News & Research Archive

Reworking your Mind

May 23, 2013

I recently taught a masters degree class in Real Estate Finance as a guest speaker. I came prepared to answer hard questions and have a good discussion with the students about REITS and their process of buying and selling. I like to think that I am a good communicator and can encourage participation, laughter and engagement. In reality, what I got was zero participation, questions or comments and not one laugh – I was completely disappointed.

The start of the class was the beginning of the end for me when I asked the teacher how many students would be in attendance. I was told to expect eight to ten students out of twelve total. When the students eventually showed up, all ten of them, they seated themselves in the row of chairs furthest from where I was speaking – as close to the door as they could get. With laptops open and smartphones on, the students immersed themselves in their own digital worlds and barely looked up throughout my lecture. It was obvious that I couldn't compete with the student's devices to win their attention. Albert Einstein stated that 'It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity'. I take this to mean that if mankind allows technology to take control of their lives, it will dumb down our society. After my experience teaching I now believe this to be true.

My son graduated with a master's degree in architecture this year and was required to make a presentation of his final project. During a discussion between his instructors, it was indicated by one instructor that my son sold his project instead of discussing its potential shortfalls. Another instructor supported my son's presentation by saying that he did what he was supposed to do – sell the project. When I asked my son if he though his project was the best in class he said that it wasn't and that another student had designed her project almost perfectly but her downfall was in her presentation. Apparently, she was extremely nervous in her presentation despite its nearly perfect execution and, as a result, her project did not get the attention it deserved.

Bringing this back to sales and how to be an effective and successful salesperson, all of the above are stories and examples of how our working processes and interactions with each other have changed so much over the recent years. We are now major multitaskers facing constant interruption and communication, all presented with the need for immediacy – meaning that we are no longer able to focus or insure that we complete tasks correctly. In essence, our minds are being reprogrammed by our extensive use of technology; our smartphones handle our tasks and reminders for the day, taking over the need to actively remember commitments or engagements, decreasing the agility of our minds and our mental capacity.

I certainly have noticed the change in how I am able to complete my daily tasks. As a salesperson I have always been a good multitasker, I'd rather finish a task while I am thinking about it than waiting to finish something perfectly. However, the constant emails, text messages and voicemails that I feel the need to answer right away have taken away my ability to concentrate on anything exclusively. Watching a movie, reading a book or attending a sporting event is no longer a fun experience because of the anxiety I feel about needing to check in or accomplish something else.

Finding a solution to this problem and a way to adapt to this change has provided yet another task for me to be reminded of. Years ago a teacher friend of mine told me that I had to worry less about trying to change the world by going backwards and accept that the world is constantly evolving and to learn how to evolve with it or face constant dissatisfaction. I have accepted that there is a lot of truth in that statement. Accepting that these changes will happen and adapting our thought processes to think outside of the box is the best way to remain successful as salespeople and continue to sell products and services. It may now be more about how we text than how we talk but it's time to get with the program or become irrelevant.


Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 28 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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