“Nothing personal, but I hate you and your company.
Mostly I hate you though.
The company is what it is.
You, on the other hand, sold out an entire industry — for a paycheck.”
Most reading this know that I work for Zillow Group, and understand what we do. For those that somehow stumble across this not knowing me or what Zillow Group does, this is for you: we run the dominant real estate related websites in the country. Almost 100,000 real estate agents use our paid advertising platforms to reach millions of consumers every month. Hundreds of thousands more use our free services.
I started working for Zillow (now Zillow Group) in March of 2012 as their director of industry outreach. As a former real estate agent and brokerage owner, my role with Zillow Group is basically to act as a liaison between the agent/broker community and Zillow. Internally, I help my fellow co-workers understand what agents and brokers need, want and desire from us.
Some dissension in the ranks
When Zillow launched over a decade ago, there were some in the real estate industry that felt threatened. Angst was expressed that Zillow’s ultimate intent was to eliminate real estate agents. Eleven years later, those feelings still linger among a few today.
Why would any business have a goal to eliminate their primary source of revenue?
They wouldn’t, and we don’t, yet some still feel we are the devil incarnate. Those feelings are often shared on social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and such.
Part of my job is to deal with the folks that publicly express such angst.
It’s not easy. Often it’s downright painful. And yes, sometimes it’s hateful. Like this email I received from a keyboard warrior hiding behind a fake name:
Why don’t you do us all a favor and have another heart attack?
Here’s a pretty disturbing gem:
Perhaps I should take out my frustrations on your pretty little daughter.
A few weeks ago I attended a large real estate conference. Literally within seconds of walking into the conference hotel lobby, someone approached me and said, “I don’t know how you do your job!” This mantra was repeated dozens of times — almost word-for-word — across the four-day event. It happens at every event. Similar sentiment is often expressed via email and various forms of private messaging.
“I should write a post about this,” I mumbled to myself. Repeatedly. Given that it’s been over a year since I posted here on Now Pondering, seems this might be way to dust this thing off and put
pen to paper hands to keyboard to see if I can revive this personal blog thing. I miss writing. I don’t just enjoy writing, I need to write.
I Don’t Know How You Do Your Job
Here’s the deal folks. The people voicing angst, and sometimes outright hate, toward my employer and me are what I call the vocal minority. Yes, I just bolded and italicized the word, “minority.” I would have underlined it and made it flashing colors, but that would be rather annoying. Simple fact is though it truly is a vocal minority.
Without fail, including at the aforementioned real estate conference, any time I find myself surrounded by real estate agents and brokers, I will be approached multiple times by people who graciously thank me for all Zillow Group has done for their business.
Read that again. “I will be approached multiple times by people who graciously thank me for all Zillow Group has done for their business.”
Guess what I do when that happens?
I smile. I feel good inside.
And I forget all about the haters; the vocal minority.
“Don’t take that crap personally,” is what I often hear from very well-intentioned friends. Well, guess what? It’s hard, really hard not to take the vitriol personally. Sure, the majority of the dissenters don’t make it personal (though some clearly do, despite prefacing their comments with, “nothing personal, but…” or, “with all due respect…”). I can’t lie though, attacks centered squarely on my employer hurt. Of course it hurts. I’m incredibly proud of what we’re doing. My co-workers are my friends. We’re doing good things and helping tens of thousands of agents have a better financial future. We’re helping consumers learn more about real estate and connect with real estate professionals. We’re doing good work for good people. When that is attacked, it hurts. Of course it hurts, who likes to have their livelihood attacked?
I’ve been told countless times by dozens if not hundreds of supporters that I have “the patience of Job,” or “freakishly thick skin.”
Ask my wife about that patience thing, she’ll set you straight. Thick skin? Not-so-much. Believe me, it hurts. Sometimes deeply. I really am not a thick-skinned patient person, so I just swallow my pride and take it. Oh, trust me, there are many things I’d love to say, but I also love my job and don’t particularly want to get fired. You should see some of the responses that are written (and immediately deleted) expressing how I really feel. That’s some good stuff. It’s therapy. As a Zillow Group employee with a “voice and a following,” I represent a brand I believe in, support and am somewhat obsessed with. That brand message would be damaged if I published what I really felt at times–though it sure would be fun to let loose. Maybe someday I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.
But not today, or in the foreseeable future.
The good thing is that we help far more agents and brokers be successful than we have dissenters. FAR more.
Ever had a grown man, a complete stranger, approach you with tears in their eyes, asking for a hug to thank you for all your company has done for them?
That’s incredibly rewarding, and it happens often — far more often than the detractors know, or would admit even if they were smacked upside the head with the data.
You see the anger, hate, and dissent online. What you don’t see are all the accolades, the gratitude,the teary eyes, the testimonials that so many of our customers, and consumers, give us. What you don’t see are ridiculously talented co-workers working their asses off on a mission to improve the lives of agents and help consumers. These are rock-solid human beings that I’d take a bullet for, and they would take one for me.
I have a job I love and live for. It’s so very rewarding. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Believe it or not, the good FAR outweighs the bad.
It’s really not even close.
I get to work with amazing people, doing amazing work. I’m in a position to help tens of thousands of real estate agents live a better life. I hear success stories all the time. That’s rewarding, enriching and just downright fun.
That is how I do my job.