There’s a lot of built-up tension in this world right now. I’ve been reflecting on how we can improve our industry, our organization and ourselves going into the future. Here are 10 ways to foster positivity.

The world has been rocked, the nation is divided and polarized, and we are surrounded by negativity. Well, my friends, 2020 has been an effed up year, and we all have a lot to improve on. And what does that really mean? It means being in service to your fellow human beings.

As leaders of this industry, we have to look at how we can get past all the negativity and start to reset ourselves for what a “normal” year should look like, even if next year’s definition of normal isn’t what it was in 2019. 

Look, this entire year has given us all so much to think about, right? How many of you have been locked up with your families? Separated from your friends? Throughout this time, I have seen a lot of good things happen in our organization and others, but I’ve also seen a lot of negativity from people on social media, and an awful lot coming from real estate agents and team leaders. 

The amount of built-up tension in the world is enough to blow up a small city. I believe this is all coming to a close soon, and I’ve been reflecting on how we can improve the industry, our organization and ourselves into the future.  

Here are 10 ways we can pivot to positivity in 2021:

1. Lead with positivity

If you’re a team leader or broker, you have people who look up to you, and you have a responsibility to take the high road. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Facebook posts from real estate agents, brokers and team leaders that are politically motivated

Anti-maskers, anti-Trumpers, anti-liberals. Have you ever seen an actor or musician take a political side and say to yourself, “Who the hell cares?” That’s exactly what’s happening here. 

You might be getting comments from people who believe what you believe, but you’re not changing anyone’s mind. In fact, you’re probably getting unfollowed or creating some kind of negative opinion from someone who could possibly hire you, work for you or refer you sometime in the future.

I know because I have unfollowed no less than 50 people from my own feed. How about you spread a positive message or tell a great story about the good in your life or the people in your organization who are doing great work. It’s time for all of us to start leading with love and spreading a positive message to the people who work for us, follow us and look up to us.

2. Be real, but be professional

This is something that’s actually been easier to do during these times as we’ve had to work from home and deal with kids in the backgrounds of our Zoom meetings or not being able to get as primped as we’d like for these meetings.

I believe that videoconferencing and video meetings are going to be more prevalent after this is all over. As such, know how to work this technology, how to set up the background and center the camera. No one wants to see the inside of your nose or have your head cut off.

The little things matter, so pay attention to how you present yourself on camera. You don’t have to be perfect, but there are tiny things that you can do to make yourself stand out when using video, like adjusting the camera angle and actually knowing how to use the technology.

I also think it’s time we started to dress more professionally during our meetings, even if you’re doing a Zoom call from your home. That doesn’t mean a suit and tie, but try not to have your Beastie Boys concert t-shirt from 1998 on during the meeting.  

3. Get back to philanthropic work

In 2020, as we’ve all been isolated and not allowed to do the things that we normally would do, one of the things that has been hit hard is volunteer work, donating to social causes and helping the less fortunate.

It’s always been a staple of the real estate industry to donate and volunteer, and I believe that we need to think about how we’re going to continue that work in 2021. There is no shortage of causes that need attention these days, and now, it’s more prevalent than ever.  

4. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others

Have you gained the COVID-19 pounds? Many have, especially in the beginning. It’s time for all of us to get back on track with our physical and mental health. This starts by eating better, exercise, meditation and even mental counseling. 

5. Revaluate your company culture

This is something we all should do every year, but especially now that we’ve been through the pandemic. What defined your company culture before this year, and how has that changed since? What practices have you and your team adopted that has helped you through this, and what have you done that you wish you would have done differently? Write all that down, and decide how that’s going to influence your culture in 2021. 

6. Bring professionalism back to your local and national industry

Pre-COVID, we were involved in numerous industry events throughout the year, and these things helped us to get to know our competition better and cultivated collaboration with our colleagues.

If you can’t go to in-person events, try to participate online. I’m very hopeful that we will get to meet up at Inman next summer and the local board events in early spring. But even if that isn’t the case, I’m encouraging my team to participate anyway they can, even if it’s virtually.

What are you going to do to give your company name and your team better recognition with your peers, colleagues and competition? Start thinking about that now, so you will be ready in 2021. 

7. Embrace your competition

This is actually an extension to No. 6, but I think it’s worth going a step further. Pre-COVID, we had industry awards ceremonies, industry get-togethers, and I personally had a regular happy hour with four other real estate brokers that we’ve done four times a year for the past seven years, and we’ve become dear friends.

Last week was the first time we got together with my broker buddies, and it was so awesome to catch up. Part of my success in this city is because of the deep personal relationships that I’ve built with competing brokers, real estate agents and team leaders.

We need to be thinking about how we can continue to achieve this safely at this moment and plan for taking advantage of this more as things continue to become safer.  

8. Getting your team back together

During the beginning of the pandemic, we did a number of virtual events such as weekly huddles on Zoom, video happy hours and monthly meetings, but what we’ve truly missed is the in-person gatherings we had. 

I predict that we will have many opportunities to get together in the spring, and we’re already starting to plan these now. Plan out your safe gatherings now, and share them with the team or brokerage.

People are longing for social interaction and having a game plan for post-COVID gatherings and announcing it to your group will give them something to look forward to. Now that the weather in Texas is not miserable we’re already planning social distancing gatherings like drive-through movies and spaced out backyard pool parties.

My agents love it, but they’re going to want to know what we have planned for after this is over, and we want to know that they expect that same social interaction post-pandemic that they were used to before all this started. 

9. Continue to teach

As team leaders, part of our jobs is to keep our agents informed of the best techniques, technologies and current best practices of our industry. We’ve kept this up during the pandemic but we also want to plan out what this will look like when we can start to get together with clients again. 

How will consultations, negotiations and the way we interact with clients change after this is over? What innovations that have occurred in our industry during the past several months can you adopt and teach your agents? 

10. Continue to learn and grow

I don’t know about you, but my motivation to take online classes and read books hasn’t been that high. I’ve actually seen several posts and had conversations with a few colleagues who said that they haven’t had the motivation to learn and absorb new information as they did in the past.

We’re used to reading more, taking more classes and learning at conferences, and a lot of that has been missing. I recently started taking the Rocket Fuel University online module about leadership, and it’s been great. I recommend we all try to make our professional growth a priority again.  

Obviously, what we have lacked and gained during these past few months has been different for everyone. I’ve succeeded in several areas but also have lacked a lot of the normal personal and professional development that I strived for in previous years.

The election is coming, and hopefully, a vaccine will be arriving shortly thereafter. No, I don’t believe we’ll be completely past this in January, but I do believe that we will be in a much better position than we have in previous months, and even if we’re not, we need to be taking steps to be better leaders with a more positive message and an attitude of growth and servitude. We owe this to our colleagues, our families and ourselves.  

Ryan Rodenbeck is the broker-owner of Spyglass Realty and Investments in Austin. Connect with him on Instagram.

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