Who Moved My Cow!!!!

Real Estate Agent with Executive Realty Group 471-000119

who moved my cowRecently I read a great post here on the Rain by Herb Hamilton discussing some of the change we've experienced in the real estate industry over the years.  And there certainly can be no question that the last decade or so has brought with it an abundance of change that most of use couldn't imagine when we first got into the business.  Thinking pragmatically, I suspect that could probably be said by most industries.  Things are simply a whole lot different than they used to be.

Several years ago, amidst one of my own life's "trials & tribulations", a friend of mine introduced me to a great little book entitled "Who Moved My Cheese?"  If you've not read it before, it's a quick, delightful, and insightful read, chock full of "AHAAAH!" moments.  At least it was for me.  It's a tale about four little characters who live in a maze.  Two of the characters are mice named "Sniff" and "Scurry", and two are little people the size of mice named "Hem" and "Haw".  In the story, their cheese gets moved (the metaphore for change) and each deals (or not) with the disappearance of their cheese in different ways.  The tale examines how we perceive change, how we relate to it, what we do when we're confronted with it.  Heck, they even address all the typical reactions to change ... like the things we would normally say when somethings happens in our lives ... things like:

  • It's only temporary, things will get back to "normal"
  • It just isn't fair
  • Why now?
  • Why me?
  • What can I do to get my life back?
  • Who's to blame?
  • When will it be over?
  • How can I fix it?

Sound familiar?  Today I suspect there are a great many of us who are trying to figure out a whole lot more than just "who moved my cheese?"  We're wondering ....


We're used to swings between a "buyer's market" and a "seller's market".  We're used to adapting to increases in competition.  We're used to volatile interest rates and creative financing.  We've adapted to a variety of "agency" and representation arrangements.  We've even somewhat reconciled non-representative interlopers wedging themselves between us and the consumer (though that's a topic for an entire other discussion!!!)  But what we face now is different ... MUCH different!

Today we're faced with converging challenges:  a marketplace facing large declines in housing values, buyers unable or unwilling to jump into the market despite record low interest rates and rolled back housing prices ... and amidst all that, we're faced with a consuming public who no longer understands, or is willing to accept, a real estate industry maintaining a stranglehold on a business model that has long since outlived its usefulness.  Our "cheese" has been moved in a way we've never had to face before.  But what's more, the source of that cheese has been moved as well!  As an industry, we can "Hem" and "Haw" about how bad things are, how scarey things are, how much we want things to get back to normal, but unless we're willing to be creative and resourceful, to take a long hard look at exactly what it is the consumer ... TODAY'S consumer ... wants from us and figure out the very best ways possible to deliver it to them, not only will the cheese be gone, or even the cow ... we're going to find ourselves missing the whole entire farm!


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Steven Wright
Home Real Estate - Aurora, CO
CRS - Home Real Estate - 720-989-5283

Good post. We have to adapt and overcome or we can find a new career. No room for whiners, right?

Dec 17, 2008 02:15 PM #2
Kate Elim
Dockside Realty - Spotsylvania, VA
Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a

Hi Judi...I keep resisting the third party companies that attempt to get between prospects and me.  If we would all resist the would cease to exist.

Having confidence in the long term value of real estate goes a long way in reassuring buyers that this is a good time to buy.


Dec 17, 2008 02:20 PM #3
Judi Bryan
Executive Realty Group - Bloomingdale, IL
Your Chicagoland Connection

Thom/Ray:  The key to survival is always to adapt and be creative.  Congrats on embracing new technogies!  Never be afraid to think "outside the box!"

Steven:  Adapt and overcome is right!  Had to chuckle when I saw your comment "no room for whiners"... two years ago I became an ACRE (Accredited Consultant in Real Estate) and chuckled that now there are ACREs, and then there are Belly-achers (sorry....that was just one of those odd little things that just popped up in my sicko mind!!!)  Thanks for chiming in!

Kate:  You are so absolutely right!!!!  If we could just convince agents that if they would just invest in their OWN business rather than in the interlopers, the interlopers would soon run out of money and we wouldn't have to compete with them for the consumer's eyes (looking at OUR listings!!!).  I appreciate your comments!

Dec 17, 2008 02:48 PM #4
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Judi - "Who Moved My Cheese" was the reason I got into real estate. And my cheese has kept moving ever since!

One thing I know for sure: those of us who attempt to move with the cheese, cow, and farm don't have to worry about senility - our brains are doing overtime developing new dendrons :) (neurotransmitters that are missing in Alzheimer's patients, etc. - they did a study on nuns who had Alzheimer's but did crossword puzzles and you wouldn't know they had it because they were always learning something new - always reprogramming their brains).

Dec 18, 2008 02:00 PM #5
Lucky Lang
Premiere Plus Realty Marco Island - Marco Island, FL
Marco Island & Naples Florida Real Estate


Thanks for the well written post!  I remember that book well!

Take care,

Lucky :)

Dec 18, 2008 09:19 PM #6
The Home Inspection Man

Hi Judi - Great article! This Market will drive out the people who got into real estate for a quick buck, and only leave those of us who really want to serve our clients.

Gary Monfeli



Dec 18, 2008 09:57 PM #7
Diane Schubach

I loved the book. I read it when I was still in publishing and things were changing every minute. I recommend the book to everyone.

Dec 19, 2008 01:17 AM #8
Judi Bryan
Executive Realty Group - Bloomingdale, IL
Your Chicagoland Connection

I, too, LOVED that book and the messages it contained.  And while I agree that this market will drive out a lot of the people that we're likely not to miss anyway....I think it will also drive out a lot of really good agents as well...those who got into real estate for all the right reasons and who have made a real, positive difference in many peoples' lives.  Many agents who have the 'serve" mindset, who really care about helping others, are going to be among the "casualties" of this downturn because they're not finding the "tools" to reinvent how they work.

Dec 19, 2008 01:54 AM #9
Sandy McAlpine
Search Lake Norman Homes For Sale - Lake Norman NC

It seems as thought consumers want all the information upfront more-so these days. At least 80% of my clients have their itinarary planned out before they get to Lake Norman. Tools for agents have to help the agents adjust quickly to changes in showings and report feedback more quickly. The days of agents calling people back at the end of the day is over....

Dec 19, 2008 02:37 AM #10
Judi Bryan
Executive Realty Group - Bloomingdale, IL
Your Chicagoland Connection

Great point, Sandy!  I know a lot of the showing services are going an excellent job of doing just that!  I often get an email (as buyer's agent) within minutes of scheduling an appointment to show a property...basically confirming the scheduling, providing any specific showing instructions, etc.  Then I receive another email that's generally in my "inbox" by the time I get home from the showing thanking me for showing the property and requesting feedback.  I particularly like it if the email includes a photo of property...a link to virtual tour or multiple images would be even better!

Old habits die hard, though...I'm very good about responding to those emails.  What annoys me, however, is when, a couple of days later, I get a call for feedback from the listing.  I tend to think they don't check their email...or they would already know my feedback. 

It's more laborious to handle this indiviually, but it could certainly be done...even if one is not using a showing service.  For example, if you use Proquest for your 800 hotline, they include a feedback service...just one more option.

Dec 19, 2008 02:56 AM #11
Marian Goetzinger
Pine Knoll Shores Realty 252-422-9000 - Pine Knoll Shores, NC
Crystal Coast Real Estate NC

Judi, "Who Moved My Cheese" is one of my favorite motivational books.  I've mentioned it often in the past couple of years and your blog is right on.  I think we all have to think of creative ways to do business and increase our market share but I don't think service and relationships will ever go out of "vogue".  My business has always been and continues to be about relationships.  Stay informed and well trained but STAY IN TOUCH and you'll survive.  One thing is sure, if constantly changing and learning will hold off Alzheimer's, I'm safe.

Dec 19, 2008 07:17 AM #12
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate
Great post. I remember "Who Moved My Cheese" and it helped me tremendously! All whiners need to move on to a different career. Thinking outside of the box in today's market is a must. Here in ActiveRain I'm seeing great ideas shared!!
Dec 20, 2008 12:34 AM #13
Ed & Cindy Knight
Rooms Realty - Shelby Township, MI

Judy this was a great book and helped us turn our business around. The world is changing and we can whine or change with it. Good post

Dec 20, 2008 03:28 AM #14
Judi Bryan
Executive Realty Group - Bloomingdale, IL
Your Chicagoland Connection

Given the state of the economy and the state of our industry, that changes we can expect are likely to be more transformational in nature than our shift in the 90s to buyer agency.  For many of us who had practiced for many years under "sub-agency", that shift was huge ... and a bit scarey.  My guess is that what is coming now will make that shift pale in comparison.

Hold onto your hats, folks ... it's gonna be a bumpy ride!  It'll also be interesting to see how many will be tossed out of the roller coaster along the way!

Dec 20, 2008 03:36 AM #15
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Judi, thanks for your views.  Yes, it will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.  Lots of theories and plenty of people out there that say they know which way things are going.  But I'm hedging my bets for the time being.  The change is coming, but I don't know which direction yet.

Dec 21, 2008 01:40 AM #16
Kelsey Barklow
Hurd Realty - Johnson City, TN

Holy Cow! What a cow we're in! I just recently started in real estate and 2008 was a really great year for me. If this is the bottom, I can hardly wait for the top. Based on the raving reviews of the book Who Moved My Cheese, I guess I really need to read it, and fast. Thanks for the great post and Happy Holidays.

Dec 23, 2008 02:40 AM #17
Russel Ray, San Diego Business & Marketing Consultant & Photographer
Russel Ray - San Diego State University, CA

As my wise old grandmother said when Ben Franklin Five & Dime closed up shop in our hometown of Kingsville, Texas: "You have to change to stay the same."

Who Moved My Cheese is a great book.

Jan 01, 2009 06:39 PM #18
Judi Bryan
Executive Realty Group - Bloomingdale, IL
Your Chicagoland Connection

Gabe - So true!  We're in the midst of changes, some as yet not identified.  What I hope is not lost in this perspective is that our INDUSTRY needs to take a long hard look at how we do our business and make some evolutionary, if not Revolutionary, changes to survive.  I suspect that 5 years from now things will be radically different than they are now.

Kelsey - Welcome to real estate.  And yes, DO read the book.  It's a great perspective for ALL the changes we face in our lives!

Russel - Grandmother was right on!

Jan 02, 2009 12:30 AM #19
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

Great comment on a great book.  LOL.  It's not the cheese it's the cow.

Jan 03, 2009 03:27 AM #20
Judi Bryan
Executive Realty Group - Bloomingdale, IL
Your Chicagoland Connection

LOL, Mike - Thanks for the comment!  Right about now, it feels like the whole d.... plantation!!

Jan 03, 2009 03:44 AM #21
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