There’s always something to howl about

Archive for January, 2011

Thoughts Worth Pondering?

It’s pretty much become the mantra in real estate, that agents, most of ’em anyway, never stop searching for the Holy Grail — which is of course the MagicButton (MB). Just keep pressin’ it and business overwhelms them. They’re idiots of course. I can say that with a straight face cuz when it comes to MB hunts, I qualified for ExpertGuide status decades ago.

In point of fact, there are plenty of MBs around. They’re free or at least relatively cheap. Problem is, one of the key factors agents demand is that their effort is kept to a bare minimum. What I’m here to tell ya, as a charter member of MBA — MagicButtons Anonymous — is that there are two hard and fast ‘laws’ involved in any MB in the real estate brokerage business.

1. Seriously focused and slavishly consistent effort.

Don’t wanna burst anyone’s bubble with that one, but even a sit-down El Toro lawnmower must be running, in forward gear, and at least steered by a human operator to cut more grass than is directly under it when turned on.

2. If there are no results — defined as ever increasing bank deposits — then the only magic involved was the almost seamless transfer of money from the agent’s pockets to the marketer hawkin’ the MB.

What are some of the free MBS?

The one with the bestest cliché value is the leveraging of your sphere of influence. Though I’ve not liked the whole ‘sphere of influence’ approach much, it’s mainly due to how brokers use it to make a few bucks off their hopeless rookies before givin’ them the boot. In reality, most agents simply don’t have a sphere containing viable buyers/sellers. Still, if worked well and consistently it should, and probably will produce some results. Since you already know these people, the fear of rejection shouldn’t be a factor — or so the thinking goes.

Another one is farming. I’ve literally seen an idiot 23 year old succeed at this one. He had two cheap suits and a coupla sports coats, while driving a truly crappy lookin’ ’59 Ford — original paint job and all. Truth be known, the main ingredient to his farming success, (besides his relentless consistency) was he was too ignorant to realize his countless shortcomings. He thought farming was THE MB of all time. What a moron. 🙂

This next one is radioactive for most — cold calling. This is a sensitive topic, an understatement if ever there was one. The honest agents who eschew this MB outa hand simply say they hate the seemingly never ending rejection. Fair enough. This year a fellow San Diego agent will make about 16,875 cold calls. He’ll earn about $540,000 give or take. For those doin’ the math, let me. That’s $32 a call. Oh, you’re in East Toilet Seat, Iowa? At 10 bucks a call that’s still a decent income — almost $170,000. How many strangers would you call for $10-32 a pop? Just askin’. This guy rarely works more than 45 hours weekly, and even more rarely on weekends. And it’s free. In a recent conversation with him, he laughed as he told me, “I love all the weenies out there who’re too sensitive for all that horrible, self-esteem robbing rejection.” Ruthless, insensitive jerk. 🙂

Farming not for you? Try knockin’ on doors in the neighborhood of an impending open house on a weekly basis. This was a specialty of mine, taken from one of my first ever mentors. There’s a weird psychology involved for which I’ve never had a satisfactory explanation. But home owners near an open house who’re even kinda sorta entertaining the idea of moving, are often prodded to pull the trigger. Again, don’t know why it works, but it sure did.

MBs with a price tag.

The obvious one is the IDX — an MLS based home search for the public on your very own website. This approach above all shows any objective observer how little most agents are willing to work. Think about it. A mechanism that literally brings buyers into your laptop. Yet there are a shamefully small number of agents who close more than a few transactions from an IDX yearly. The tech guys don’t help matters, what with all their internecine pillow fights about what works best or at all. Yet regardless of the number of leads, one wonders how it’s possible to do virtually no business from it. Agents are resourceful though, and find a way.

A thought to ponder.

Though blogging is dead according to many, (not by enough in my opinion) it’s virtually free except for the time required. The problem with most real estate agent’s blogs, at least from where I sit, is that they don’t say much, and don’t say it very well. Cupcakes are fun, but not as a diet staple. Provide solid info, expertise, and insight, and over time folks will contact you. At least that’s been my experience. Having a crummy blog with worthless, self-serving info is worse than not having one.

All that said, it continually confounds me as I learn of various agents who proudly wear the crown of online virtuoso, who garner incomes impressive only to those scraping by. They’re able to generate thousands of leads annually, not to mention multiples of that number of people who visit their site monthly to read their posts. Yet they do what would generously be described as pedestrian business. Why is that? I don’t have a freakin’ clue. I just know it’s true more times than not by a wide margin.

Ponder This

The MB that’s easily installed in any of these, and all those strategies not mentioned here, is the application of the two aforementioned laws. Maximum efforts directed at what produces results is THE MagicButton guaranteeing you success every time it’s tried. Before you start screamin’ how stunningly obvious that is, ask yourself why real estate agents as a group don’t even come close to making the national median income?

Apparently it’s not so obvious. I’ll make this statement without any wiggle words or phrases. I think it’s true for maybe 80-90% of the real estate markets in the country. (Some are just too horrible now.)

If you can’t do 2-4 transactions a month in your market, you’re either a rookie, simply don’t wanna do that much business, or haven’t invoked the two laws. Most of us, at one time or another, including me at times, have allowed those with the loudest voices online to convince us they’re also the most successful. Some are, some aren’t.

Soberly ask yourself these questions:

If you’re doin’ what they say and it isn’t working, why are you still doin’ it? Stop. Most of ’em are so fulla crap their eyes turned brown long ago.

If it’s working for ya, but not as well as you KNOW it’s workin’ for them, why aren’t you putting in the effort and consistency to produce the same results?

Find out what method fits you — AND produces results.

Then work your butt off doing it day in and day out.

Ponder This — THE formula for every MagicButton that’s ever worked.

Proven strategy(s) + massive effort + unrelenting, unwavering consistency = elite income.

90% of real estate agents think they know a better way. We all know how that’s been workin’ out for ’em, right? And that’s a thought well worth pondering.


Real Estate Listings on Google Maps – she is no more.

Just a passing announcement that Google today officially ended Real Estate listings on Google Maps and Place Pages for individual property listings as well. For those playing the home game, here is the relevant information.

So what does this mean? Not much in my opinion. The reason Google dropped these ventures is that they simply were not generating traffic to the map searches. So, the corresponding ripple effect now that they are ceasing to exist will be equally small.

My take is that if a tree falls in the forest and it is a really small tree (traffic wise at least), then there won’t be a very loud noise. 😉



It’s springtime in Phoenix, when every ‘Zonie should feel proud to intone the most fundamentally American words that can ever be uttered: “Git offa my land!”

I bought my house out of hock yesterday, for the second time. I took that photo last Friday, looking up into a tree in our back yard, in anticipation of the event.

It’s springtime here in Phoenix, mid-seventies every day. That lighter green stuff is pollen, richly redolent with the sticky scent of vegetable love. There were stiff breezes on Saturday, and that pollen came cascading to the ground like green snow.

I love this house, this land, this home. I’d hate to lose it. Not so easy to hang onto it, lately, but it’s very much worth it to me. “Beloved over all,” says Kipling, and I’ll defend it with everything I have within me.


Heads up, America: Slavery is not somehow virtuous when you enslave each other. If you want freedom, you must demand freedom.

Here’s the political issue that matters: Government is crime.

When your local City Hall tells you which trees you must plant in your yard, that’s a crime against you.

When your state taxes your income in order to give your money to people who did not earn it, that’s a crime against you.

When the federal government dictates the specifications of the products you can buy and the tariffs you must pay to obtain products you want still more, that’s a crime against you.

We are not a family composed of 300 million strangers, we are each one of us individual human beings, each with our own minds, our own lives, our own families, our own hopes, dreams, wishes and plans. When the government impedes your life in any way — that’s a crime against you.

We don’t need to reduce this or reform that, we need to rid our civilization of this systemic criminality.

That is the message we should be hearing from the newly-elected presumptive friends of human liberty. If the new Congress is not committed to individual rights, then it’s just more Collectivism-on-the-Cheap: All the intrusiveness but even less satisfying!

Nobody is going to change anything overnight, nor very dramatically very soon. But if we don’t start making dramatic changes in the way we govern ourselves, we will succeed only in enslaving ourselves and our children.

That is what we need to focus on: Ridding our society of all criminal intrusions into the lives of individuals innocent of all wrong-doing.

So-called technological and economic “miracles” will result, of course, but that’s irrelevant. It is wrong to prey upon individual human beings, no matter what the nature of the predator. It is no less an abomination to be enslaved by a democracy than by an aristocracy or a dictatorship. It was freedom from all forms of tyranny that the American patriots fought to win for themselves and their children.

If you want freedom, demand freedom — which can only mean individual freedom. Demand that your governments stop committing crimes against you and your neighbors.

If you’re not willing to do this, you and the people you elect to represent you in government, then you might as well stand down. Individual liberty is the only just political philosophy, and if you won’t fight for it now, then collectivist tyranny will complete its conquest of the once-free world in due course.


I’ve made it to the top of Google

In case your wondering the easiest way to make it “fresh” to the top of Google.  Simply move your real estate business across the country, start a new website, and bingo!   I’ve made it to the top in three weeks.  How is that you might be wondering, right?  Easy!  I’m on the top of page 30 for the term, “Boynton Beach Real Estate”.  So I’ve decided to write a blog post about on it. 

Back in Wisconsin I was in the number 2 spot on page 1 of G for a few terms.  Now that I’ve started over because I moved a real estate business, I’ve got no search engine rank whatsoever.  So, in order to climb up the search engine ranks, I am in need of some fellow Bloodhounder help.  I am offered basically anything at this point for a helpful link for maybe a year or so until I can establish myself from down in the tranches and work my way but up the  ranks which will allow me to capture leads and close deals.  For anyone who will give me a sympathy link, I would be happy to return the favor. 

In 6 months, I will be reporting on how many people helped me out and what page I jumped to from page 30. 

Thank you in advance for your help.

Reporting live from the number 1 spot on page 30, I’m Robert Worthington.


Sharks – Pilot Fish – Dinosaurs – And Wishful Thinking

Don’t ya love it when a new way to call something old catches on? Smallish independent real estate brokerages are now often referred to as ‘indies’. Due to lower operating expenses, more agents working at home, and a perceived technology gap the size of the Grand Canyon, they’ll be an important factor in the death of the so-called BigBox (BB) mega-brokerages. In essence, by being meaner, leaner, and effectively leveraging their edge in all things hi-tech — the dinosaurs die the death of a thousand cuts.

And Al Gore invented the internet.

Been hearin’ this for so long I was shocked earlier this month when the phone at the 250 agent Keller Williams office was answered when I called. 🙂 I consider the lead recruiter of that office, a longtime friend, a legit superstar. Also, I’ve known their new Designated Broker since the late 90s or so. When I spoke with ‘Jane’ the recruiter, she laughed at the thought of indies sending her company to the boneyard.

In fact, in her firm’s experience, they’re the ones who’ve not only ended several indie firms’ existence, but absorbed them into the cavernous BigBox operation — often swallowing them whole. Indie owners don’t like hearing that, but it’s a fact about which I no longer become amazed, as it happens too often these days.

Much of the discussion on this topic is skewed by, what are in my opinion, false premises, wishful thinking, and putting the emphasis on the wrong syl-LA-ble much of the time. GM didn’t go off the rails cuz they’re too big, or that other, smaller, more tech-savvy carmakers beat them. They simply didn’t make cars as well as most of their competition.

The false premises used for arguing the imminent demise of the BBs is their ponderous nature, hiring practices, low tech approach, basic inefficiency, and out of control operating expenses. Paradoxically, those are merely the result of the real reason some BBs won’t be with us soon, if they don’t change their ways.

It’s the business model, not the size.

Those who insist on hiring newbies by the gross, while paying so-called top producers 90%+ will get what that model is virtually guaranteed to produce — a slow death. It reminds me of the business genius who once said they’d make up the nickel lost on each sale through volume.

Still, that’s not the issue underlying the conversation, in my opinion.

Access to the MLS by the public is also a false issue. The heated debate about hoarding the information has some merit, but isn’t the game changer from where I sit. (And please don’t try to draw me in on that issue, as I’d hafta go up three rungs on the ‘I Care’ ladder to be apathetic.) The public can have all the access it wants, but if your firm is the listing agent, you control things. Whether through the MLS, some website, or strings and cans, they’ll hafta go through you to make a sale. My first several years as an agent were spent in a firm that wasn’t a member of their local board or the MLS from Day 1. It was the most prolific house selling brokerage in San Diego County for five years running, closing 1,000+ sides per year, every one of those years. The Board/MLS begged the broker to join, but that’s another story. Bottom line? They needed him, not the other way around — and they knew it. Especially those firms who listed little if any property.

Listings are the only thing that keeps indies afloat.

Most indies adopt models making them the real estate industry’s version of Pilot Fish. They feed off the big sharks. As long as the shark lives, so do they. (The analogy falls apart a bit when one notices they also help sharks by eating parasites. But that’s a difference conversation altogether. 🙂 ) Though many of them, admirably, make big bucks, they often look in the mirror each morning and see the big proud Shark, instead of the dependent Pilot Fish they really are.

As long as there are prolific listers in a given area, indies based on the buyer agent model will do well, all things being even. There are BBs who are listing machines in their local markets, and they’re thriving. My buddy at KW has literally closed the doors on many buy oriented indies cuz the owners saw the gold mine of listings available to their buyer focused approach. In other words, they decided to attach themselves to the biggest baddest Shark in the area. Predators keep their distance, and they’re on the inside of the listing gold mine with a pick and shovel.

The loud bellowing you may be hearing are the indies who specialize exclusively in buyer representation. They’re gettin’ upset cuz they think maybe they’re about to be bashed. Not true. Some of my best friends are buyer agents. 🙂 In fact, they do whatever it takes to be my friend, cuz without listers like me, they’d die on the vine. But listers don’t need you, you need them. They can choose to exist without you, while you simply don’t have that option. Yell all ya want.

As Grandma often observed, “Point weak, shout loud.”

Sharks not only feed themselves but the Pilot Fish who feed on their leftovers. An inelegant way of phrasing it? Perhaps. But true nonetheless. The BBs that consistently list properties as the predominant source of their income, and lead generation, will survive, sometimes in spite of themselves. Those who list AND raise their hiring standards, modify their compensation policies, and give more than lip service to technology will not only survive, but thrive.

Pilot Fish are only safe and secure as long as the shark lives. Own a smallish indie and don’t cotton to the idea of working for a BB? Headhunt some listing agents and watch your firm explode. Create your own in-house Shark/Pilot Fish operation. Only at that point will you be truly self proficient.

Please, don’t hold your breath waitin’ for all the BigBox companies to die. It simply ain’t gonna happen. Furthermore, when (if?) the ones still using the flawed models pull their heads out, and become listing machines, they may decide to do what my first employer did, at least in a modified fashion.

They’ll list the property, gettin’ the seller’s permission to delay MLS participation for 2-4 weeks. With 100-500 agents, how many of those listings do you think will sell in that time period? Once they start succeeding there, they’re begin to realize how overvalued the MLS is to them.

That’s when the fun might really begin.

BigBox brokerages are all gonna die? Not in my lifetime. Yours either.


Real estate is a crazy buffet

As the only member of the blogroll who regularly attends conferences like NAR and Inman Connect — or perhaps as the only one who is willing to admit it — it is my special privilege to glean some nugget from these events that I think will be of interest to the BHB readership.

As I was pondering the take away from this year’s Inman Connect in NYC — was it something the excellent David Carr said, or was it watching the 5 Realogy CEO’s get up on stage to talk for half an hour while saying precisely nothing?  — it turns out I got scooped by Bill Geist from CBS Sunday Morning.

Geist, unlike myself, got tickets to the Top 100 dinner…


Taking the Plunge as a Real Estate Broker/Owner

I have been talking for years with Mark Madsen about opening my own real estate brokerage here in the Las Vegas Valley.  I finally stopped talking and took action!  On January 1st, 2011 I officially opened my own Las Vegas Real Estate Brokerage, Shelter Realty Inc.

Prior to making the decision to start my own real estate brokerage, I weighed the pros and cons and spoke with several broker/owners to hear firsthand of their experiences.  I also calculated what I paid my broker for the last two years and what I expected to spend this year if business continued to grow and it was eye opening!  It became evident that the only decision I had was to open my own real estate and property management brokerage.

After making the decision to move forward, I wrote out a business plan and tried to account for everything that needed to be done prior to opening.  Little did I know that it is almost impossible to account for everything!

So, if you’re thinking about taking the plunge like I did, here are top 5 issues that I didn’t account for when I opened my own real estate brokerage.

  1. General Liability and E/O Insurance (More expensive than I estimated)
  2. Business license requirements (As a property manager, you are required to be licensed in all cities in which you manage a property, not just the city in which your office is located, like I had thought)
  3. Client/Landlord Response (It took much longer than anticipated to get back signed addendums from landlords authorizing the transfer to the new company)
  4. NAID Number (I forgot to apply for an NAID Number.  Can’t sell a HUD home without one!)
  5. Peer Support (Others around you aren’t always excited to see you succeed)

Even though it’s only been a few weeks, I feel re-energized about real estate as if I was a newly licensed agent again and I am looking forward to sharing my experiences as a new broker/owner with others.


Just be yourself

If you believe in not siding with any party in an attempt to remain neutral, please stop reading.  This post is a post that has been on my mind which is about being yourself and doing what makes you happy.  I was 22 when I bought my first home.  My parents told me not to buy that home, 5 years later it was the best thing I ever bought when I sold it.  I was told you CAN’T say your a Christian believer that Jesus Christ is your savor on your real estate website; I’ve sold houses to Christians and made really good friends in and around the industry because of it.  I was told flat out, find a job that more steady that real estate, something safer; however I love living on the edge.  I even doubted myself when I thought my family couldn’t afford to tithe; my wife thought otherwise and we do.  I was told not a buy a used Cadillac as they don’t hold up; I still drive it to this day. 

I love being myself.  It’s not about always pleasing other people including the customers in your business.  I had a prospect call me a year ago.  He asked me questions up and down that was raising red flags left and right, my gut feeling told me to hang up on him; I did.  I was told I was too young to be in the real estate business, I’m still young and still in it today.  Russell Shaw stated himself, if his team goes on a 1,000 listing appointments, he’ll take 500 of them.  Wow.  I believe in myself and I believe in my decisions, and that’s exactly what I want you who is reading this right now to believe.  Greg Swann is an Author and Eric Blackwell is an seo guru, relationship builder.   We all make mistakes, (liking hanging up on a call in), but the point is this, believe in yourself and BE YOURSELF.


Hiring a new employee. When your personal and business lives coincide.

I’ve written here before about my experiences with web marketing. In general, it’s been a resounding success. But getting 90 to 95 percent of my clients from the web puts a lot of my eggs in one basket. Sure, it’s a pretty diverse basket – the various search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, the various legal-reference websites, Facebook, YouTube – are unlikely all to collapse at once.

But I’d like to be diversified. Fortunately the past year means I can add an employee. I’ve thought about the kind of employee: an attorney to handle additional case load? a legal assistant who can do basic administrative work and keep my Quickbooks?

Ultimately, I needed to think about what I’d ideally want. I’d ideally want someone who can be great on the phone. So much of being hired depends on the front-line person who can answer the phone in a welcoming manner, sort calls and provide basic information, and – this is key – identify the callers who need to speak to the lawyer. A great front-line person is precious. A lousy front-line person can actively drive away potential clients.

I also wanted someone who can appear in court alongside me, deal with paralegal issues, and handle filings. That paralegal work – keeping calendars, making sure clients show up for court dates, dealing with other lawyers’ and prosecutors’ requests and inquiries – is time consuming, but crucial.

Ideally, though, I wanted someone who could help me grow the business. Someone who could help me reach beyond the web. Someone who could help me grow my local referral network. Someone who could think about new avenues for expansion (adding new practice areas? how about consulting with other lawyers or professionals about how to grow their businesses? how about hosting seminars gear toward recent grads or lawyers about how to take advantage of the web and social networking?)

To find that person would be something special. But I was lucky enough to do so.

My wife – who is currently a senior consultant with a multinational corporation – has decided to take a part-time role at her company and join me. We’ve been talking about this for a month now, and what it would mean for the business (about which I’m confident of success) and about how it will affect our relationship (I think we’ll adjust).

But I’m very excited. Already in her first week – working in the evenings – she’s booked about $6,000 worth of business. I’ll let you know how it goes!

In other news, I’ve always been pretty skeptical about out-of-the-box web-hosting packages, especially those designed for lawyers. Various legal information networks have solutions for lawyers which allows them to pay a monthly fee and have a “customized” website created for them. These websites typically look the same, such that when I’m looking at a lawyer’s website produced by one of these companies, I can usually identify which company made it.

But when LexisNexis launched it’s LexisNexis Marketing Makeover for small firms and solo practitioners, I thought, what the heck. And so I submitted an entry, and lo’ and behold, was selected as one of five finalist firms out of hundreds? thousands? of entries nationally. I’ve been interviewed by a member of the LexisNexis team via Skype, and expect them to choose a Grand Prize winner in the next couple of weeks. If I win, I get a trip to NYC! And, of course, an estimated $50,000 in marketing help, which isn’t too shabby, for my Raleigh criminal lawyer website.


Final Scene. Cut, Print… That Was, Unfortunately, a Wrap.


The MAN walks up to the cab.  The back door is open and a PASSENGER sits inside. The Man leans in and talks to the Passenger.


               I’d like to tell you I’ll stay in touch, but… hell, I haven’t stayed in touch at all over the past years.



               Don’t worry about it.

The Man reaches out to shake hands. He’s trying to come across with a kind of distant warmth common to men who don’t express any real feelings, but his smile only makes him look sadder.


               It’s been great to see you bro’.

The Passenger accepts the Man’s handshake and pulls it in tight, bringing both men together. The Passenger wraps his other arm around the Man, embracing him in a hug.


               You too.



(still hugging)

               I had a great time this weekend.  I really miss talking to you… And getting to see everyone again, like old times? You were always the one; you always brought everyone together.

The Man begins pulling back from the hug. They drop the handshake, but the Man remains there; leaning into the back of the cab. They are close in proximity. The Passenger is relaxed… accepting, but the Man feels a little awkward. He holds on to the front seat of the cab to steady himself. His grip tightens, willing himself to hold the position. To remain close.


(in a tired, weak voice)





(looking directly into the Passenger’s eyes)


               You know, if there’s anything I can do… Anything you need…



(nodding gently)

               I know.

The Man lets go his grip on the front seat and begins to straighten up out of the cab. The headlight of a passing car reflects wetness in his eyes.


               Take care of yourself brother



               You too…

It’s dark and it’s snowing and the wind whips at the Man’s jacket collar. He turns and walks five or six steps back to the sidewalk. His face looks like it might have been five or six miles. The snow muffles everything and it is quiet. The Man turns and looks back into the cab; through the front windshield. He sees only a silhouette now. He raises his arm up, bent at the elbow, hand about shoulder height. He waves just once, hand moving in a slight arc – away from the body. It’s a practiced wave, handed down by one generation of men to another. It’s meant to appear casual; a non-committal wave that conveys absolute commitment. The cab quietly pulls away.


Good-Bye little brother. You rest easy now… you’ve fought long enough.


Do You Know How To Network?

I used to hate networking meetings because they seemed like business card collecting contests.  I always feel cheapened by the “Wham.  Bam!  Thank you, Ma’am” Chamber of Commerce meetings, where the person of the moment looks over your shoulder, for someone more interesting, while you compliment her on the color of her blazer.  I usually have two too many drinks at these and wake up with a fistful of business cards and a craving for aspirin.  Often, when I call said peach-color blazered Amway rep, to follow up, she doesn’t remember me at all.

I’ll be damned if I’m not…memorable !

I still like meeting people so I started my own gig, a few years ago.  It’s been mostly successful because I’ve been at the center of the group and have blanket permission to call or email everyone who attends.  More importantly, they remember me when I call.

I’ve branched out on Meetup and started attending new networking mixers.  Here are a few tips I’ve picked up, which has increased my efficacy, and helped me develop more genuine connections with strangers:

  • I don’t try to meet everyone.  In fact, I often ask people where the real estate agents, attorneys, accountants, and wealth advisers are.
  • When I do meet someone, I use Michael Peak’s strategy of asking “What are you working on?” and then asking “How can I help?”  Those two questions reveal more about anyone’s business than the traditional “What do you do?” and “Who’s your best target client?”  Asking those two questions has opened some doors for me.  Ironically, although I reject the Chamber crowds, I met Michael at one of them.  It’s plain to see why he made an impression on me.
  • I set a goal of meeting three people and ask for permission to call or visit with them.

That’s my trick.  I know who I want to meet when I attend, ask those two questions, and try to make three new friends at each gig.  I reject the card collecting and try to go deeper with the conversations.  Oh, I almost forgot; I relax and have fun, too.

So…what are YOU working on?


Home free in Massachusetts: Not paying your mortgage is a less-significant moral fault than being sloppy with paperwork.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court makes a slam-dunk argument for free-market dispute resolution. Meanwhile, think twice before you lend money. You may never see it again.


QR Bar Code – Too techy; or spot on?

I recently ordered 5,000 business cards.  All the while, the QR bar code was eating at my inner most business model, “keep it simple, for all customers”.  Since not all customers, including snowbirds have smart phones, I elected not to add the QR bar code to the back side of my business card.  While many agents have already taken the leap, I was doubtful and listened to my gut.  I also order 5,000 tri-fold brochures, and still no QR bar code

I do feel the QR bar code has a place in real estate, I believe that place to be on sign riders.  .   The QR bar code is bursting onto the scene around parts of the country including South Florida.     I plan on ordering 15 sign riders all which will include the QR bar code for techy passer bys that must get the information immediately.  So what is the core issue behind that post you might be thinking?

Number one, the QR bar code can capture leads, which can turn into closings.  Maybe our uber techy’s from Bloodhound have a good system of text message drips once that lead is captured.  J

Number two, where is best place online to get the QR bar code?

Number three, what is your opinion on the QR bar code?  Where would you use it in your business?


Freeing Jefferson’s slaves

A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story

“Mark Twain said, ‘In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.'” There was a smattering of uncomfortable laughter throughout the school gymnasium, accompanied by pained looks from the dais, where the school board sat. “I’m not here to talk to practiced idiots. I am here, though, to stand up for Huck Finn.”

And yes, Uncle Willie was giving a speech. Wearing a jacket and tie, no less — finest quality thrift shop haberdashery. I was shuffling through Jefferson, Oregon, shuffling my way to somewhere less moist, when that gray and soggy city was struck by the national craze to ban Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” for using the N-word.

The N-word, in case you were wondering, is “nigger”. Not “north”. Not “nitrogen”. Not even “nebulous nincompoop non-communication”. It’s “nigger”. I think it says something rather profound about the life of the mind in latter-day America that we have become used to conversing in meaningless euphemisms. “Intestinally deficient,” to say the least of it.

Anyway, you know the story; it shows up in the papers five or six times a year. Some snotty little proto-teen decided that blowing off her homework was a human rights issue, and some sleazy little ‘educator’ made a media circus out of it. It is a testament to the progress of the Politically Correct “idea” that it is now possible to be a jackass by proxy. I showed up just as the school board members, hand-crafted idiots made with pride by a skilled and practiced god, were gearing themselves up for the predictable denouement.

“And why wouldn’t I stand up for Huck?” I asked. “In some ways I am Huckleberry Finn. In some ways we all are. And, like Twain, ‘I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.'” More laughter, maybe a little better humored.

I had a copy of “Huckleberry Finn” in my hand and I was gesturing with it like a TV preacher with his bible. I said, “You can ban this book if you want to. You’ve got the power and I can’t stop you from using it. But I’d hate for you to ban it in ignorance. I’d hate for you to ban it without knowing what it is, what it really is.” I fixed the little proto-teen with a stare, pinned her with the arrows in my eyes. “I’d hate for you to ban it without knowing what it says.”

The little teenlet squirmed uncomfortably, but her troubles had just begun. Speaking directly to her, I said, “What is it that you found so offensive about this book? Does the ink smell bad to you?” A little laughter, a little more squirming. “I don’t like the color of this cover. It’s too bright to be vermilion, too dark to be russet. It looks like blood. Are you offended by books that look like blood?” There was a little more laughter, scattered and nervous, and the little girl was furious.

“You know what’s wrong with it!” she spat. “It uses the N-word!”

I shook my head. “No, it doesn’t. It uses the word ‘nigger’. Many times. Hundreds of times. Twain had a reason for using that word. Can you tell me what his reason was?”

She said nothing, just glared.

“Well, then, can you tell me which use of the word ‘nigger’ you found offensive? Jim is black. Is it offensive when he uses the word ‘nigger’? Huck is ignorant. Surely we can’t hold him at fault for not knowing any better than to use bad language.”

“It’s the author!”

“Indeed. Do you think Mark Twain wanted to insult black people by using the word ‘nigger’? Is that the purpose of ‘Huckleberry Finn’, to insult black people?”

She started to say something then stopped herself.

“Is that what Twain was doing with the Duke and the Dauphin? Is that what he was doing with the Shepherdsons and the Grangerfords, making fun of black people? Is the incident involving Colonel Sherburn intended to malign black people?”

Her face was a mask of confusion, as I knew it would be. “Do you mean to say that you are ‘offended’ by a book you haven’t even read?”

“I– , I– , I read enough of it!”

“You want to ban a book you haven’t read. You read just enough to make up an excuse to quit, didn’t you? And in preference to admitting that, you’ll make it impossible for every child in this school district to read one of the most important books ever written. Your parents must be awfully proud…”

I swept the room with my eyes. “Because this book is not intended to malign black people. The purpose of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ is to malign and insult and ridicule white people, to grab them by the scruff of the neck and rub their noses in the mud of their own hypocrisy. Could it be that the mud runs as thick in Jefferson as it did in Colonel Sherburn’s Arkansas?

“Huck Finn is an ignorant savage, enslaved by his nature and by his failure to rise above his nature. When he dives into the Mississippi to save Jim, that is when he becomes a human being. He is baptized, born again in the womb of the muddy river. He is America’s Moses; the water is parted by his body and the slaves are led to freedom — but the slaves are white, not black. A hundred and twenty years after independence, thirty years after emancipation, Twain commanded white America to cast off the chains of ignorance and prejudice, to practice what Thomas Jefferson so eloquently preached: that all men are created equal — black, white, brown, yellow and red. Huck Finn became a human being when he rose above his nature and his prejudices and his avarice and his appetites and his passions and his fears. He became a human being when he resolved to stand for justice no matter what the cost.”

I turned my gaze to the school board. “What do you stand for…?”

I spun back to the audience and walked my eyes from face to face. “This is what teachers do. I have no idea what ‘educators’ do. Gobble up tax dollars and quack like ducks, I guess.” Pleasant laughter. “Screech like chickens when you call ’em on it.” More laughter. “But this is what teachers do. They grab you by the scruff of the neck and say, ‘Un-ac-ceptable. Your appetites are not proof. Your passions are not proof. Your craven prejudices are the perfect opposite of proof. Your precious feelings demonstrate nothing, justify nothing, prove nothing.'”

I looked back to the proto-teen. “If you had been lucky enough to have a teacher, instead of this collection of god-mangled idiots, you would have read ‘Huckleberry Finn’ by now. You could have moved on to ‘Lord of the Flies’, which is about school boards.” That joke was pushing things, I know; irony is the hardest of mettles. “If you were lucky enough to have a teacher, you could get yourself an education.”

I swept my eyes across the room again. “We were all of us born ignorant, just like Huck. Born naked and squalling, covered in blood and mucous and bilious excrement. We are born as animals, savage and helpless and terrified and outraged and completely incompetent to do anything about it. And thus would we remain, until we died, minutes or hours later. Except that each of us was lucky enough to have a teacher — a lot of teachers — when we were young. They taught us to feed ourselves and to walk and to speak and to use the bathroom — a thousand and one things that toddlers do routinely and animals do only in performance.

“But education doesn’t stop when we’re toddlers; that’s when it begins! And that’s when we hand the reins over to the ‘educators’, the ‘professionals’. And they take children enslaved by their ignorance and lead them to the charnel house of tedium, teaching them nothing and leaving them no outlets for their energy but self-destruction. Is this what you went to all that trouble for, so your children could grow up to be book banners, book burners, self-righteous champions of eternal savagery?

“The job of a teacher is to lead children — and adults — out of the slavery of ignorance. If you had been lucky enough to have a teacher, you’d know that. The job of a teacher is to induce you to rise above your appetites and your passions and your prejudices and your fears and your feelings and to impel you to use your mind. For an instant. For an hour. For a day. For a year. For a lifetime. The job of a teacher is to teach you to conquer your fears and your prejudices and your aversions, to say to them proudly, ‘You will not enslave me, for my mind can master anything!’

“The job of a teacher is to command you to rise above the mud and excrement that is your inheritance from nature and grasp instead the legacy left you by all those great minds who lived before you.”

I pointed my finger right at the little proto-teen and said, “You are made of the same stuff as Socrates. The same stuff as Michelangelo, Copernicus, Beethoven, Shakespeare. You walk the same green Earth that Twain himself walked. You read his books — or refuse to — by the light of the same sun. There is nothing you cannot reach — if you find the right teacher.

“And the job of that teacher is to lead you out of the slavery of darkness and into the freedom of the clean, clear light of knowledge, of wisdom, of reason. To be the Moses of your mind’s liberation and help you build Jerusalem right here, in Jefferson’s gray and soggy land.”

I held my copy of “Huckleberry Finn” aloft — like a bible, like a sword, like a torch. “I don’t know how many teachers you have among all these ‘educators’. But I know this: this book is one of the finest teachers you will ever have. If you ban it, you will condemn yourselves to wallow in the mud. And you will belong there.”

The echo of my voice died to silence and the silence hung heavy in the air. I had begun to wonder if I was going to get a free ride out of town on a rail. But then a big, beefy man at the back of the gym stood up and clapped his hands together hard. He applauded with a slow cadence and, one by one, all around the room, people stood up and joined him. Surprised me, really. I figure there’s always one or two folks who are willing to listen to what I have to say, but not very many. It wasn’t everyone, even so; a stout minority of ‘educators’ and school board members sat scowling, their arms crossed, their lips pursed in tight little lines. But the parents and the real teachers rose, one at a time, applauding not Twain nor my frail defense of him, but their own love for justice and their will to grasp it.

And then, surprise of all surprises, the little proto-teen stood up and started to clap. I’d like to hope she was a little wiser for spending an hour with the muses. More probably she was mooing with the herd, not knowing that for once this group of people was not a herd. At the very least, she was chastened and chagrined. And after all, victory is where you find it. I tossed my copy of “Huckleberry Finn” to her, lofting it over the crowd. She caught it with one hand and held it high — like a bible, like a sword, like a torch.

Huckleberry Finn jumped in the river to free a runaway slave. And he’s freeing slaves still, in Jefferson and everywhere people seek deliverance from the bondage of ignorance. Huck became a human being when he resolved to stand for justice no matter what the cost. We become more perfectly human when we do the same.


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