Recently in Personnel Category

Jon R. Katzenbach and Zia Khan:

A few years ago we were studying a dozen front-line supervisors at a large telecommunications company in North America. These supervisors had been selected because of their widely recognized ability to motivate the people they worked with -- emotionally as well as rationally. Their people simply did not ever want to disappoint them. The managers counter-intuitively simplified the guidance they received from HR into a singular focus on making people take pride in their day-to-day work. As we came to understand what they did that most "good managers" did not do, we realized that this was a learnable skill. What they did could be captured in a few simple behaviors.

When we shared these behaviors with the CEO, he became impatient. "This seems pretty straightforward -- so why don't more supervisors do this stuff?" he asked. At first we suggested the obvious: faulty recruiting, selection, training, incentive and performance management programs. His response stopped us in our tracks:

David Gelles:

Facebook on Friday announced another round of changes to its privacy policy, including amendments that could allow the site to share user information automatically with third-party websites.

Certain websites could soon be "pre-approved" by Facebook, so that if a user is logged into Facebook and then visits the third-party website, it would receive information including the "names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting" of a user and his or her friends.

The sites might be able to retain that information "to the extent permitted under their terms of service or privacy policies".

Facebook said it would introduce the feature with a small group of partners and offer new controls for users to opt out.

However, the company could face resistance by users and advocates who see such a move as another invasion of privacy.

Brokers and others have mused the mining potential of Facebook's data.

Gelles has written a followup article on Facebook's privacy issues:

For example, when Facebook users post a new piece of content, they can decide whether to share that with an individual, a group or the entire web.

Facebook's motives are not hard to grasp. By making more personal information publicly accessible, it is improving its ability to target users with highly-specified adverts. "They are pushing the envelope because it is in their financial best interest to do so," says Augie Ray, an analyst with Forrester Research.

However, Facebook - and the rest of the social networking industry - is facing the prospect of increased regulation in Europe and the US, its biggest markets.

The Future of the City & Technology Trends

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Samuel Palmisano (Chairman of IBM):

A few years ago, the world crossed a threshold. For the first time, more than half the human race is living in cities. By 2050 the figure will rise to 70 percent. We are adding the equivalent of seven New Yorks to the planet every year.

This means the most important locus for 21st-century innovation--technological, economic, and societal--will be our cities. They present the most promising opportunity to make our planet smarter.

Cities bring together the systems by which our world works: education, transportation, public safety, and health care, among others.

We have the capacity to inject new intelligence into those systems. Enormous computational power can be delivered in forms so small and inexpensive that it is being put into phones, cars, and appliances, as well as things we wouldn't recognize as computers, such as roadways (to monitor traffic) or rivers (to monitor pollution and better allocate water use). The data captured by these digital devices--soon to number in the trillions--will be turned to intelligence, because we now have the processing power and advanced analytics to make sense of it all.

Our challenge is to apply this technology to improving the places we live. Consider the applications:

Things we know:
  • Networks, particularly wireless, will be faster and pervasive
  • Mobile technology is exploding, and will be the right tool at the right time for most real estate professionals, see the latest version of our branded iPhone app. It is faster, easier to use and more convenient than most traditional website search and analysis tools.
  • People are flooded with data. Turning that data into useful information - the "value add" and building relationships is the key to broker business growth.
  • Some of the broker concierge services schemes from dot com boom #1 may now actually happen. Our Main Street software includes an extensive set of CRM/customer for life, transaction and concierge tools. One real time system from leads to closings.
  • The key question for all organizations: "what is your value equation?"
Let's discuss the opportunities that lie ahead. Contact Virtual Properties +1 608 271 9601 or zellmer at

First: happy new year and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2010!

Second: 2010 change and opportunity.

I have been traveling extensively the past few weeks. It is always interesting and useful to observe people, their activities and gadgets.

Hands down, iPhone and iPod Touch devices dominated aircraft, airport and holiday scenes. I did see a few blackberries (one family had a company blackberry and several iPhones) and one Droid.

The recent smartphone explosion along with the introduction of useful "tablet" or "slate" devices will continue to change the way in which people use, create and interact with real estate information.

Most importantly, it will change their expectations......

What does this mean for brokers and agents?

## A) Mobile

The "killer app" - from a VP customer - for real estate buyers, sellers and professionals.

Our second major release in 9 months, your branded iPhone app provides essential website functions in a faster, easier to use application. Always on, this "app" can be accessed at home, work, on the go, while working out, dining, traveling - anywhere.

Our software makes sure the app is up to date with the latest property information and technology. It includes property comparison tools and unlimited use mapping services. Stop paying for maps on a per click basis.

Your organization must be in this space.

There will be competing devices, though it is not yet clear who will successfully challenge the iPhone infrastructure.

## B) "Tablet or Slate" computing and real estate

There has been no shortage of hype recently about these new devices. From my perspective, the real change will be to traditional laptop formats. Physical keyboards will certainly be available for some time, but, virtual keyboards (via touchscreens with "multi-touch" gestures) will take over the volume portable device space.

Many real estate firms have published traditional magazines, as a marketing and advertising vehicle.

This conceptual video, by Bonner Mag+ neatly summarizes digital magazine possibilities with emerging devices:

The video reinforces the benefits of high quality, well organized information. Our Main Street single entry cloud software generates timely media and text content for many publications in different formats, including html and pdf. Our clients do not need to add yet another vendor and platform to support these emerging applications.

## C) Your Website

The iPhone app explosion is changing buyer and seller information convenience and access expectations. Does your website address these changing customer desires?

Accelerate your website with our Main Street cloud software's new customer portal tools. From lead generation to transactions and customer for life, Main Street manages your world in real time.

One vendor.

Virtual Properties is your trusted technology team - since 1995. Do you have the right people, platform and technology partner for 2010 and beyond?

Google Mortgages? Lending Tree Sues Mortech

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Kit Eaton:

Google's got tentacles everywhere--and it just grows and grows and grows. But here's a head-scratcher: News has surfaced that suggests Google's getting into the mortgage business. Specifically, the loan aggregation business. What gives?

The data has popped up in a new law suit brought by LendingTree--an online business that acts as a lead-generation system for mortgages, refinancing and home equity loans. The target of its suit is Mortech, one of its tech suppliers which was supposed to have an exclusive deal with LendingTree. But somehow LendingTree discovered that Mortech was working with someone else, and brought the suit. That suspected third party is Google.

Essentially LendingTree is alleging Mortech is violating contractual exclusivity to help Google get into the online mortgage aggregation business. Within the suit's text is the following direct reference to Google's services: LendingTree has "obtained 'screen shots' of the trial version of Google's service that further indicate that, like LendingTree's service, Google will provide customers with conditional loan offers in addition to lenders' contact information." Basically it looks like Google's expanding the suite of services it offers to include helping connect you up with a mortgage provider. There's no data on specifically how, but one can wonder if Google will offer it up as a separate web page, thanks to its very specific nature, or possibly include hyperlinks to mortgage offers when you use its search engine to perform property searches. Google's declined to comment on the suit, merely saying its development in this direction so far is limited to a "small ad test unit" that it's trialing in the U.S.

Real Time Information Execution Benefits

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Don Sull:

Execution starts with when a team or organization forms a shared understanding of the market situation. A start-up's business plan and an established company's strategy are both examples of what I call mental maps, shared models that represent reality and serve to guide action. Mental maps can range from detailed plans in thick binders to a simple insight sketched on a cocktail napkin. Differences in form should not obscure similarity in role-all mental maps represent the environment, highlight important variables, and suggest a way forward.

Even the best mental map is an imperfect representation. Mental maps can only incorporate current knowledge, and exclude new insights that will only emerge in the future. Maps simplify a complex reality, thereby ignoring potentially important variables and interactions. Competitors will go out of their way to exploit blind spots in any map. We know only one thing about our maps with certainty-they are flawed.

How can leaders update imperfect mental maps as circumstances shift? An important part of the answer lies in collecting the right type of information. Along with my co-author Stefano Turconi, I have been studying the type of data required to map a situation in flux, and identified four critical attributes: The best information is real time, unfiltered, shared, and holistic. My next few posts will discuss each in turn, beginning with real time.

Main Street, a real time internet system for agents, clients and brokers, was designed from day one to be your comprehensive information source. One, real time system is an asset (arguably your most valuable asset) that allows your organization to implement and execute new initiatives faster than brokerages mired in information spaghetti. Related: Both sides now.

LinkedIn vs. Freemasons

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The Economist:

Networking websites are booming, but they have not supplanted more traditional business networks.

RANÇOIS PÉROL, the adviser whom Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, controversially appointed in February to head two merging mutual banks, is not known as a champion of transparency. But Mr Pérol has let it be known that he intends to reduce the influence of freemasons at Caisse d'Epargne and Banque Populaire. He has refused an invitation to a tenue blanche ouverte, a masonic meeting that non-freemasons may attend. And he does not want senior posts shared among the banks' various rival lodges.

French business may be particularly full of networks, but every country has its cliques, whether based on education, social background or spiritual beliefs. In Spain, Italy and Latin America as well as France, businesspeople speak of the influence of Opus Dei, a conservative Catholic lay order which supports a number of business schools. America has its Ivy League alumni groups and Rotary clubs. Chinese businesspeople often rely on guanxi, or personal connections.

Being First

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"Being the First": An Ageless State of Mind in the Multicultural Marketplace
Much has been written about young multicultural consumers being trendsetters in music and fashion, active users of digital devices and all-around early adopters. But opportunities are being lost by thinking about "trendsetters" in such a narrow way among such a narrow group of consumers. In fact, the idea of "being the first" is more than a mere pop-culture-related behavior, and it applies to older consumers as well as younger consumers within the multicultural markets. This week's MONITOR Minute takes a look at the early-adoption attitude of African-American and Hispanic consumers ages 50 and older and shows how marketers can leverage their need to "Be the First" to appeal to this influential consumer segment.

They're Still "Being the First"
Compared to Non-Hispanic White consumers ages 50+, older ethnic consumers are simply more interested in staying abreast of what's new and interesting in the marketplace and in the world:

Soar Above the Skyful of Lies

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Stefan Stern:

The great financial crisis intensified at ultra-high speed thanks to super-fast broadband connections and increased computer processing power. Time to switch the machines off? No. But it is surely time to manage the flow of information better.

This will not be easy. Research led by the husband-and-wife-team Professors Andrew and Nada Kakabadse (he is based at the Cranfield school of management, she is at the Northampton business school) has revealed the depths of managers' addiction to new communication technology. Around a quarter of the 1,200 professionals surveyed spend three or more hours a day on their e-mails and sending text messages. More than half the younger and middle-aged respondents never turn their phones off at all.

Three quarters of younger workers admit to being addicted to technology. Alcohol, tobacco, shopping: none of these temptations matches the appeal of fancy new gadgets and high-tech kit. The only good news is that, while confessing to their addiction, the majority of respondents deny that their use of technology is out of control.

There is a paradox at the heart of this exciting world of new technology. We crave flexibility, connectivity, and speed. But we risk turning ourselves into busy fools, bamboozled by too much noise and information. I know of one distinguished company chairman who provides a bin for his board directors, into which they must drop BlackBerrys and similar devices at the start of any meeting. "You are here to pay attention and work, not play with that thing," is his not very subtle message.

The Paperless Office: On its way, at last

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The Economist:

STEPHANIE BREEDLOVE and her husband founded Breedlove & Associates 16 years ago to help families who (legally) hire a nanny with the crushing burden of paperwork that this entails. There are pay stubs to be sent, federal and state tax returns to be filed, pay schedules to be updated and other trails of exceedingly boring paper. Much of the firm's small office in Austin, Texas, is taken up by 100 paper-filled filing cabinets. An office manager spends 25 hours a week shuffling paper between desks and drawers. At peak times, says Ms Breedlove, the office becomes "a sea of paper," with colour-coded stacks on conference tables, floors and chairs.

With luck, this will soon be a thing of the past. Last year Breedlove decided to go paperless. It is now about halfway there, says Ms Breedlove. The constant flow of information between Breedlove and its clients now goes via e-mail, with forms attached as PDF files. The next step is to roll out an online service so that clients can log on to manage their accounts. Only the Internal Revenue Service still insists on paper for some things, says Ms Breedlove, but even it claims to be going electronic soon.

Our Main Street software supports electronic forms, document and transaction information sharing.

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