Why Volunteer for HAR/TAR/NAR!

February 15, 2011

While I do not exactly live and breathe real estate, you just might think I do by the amount of time I give it, both as a Realtor and as a volunteer. In fact, today I returned from our bi-annual governance meetings in Austin and I am first to admit that I am thoroughly “pooped”.

Why do I do it?  Why would I spend so much time away from my business and family on volunteer projects that at first glance do not make me money? I am often asked these questions and want to share my personal experience with you.

As a volunteer, you get to…:

  • Surround yourself with industry leaders and innovators, nationally recognized and gifted individuals known for their contributions to our industry. These are people usually who move in different circles than we do. In fact, you might rarely get to meet them, much less work with and learn from them without giving of yourself and your time to the things they love – the business of real estate.
  • Learn something new every single day. This is the best form of continuing education and is being taught by the true masters in our business.
  • Be “in-the-know” and at the forefront of industry trends and technology. Things change so fast with regard to contracts, marketing, social media, etc. that you may end up with a huge advantage over your competitors by leading the pack.
  • Network with like-minded professionals across the State and Nation, which could pay off in quality future referrals. I have been fortunate to receive referrals from many fellow Realtors with clients moving to or from my area of Katy, TX. And I also have a great resource to refer my clients when they move. A true win-win situation. 
  • Serve your fellow members, building good will and a strong reputation with your peers. Plus, it really does the heart good!
  • Make an impact on your industry. You might just be the next great innovator or “influencer” and your association and its members will benefit.
  • Enjoy your business more thoroughly through building life-long relationships. Some of my best friends are Realtors who work hard and play harder. This is a group that enjoys life and they never get upset if I have to text a client or take a call. They truly understand me and my life as a busy Realtor.

There are so many more reasons for you to step up to the plate. What is stopping you? Volunteer Today!

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Top # 10 books for Real Estate

February 14, 2011

I recently participated in a panel of peers speaking on the subject of what we, as full-time, residential real estate agents, were doing to move our business forward in a challenging business environment.

Part of my presentation on the panel was sharing books that contribute to my successful journey in this crazy world of real estate and for life in general. I thought I would share it with a broader audience and ask for your opinion of books that I can add to my shelf of knowledge.

My Current Favorites:

Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison and Wayne A Conaway. A fabulous guide-book for anyone working with international clients. While you may need more in-depth information for a specific client, this book helps you understand the decision-making process of different cultures and may help prevent a critical yet innocent faux pax.

Hard Optimism by Price Pritchett. This is a small, concise, easy-to-read booklet that gets to the heart of what is necessary to be truly optimistic. I keep a copy in my car to read when I find myself with a few moments of down time. I also have several copies on my shelf that I loan out and have given away.  Whether you are in real estate or not, it is powerful and I recommend it highly.

E-Myth Revisited by  Michael E. Gerber . This book helped me to see the difference between the “job” and the “entrepreneurial” mentality, which is crucial to success not only real estate but in any business venture. If you behave like an employee, you will never be the boss. And in real estate, you must rise to the position of boss or fail. While it is a little dry in places, this book has a powerful message.

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. If procrastination is your thing, you need to buy this book today.. no not tomorrow, TODAY. This is short, sweet and to the point. If there is a job you need to do but tend to put off, this book is for you. 

How to List and Sell Real Estate by Danielle Kennedy with Warren Jamison. This was my first introduction to real estate prospecting. In my freelance court reporting past life, I was very familiar with how to attract clients but Danielle helped me focus on the particlar business at hand. Timeless advice for an ever evolving business.

The Tech Savvy Real Estate Agent by Galen Gruman. Although written with the agent in mind,  this book has great technology advice and information that many businesses could benefit from reading.

The Millionaire Real Estate Agent…. by Gary Keller, et al. A well-written book that focuses not only making money but it is one of the most information-packed and practical guides to starting and maintaining a successful a real estate business.

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. A great book that is not directed at real estate but has provided great insight into marketing strategies that will “stick”.

Exploiting Chaos… by Jeremy Gutsche. Again, a non-real estate specific book but chock full of powerful strategies for thriving in a chaotic economic crisis.

Swanepoel Trends Report and Swanepoel Social Media Report both by Stefan Swanepoel. I always follow this yearly report on trends and market leaders. It provides me with insight into where our industry has been and where it most likely is headed.

101 Technology tools for Business on the Go by Shannon King and Melissa Dittman Tracey. A wonderful quick read sharing tools that every real estate road warrior will want to have. (I had the chance to meet her in Austin this week and she is terrific).

How about you? Read any good books lately that have helped you in your business?


Superbowl … A Lesson in Living The Dream!

February 5, 2011

Today is Superbowl Sunday and, like everyone else, I have my mind on the game. However, it isn’t the game but the athletes themselves that interest me. Okay, the commercials, too but that is best left to another post.

I love learning about their individual stories and how they made it here. How they started playing the game as little boys, and continued to define their strengths, refine their skills, and struggle through years of injuries, hardship and courage to become these men at this time in history. Amazing, when you when you think about it.

Consider the immense number of people in life who start playing, training or studying to prepare for their desired area of expertise, and then consider the number who actually make it. What are the odds? What makes the difference? What is it that gets them from novice to Superstar while others, with similar talents, flounder instead of flourish?

Training: They are always training and have been since they first picked up a ball. I can tell you that the Ben Roethlistberger’s and Aaron Rodger’s of the world never stopped training once mastering their talent. In fact, they never believe it to be fully mastered.

Tenacity: They never give up. Injuries may sideline but still they press on. Even to their physical detriment, they continue to play with broken bones, bruised muscles (and egos), rain or snow, heat or cold. Something deep within drives them to continue when others are given the permission to rest.

Coaching: Every single professional has a coach and this is not limited to sports. The gifted require this external element, whether they are writers, actors, singers, and even Realtors (my field of play). A coach is someone who can clearly see where the athlete needs to be and knows how to get him there. He studies the the strengths and weaknesses and creates a plan of action that is specific to that individual. There is no one-size-fits-all! They develop a continuous push/pull dynamic to their relationship. The coach provides the roadmap, monitors the progress and constantly encourages, presses, cajoles, maybe even threatens to ensure action. An effective coach will not fall for excuses or procrastination. If the athlete is tough, the coach must be tougher.

Desire: They can see it, taste it and smell it, even when it exists only in their mind. What might seem daunting to most will only feed this desire further. Ask a true believer what their goal is and you will be astounded by dreams that appear unattainable at best and possibly even bordering on delusions of grandeur. Could it be we lack the belief system and vision to go there or maybe we never had it in the first place? There are no self-induced limits on their ability to achieve… and what they lack, they go back to the first three items above and create it, fix it or improve it.

So while you watch the game today, pay attention to the back-ground stories that the media uses to fill dead air time. Listen to proud parents as they portray their son’s childhood. Ask yourself; what was unique about the seed planted in the “Sapling” of the kid that helped him grew into this mighty “Oak” of a man? If you took a poll of each player on the field and asked what he wanted most as a kid, he will tell it is today. It is this one moment in time. It is to play in the Superbowl!

Win or lose, they are all champions and should be honored for truly “Living the Dream”!


What if I Build a Blog and Nobody Comes?

January 27, 2011

Does this go through the mind of anyone thinking of beginning a blog? It goes through my mind, still…

I have developed a newfound passion and respect for blogging and bloggers, brought about by a longtime, secret desire to write, the knowledge that it might actually be good for my business and a challenge by blog creator, WordPress.com. Who knew a silly online challenge would unleash the writer within?

I am now a true believer and crusader for the power of the blog. I also make every effort to follow other writers to learn more about this exciting craft and have discovered there is a lot more to it than simply throwing words on a wall and hoping they stick.

If there are so many great reasons to do it, why don’t more people try it. And for those of us who do, why aren’t we doing a better job? While getting started seems to be the hardest part, in reality, it is consistency or rather the lack of consistency that trips us up.

So you want to start a blog? Great. Welcome aboard. First, you come up with a title, pick out a theme … now what? Some will plow ahead unhindered by fear or hesitancy, while others will end up staring at a daunting online dashboard, paralyzed with indecision and frozen from elbows to finger tips, unable to render a single word. Sound familiar?

I started with no plan at all. I was meandering from thought to thought and this approach helped me get into the habit of writing. I could continue along this path but I realize to obtain relevancy and longevity, my blog and my thoughts require focus. To help develop your own, draw a wagon wheel on a sheet of paper or on the first page of your blog journal. If you do not have a blog journal, get one. This a great way to capture the white-hot streaks of ideas that race across your consciousness and eventually become seeds for your posts.

Now, write down the focus or main theme of your blog in the center, and add related subjects or topics at the end of the spokes, throwing in a few that may not relate to the central story you are trying to tell but reflect who you really are. Your overall theme may anchor the blog but only by adding a bit of “you” will it be interesting.

How many of us have had blogs for a while but have not posted in months… years even? That is not really a blog, but a dull and static example of how we have missed the most important recipe for blogging success… consistency. A good way to develop the habit of routinely updating or contributing to a blog is to create a daily or weekly schedule for your topics.  An example could be Top Ten Tuesday, Wild Wednesday, Free Thought Friday, etc. This puts a routine to your writing and helps your reader anticipate what to expect from your blog. This is a great way to build your viewership and that goal of all goals, the subscriber.

Finally, let’s talk about syndication, which is important to getting actual eyeballs on your site. Luckily, WordPress will send your posts directly to Facebook and Twitter. I would also suggest advertising the name of your blog along with your static website. There are many people who feel that the blog has taken center stage and basically replaced the need for a separate site. I still cling to mine but have made a link to my blog a central part of my site and have started sharing my blog URL as I would my address or cell phone number.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that if you build it, they will come. But I can guarantee if you don’t, they will go somewhere else.

What are you waiting for? Like me, you may find that you not only like it… you love it.

Happy Blogging, Y’all!