Archive for the ‘attitude’ Category

Have You Thanked Your Customers Lately?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

With the onslaught of social media and the digital age many people, myself included, lament the loss of humanization – that personal touch, face-to-face contact, handwritten notes and handshakes or hugs. In the interest of doing things faster and getting more accomplished in a shorter time, we tend to overlook the most important part of relationships, the things that make us stand out, seem more “real,” helpful and caring.

Humans need to feel appreciated, and if you are appreciated in your business you will be successful. Those who are appreciated are those who go beyond the norm – making sure their clients are satisfied, being available, moving around schedules to accommodate, and most importantly, listening and saying “thank you.”

We need to show people we appreciate them, whether it is our dry cleaner, the driver who let’s you in front of them, your client or anyone else. Saying “thank you” goes a long way.

One of the best books I read on the topic was The Thank You Economy, by Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary talks about how we can use technology and social media, and still thank our customers and colleagues with a personal touch. If you have not read it and you are in any kind of business, I highly recommend it. He truly understands that business requires a human element, and he shows how you can use technology to your advantage and the advantage of your clients.

So next time someone needs something from you, take a moment to help them, and do it with a smile on your face no matter how busy you are. Most importantly, thank them when you are finished. Thank them for choosing to call you, for asking for your help, for working with you. Remember, there are others out there they could have chosen, but they contacted you. If you are thankful, not only will it pay off in the long run, but it will make you feel amazing.

Lastly, please teach this important lesson to your children. They need to understand the power of gratitude (sadly, many do not). Thank you for reading my blog!

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”
Cicero

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.”
Sarah Ban Breathnach

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Improving the Real Estate Market with Diligence & Sharing

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Like many other real estate agents, I am often dismayed by the real estate news headlines, which consist of assaults on the housing market, with lots of dire predictions about where housing is headed. We see more positive stories nowadays, but they are still mixed in with overwhelming negative ones.

We cannot begin to fix our housing crisis until attitudes are changed and people have access to accurate LOCAL information. The fact is that the average American believes what s/he reads, so if  “analysts don’t foresee rise in home prices until 2014,” or the “foreclosure backlog could take decades to process,” (actual headlines) then why would anyone want to buy real estate!

The job of a Realtor today is hard, but having to deal with so much negative media about housing makes it is even harder. We need to be the teachers in our communities when it comes to housing. The mainstream news consists of a broad overview of real estate issues, many of which may not apply from one area to the next.

The best way to help our communities, clients and local housing markets is to spread the word on specific local news, highlights, and issues. This can be accomplished by blogging, posting videos on YouTube, writing editorials in local newspapers, answering questions on housing in your area via consumer websites, sending out newsletters, and holding seminars for buyers or sellers to gather information.

There are many ways to share information, and our challenge as Realtors is to find them. We have to be vigilant, because we are competing against mainstream media, which uses doom and gloom to sell papers and gain viewers. This has to be part of our daily routine – to get out there and spread some real, local news that can actually help people.

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What’s in Your Problem-Solving Tool Box?

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

A client told me a few days ago that I have one of the hardest jobs, and she doesn’t know how I do it every day. She was referring to the difficult situations I face daily in regards to short sales, short sale lenders, and getting buyers qualified to buy properties. There are some days, I admit, where I want to just turn off my phone and go sit on the beach, ignore all the problems…but I persist.

In realizing that a solution is only as good as the work put forward to obtain it, I have come to the conclusion that there will always be problems, as in any business. Instead of dreading them, or slacking off, or even throwing in the towel, we need to approach each transgression with not only persistence and a plan, but with the best tool of all: laughter.

How does laughter help, you ask? If you have a stressful day or week, go and watch a funny movie. Aside from exercise, laughter is one of the best ways I know to get through anything. My new pastime is finding and making jokes about lenders, especially those I do not favor (like the ones who Chase off short sale buyers, Chase down bad BPOs, or Chase after foreclosure as a preference). See? I feel better already.

Laughter may not solve your problem, but it will definitely give you renewed energy to go out there and keep fighting. I am ready for a day in the trenches  tomorrow (I am hoping to Chase a big problem away), so tonight I plan on watching a funny movie. How do YOU deal with problems?

 

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The Secrets to a Good Life (as Learned from Lori)

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Today would have been my sister-in-law Lori’s 51st birthday. She was that person you knew who was always full of life, always laughing, creating, joking, happy. She loved to play pranks on her friends, to decorate and remodel homes, to plan. She was an amazing photographer, wife, mother, sister and friend. What I loved most about Lori was her attitude. She always saw the bright side of things. She didn’t harbor regret or bad feelings toward others, never held a grudge, but truly understood that life was meant to be lived. She was one of the rare ones.

Losing Lori was a reminder that life is precious. We are all subjected to this message in our lives, and it can change the way we view life for a moment, for eternity, or somewhere in between. It is how you let it affect you that counts. When things are going well for us we don’t tend to dwell on the “what if’s,” but when we hit a bumpy spot in the road we react – it is how we react that can change the course of our lives.

Here is what I learned from Lori:

* If you are bored, paint the walls and rearrange the furniture.

* If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on traveling, plan where you will go once you do.

* If you need a change, cut your hair.

* If you want to do something/be something/go somewhere and cannot, dream.

* (My favorite) No matter how hard life becomes, laugh.

Nothing in life should be so  hard as to make us want to quit or give up, because, as Lori truly understood, life is what you make it. We create it as we go, and she sure did, up until the last minute. I love you, Lori.

 

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Change for the Better

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Change. It is a powerful word that conjures up a plethora of emotions, from excitement to fear. The very idea of change can make you panic or it can energize you, but you shouldn’t let your response to change prevent you from making it, as you could end up missing out on some fantastic opportunities. The fact is that the world is moving so fast, and change is always inevitable – but happiness should be your main goal.

Obstacles. It is human nature to accept patterns and situations in life, and oftentimes that means putting up with things we don’t love (or even like), for fear of the unknown. Countless people go to jobs every day that they don’t enjoy. They may dream of opening a bed and breakfast, selling homemade blankets or granola bars, starting an organization to help latch-key kids have something to do after school. The reason they don’t act on their passion is because they are afraid of the unknown: what if I don’t make money for a long time? How will I finance my dream? Where do I start? How do I get my product approved by the FDA?

Baby steps. The answer to all the fear is to make a plan and then DO IT! The founders of some of the biggest companies started from their homes and garages and kitchens. They didn’t know they would end up building multi-million dollar companies, but set out doing what they were passionate about and stuck with that. Because they loved their work, good fortune came from it. I am not saying you should quit your job today and go home and start baking your famous brownies, but you need to start with generating a business plan.

Business plan. If you don’t know how to create a business plan there are websites you can visit and books you can buy to help you do so. Talk to other people in similar businesses and see what types of equipment they use, who they go to for materials. Get out there and do some research. Then, when you have compiled that and have a list of sources, create a plan and figure out what you need to start up. Do you need a patent? Trademark? What is the minimum amount of money you will need to start up? Do you have enough savings, or need a loan, or an investor? Do you need to go back to school? Speak with your accountant and figure out how you want to form your business (Corporation, LLC, partnership, etc. Each has different benefits). You can have a legal site like LegalZoom.com draft up your documents, and you can register your ficticious business name with your county.

Start now. Make time to take the steps you need to start working on your passion. It may take months, or even years, to get off the ground and get to the point where you can leave your job and start to build your passion, but you will feel good knowing that you are working toward that goal.

The most important advice to remember is to not be afraid of change…instead, embrace it!

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To Whom are You Accountable?

Friday, May 13th, 2011

To whom are you accountable? What popped into your head first – boss? Spouse? Friend? Yourself?

I am amazed every day by people, and usually in a positive way. I believe that the majority of people are good, have big hearts and care about others, seek to do justice and hold themselves accountable. But of course there are some who do not. They may by nature be unwilling to hold themselves responsible, not care about how their actions affect others, or may do so because of stress (economic, relationship, illness, etc). I do not hold a PhD but I am analytical by nature and consider myself a pretty good judge of character. I created the following categories of accountability…see what you think.

The moral person holds herself accountable to herself, first and foremost. She knows if she does something that is not right she will not only affect others, but feel badly. She will want to take action and admit her faults. She also holds herself accountable to others. For many this is just part of who they are. It is part psychological and may be inbred, but also has a lot to do with how you were raised, where you live and with whom you associate yourself.

The pleaser holds himself accountable to others, like his boss or teammate, someone he looks up to or with whom he is in a relationship. He is eager to please and if he is surrounded by moral people he will likely become a moral person. His confidence will rise when he does something right, and if the people around him teach him to hold himself accountable he will be successful and confident.

The know-it-all is the person who actually thinks he is in the right, even when he is not. He may or may not hold himself accountable to anyone in particular. He is the one who, when called out for being unprofessional or making a poor choice, does not admit he is wrong or even apologize. I think deep down he knows he is not in the right, but he may see himself as superior or may just not want to admit to others that he was wrong. This person may have been surrounded by hard to please parents or peers at times of crucial development. He also may just have low self-confidence. These types may hold themselves accountable to others they admire, but they may do so temporarily, depending on what the big plan is. These people CAN be healed with a little confidence and some good guidance.

The immoral person really only cares about herself and does not hold herself accountable to others, maybe not even herself. She does not consider the feelings of others, or maybe does but does not really bother with them. She is out for herself – maybe to make a quick buck, get to the top, make more money. She may have been raised that way, or she may have hardened herself due to circumstances she has faced in life. She may even not consider her actions to be immoral or even wrong, and may just need to associate herself with the right people to change her viewpoint.

I created the above list because I see these types of people all the time. I saw them when I practiced law, when I was not working and raising my children, and throughout my real estate career. There may be a few other categories you may think of, and some people may fall into several at different times.

I think the lesson here is that we all should ask ourselves to whom we are accountable. We need to be accountable BOTH to ourselves and to our clients, peers, family, friends. If you make a mistake, do not be afraid to admit it. Do the right thing and you will not only be more successful, but happier.

 

 

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Quitting Is So Easy

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

There are times in life where everyone feels the urge to give up – whether it be your job, a relationship, exercise routine, diet, or learning something. At those times it is easy to find a multitude of reasons why quitting would be so easy, and we tell ourselves this we can actually justify it. If we quit our job or just stopped working so hard, we could take the day off, see a movie, go to the beach, read a book. If we skipped the gym we could sleep in, go out to breakfast.

In tough times it is even easier to give up. But if you stay the course, trudge onward, persevere, you will find that you will not only learn much, but feel a lot happier. Here is what you will gain by staying the course:

1.  Strength and confidence. The easy way out is just that; if you stay the course you will actually become stronger and gain self confidence. Anyone can quit, but it takes someone special to stick it out and find a way to make it not only tolerable, but enjoyable or beneficial to you.

1.  Knowledge. Those who don’t run away from things that are tough or scary or plain frustrating actually come away with a great deal of knowledge. It can be knowledge of self, of others, of an industry or skill. Often those who stick around and find ways to make it work are the ones who will rise to the top. If you dream of having your own business and you are working for someone, use the skills you learn for your future business. If you stick to your diet you will gain the knowledge of how it feels to have a healthier body, to understand what it feels to be free from lethargy or illness. Knowledge is always power, in any situation.

1.  Happiness. Those who quit tend to feel down, unhappy. Even down the road you will always know that you quit, and that tends to make people feel bad about themselves (sure there are definitely some situations where quitting is necessary, or even the better choice). Those who stay the course and become stronger, more comfortable with themselves and their decision making processes, tend to be happier people.

I have a friend who owns her own business. A while back she was completely unhappy with the way things were going. Her partner was making demands and money was tight, product was not getting to customers quickly enough. She was ready to throw in the towel and start all over in a new business. I asked her why she didn’t instead try to make some changes that would make her happier, stay with it. After all, she had built up the brand and had a reputation in her industry. She ended up making a new business plan and writing down what she wanted in both the short and long term. Good things are happening now and other big companies are considering buying her out or taking over, keeping her on as a salaried consultant. She is happy.

So when you are feeling down and think giving up is easier, do this: take some time away from whatever it is that is making you unhappy – take a day off, or even a few hours, from work, go somewhere alone to be outside of a troubled relationship, do something that involves relaxation and not food so you don’t think about that diet…find time to just be. Then come back and make a list of your expectations, your dreams, your goals. Stick to that and stay on your path. You will be happier in the long run.

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Lessons Learned from Bin Laden’s Death

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

As I watched the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death unfold last night I had, as did many others, mixed emotions. I was happy that a man who had such an evil mind, a man who killed people like they were no more than ants, will no longer be around to spread his toxic hatred. But at the same time, I did not feel the urge to celebrate, as I know that his death is not the end of terrorism or hatred.

As I always try to do, I wanted to look for the good in this situation, and see how I can apply it to life in general, maybe even take something positive from it. In thinking about it I realized that the most important consequence of an event like this is that it reminds every American that we all have to stand together.

Do you remember what it felt like in the weeks after the twin towers fell? I do, and I will never forget that. People everywhere were kinder, nicer, more respectful. There was just a feeling of connectedness that I can’t explain. It was as if people stopped and realized that we were all joined in some way, that even though you may not have known someone who perished that day we are all Americans, and we are part of that which is so much bigger than just ourselves.

It is my hope that despite the horror of terrorism and natural disasters, death and destruction, and even mean people, we can all learn to respect each other just a little bit more, to be more kind. It is so easy to get caught up in our own busy lives, to watch the news and see things happening in other places and feel a moment of sadness before thanking our god that we and our loved ones are not suffering.

I hope that from this we can all remember what it felt like in the days and weeks after 9/11, that we are all vulnerable, and that we have to stick together. Out of every tragedy comes some good. Remember to smile and spread kindness and be a little more respectful, appreciate everyone and be thankful every day. This is actually a great lesson to teach our children, that from the bad comes something beautiful, and that Americans are strong because we all respect not only our freedom, but that of every other person.

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What Song are YOU Singing?

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

I was listening to a Journey song recently and one phrase in particular struck me and got me thinking: “some were born to sing the blues.” Have you ever thought about this? We all have songs that we sing, songs that can describe us. They may not have a title and may not even have words, and they may change often, but these songs guide us through much of life, and sometimes making changes is as easy as changing the tune.

I had a friend who was always singing the blues. She had a difficult life and has been through a lot, and things were continuously not going her way. When I spoke with her it was always about the latest problem. I tried and tried to steer her to thinking in a different way, telling her that if she stopped focusing on all the negative things her life could turn around. I reminded her of the wonderful things in her life–her husband, children, health. But after years of trying I just felt exhausted. She literally sucked the energy from me and I had to end the friendship. It was a tough decision, because I really love her and value her friendship. But I had to save myself from delving into the blues and negativity every time we spoke.

My beloved friend/sister in law, who passed away over four years ago from cancer at a young age, was one of the most positive people I knew. She was always singing a happy song, and you could feel it. Even when she was dying in the hospital and her two children were watching, she managed to keep her chin up and sing songs that made you want to dance and appreciate life. Another loved one was just diagnosed with an incurable disease and boy is she singing upbeat tunes to keep up the attitude.

Have you ever watched young children playing? If you are a parent like me than you know what I am describing, but if not you should do an experiment. Go to a park and sit and watch children play for a bit. You will notice they are singing! Either literally, or just with their body language. They are engaged in their play completely, and their joy is infectious. True they have no worries yet, but we need to capture this joy and infuse it into our lives every day. I am not saying that we should be happy 100% of the time, but we can definitely make time to think positive thoughts and share them with others. Like small children we need to truly enjoy just being present.

Attitude is everything, and to those who do not believe that it is a shame. The song you sing, the vibe you give off, effects all those with whom you come into contact. Life is full of challenges and none of us are immune. So if you are not singing those songs already please try it for a week. Appreciate everything you have, see the beauty in things, feel your body’s strength and health, look at those you love and realize how important they are to you. We are only here for a short time and no one knows when their time will be up. Take what is important and sing about it–not literally, although you can if you choose–let others hear your songs and see what a difference it will make.

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