on relationship selling

      Well, that’s it, Todd. Would you have a relationship with someone you don’t trust?

      >I do not lend my name to reviews anymore because I wished to avoid such entanglements. I make sure my readers know I have a relationship when I do talk about products. But I’m also in this for the money. So long as I’m open about that, and create a fair platform for everyone, I don’t think I have a problem. You tell me.

      Lenderama is your business. Not lending. Not real estate. You practice disclosure, fair discussion, honest reviews… If you are going to do product reviews, take ads, that’s the way to do it. Don’t leave any doubts about where you stand, don’t make me wonder if this review is for real. Don’t hide the relationship. Don’t pretend the relationship doesn’t exist.

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