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Dumb as (or Smart as) a Box of Rocks

Obviously, you all want to know what Brexit means to the economy and the housing market specifically. So do I! But since my crystal ball is at the cleaner’s, let’s give the Brits and the European Union a little time to work out the terms of their separation and look at something else.

What’s a “fad”? With the help of Google, this is what I got as a definition: “an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.” In April 1975, an advertising executive by the name of Gary Dahl invented the Pet Rock. The idea came from his sitting in a bar with some friends who were complaining about the cost and time required to take care of various types of pets. He marketed his “pets” by placing a rock in a box cut and shaped like one you would get at the pet store to carry home a puppy or a kitten. Along with the box and the rock, a booklet was included that detailed how to care for and teach the pet rock to do tricks – the booklet was written very tongue in cheek with gags, puns, and jokes. All told, he sold 1.5 million of these pets and became a millionaire.

Fortunately for Mr. Dahl, what made this whole thing so successful wasn’t the idea of selling a rock to a bunch of people; it was the booklet that he wrote to accompany the pet rock. Because it was well written and funny, people were engaged and hooked – they told their friends about it, and that’s REALLY what people were buying: a book, not a rock. Further, Gary Dahl wasn’t a one-trick pony: he was a very successful advertising executive with his own agency in California – the pet rock was just gravy (really, really rich gravy, but gravy nonetheless when compared against his career). In other words, he never stopped developing his talent and continued to come out with fresh ideas to keep his current clients happy and obtain new ones.

Recently, on NPR, the host of a particular program was interviewing a French scientist who is studying the different properties of sound and its . . . abilities. The scientist’s accent was awesome, I’ll admit. If I hadn’t known he was the leader in his field, I would have pegged him for a member of Monty Python doing a skit. One of the things he said that was absolutely fascinating (that I could even begin to understand) was that he was experimenting on how sound could enhance the processors in computers. What?! It seems the host was almost as confused as I was, but she soldiered on and asked how much sound could enhance the performance of processors. Answer: 100s of times faster! Wow! He then went on to talk about other sound-related stuff that flew miles over my head – no surprise there.

This scientist didn’t say to himself (I’m translating his French musings into English), “Well, someone’s figured out how to convert the Beatles’ ‘White Album’ from analog to digital while preserving the original recording’s integrity, so it looks like there’s nothing more we need to do,” and just call it a day. He took his expertise to a place most people would never associate with sound: the sterile and seemingly silent inside of a computer processor. If this guy’s studies bear out, can you imagine how awesome it will be to be able to download and watch cat videos or upload sarcastic memes 100s of times faster?!!!

In this crazy housing market that can be affected by everything from the price of oil to the desires of the British populace, people need real estate agents and loan officers who are intelligent and on top of their game – they don’t need the friend of a friend or a third uncle twice removed who does this as a hobby, whose last transaction was three years ago. The intelligent, top-of-game folks in this business are the ones who keep evolving and look at the next transaction – not the last one – to define them.

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