January 31, 2010

A Question Worth Asking

Monday Morning Match

I am not sure where I heard it but the statement below hit me loud and clear, so much so that I printed it out and hung it on my office wall.

"Are you merely interested in success or are you totally committed to success?"

It's a fair question, isn't it? Wanting something to happen and doing whatever it takes to make it happen are totally different. The chasm between the two really separates the winners from the non-winners.

It's the start of a new week.

  • Who will you talk to that will help you grow your business?
  • What needs to get done to get those contracts closer to a closing table?
  • What picture do you need to paint that will help your Sellers position their home to attract buyer attention?
  • How can you become a better spouse, partner, parent, child, friend?
  • When will you create time to engage in physical exercise or activity to maintain or improve your health?

Push yourself. Do more. Be engaged.

What do you need to be totally committed to?

Here's another question..."What are you waiting for?"

January 29, 2010

Everyone Needs a "Cabin"

Do you have that "special spot" that you can go to? Maybe it's a comfortable leather chair in your den or a rocking chair on the porch? It could be the treadmill in the basement or a workshop in the garage?

Some people have a specific activity which is their getaway - like running or walking or cycling. Others might frequent locations like a neighborhood park, a coffee shop or restaurant.

It's the kind of place where you really can be yourself. When you're there, everything feels "right." You could be there alone or with friends; you could be totally engaged to the world around you at the moment or just "kickin' back" going with the flow.

It's Almost Time to Catch Cabin Fever

Today I found "that place" for one of my good buddies. I had the pleasure of being invited to lunch in Newark, Ohio by Patrick and Andrew Guanciale. Patrick and Andrew are two of the top Realtors, not just in the Coldwell Banker Newark branch, but in all of Licking County. They are #58 and #59 in my 101 Most Influential People in My Life so when they invited me to join them along with fellow Guanciale Team member Lisa Stewart and Licking County Chamber of Commerce President, Cheri Hottinger, for lunch at the OSU Newark campus, I quickly looked for a date on my calendar. Today was that day.

After a casual lunch catching up about the real estate market and family activities, we turned our attention to the Chamber's big Groundhog Day Breakfast event. Cheri and Patrick and the rest of the Chamber were pleased with the event (over 500 people attended) but they were exhausted from their early morning wake up calls to get ready.

We said our goodbyes but Andrew invited me to stop by on my way out of town and see his "cabin." It really is a "cabin" that sits off of his main house in downtown Newark and he has converted it into his "special place." Most people would call it a bar or a "man cave" but it is much more than that.

Andrew and his lovely wife Jill have put a lot of time, energy, money, thought, creativity and passion into this 20' by 12' room. From the rustic beamed ceilings to the space heaters and fireplace, this place is sweet. He shared photos from many great nights in "the cabin" and regaled me with stories about the place - how his dad built the bar and about his friends donating many of the decorations. It turns out that "the Cabin's" reputation in Newark is growing as people have paid top dollar at local charity auctions to host parties there.

I enjoyed spending some time in The Cabin with Andrew and his neighbor Mark Evans this afternoon and will look forward to my next invite to do it again. Thanks Andrew, for making me appreciate those moments when you truly get to just kick back and relax, knowing that "your cabin" can be anywhere you allow it to be.

I hope you all get to enjoy time in your cabin this weekend, wherever that may be.

Until next time...keep building relationships...solving problems...and having fun.

January 26, 2010

Thanks for Raising the Bar, Louie

Tonight I had great service and it's important to me that I tell someone about it.

When you spend much of your time each day helping people understand the impact that providing "truly remarkable service" may have on their customers, clients and communities, it's no wonder that when you are the one receiving that same level of service, it makes a difference.

I love it when I get great service. I love the impact it has on my attitude. I love the way I remember the experience, the people who deliver it and the location where it happened. And I also appreciate the experience for things I can learn from it so I can share the lessons with those I teach.

Tonight I took my daughter, Riley, to the Columbus Blue Jackets game. Riley loves to go to hockey games with me so as a birthday present to Riley (she turns 11 today - January 27th) she was allowed to bring two of her classmates with us. We went down to the Arena District early and grabbed a table at one of Riley's favorite restaurants - Bar Louie.

It was the last table available on a very busy night. It was on a separate level from the main floor, almost like a private sky box for just us but as a former waiter, it was clearly "out of the way" of the rest of the tables and up two short flights of stairs. Three "tweener girls" and a gray-haired gen Xer. I'm sure "huge ticket table" never crossed the lips of any of the wait staff when they saw us seat ourselves.

No worries though, because Leslie was our server.

Leslie was helpful, friendly, attentive and outgoing. The manager on duty, Rich, clearly was a believer in the "lead by example" mantra because he went out of his way to make us feel welcomed as well. He even went to the upstairs office to make additional copies of the kids menus for the girls.

In addition to Leslie and Rich, the rest of the Bar Louie team demonstrated that they were just that - part of a team. One server brought our appetizers (soft pretzels and chips and salsa), one server refilled our drinks, another cleared our dirty plates. And all throughout the evening, there was Leslie; Always making sure we were happy, always making the sure the girls had what they needed, always doing everything she could to make sure that our experience at Bar Louie tonight was a positive experience.

After a great meal, there was a slight mix up on our bill but when it was brought to Leslie's attention, there was no blame, no argument, no hesitation. She not only did what it took to make things right, she did more. Leslie topped off our visit when she delivered desserts for the girls. Talk about under promising and over delivering!

So to Leslie, Rich and all the Bar Louie Arena District team - Thanks for the start to a great night. Thanks for providing a shining example of "truly remarkable service" in action. We'll be back.

P.S. Thanks to Steve Mason and his Blue Jackets teammates, who also helped make it a great end to the night, as they held off the Nashville Predators to secure the win, 3-2. Carry the Flag, CBJ!

January 22, 2010

Keeping Your Priorities Simple

While searching the web for some images for an upcoming presentation, I came upon the photo below. I don't know who the author of it was but I can tell what his or her priorities were on that given day.

I'll bet you can too.

As you approach your daily activities, take a lesson from this youngster...keep it simple, do what you want to do and then enjoy the journey!

January 21, 2010

When Was the Last Time You Paid it Forward?

"I would like to start with something I have used in almost every speech, and this is, "paying forward." And that is the thing that you folks can do with your great education for the rest of your life.

Try to take that attitude toward life, that you're going to pay forward. So seldom can we pay back because those who helped most--your parents and other people--will be gone, but you'll find that you do want to pay. Emerson had something to say about that: "You can pay back only seldom." But he said, "You can always pay forward, and you must pay line for line, deed for deed, and cent for cent." He said, "Beware of too much good accumulating in your palm or it will fast corrupt." That was Emerson's attitude, and no one put it better than he did.

~ Excerpt from Woody Hayes' Commencement Speech at The Ohio State University,
March 14, 1986.

(To read the full speech, click here)

With the recent tragedy in Haiti still fresh in our minds, I want to ask you a simple question. When was the last time you "paid it forward"? It might have been a donation to a school fundraiser, assisting at a charity function or maybe taking in the mail for your vacationing neighbor. Perhaps it was covering for a co-worker who had a sick child at home or covering the tab of the person in front of you in line at lunch who left their wallet at home that day?

Regardless of when it was I am sure it touched you and the person who was receiving your "payment."

In a career like real estate, we work hard to bring our clients to the closing table because that is the way we keep score in this industry. Most businesses in the world are run based on profit...and that's okay. It's nothing to be ashamed of. But I also think that people want to have more of an impact on their world around them beyond the size of their bank accounts.

Clay Walker recorded a song that speaks of paying it forward. It was called Chain of Love and the chorus went like this...

"You don't owe me a thing; I've been there to
And someone once helped me out
Just the way I'm helping you
If you really want to pay me back, here's what you do
Don't let the chain of love end with you."

It's kind of amazing how far these "chains" can stretch, isn't it? I am a big fan of author, blogger and marketing guru extraordinaire, Seth Godin. I have enjoyed his books and his blogs and pretty much anything he puts out for public consumption. He doesn't tell you how to think, he just wants to get you to think.

A while back Seth blogged about one of his friends who had written a book about her journey to Africa to help bring financial education and support to women entrepreneurs throughout that continent. The book was called The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz

who went on to start the Acumen Fund. The Acumen Fund "is a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. We seek to prove that small amounts of philanthropic capital, combined with large doses of business acumen, can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of the poor. Our investments focus on delivering affordable, critical goods and services – like health, water, housing and energy – through innovative, market-oriented approaches."

(Preview the first few pages of the book)

Seth promoted the book on his blog and encouraged his readers to purchase the book, read the book, blog about the book and then perhaps even pass the book along to someone else. A portion of the price of the book was donated to The Acumen Fund.

I purchased the book, read the book and am now finally blogging about the book (sort of). I was finally able to pass the book along when one day, while sitting in church listening to the sermon delivered by a guest of our parish priest. Her name was Sister Pat Pieper, SND.

Sister Pat spoke about her missions and those of her organization, the Sisters of Notre Dame - an international congregation of Catholic women religious, committed, faith-filled, and joyful...witnessing to God’s loving care and goodness in our lives.

I listened to Sister Pat's story that day and thought about the similar challenges that were described by Novogratz in the same under-developed regions of Africa in her journey of The Blue Sweater.

After mass had ended, I drove home, grabbed the book off my shelf and returned to the church to catch Sister Pat before she left the sanctuary. I introduced myself, gave her the book, encouraged her to read it and then pass it on when she was done.

"You don't owe me a thing; I've been there to
And someone once helped me out
Just the way I'm helping you
If you really want to pay me back, here's what you do
Don't let the chain of love end with you."

Today I received an unexpected email from Sister Pat. This is what it said:

Good Morning, Sean,

Perhaps you don't remember me but I gave the mission talk at St. Andrew's last year and you gifted me with the wonderful book, "The Blue Sweater". I just wanted to thank you again. Not only did I enjoy it and was challenged by it but I passed it on to several friends, the last of which was a young girl, a graduate of Watterson last year who is now in South Africa on a six month mission experience.

I expect she will pass it on also. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness and generosity and I wish you and your family peace and joy in 2010 as we all join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Haiti and the many intentions in our own country.

Gratefully, Sr. Pat Pieper,SND.

I'm not sure where the book will go next, but just like that "blue sweater" in the book, maybe we'll all be surprised how our lives intertwine.

I ask you again - "When was the last time you paid it forward?"

Maybe today is a great day for that.

Until next time, build relationships...solve problems...and have fun!

January 14, 2010

What Am I Supposed to Send Them?

Keeping in touch with your friends, family, clients and contacts - also known as your "sphere of influence - is one of the critical tasks that need to occur on a regular basis in order to insure your success as a full-time Realtor. I often hear from people that they are unsure of what to send to these people.

Don't over think it, just send something!

It helps if it's valuable and relevant. That will mean different things to different people so really ask yourself what you want the recipient to think, say or do with the information once they receive it.

Regular contact with the people who know, like and support you will insure that they will continue to do so in the future with their business and all-important referrals. Brand recognition is critical in a crowded landscape like real estate and unless you have the millions of advertising dollars of a McDonald's or Coca Cola, chances are you'll need to be persistent through many different channels of contact.

What's your plan for email? Direct mail? Personal notes and letters? Phone calls? Personal visits? Customer appreciation events? Most experts say that people need to be exposed to your message once every 16 days or else they'll begin to forget you and your message.

If you're associated with a powerful brand (local, national or international) some of the "recognition" has already been taken care of. In national studies, the Coldwell Banker logo has a 96% awareness among those who were surveyed. That means that Coldwell Banker associates need to do everything they can to connect their name, face and service to that recognizable logo so when people see the blue and white CB, they think of you. If you're affiliated with another real estate company or brokerage, how can you leverage the name/brand recognition of your company in the area where you practice to grow your business in 2010?

Below is an example of the kind of thing I think your "contact list" may find valuable, relevant or both, depending on their current situation. If nothing else, it's that "touch" that connects your brand, your name and what you do and gets them thinking for that brief moment about your face and what it is that you do.

For a copy of this image, please email me at Sean.Carpenter@cboki.com

So what is it that you find valuable and relevant to send to your contacts? How has your business grown by keeping in touch with your spheres of influence? I'd love to hear some of the "stuff" you have sent to keep in touch with your contacts in your data base.

Thanks for reading and remember...keep building relationships...solving problems...and having fun.

January 7, 2010

Digging for Opportunities?

"To appreciate the beauty of a snow flake,
it is necessary to stand out in the cold.”

How's the Market?

Happy New Year to all. I trust you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and have entered into the new year and decade with excitement and optimism?

Like laying down to sleep on freshly washed flannel sheets or opening up that new jar of peanut butter, it's always neat to turn the page on a fresh calendar. It's just so fresh, you can make your mark for all the world to see.

While the question is asked year round, it's these long, dark days of winter where people start dreaming of spring and their minds start to wonder if this might be the year they should buy or sell a home. And what's their first question?

"How's the market?"

Here's a simple to remember, three part phrase for that question which allows you to determine the message the questioner receives as well as control where the conversation goes from there. I learned it from my good buddy John Hamilton and it works like a charm.

What's that? You want to know the phrase? Are you sure you can remember the three easy parts? Okay, well then ask me, "Sean...how's the market?"

  • "It's challenging"

  • "But there are lots of opportunities"

  • "All we need are a few more ________________________________"

All you'll need to do to personalize it for your specific market is to insert whatever it is you might need at the time into the blank space at the end of part three. Maybe your market is overstocked with inventory priced under $200,000. You could say...

"All we need are a few more buyers looking to take advantage of the current Home Buyer Tax Credit. There are some fabulous deals out there under the $200K price point that will make someone very happy."

Maybe your market is in need of inventory for the stable of buyers you're currently working with. Everything on the market now is overpriced or in crappy condition. Try this...

"All we need are a few more listings in the $150K range. I'm working with several first-time buyers and we've seen almost everything that's out there. Not only could I probably match up one of my buyers with a new listings, but I may also be able to help the Seller find a new home and take advantage of the $6,500 tax credit that is available to current home owners until April 30th."

Did you notice that I never had to ask the questioner for business? If they might have something that would fill my need, I just gave them the perfect opportunity to help me. If they don't, I just helped educate them a little more about our current market and showed them that I am knowledgeable and confident in my current market.

It is challenging out there but I firmly believe that for those agents who are willing to put in the effort every day, there are, and will continue to be, lots of opportunities. Now go out there and tell the world what you need.

Remember...keep building relationships...solving problems...and having fun.