Leigh Brown, ABR, CRS, is a partner at Charlotte, N.C.-based RE/MAX Executive Realty and broker-manager of its Concord office. She is also a longtime speaker on real estate issues. Before she started working in real estate, her sales career included liquor, stocks, and chain saws. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't Create Your Own 'Fake News'
Broadcasting a better version of yourself on social media won’t make your exaggerations about your business—or your life—more real.
April 6, 2017
I will never be a Pinterest mom. I’ve tried.
I’ve made the homemade laundry detergent, the cake pops that are supposed to look like cats, the no-sew skirt—I’ve even tried to put on makeup the right way. But apparently, that’s not me.
That doesn’t make it any less desirable to try and be that Pinterest mom with the perfect hair, makeup, physique, and appropriately perfect Lululemon workout clothes. (Well, I could buy those clothes, but I’m cheap.) That mom who cooks a perfect dinner for her perfect family every night after she gets home from her high-powered job (because, yes, in my occasionally spiteful mental image, this perfect woman is not only making the hearth homey—she’s killing it as an executive as well).
In my moments of clarity—after just one really good craft vodka cocktail—I realize this woman is pretty much not real. She’s a figment of social media users’ imaginations, created to fulfill our incessant need to be perfect in the eyes of others.
She’s never cleaning up kid or cat vomit at 3 a.m.—or, bless her heart, both at the same time. You don’t see her picking the moldy corners off the bread because the bus is coming in one minute and there’s nothing else to fill the kid’s lunchbox. What if you knew these things about her? Well, you’d love her. She’d be your spirit animal. You’d be nodding along in solidarity with her woes.
So why don’t we see more of her—the real her—in our lives?
Being a real estate professional, I see many of the people in my life turn into the fake Pinterest mom types on social media. (Men, too. There is no gender exclusivity here.) All y’all talk about online are the positives or the fabricated. How many agents or brokers do you know who post one of the following at least weekly:
- “Houses are flying off the shelves! I sold my last house! Let me know if you need to sell!”
- “Interest rates are at historic lows! Buy now before you miss out!”
- “Just showed 29 houses today and, boy, do I need a glass of wine!”
- “I just had my 18th closing for the month! I’m #blessed.”
- “I’m having an open house at 123 Happy Street, and people are going to be fighting over it!”
The typical real estate pro sells 11 properties per year, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2016 Member Profile. So do the math: That’s not even one house per month. The median income of the nation’s 1.2 million REALTORS® is $39,200, which may pay the bills in some areas—but in others, it’s below the poverty line. So why the nonstop talk on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat about all of these houses we’re supposedly selling? Is it related to the same desire that drives the Pinterest moms to post about their awesomeness every hour? Is it that need to be perceived as the absolute best in hopes of turning it into reality?
I get it; it works for some people. For others, though, the constant positive posts can be downright depressing. Maybe you’re a mom like me who gets it right sometimes but not all the time. Maybe you’re a practitioner who is doing the very best to manage the roller coaster of life on a 100 percent commission income, and you can’t figure out why they have it so easy while you struggle.
The real secret is that #TheStruggleIsReal. Most of us use that hashtag in jest when we know we really shouldn’t be fussing. But think about the words for a minute. If we’d acknowledge to one another and to the world that struggles are real, what would change around us? What would your business look like if the world (which includes potential clients) knew your ups and downs and was able to laugh, cry, or shake their head along with you? My real estate business has grown every time I am more transparent about my professional and personal life.
Would we be more gracious and kind to one another if we didn’t feel like we were alone in the middle of whatever we are going through? If we didn’t feel like absolute freaks when everyone else is perfect? Would we share more ideas and lean on each other when the drama unfolds?
Learn this now: No one is perfect. No one is doing everything right, leaving you in the dust. It’s not you; it’s called life. The ever-changing, messy, unpredictable elements of life. And that, my friends, is its beauty. Embrace it. Live honestly. I’ll celebrate with you.
Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in commentary articles do not necessarily reflect the position of the National Association of REALTORS® or REALTOR® Magazine. Submit commentary ideas to managing editor Wendy Cole at email@example.com.
Updated: September 18, 2020