December 31, 2010

Yeah, It's Kind of Like That

Open highway as far as you can see

Freshly cut grass

Warm donuts at Krispy Kreme

Clean sheets on the bed

A new jar of peanut butter

Your dog bounding to the door when you get home after work

Waking up ready for your day before the alarm ever rings

Being the first one in the pool after rest period

Opening Day for your favorite team in baseball

The sound of "pfffffft" when you crack that first beer on a hot summer day

Unpacking a new book after it arrives from

Walking on the beach right after low tide

Standing in a long line at the grocery check out when a cashier shouts, "I can help you in lane six"

New car smell

A blank sheet of paper and a new box of Crayolas

Yeah, welcoming a brand new year is kind of like that.

May you have a great year building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

Happy New Year -


December 30, 2010

Finish What You Started

"Like sand through the hourglass..."

Well, that went by pretty quickly, huh? Can you believe the year is over?

As we sit here on the precipice of a new year, there's a lot to be excited about. I'm sure you have things that will be happening in your business life as well as your personal life that will make 2011 an incredible year. Some of those events, experiences and encounters will lead to incredible opportunities for you. Your financial and spiritual outlooks may be changed in the new year and your health will certainly demand your attention.

Do me a favor and slow down for a second. Think back to your childhood. Did your Mom or Dad ever tell you not to get out one toy until you put away the one you were playing with first? Are you a good book starter but a horrible book "finisher"? Did you join a gym but rarely ever show up?

It's time to "finish what you started"?

Every New Years Eve I get up early and read my favorite book. It's titled "QBQ - The Question Behind the Question." It's a simple book with a simple message written by John Miller. The subtitle of the book is "What to really ask yourself; Practicing personal accountability in business and in life," and it always presents something new each year I read it.

The author doesn't add in new material. I am just at a different point in my life than I was at this time last year. I have new obstacles and challenges facing me and I have had 365 days of learning opportunities in my life.

It's kind of like watching your favorite movie for the umpteenth time. How many times do you catch yourself saying things like "I love this part" or "Ooh, I forgot about this scene"?
  • Have you taken time to review your goals that you set for 2010? Can you even find your written business plan? Did you do one?

  • Are you proud of what you have helped to create under the roof over your head? Your Family? Your Furnishings? Your Memories?

  • Will you look at your checkbook registry or review your on-line bank statement and see how your finances balance out?

  • Did you visit some places this year that made you appreciate what you have at home?

  • Can you look back and say you are a better person because of some of the people you had a chance to meet?

  • Have you built relationships, solved problems and had fun?
As you answered those questions, you either smiled with pride knowing you earned a good grade or perhaps you frowned a bit with some genuine honesty, knowing that you fell short in a few areas. Consider those feelings your "Old Year's Disillusions."

Either way, there's nothing you can do to go back and change what has happened.

The last few grains of sand will fall into the bottom of the hourglass tonight and it will be time to turn the glass over and start again. The clock is ticking down to 0:00 so get ready to shake hands with the invisible opponent at midfield, shake hands, head to the locker room and shower up. You've got until tomorrow to change into fresh clothes, lace up the shoes and start all over.

Ashes to Ashes...

Before the big ball drops tonight in Times Square, I challenge you to take some personal accountability for your 2010. Ask yourself "what can I do to learn from this year?" Write down on a sheet of paper any negatives from the year that are bumping around in your head, making you second guess yourself or causing you pain or embarrassment. After finishing the list - whether it is one item or three pages long - look it over, read it and then take a deep breath.

Then crumple it up and toss it into the fireplace, BBQ pit or trash can. It's done. Gone. It's behind you.

You have now finished what you started.

Enjoy your New Year's Eve festivities then get some sleep. On Monday, you've got to get back to work and get ready to do it all over again.

December 27, 2010

Gimme Five

Getting presents on your birthday or on Christmas Day is always fun and exciting but getting presents unexpectedly is sometimes even better.

Today my 9-year-old son, Ryan, gave me a hand made gift that he forgot to give to me a few days ago. I think this is the best one I got this year.



It's days like these when I'm really proud to be a Dad.

I am always glad that I can be considered a "helping hand" to anyone and, as this note goes to show, you don't always have to look far to find people you can build relationships with, solve problems with and have fun with.

Enjoy your holiday break.

December 26, 2010

Same Ship, Different Day?

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

The big Christmas holiday is now behind us. It seems that the day builds up for weeks (months if you're under 10-years-old) with shopping, baking, wrapping, traveling and then after a frenzy of wrapping paper, lots and lots of eating, smiles and hugs with family members and a few Alka Seltzers before laying down our heads, it's all over.

Take down the tree, put away the stockings and throw away the cookies you just can't find any more room for in your belly. New Year's Eve is will be here quickly and's on to 2011.

This next week between Christmas and New Year's Day we're kind of like ships in a harbor, just waiting for our next excursion. Our anchors are down and we're resting up. Some of us might be scraping some barnacles from our hull, adding some fuel to the tank or filling up the galley with needed items for our journey.

"It's our philosophical set of the sail that determines the course of our lives. To change our current direction, we have to change our philosophy, not our circumstance."
~ Jim Rohn

What's going to be changing in your philosophy next year? What will you do different? What will you stop doing?

Are there things you'll continue to spend time, effort or money on because they worked well for you this year?

Who will you spend more time with because you feed off their energy, enthusiasm and emotion? Who should you try to avoid so they don't add toxic vibes to your thoughts?

Leave me a comment and tell me something you're going to try, or change or stop doing in 2011.

And then rest up this week because starting next week, it's "Anchors Up!"

When you take control of your sails in 2011,
you will take control of your sales in 2011.

December 23, 2010

A Christmas Story - Realtor's Toolbox Style

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so that means that the new year will be here soon. There's not much that can be done to change your results for 2010, although a few of you may still be praying for some pending deals to stay together and make it to the closing table, huh?

In homage to A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement C. Moore (or Henry Livingston, Jr. if you believe Wikipedia's
version), here's my version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas - a recap of the year in real estate and some friendly Toolbox suggestions for a successful 2011. Please enjoy the video below.

If you are reading this post in your email, there's a good chance you don't see any video. It's alright. You can either click on the title of the blog above or click here to watch it on YouTube.

I hope you enjoy the video but even more importantly, I hope you enjoy your holidays with family, friends and loved ones. May your friends become clients and your clients become friends.

I appreciate the continued support of the blog as well as my personal efforts to impact individuals in both their business and personal lives. I love what I do and I will continue to "teach with passion and enthusiasm, instilling confidence and excitement in my students."

Until my next post, keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2010

It's Better to Give than Receive

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

As we begin our final descent into the Christmas holiday weekend, some of us have some last minute gift shopping to accomplish. It would do everyone well to remember these words from Earl Nightingale:

"If we can augment our gift giving by giving more of ourselves to those we love, all the time and in various ways, we will have a good chance of helping them and ourselves live happier, better lives."

You have a lot to offer. It could be a wrapped gift that will satisfy a material need for someone but remember that you have other things you could offer that will have a much longer, lasting impact.

  • Spend an hour over lunch with the newest agent in your office. Tell them of your biggest mistakes as well as of your most successful business building techniques.

  • Volunteer your time for someone less fortunate. Collect food or coats or donate your time at the local food bank or soup kitchen.

  • Donate some money to an charitable organization in memory of a loved one.

  • Deliver a hand written note to your manager, broker or company trainer for helping provide you with encouragement and support all year long.

  • Over your holiday break, spend a full day "unplugged" from technology - Don't check email, voice mail, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

  • Read more books. The knowledge you gain is immeasurable. Even giving the book itself to someone when you're done make for a great gift. It's especially rewarding to read to a child.

  • Call your Mom and Dad or visit them at the cemetery if they are no longer alive.

  • And keep your eyes open for opportunities to build relationships, solve problems and have fun.

December 15, 2010

A Neighborhood Change - Why "New and Improved" May Help You Sell More Properties in 2011

Remember What Your Mother Use to Tell You

"Don't judge a book by it's cover" was as standard cliche we all probably heard a few times as children. The same concept can be said about people too. In the real estate industry you never can tell who the good clients are just by looking at them and you should never modify your level of service based on appearances.

Visitors to an open house might pull up in a beat up old car and some Realtors would peek out the window and sigh, thinking "these people can't afford this house." Be careful and remind yourself that perhaps those people just don't like to drive their Mercedes or Rolls Royce on the weekends.

"The last time I went there it was horrible"

Have you ever been asked by a friend about a restaurant and you quickly encourage them to try something else, recalling a bad experience or untasty meal that you had at that location in the past? Did you ever stop to consider that the ownership might have changed or maybe there's a new chef on staff or perhaps you were just having a bad day when you visited in the past?

As you move into the new year, challenge yourself to rely on the wisdom of others who have experience and knowledge of things but at the same time, always seek out new information (updated almost daily) before making a decision or recommendation because there might be more than meets the eye (or your faded memory).

Urban Living Comes to Cincinnati

I had the opportunity to tour the new Gateway Quarter project in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio yesterday with several leaders from our Coldwell Banker West Shell team. Our hosts were the team from our newest branch, the CBWS Metro Link Office.

The Gateway Quarter is a mix of newly constructed and renovated condominiums located on and around 12th and Vine in downtown Cincinnati. Nearly 100 new lofts are available priced from the $90's to $400's with features that are simply unavailable at these prices elsewhere in downtown Cincinnati.

After being welcomed by branch manager Bill Heckman to the main Gateway Quarter Welcome Center at 1326 Vine Street, we learned of the overall development project. According to the development's website. "The Over-the-Rhine Comprehensive Plan, local community stakeholders and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) created a set of planning principles that will guide the development of the Gateway QUARTER and surrounding community into a safe, attractive and productive neighborhood for residents and visitors alike." Click here to read more of the overall principles and plans for the amazing undertaking. The Welcome Center has a few large scale maps showing the enormity of the project as well as a tremendous staff of associates to assist any visitors or interested future residents.

We enjoyed a tour of several of the buildings and units inside each. The unique architecture creates incredible visual appeal and the interior updates and craftsmanship coupled with some fabulous decorating is very welcoming. One thing you won't find in the Gateway Quarter is any "status quo" cookie cutter housing.

While being guided around by Assistant Manager Kathy Fergus, Sales Representative Holly Redmond and Becky Mannix, the team's Marketing Manager, we learned of the history of the area and began to envision what incredible opportunities this revival of a once-blighted neighborhood will do for the city of Cincinnati and those who choose to become a part of it.

Long-time Cincinnati residents and Realtors serving in the Tri-State area need to find some time to make it down to see this incredible makeover that is happening in the Gateway Quarter. The pleasant mixture of urban living lofts, neighborhood shops and restaurants and the soon-to-be renovated Washington Square Park will really amaze you and help you look at this area in an entirely new light.

We ended our tour over some cold seasonal brews at The Lackman, one of the really neat pubs that dot the landscape of Gateway Quarter. As we watched the happy hour crowd filter in there was no one specific stereotype of clientele. There were Gen Xer's sitting amongst Boomers, there were men and women and there were residents and visitors. It was a really cool way to end my day and get a totally neat view of what urban living could be all about.

As I said at the beginning of this post, don't judge a book by it's cover. The Gateway Quarter area isn't your grandfather's Over the Rhine. It's fresh, it's hip and it's going to be a really cool place to be for living, entertainment, shopping and dining in downtown Cincinnati.

I encourage you to visit their website at or better yet, stop down to 1326 Vine Street and say hello to Holly, Stacy, Kathy or Becky. I know they'd be happy to meet you and your clients and show you what urban living could be all about. Whether you or your clients have any interest in living downtown or not, you'll at least know more about what's behind that "new and improved" book cover.

Here are some photos of some of the various units in the Gateway Quarter development area.

The main map at the Welcome Center, 1326 Vine Street

Valuted "loft living" with hardwood floors and unique architectural charm

Roof-top decks, balconies, fireplaces, exposed brick and ducts,stainless steel appliances, great city views and more...

December 14, 2010

Better Mind Your Business

You're not in the housing business.

Home builders and sub contractors are in the housing business. Carpenters and drywallers and some types of electricians, plumbers and HVAC technicians are in the housing business. Painters and landscapers are in the housing business.

If you are a Realtor, that means you help people buy and sell real estate. That means you're really in the relationship business.

Worry less about what the housing forecast might say and start worrying more about who you are going to build a relationship with today.

You're in the relationship business.

December 12, 2010

If You Really Want It

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

What's the Forecast?

Do you watch the local news to hear the weather forecast? Has your local meteorologist earned trust and credibility through his or her accuracy in predicting the upcoming weather?

Do you pay attention to the local or national economists when they try to describe what will be happening in the real estate market in the near future?

One thing seems certain, whether it's Dudley Doppler at the local NBC affiliate or Lawrence Yun with the National Association of Realtors, neither has to be right all the time to keep their jobs. It's almost like Major League Baseball players who just have to hit the ball 3 out of 10 times at bat throughout their careers to have a realistic chance at a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The USPS and You

Being a successful Realtor is much more like being a successful postal carrier. You must deliver in rain or shine, through snow or sleet or wind or heat waves. Your clients expect it from you and your families are counting on you.

Will you be able to deliver? Are you prepared to do what it takes to succeed? I know that "success" is out there to be achieved. In the words of reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, "you can get it if you really want it."

"Persecution you must bear
Win or lose you've got to get your share
Got your mind set on a dream
You can get it, though harder them seem now"

Will there be obstacles? Of course. Will you make mistakes? Hopefully, because that's how you learn. Will it be easy? Not likely, or else there would be a lot less people leaving the industry and a lot more jumping in.

Finding Buyers and Sellers in the current market might be harder than before but remember, they'll be harder for everyone to find. Those who don't get discouraged and keep looking every day will have better results than those who sit back and wait for the same Buyers and Sellers to find them.

"Rome was not built in a day
Opposition will come your way
But the hotter the battle you see
It's the sweeter the victory"

If it looks like rain, grab an umbrella.

If there's a snow storm coming, bundle up and get ready to shovel.

Warm weather and plenty of sunshine headed your way? Kick on the flip flops, apply the sunblock and turn up the reggae.

There's business out there. Trust me or trust Jimmy Cliff. You can get it if you really want it!

Enjoy the video below of Jimmy Cliff. May it keep you warm wherever you may be watching it. If you can't see the video, click on the title above or click here

I hope you enjoy a week of building relationships...solving problems...and having fun.

December 10, 2010

Deck the Halls...and Clean Off the Shelves

Maybe you're the kind of person who looks forward to this time of year because you love to pull all the holiday decorations out and start making your home (or office) look festive. - I prefer to sit back and admire the excitement and skill my wife and daughter have when it comes to holiday decorating

Perhaps you'll have the ladder up hanging lights on the roof of the house to make Clark Griswold proud. - Not my house as I am afraid of heights. Just once in the spring and once it the winter to pull the leaves out of the gutters and that's enough for me.

Is your Christmas tree going to be freshly cut down as part of a holiday family tradition? - We unbox ours and pop it up in minutes.

We're just a few weeks away from the big holiday that bring out so much excitement for millions, especially children. How will you be decorating?

It's also that perfect time of year to look at the shelves in your office and the piles of stuff on your desk. Much like those crazy neighbors who leave their lights up until Easter, are there some things sitting on your shelves right now from that kick off meeting in January? How about the three-ring binder from your last company retreat. You know the one back in 2007

Not many people like to de-clutter their workspace for fear that they will end up throwing something away that is important and that's just probably not the case. Unless it's a valid commission check or a photo of your wedding, it can probably be found on Google...even if you did throw something away prematurely

Start getting ready for the new year by cleaning out this year. For many, we'd like to throw away much of this past year's memories alone so why not start with the paperwork and clutter that sits in your work areas?

Try to use the old "touch it once" rule for everything you touch; Do something with it, delegate it to someone else (and put it in their workspace, not yours) or delete it. Don't do what most people do and just move the crap from one pile to a newer, neater pile on the other side of the office or on a different shelf. You've got a "junk drawer" at home. Why do you need one in your office too?

Just think, if you can make enough room, you just might have some space for a new Christmas tree in your office

December 5, 2010

Don't Stop Believin'

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

How Are You Going to Answer?

Every day we all have a small voice inside our heads. It greets us when we wake up. It's there when we arrive at the office. It's there when we make calls to customers or knock on doors of those scary For Sale by Owners. You probably hear it every time you head out to a listing appointment or it's time to present an offer.

My guess is you also hear the voice in your personal life. It could be as you push to run that extra mile on your daily jog or making that difficult call to a loved one when you have some important information to share. You hear it when you balance your check book.

The voice is asking you the same challenging question almost every time. "Can you do it?"

The voice doesn't say "you can't do it" or "you're going to fail." Those would be statements and this voice isn't capable of making statements. It's only capable of asking questions. You see, the voice doesn't know anything. The voice doesn't have any power.

The power is yours. Your answer is that power.

How will you answer when that voice talks to you tomorrow?

My Friend David has Belief

David is a great friend of mine. I've know David since our elementary school days. He comes from a very successful family and I have had the pleasure of knowing them for all these years.

David went to Notre Dame and then attended Ohio State where he earned is law degree. He now has a very successful career, a beautiful wife and two great children. He also has a tremendous outlook on life. David is a loyal Notre Dame alum and fan of all things Fighting Irish. He was there when the school won their last National Championship in football and will probably be in the stands when they win their next. David believes in Notre Dame Football.

I received this video below from David. As you can imagine before clicking on it, it has to do with Notre Dame football. It also has to do with that little voice in your head.

You don't need a pep rally to get ready for the success that awaits you. You don't need Raghib "Rocket" Ismail. You just need to know what to say to that voice.

I know you have belief that this will be a great week for you to build relationships.

I know you have belief that this will be a great week for you to solve problems.

I know you have belief that this will be a great week for you to have fun!

I hope you "play like a champion today!"

December 3, 2010

Who Are These People Who Call Themselves "Bloggers"?

There are millions of different blogs out there. Blogs about politics, communities, local real estate, real estate companies, news and more. There's blogs about every topic under the sun. Heck, there's even blogs about bacon.

And obviously, you know about this blog - The Realtor's Toolbox - for real estate tools, tips and tricks to build a successful real estate business. Thanks for being a loyal reader and sharing the posts you like with others.

Reading blogs is one thing but it can kind of be like listening to the radio, especially your favorite local morning show. You get to know the voice at the other end but it's kind of hard to put a face with that voice. Have you ever been surprised to learn what a deejay or talk show host looks like in person?

I saw a great blog post today from the folks over at FlowTown. FlowTown "is a social media marketing platform that helps businesses transform email contacts into engaged customers." What they really are to me is a really cool blog that shares some incredible visual images and information.

Their post today was titled "The Evolution of The Blogger" and it really taught me more about the "blogging tree" as it were. Here's the visual they used. You might be able to left click (once) on the visual to see it in larger details or you can click here to see it on the FlowTown blog site.

Thanks for the great visual FlowTown. Pictures sure are worth a thousand words...and a fresh blog post.