It’s easy to feel like we’re constantly behind the times when it comes to online trends. Not only are products out of date as soon as you take them home from the store, but the needs of consumers online change even faster. Therefore, writing a physical, hard-copy book about upcoming online and mobile trends cannot be an easy task.
Consider then, the lot of the lowly book reviewer, who’s one step behind even the author. That’s why I figured I should get my review of Marc Ostrofsky’s new book Word of Mouse: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work, and Play (Simon & Schuster: 2013) online before the new year.
Turns out I’m already too late. Thing is, it’s a book that promises to be dated almost before it’s even released. Ostrofsky includes revelations such the fact that Facebook uses facial recognition software in your photos or that you can actually buy groceries with a smartphone. To be fair, I should have suspected as much by just looking at the cover; I mean, who voluntarily uses a mouse that’s physically connected to a computer anymore?
Though most of the book relied on out-of-date* studies to make points that digital natives already intuitively know, I did find a couple of interesting tools in the book:
Datameer is a company that sets up a dashboard using a site’s analytic data that “enables regular business people, not just data priests, to pose questions,” according to the author. As someone who regularly has to deal with a frustratingly complex analytics software that seems to be written in another language, this seems to be an idea whose day has come. Continue reading »
I was reading Ron J. West’s new book, Corporate Caterpillars: How to Grow Wings (iUniverse LLC: 2013), this week and came across an interesting tidbit perfect for this time of year. I’m sure many of you are working on your 2014 business plans or goals right now. West briefly shares how one commercial real estate development company attacks this process in a unique way:
“Each year there would be a different corporate ‘theme’ with a single goal shared by everyone in the enterprise. For example, one year the goal to ‘develop accountability’ was established. The second tier of goals was department- and workgroup-specific. Finally, the third tier of goals was specific to each individual employee.”
At first I was somewhat skeptical. How is a brokerage full of independent-minded real estate professionals going to institute a top-down goal-setting regime like that? But then I got to thinking: Maybe it’s just what the doctor ordered.
There’s no doubt that the goal-setting process can be tougher when you add more players. It’s easy to tell yourself you’re going to be a healthier role model for your family by getting up early go work out every day. But forcing the whole group to get up and to go to the gym with you? Probably not going to happen.
Still, if you were to simply share that goal with your family, they’re going to be there to help you stick to it. By involving them in the process of holding you accountable to your goals, they’re now part of your goal. Something is bound to rub off on them, and who knows? Maybe you’ll end up with a work-out buddy or two after all. Continue reading »
Usually I try to point Book Scan readers to the written word, but occasionally I find a piece of audio worth recommending. Last time I pointed you toward a wonderful novel about a real estate agent, but this time I’m suggesting a podcast. Yesterday, I was listening to This American Life, an NPR radio show produced by my local station, WBEZ. The show produces one hour of radio a week, usually with several segments organized around a central theme. If you have never listened before, the Nov. 22 episode is a great place to start if you’re in real estate. The show, titled “House Rules,” addresses the idea of “destiny by address” through an examination of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
One might argue that real estate professionals know more than the average bear about the Fair Housing Act, since it’s so integral to the housing industry in this country. But here are a few items that you might not know about fair housing in America and the legislation itself.
1. The federal government pretty much invented redlining. Many associate this practice with private lenders, but they weren’t the ones to popularize the now-illegal practice. In the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration began backing loans to encourage home ownership… but only among the “right” groups. The government actually drew red lines on maps around certain neighborhoods and refused to back home loans in those areas. And it wasn’t just predominantly minority neighborhoods either; according to ProPublica reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, the government sought to disincentivize living in integrated neighborhoods as well.
“Your property values were going to go down because the government had decided that integrated neighborhoods were automatically less valuable,” Jones says in the “House Rules” episode. “Between 1934 and 1964, 98 percent of the home loans that were insured by the federal government go to white Americans.” She added that banks and other government programs, such as the GI Bill, simply followed the federal government’s lead. Continue reading »