Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher

What Housing Needs Now are Some Laughing Klingons

didn’t do it. Historic and low aren’t working. If you want to survive this market, learn to laugh like a .

Not too long ago, I was teaching in Minneapolis – more than 500 people in the room – and we were having a ball! Laughing, learning, thinking, sharing. I think I ate lunch that day – I’m much funnier if you feed me – but whatever it was, I was soaked by break-time. It was one of the finest teaching moments for me.

At break, I grabbed another cup of coffee, then diligently turned to answer questions from those students who always rush the instructor during break. After some Q&A, I excused myself to the bathroom. As I made my way through the crowd, a woman stopped me in the aisle:

I’m really loving the program, she told me. My pleasure, I replied.

Can I tell you something, she asked? Sure.

Well, I’m learning a lot today, which is great, she said. But I really want to thank you for just getting us out of the office and making us laugh. We needed a break from the doom and gloom we deal with every day. So, thanks.

I wanted to cry. Instead, I hugged her.

She needed it. So did I. I bet 499 others in that room did to. I suspect some in your office also?

I don’t remember her name, but she reminded me of an important lesson in survival. It’s all about attitude. At some point, all the economics, politics, business and technology stuff doesn’t matter. When times get tough, people need hugs.

Lots and lots of hugs.

Look around your office. There’s probably a lot of people who could use some psychological support. A fellow agent, a swamped administrator, an exhausted manager, an owner who has everything on the line.  Your clients need some, too. Even when they do the right thing, it’s often not enough these days. It’s not just equity that drains away; It’s a nest-egg, college dreams, or simply a . I bet they all could use a good hug.

Thinking about the need for a smile, a hug, joke, laughter, reminded me of the Klingons from Star Trek. Unlike humans, Klingons revel in danger and disaster. They thrive on hard times. Even in the face of destruction, they always find a way to laugh, clap each other’s backs, tell old stories, and bare their teeth.

We could really use some smiling Klingons in real estate today.

If you could become a smiling Klingon, you’d have a secret weapon in this recession. More powerful than any new technology, government policy or any competitor scheme. You’d have a power they couldn’t duplicate.

You’d have the power to say to someone, Don’t worry! We’ll get through this.

You don’t have to speak Klingon, either. Just smile at someone. Tweet a cheerful message. Leave a funny card on the conference table. Bring your client a chocolate cake. Show up – smiling – to the office meeting. Say: Don’t be afraid. We’ll get through this.

Will a hug stop the market from sliding further? Probably not. But could a smile cause business to pick up? Well, I walk two extra blocks every morning – past the coffee shop near my office – because it’s filled with frowning clerks. I go the extra distance to the one with the cheerful clerk who serves lattes, and so much more. Her Klingon smile says: To hell with the recession! Today, we have good coffee!

Surviving this market is all psychology now. The market must do what it has to do; it will involve more pain. But how we react to that: well, that’s up to us. The Minneapolis agent reminds us: sometimes all we need is to get out of the office and laugh for a while.

So bare your teeth. Clap someone on the back And smile the knowing smile of a Klingon who knows: We shall be victorious!


  • Markbarker

    Well said, Matt. I once heard that “Feeling sorry for yourself and your present circumstance is not only a terrible waste of time but the worst possible habit a person can develop.” It IS a habit. I’ve found that positive people are positive in any economic circumstance and negative people are negative regarless of economies. A negative mental attitude is a learned behavior and can be unlearned. First, however, it must be recognized for what it is…….a habit.

  • Matthew,

    Thank you.  This post couldn’t come at a more appropriate time in our business.  I’ve taken your lead and am using this post as a “virtual hug” to my team and peers!

  • Thanks for speaking up on this, like you I believe that we make our reality, good or bad.  Sure our market isn’t win that it was 5 years ago, but hey, at least we don’t have interest rates in the upper teens as we’ve also had in the past.

    As a person who thinks like you it’s been really challenging for me to go into offices and chat with Realtors lately.  I usually talk with them about about leveraging their time to increase their income, encouraging them to focus on sales, not on admin tasks.  Sometimes I’m asked if I’ve watched the news and realize how much the market stinks.  Without fail I tell them no, I’m too busy  working with agents that are doing well in this market to pay any attention to the negativity.  Shuts up the complainers fast.    

    I like your advise and will offer a friendly hug as well when I tell the negative folks that there are many doing well in this market, I hope they join them soon.

  • Well said Matt, and great advice for a cynic like me !!   I just met with one of my agents and gave her an “atta-girl, way to go” with a firm smack on the ass….  thanks for the inspiration  😉

  • Um, not exactly my idea, but if it works and you have a Klingon lawyer……. 😉

  • Julie Keelan

    Well I have to comment here I think not only people in our industry, but also people in the whole Country need to take a breather and LAUGH. Maybe a gratitude list wouldn’t hurt either. 

  • Julie Keelan

    Klingon Lawyer …exactly

  • Matthew – One of my favorite subjects – attitude. It is the make or break of most agents careers and most people’s lives. You know my philosophy of real estate is to build relationships, solve problems and have fun and I somewaht jokingly tell my audiences that I like to put “have fun” first. Why wouldn’t I? If you don’t have fun doing whatever it is you do, it might be time to find something else to do.

    Whether it’s a smile, a “like” or a “retweet” or a comment on social networks, sending a funny video to a colleague or friend and just hanging out with people and “chilling out,” it’s so important to find ways to refuel your energy and attitude. It’s a cliche but “you can only worry about the things you can control” is so true when it comes to your attitude.

    e.e.cummings once said “The most wasted of days is one without laughter.” How true.

  • Yes! There will be a phaser booth right next to the faux jewelry and scarves vendor at the NAR Annual Convention Trade Show. Just look for the crowd of agents. You can’t miss it!

  • Sean, thanks for your great comments!
    Keep smiling – and K’apla!


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  • Angela Galvin

    Oh how I love your clarity !