What I do for a living is NOT a hobby, so no, you may not pick my brain

On a personal level, I enjoy helping people.  I always have.  The harder the case the better.  I seek out broken things to fix – makes me feel good.  Professionally, I own a full service marketing company.  I get to help people succeed in business, whatever business they are in.  As such, we find our days spent in building custom self-managed websites for our clients, so that they can be in control of their destiny in the ever changing world of the Internet; we design brands; we build integrated systems that business owners or their staff can maintain long into the future.  Knowing that we can do that successfully is pretty gratifying.  There is probably not a problem out there, technical or otherwise, that we couldn’t come up with a nifty solution to right now, but it has been a long way in getting there.  We’ve acquired the knowledge and abilities that we have over almost two decades of coding and recoding, designing and redesigning, perpetually tweaking and re-tweaking, downloading every bit of software we could get our hands on, always beta testing, always learning.  We still do all of those things, full time, 24/7.  We shut down our offices for the night and go to bed thinking about our clients’ various projects.  In a nutshell – we do what we do for a living and we take it very, very seriously.

So when I was invited to join a tech support for real estate group on FaceBook, I thought, in earnest, that it would be a great outlet for me.  A place where I could maybe accidentally help a few folks out with their various tech issues and make some new friends.  Beyond that – there were no expectations of business, credibility building or anything remotely resembling a shark tank.  And so I jumped in and advised, and shared, and we have even fixed a few things for a few folks in there, free of charge, over the course of the last few months.  I didn’t point to our work.  I didn’t recommend that anyone ought to hire us to do anything for them – it wouldn’t occur to me…

But today, a tone of one particular conversation led me to believe that no matter how freely some of us share, we will always be looked at as sharks out to get to your wallet.  That my opinion on anything that I do for a living is somehow worth less to you because you think I always have an ulterior motive.  You, the DIY real estate agent, feel justified in looking down on what I say, and on what I do because in your mind – I am a lowly vendor.  Whatever contributions I’ve made to the group, such as they were, I made because I wanted to help.  But I don’t owe you that.  None of us, vendors, whose brain you feel you have a right to, owe you that.  It was a gift, and not us coming after your wallet.

So by all means, design, tinker, invent and do whatever it is you believe us people charge too much for daily, but don’t ask to pick my brain.  Don’t tag my name in posts you believe I can answer.  This shark is going to the beach and will remain there until such time as real estate professionals deign to not be so disparaging to people who do something other than sell real estate for a living.  I don’t ask you to justify your commissions to me or to stage my house for sale and put it on the market without a listing agreement.  Don’t ask me to hand over what I worked my ass off for the better part of my adult life to acquire as if it’s owed to you.  Last I checked, there is always Google.  So Google it.

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6 Responses to What I do for a living is NOT a hobby, so no, you may not pick my brain
  1. Peter Toner
    July 22, 2011 | 3:11 pm

    As you have so eloquently experienced there are the unfortunate (very) few who expect everything for nothing and are far from subtle when they don’t get what they want. Shame on them …

    Seth Godin make a good relevant point about Tribes here:

    • Inna Hardison
      July 22, 2011 | 3:25 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Peter:-) “eloquently experienced” – I like that. Might borrow it some day. I remember that post of Seth’s – right he is. Sadly, though, while we can change or at least influence a change in our various tribes, we can’t change people… Only whether or not we interact with them, and I just have to get better at that selection process.

  2. Derek Overbey
    July 6, 2011 | 11:52 pm

    Hi Inna,

    So sorry you had this type of experience. I’ve been in real estate and technology for more than 15 years and there are some great people circling around the real estate industry. But like you, I’ve ran into more than a few bad apples that just leave a bad taste in your mouth.


    • Inna Hardison
      July 7, 2011 | 10:19 am

      Derek – good of you to stop by:-) I’ll be the first to say that I’ve been very lucky in having met a few awesome people that I consider my friends through our little endeavors in the real estate arena. I will also say, sadly, that it does seem to be the only industry that we’ve catered to where what we do is looked at as a support function more than anything else. Philosophically speaking, there is a sentiment that we are somehow not business owners, but vendors/assistants/helpers/fill-in-the-blank. That I am not ok with:-)

  3. Inna Hardison
    July 6, 2011 | 7:27 pm

    Mary – thanks for reading and getting this. I really truly don’t mind the sharing part, but i do wonder why it is that those of us who provide tools or services that help Real Estate professionals are looked down upon as somehow less than them. I don’t get this sort of dynamic with any other business owners that we work with from other industries, but when it comes to RE – almost inevitable that what i do would be reduced to in their eyes as vending or hawking. Weird, to say the least, and occasionally offensive.

    Thanks for the kind words!

  4. Mary Pope-Handy
    July 6, 2011 | 7:15 pm

    Inna, someone shared this on Facebook, so I followed the link and ~ouch~ I am sooo sorry that someone in that group was really nasty to you! I am a member, but don’t pop in daily so missed the exchange.

    The same type of thing happens to Realtors, btw. Sometimes we are out, at a party or seeing friends, and someone in the crowd wants to pick our brain…and then they go hire someone else. That hurts. Sometimes they are already in contract with another agent and want to pick our brains. Naturally I say no, because we aren’t allowed to meddle and there’s a lot of risk.

    So, you’d think that since this happens to us agents, those in our line of work wouldn’t do it to others, to you. I’m sorry that they did.

    And – thanks for your contributions in the group. I hope you haven’t left it but sure would understand if you did.

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