So here’s the question of the day . . . Where along the technological timeline are you? Do you queue up (in the old days, we used to wait in-line) in front of the Apple store
when the newest I-Something hits the streets? Or do you still drive
to the drug store every weekend to get 35mm film for your 30-
year old Canon camera?
In the spirit of true disclosure, I must confess that I am experienced
enough (read: “old”) to remember such things as wristwatches,
vinyl LPs, Selectric typewriters and dial telephones. But—in
my own defense—I also have a smart phone loaded with my
favorite apps, and I did (said modestly) co-launch the industry’s
most forward looking news website (a triumph really, when you
consider how hesitant this industry has traditionally been to
embrace new technology).
It is no new thought that technological change is taking place at
a breakneck speed, and every week there seems to be a newer,
smaller, shinier, faster, cheaper version of the product that was the
hot item just a week ago. Many of us can remember when changes
to office technology were generational.
I bring all of this up for only one reason. In our rush to digitize,
are we forgetting the necessity for personal interaction? This is
still a “people business,” a business based on trust and personal
relationships and none of that gets communicated digitally.
I submit to you that if your drive for the newest technology focuses
on the thing and not the use, you are missing the boat. If you do not
recognize the latest palm-sized device as a tool for more efficient
client interaction, but believe instead that it is the only means for
client interaction, you are running the risk of alienating that client.
Despite the hefty price tags, this stuff has no intrinsic value.
And what’s more, it is not an argument that your clients are even
more tech-savvy than you—not when it comes to money; trust is
the key, and trust is a face-to-face commodity.
We are seeing a major, and I believe negative, sociological shift
and we run the risk of replicating that in our business dealings. I
utilize Facebook for personal updates with friends (because you
really can’t have too many pictures of my dog) and LinkedIn
for business updates—basically as a web-based resume. But
I don’t kid myself into thinking that there is anything “social”
about social media. It is, in fact, very anti-social; if you count
such quaint concepts as facial expression and tone of voice as
Reaching back into the dark ages, we launched GlobeSt.com in
the midst of the dot-com boom; I often asked myself why we
survived the following bust. I believe it was in part, because
most of the startups that died focused on what they could do, as
opposed to how that capability could better help their clients. It
wasn’t enough just to be gee-whiz. You had to be gee-whiz with
a purpose—that is where true value lives. We positioned the
website, not as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but as the
industry’s first daily newspaper. And yes, by the way, it happened
to be on your computer. For this audience, that message resonated.
The message still resonates. The successful broker today is a
juggler of sorts, a juggler of technological and personal skills,
who knows how to manage the devices at his or her disposal; to
develop, maintain and enhance a productive and efficient—but
ultimately personal—relationship with his or her clients.
There are basic truths that flow through human interaction and our
business relationships, they are unchangeable, regardless of the
ongoing stream of digitization and miniaturization.
So, are you managing your technology or is your technology
JOHN SALUSTRI has been among
the most recognized journalists in
commercial real estate for the last
25 years, as Editor of Real Estate
Forum and as editor of GlobeSt.
com. John is currently engaged
in freelance writing assignments.
He may be reached at salustri@
optonline.net or 917-912-0038.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR