Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Lost Art of Note Writing

Nuggets for the Noggin
The Lost Art of Note Writing
by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, April 24, 2009
The year was 1985. I unexpectedly found myself out of work when I became physically unfit to go to sea with the Coast Guard. Not big thing, just a damaged knee. Nonetheless, I was out of work. The economy was in the tank and the number of unemployed was on the rise, at least by one on this day – me.

I had no idea of what I wanted to do except for selling real estate. However, since real estate was a 100% commission income job I was not in a position to throw the financial future of my family on a brand new real estate agent’s ability to make a sale and make it quickly as would have been needed. Therefore I needed a job and I needed it sooner rather than later.

I managed an interview with a company in New Orleans who was looking for an office manager. Based on the job description, no problem. I met with the Vice President of the company and had a good interview. Towards the end of our talk, she pointed to a stack of papers on the corner of her desk and asked, “Do you know what those are?” “No,” I said. “They are resumes from applicants for the job you seek. It is a reflection of the economy, there are people in that stack doctor’s degrees, masters degrees, years and years of experience all looking for a job.”

I unknowingly had a routine I followed. I thanked her personally for the opportunity to meet with her and wished her well on finding a suitable candidate for the job and then left. Also part of my routine was to write her a hand-written thank you note the moment I returned home and to put the note in the mail the same day.

Two days later I received a call for a second interview. When I met with the Vice President she said she wanted me for the job – I was truly flabbergasted. Her choice made no sense to me but being flabbergasted and not being appreciative were two different things – I took the position. She asked, “Do you want to know why I have selected you over all these other candidates I have interviewed?” Of course I said “Yes.” She said that I was the ONLY person who wrote her a thank you note for conducting the interview; the only person. Who knew? Who knew that a job position was on the line because of a $1.00 thank you note? I wish I could say that I knew but I didn’t. It just seemed to me to be the right thing to do at the time; obviously it was.

More evidence of the “power of the note” occurred in 1985 as well. I wanted to sell real estate as compared to being an office manager for an air crafts parts company. At the same time I took the manager position, I also went to work for a local real estate company as one of those dreaded part-timers. My plan was to get enough real estate experience and education to eventually go full time. Two short years later I had reached that point but had also reached a point where at least one company owner thought I would make a good real estate office manager. I was interviewed, I sent the thank you note – hand written of course – and I was selected for the position. Three weeks before I started I discovered a cassette tape course entitled Creating Teamwork by Lee Shelton. It was fabulous and helped me right from day one with my new office manager position. I sent Lee a hand-written thank you note to the only address I had, the publisher’s address. About three months later I received a phone call from who-knows-who at the time. We talked for few minutes and finally I asked, who is this? It was Lee Shelton calling to follow-up on the Thank You Note he had only just then received. We have since become friends, all because of a Thank You Note.

The same is true of author/speakers Joe Tye, Bob Burg, Andy Andrews and Dr. Joseph Parent. All because of Thank You Notes.

Am I making any progress here on just how important the lost art of writing thank you notes is? The way I see it, the fewer people who write notes, the better for those of us who do. Think about the last time you checked your emails. How many of the emails in your in-box did you delete without even opening? I delete at least 50 a day. How many note cards do you receive in the snail mail system each day that you throw away without opening? I dare say none! And the point is………

Hallmark Card Company had a slogan, “When you care enough to send the very best” is as true today as it was 40 years ago when I first heard it. It is my belief that far too many of us consider ourselves far to busy to care about thanking those folks who should truly be thanked. Since I am in real estate sales, let’s look at a typical sale and who “should” be in line for a thank you card:

Listing Agent or Selling Agent
Loan Officer
Closing Company
Termite Inspector
Home Inspector
Heat and Air Service
Teammates who help you close the sale

If you are in real estate sales, how many Thank You Notes have you typically sent to any of the above business folks? If you are an appraiser, how many Thank You Notes do you think you would receive? I would expect few if any. The same is true for everyone on the list. But if you are an appraiser and you find that you are working another sale with a real estate agent who says “Thank You”, would you feel any differently about working with that agent as compared to the hundreds or thousands that never say thank you? Can’t speak for you but if it were me, I would!

I personally believe that I am where I am today because I wrote Thank You Cards for no reason. While working in Gulfport, Mississippi, I spent 45 minutes to an hour driving to work each day and another 45 minutes returning home. That gives you a lot of windshield time which is time to think. Whenever I would think of someone, I would get to work or home and write them the following Thank You Card:


Was thinking of you today and wanted to wish you all the best. Hope all is well, keep in touch.


That’s it! A Thank You Card for no reason in my opinion is the best card I could receive. Someone was thinking of me. How would you feel?

Here is what is truly strange. I have taught hundreds of people to write Thank You Notes to people who have made a difference in their lives. Yet as their teacher, in all the years I taught this principle I have never received a Thank You Card for any of the classes I have taught. Go figure. Maybe I didn’t make a difference in their lives or maybe what I taught had no value or maybe what I taught fell upon deaf ears. Obviously I would like to think the later. I actually believe that people expect you to do your job and no Thank You Cards are indicated. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Thank You Cards are always welcomed by whoever receives one.

One last note on Thank You Cards. I have been fascinated with fountain pens – also a thing of the past. I write almost every Thank You Card using a fountain pen. It started out as something that just seemed cool to do. I received a call from a friend in Dallas, Texas who received one of my “I was thinking of you” cards and she asked, “Jim, do you always write with a fountain pen?” I asked her if it was obvious and she said it was. I am not going to suggest to you that everyone is that observant but at least one person was and where there is one there is usually at least one more if not many.

Being a true professional, at least in my mind, is paying attention and more importantly paying attention to the small things because they do make a difference. If you want to step out and away from he crowd, send hand-written Thank You Notes as often as you can.

Oh, by the way, I no longer buy my note cards, I make my own on Microsoft Publisher and I change up the card to fit the situation. One more opportunity to be unique. And if you truly want to be unique and this may be my one and only original idea, put a feather in your card. You can buy them in packages from Hobby Lobby type stores. Then write:

“Here’s another feather for your cap on a job well done. Thank you!”

Now, how many feathers have you received over your life time recognizing you for a job well done? Do you think it may make a difference? The picture at the top of this Nugget is my latest “home-made” Note Card.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Did I Not See?

Nugget For The Noggin
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, Apri 20, 2009

Did you ever think of an old movie that you enjoyed and then suddenly see it on television within days or hours of thinking about it? Did you ever see a car you liked only to see dozens of them?

I remember vividly when my boss bought a new Volvo sedan; it was beautiful. The unique aspect about Volvos at the time was that you did not see many of them on the road so he felt special when driving his new car. He would take his turn car pooling every fourth day. It was on his first day of car pooling with his new car that we all began to notice Volvos every where we looked; they were not so unique after all.

The movie was always there as were the Volvos or where they? The Law of Attraction suggests that we attract into our lives that which we think of most. Remember the words from the Sermon on the Mount:

“Ask, and it shall be given you,
seek, and ye shall find;
knock and it shall be opened unto you.
For everyone that asketh receiveth;
and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh
it shall be opened!”

Think about what Earl Nightingale said decades ago, “You will become what you think about!” Therefore think about success. However, success unto itself is insufficient. You first must define what success means to you.

Who amongst us does not want a better life, happiness, more money, or a more productive career? It has been my experience that most people, certainly not you, are caught up in finding the “easy way” to success. As a result, we fail to see the opportunities presented to us everyday; what did I not see? Job for job, there is no more lucrative career than a career in sales. Your income is only limited by your imagination or lack thereof. If you don’t believe me I want you to think of an hourly wage that would knock your socks off. For you-know-who, that means you would be absolutely amazed. What would it be? $50 an hour? $100 an hour? $200 an hour? Only you know what would truly knock your socks off.

Work with me on this. Would you say that an annual income of $100,000, (in our area) would be a good income? To most Americans it would be outstanding considering that the average income is in the mid $30,000 range. So if you earned $100,000 and worked a 40 hour week, what would that be as an hourly rate? $48.07 an hour! $48.00 an hour!

Now consider this: You have a real estate license; a “license to sell” and make a lot of money if you work smart at it. You tell me, how many hours do you REALLY work at it? The emphasis is REALLY. I dare say it is not as many as you might first suggest. Some people, like you, REALLY work at it, they engage in dollar-productive activities during the hours they say they are working. Others like you-know-who put their time in PLAYING at work. Those hours do not count! Only dollar-productive hours count. Do you REALLY work 4 hours a day? 5 hours? Or do you REALLY put in 2 or 3 hours if that? Only you know how many hours you REALLY work at dollar-productive activities.

Let’s for argument sake you earned $50,000 in gross commissions this past year. You “say” you REALLY worked on average only 4 hours a day. Your hourly rate is $48.07. How can that be? The poor fellow or gal who is working 8 hours a day (2080 hours a year) and earning $100,000 a year is also working for $48.07 an hour. Now compare that to a real estate agent who makes $250,000 a year in gross commissions. How many hours a day does that agent work; REALLY work? 4 hours; 8 hours; 10 hours; 12 hours? Here is how that works out:

4 hours a day, (1040 hours a year), equals $240.00 per hour
8 hours a day, (2080 hours a year), equals $120.20 per hour
10 hours a day, (2600 hours a year), equals $96.15 per hour
12 hours a day, (3120 hours a year), equals $80.12 per hour

(The lesson within those numbers is you don’t have to put in a lot of hours to make a reasonable living. If you are putting in more than 60 hours a week, it is time to hire help and leverage your time and efforts. You can make more by hiring a team and working fewer hours when you hire the right team members.)

The person who earned $100,000 typically has to rely upon the good graces of his or her employer to increase their earnings. A salesperson only needs to make another sale to increase theirs. The $100,000 worker typically is “employed” by someone; the salesperson is typically self-employed and therefore is not dependent upon someone else for their work.

You are where you are because of the actions and decisions you made earlier in life. Here is the rub: you are in a career that if you apply yourself and I mean truly apply yourself, there is no limit where your future will take you. Life is NOT all about money but it is about what the money you earn can do for you. It has been said that money will only exaggerate those personal qualities that already exist within each of us. If you are tight with your money, you will be even tighter with more money. If you are generous with money, you will be even more generous with the more money.

Most people go through life and do just that – go through live. Here is a spinoff of a question Michael Gerber asks business people to contemplate in his book The E-Myth Revisited. Gerber asks, “What will your business look like when it’s finished?” I would ask, “What will your life look like when it’s finished?” More importantly, “What legacy will you leave for others to emulate and/or admire?”

Think about the following again but this time; think about it in terms of what you want your life to look like when it’s finished:

“Ask, and it shall be given you,
seek, and ye shall find;
knock and it shall be opened unto you.
For everyone that asketh receiveth;
and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh
it shall be opened!”

Yes we are experiencing a down turn in the economy. Yet if there is one thing I am certain of, people will still buy and sell real estate; maybe not as many sales but nonetheless sales are being made. When the economy is booming sales literally fall into our laps – anyone can make the sales, even you-know-who. But when the economy shifts, only those people who remain focused on their basic dollar productive activities and who have a clear mental image of what their life will look like when it is finished, will continue to thrive as they always have in any market at any time in our history. Gary Keller author of The Millionaire Real Estate Agent has said that “the only time you can grow your business is during a down market.” What he means is that the smart agents know they have to work smarter to maintain their business levels. The uneducated agents still wait for the business to come to them; trust me, it ain’t coming! Waiting for the ship to come in when the tide is going out doesn’t work very well. The tide is out; what are you doing right now to help those ships trying to reach port do so?

What have you not seen? Everything is there in front of you. Training, education, seminars, Family Reunion, book study groups, books, CDs, DVDs and fellow agents. Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. What is it that you haven’t seen? It’s all there! If there is truly a “SECRET” it is more of a question than a secret:


The true “SECRET” is in your answer; I’ll wait…….

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Customer Dis-Service

Nugget For The Noggin
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, April 2, 2009

I thought I would start this Nugget with the definition of “oxymoron”:

n., pl. -mo·ra (-môr'ə, -mōr'ə) or -rons.

A rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined, as in a deafening silence and a mournful optimist. (Also, Jumbo Shrimp)

The dictionary can add “customer service” to that definition. When was the last time you received customer “service.”, or better still, “high quality customer service?” How about GREAT customer service? Maybe I expected too much when I dialed the customer service number. My first mistake was to assume I understood what the term “service” meant. I think most people would expect “good” or “great” or at least “satisfactory” service in lieu of “bad” service. I mean I’m just saying…

Over the past four weeks I have had three occasions (no make that four) to call customer “disservice.” On two (no now you can make that three) occasions I actually spoke to a live person and said the same thing to all of them:

“I challenge you to call your own customer service number and pretend you are a customer and then evaluate the kind of customer service you receive when you called. I dare you! If you aren’t as angry as I am at this moment you were not paying attention!”

This evening I had the unfortunate task of calling the Sam’s Club Customer Service number when I realized that I had not received a monthly statement for the past month. I was able to go on line and realized that the payment was due today but as stated, I had not received a statement. I made an online payment and wanted to talk to someone to find out what happened, request a replacement statement and advise them that I had made a payment on line this date.

I love Sam’s Club! It is fantastic. They need to evaluate their vendor who provides their credit card services – they are the worst I have ever experienced. The worst! I was on the telephone for more than 5 minutes listening to one voice message after another. The very first message directed me to press “1” if I wanted to speak in English. If they are going to put such a message on their service why not direct me to press a number if I wanted to speak in a language other than English; did anyone notice we are in America? Obviously not!

It got much worse. The next message went on in great length as to how I could expect to get my rewards check in February, two months ago, and how I can earn more points by using my card more than I do. It went on…… and finally I was given another choice and at this point I am screaming at my phone as it advised me of my current balance, minimum amount due, what my credit limit was, how much I could retrieve as a cash advance and how much credit I had remaining on my account.

Then I was given SEVEN more choices and frankly at this point I am staring down at my phone screaming “Oh come on!” Seriously, that is exactly what I did. I couldn’t see my phone because I had blood squirting from my eyes (not really but it felt like it)! I am certain that my blood pressure was off the charts.

How could I be a walking advocate (a phrase used by Bob Burg in Endless Referrals) for Sam’s Clubs and then be treated so shabbily by their credit service vendor? It defied logic. Every dark cloud has a silver lining if you look for it. The silver lining in this story is that it caused me to think more seriously about customer service and sales people.

Go back just 3 hours ago when I called Jon Nelson, a Sprint Telephone Sales Representative. I name Jon because he represented the opposite of what happened with Sam’s Club’s credit card service vendor, GE Credit. I felt a need to change my cellular phone service and after the sale was completed, he said something that at the time was appreciated but not that much. It wasn’t until the non-call to the Sam’s Club Credit Card Service provider that a HUGE AHA hit me on my call with Jon. The following is paraphrased:

“Jim, I want you to know that after you make the call to the Sprint Customer Service number to activate the new telephone when you receive it on Monday, you never have to call them again. If you have any problem with the phone or service you call me. I know who you are, I know what kind of phone you have, I know what service you have selected and I can help you resolve any problem you may have.”

WOW! I feel I owe Jon an apology for not appreciating what he said when he said it. When have you ever bought anything and had a sales person make such a statement? I’ll wait…..times up! If you are like me, NEVER! At least until today. Today I experienced both ends of the customer service or disservice spectrum within the space of just three hours.

There is a very good chance that if you are reading this Nugget you are in a sales position. Actually everyone is in sales to some degree even if it is trying to sell your boss that you are a good employee. If you want a challenge, have someone call you with the expectation of receiving some form of customer service, or disservice. If I called you today, what kind of response would I get? If you said excellent, you may want to reconsider and here is why.

When a customer calls with a problem, they have tuned into their mental 180 channel tuner box to the “I have a problem and I need help right now” channel. You on the other hand are hard at work at your desk, or not, doing dollar productive activities, or not, and are tuned into the appropriate channel on YOUR 180 channel mental tuner box. It would be a rare occasion when you and the customer are actually on the same channel at the same moment. The customer is desperate; you are busy - not a winning combination. When your phone rings or it is announced that you have a call on line 3, if you are like most people and you probably are, the first thought that comes to mind is “go away, can’t you see I’m busy with my dollar productive activities (or not)?” Time out, be honest, is that not what you think or some version of it? The natural or default tendency is to feel interrupted from what you were doing. If that is true, what kind of customer service is the customer going to “feel” like he is receiving? I dare say – not great service!

It gets worse. Let’s say you are not in when the call is received. “I am not at my desk and your call is important to me, leave your name and number and I will call you as soon as possible.” As soon as the customer hears the beginning of your recorded non-passionate message I think they realize you are “not at your desk.” I also think they know if they leave their number you will call them back, or not. The jury is still out in regards to whether you really believe their call is important. Think about it, they are probably complaining about something are they not?

I know in this age of busy, busy, busy and technology, a live person answering the telephone is a rarity but when YOU call a business and YOU get a live person how do YOU feel? Again, I’ll wait…..times up! You feel as I do, SUPER! Someone who is alive actually cares about you. I also know that having a live person answer your phone is not always possible so when you must use a recorded message, make it creative, make it humorous and make it memorable. People have asked me if my voice mail has made anyone angry – not yet. I usually include my name and I am always amazed when someone hears who I am and still leaves a long winded message when they dialed the wrong number. Just goes to prove that people rarely listen to your message even mine which is a bit off the wall. “Hi, this is Jim Brown and today I decided to be happy. If you called for any reason other than to make me happy, you have the wrong number. Leave your message anyway.” (Or something to that effect.) There was a New Orleans lawyer (and some people say lawyers have no sense of humor) who had to take his voice message off the telephone because he received so many calls from people just to hear his message.

Sound of dog barking… “I am Sophie, Jim Brown’s dog and I haven’t seen Jim either. If you see him before I do tell him I need to go out. Leave your message and I’ll tell him when I see him (sound of barking dog)” That is not exactly what the message said but it is close. Just for a moment, assume it was you that called the number and you were not a happy camper when you called. Do you think you would be as angry after you called and received the message from Sophie? Maybe so, probably not.

There are so many examples of poor service that it would be impossible to give examples of all of them. The following are just a couple in hopes of getting you to think about how you handle your customer service or disservice.

Have you ever called a business and had the person who answered the phone ask, “May I tell Jim who’s calling?” How did that make you feel? I always felt like Jim may be screening his calls and just maybe I am not important enough for Jim to take my call. I have also thought that the person who was answering the phone was just nosey but then I could be wrong.

Or how about this one? “Jim is not in; may I take a message or pass you through to his voice mail?” “Jim is NOT in?” How about Jim is with a customer? Everyone has been a customer and everyone wants the sales person’s FULL ATTENTION and thus understands that Jim cannot be disturbed at this very moment unless the reason for the call is truly an emergency. The problem with that thought is that everyone thinks their reason to call is an emergency. Face it, there are very few “real” emergencies that require instant contact; very few!

How can you avoid such problems before they arise? Explain how you work when you first meet with your probable buyer or seller. For example, “Joe, let me tell you how I work. As you can see, I am turning my cell phone off. Why, because at this moment there is nothing and no one more important in this world to me than you. Nothing. If you call me, expecting to get instant contact, there is a good chance my cell phone will be off because I work with a lot of customers and like you, when we are together that customer is the most important person in the world at that moment and my phone is off. It is not fair to the customer to be interrupted by a cell phone wouldn’t you agree? So if you call and get my voice mail, understand, your call really is important to me and I will return the call the moment I am free to do so. Will that be okay with you?” Geeze, has anyone ever told you that? I doubt it. If they did, would you be upset if you got your salesperson’s voice mail? I don’t think so. The stage has been set so to speak.

Here is a remarkable tip from Jeffrey Gitomer. Before I give it to you let me “set the stage.” I have been in real estate sales for almost 30 years and until I read Gitomer’s books, I had never thought of this proof you CAN teach an old dog (me) new tricks. The secret is that I read his books. Gitomer’s books or any book serves little purpose if they are not taken off the shelf and actually read. This is Gitomer’s script to initially respond to the call of an angry customer: “Oh how horrible!” When was the last time someone said that to you? I have never heard it. On the contrary when I call customer disservice the person called usually gets on the defense – immediately! I have always joked that whenever I am operated on, I would prefer to be the first patient rather than the last. Can you imagine the mindset of the customer disservice representative after 8 hours of receiving complaint calls? Yuck! Call (or be operated on) early!

Emails. When I send an email that asks for a response, if I don’t get the response I simply assume that you have not received the request or you don’t have the answer – yet. We all get more emails than we would like. So why send an email that states, “I am out of the office and I will respond to your email when I return,” No kidding, really? It is one more unnecessary email to read and delete. Is that not what you do when you receive such an automatic response? If you go on vacation and really go on vacation like you are not taking cell phone calls while on the beach with your kids or you are not answering emails, arrange for someone else to take your calls and answer your emails. Better still, use the occasion of going on vacation to contact your sphere of influence. “Wish me well, I am going to Disneyland with the family all of next week; wish you could go with me. Suzie Agent will be serving you in my absence so do not hesitate to call or email her (give contact info). I’ll be thinking of you…” You know you won’t, they know you won’t either and they will smile when they read it; like you just did. Sending such an email tells your customer base and sphere of influence that (1) they are important to you, (2) you have a life, and, (3) their needs will be taken care of even though you are off having fun with your family. When was the last time YOU received such an email or telephone call? I can say I have never received one.

So here’s the deal folks, evaluate how you are responding to your customers. Do you have a quality customer service system in place or is it a customer disservice system? Do you treat people as you want to be treated or do you treat people like everyone else treats people – like dirt! Today I was treated like a king (Jon Nelson with Sprint) and I was treated like dirt (GE Credit) all in the space of 3 hours – go figure!

I no longer had finished the draft of this email when I received the following email from the GE Credit:

Thank you for contacting Sam's Club Discover Card Services. This is a system-generated acknowledgement to inform you that we have received your inquiry and are working on a response. We will provide you with a response within 48 hours.

Thank you for using our website.ABOUT THIS MESSAGEThis is an auto-generated email from Sam's Club Discover Services. PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL. To send us a secure message about your account, please visit the Sam's Club Discover Card Online Message Center at

This is a perfect example of sending an email that says nothing and you have to read it and delete it. If an answer was to be sent within 48 hours, I can certainly wait.



The initial email was sent on a Thursday and the actual response was just over 48 hours later. Not bad. The response, however, never addressed the question; so much for customer “service.”
Another update. Today I received a mortgage payment statement. The only problem is that 3 days ago I had already received a mortgage statement from the same company on the exact same loan yet the amounts due were different. I called the “customer disservice” 800 number. Just like before, I went through at least 6 different sets of instructions and finally got to a point where it said “hold for the next available representative” all of which took about 3 minutes. As soon as the last message was received I received a dial tone. I had lost my place in the waiting line. I redialed and this time I kept hitting “0” and finally got to the same place.

Words mean things! If you are in sales, I would suggest that you no longer think of yourself as a sales person or sales consultant or sales advisor. Instead, think of your title as being “Chief Problem Solver!” Everyone who buys has a problem – they need something. You are there to solve their problem by providing them with whatever they want to buy. If in the process something goes astray, you are their to solve their problem – fix whatever it is! While you are fixing other people’s problems, start by fixing your customer service system – today – before the next customer service call.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, March 31, 2009

There are some amazing books and CDs available but they serve little purpose while sitting on store shelves or worst, the book cases and drawers of your home. I discovered a free E-book written by Ms. Byron Katie and that 18 page E-book generated sufficient interest for me to purchase her book, Loving What Is and a 6 set CD selection on Inner Awakening. You can download the E-Book by going to her web site at

It would be easy to “write off” Ms. Katie’s work as being new age psychobabble. I was not influenced nor was I deterred by the labels or even the book cover testimonials. I was intrigued by the E-book I had read and it was that E-book and the visit to Ms. Katie’s web site that created my desire to order the CD set and book. I have not as yet read the book. I have, however, listened to the CD Set. In truth, I am finishing up my second listening because they are so compelling.

Just about every one of us has a problem of some sort. Some have far more serious problems haunting their life while others only think they have more serious problems. Every personal problem is as big as anyone wishes or thinks it to be. After all, it is your problem and no one’s problem could possibly be worst than your particular problem and certainly no one has ever experienced a problem quite like yours before; have they?

Ms. Katie asks students to write down a stressful belief; something that is bothering them or something that they are not at peace with. It can be anything from a medical problem to a relationship issue. I will relate one of mine and then give you an example of her program the best I can. Understand I have only listened to the CDs – twice. Twice does not make me an expert on working The Work (that is what Ms. Katie calls her program, The Work). So here goes:

I am very leery about expanding our real estate presence into Mississippi because it may not work out as well as hoped.

Is that true? To answer this question I have to really think about what I had written. Before I can answer her question, I have to think about the answer. Is it true that an expansion may not work? I could easily convince myself that the answer is yes, it is true. If I say no, it is not true, I would advance to the third question that follows but for this example, let’s say that I say it is true.

The next question is: Can you absolutely know for certain that it is true and of course the answer is no, it is not true. There is no way anyone could predict the future either good or bad. Very few of our concerns, issues, fears or problems are true when you really analyze them. How many fears of the future have you fret over only to eventually discover your fears were unfounded?

With the answer being NO, what happens when I believe the thought that expansion may not work out as well as hoped? I get nervous and worry about the consequences, the possible loss of money, and/or failure. I would probably take any loss as personal and a reflection on my ability as a Broker to expand into Mississippi.

Okay, that’s fair, how would you feel if you did not have those thoughts? Tell me what would happen. I would fee much happier. I would move forward with more confidence. People in the office would be aware of my confidence and want to follow me into this new endeavor.

Now turn your statement around. What is the exact opposite of what you have said and written down?

Remember the statement: I am very leery about expanding our real estate presence into Mississippi because it may not work out as well as hoped.

So turn that statement around. I am confident that expanding to Mississippi would be a great success. Then find three truths about that statement. What do I know to be true about expanding into Mississippi?

  1. I know real estate principles
  2. I know sales
  3. I know how to build relationships
  4. I believe I have a good reputation within the industry
  5. I believe I am a good teacher
  6. I know what it takes to be a compliant licensed designated broker
  7. I have been successful, why not Mississippi

As you can see, once you get started, you can usually find more than just three reasons to believe the new thought.

You can also see where this is going. It all started with a problem, issue or concern. Then the four questions were asked:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know for certain that it is true?
  3. How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought?
  5. Turn it around, I would be ….. without that thought. Find reasons what this is true!

The first time I heard Ms. Katie work with audience members using the four questions, I was fascinated. Each time I heard the interaction, the interaction became better and more meaningful. Audience members examined themselves in a live recorded audience format. They brought out the good, the bad and the ugly of their lives. It was both unpleasant and enlightening for them. You can try it yourself to see if it elicits any deep feelings about the way you feel about a problem, issue or personal relationship. It is a fun exercise and I have found it to cause me to seriously think about the way I have been thinking. Can I and should I think in a different way – absolutely! Can you think in a different way? Absolutely!

Two recommendations and then a suggestion. I would highly recommend getting the CDs but more importantly, don’t just listen to them, listen to them with the idea of studying them. Rather than dismiss them for whatever reason, really listen to them and identify areas that you can at least try the principle before simply giving up on it. I can see where it will help me on the job, in my marriage but especially on the golf course; had to say that.

Trigger Point. Trigger points were not discussed in the book; a trigger point was something I discovered studying golf. A trigger point is something that when I see it causes me to begin thinking in a certain way. Professional golfers know that they do not have to concentrate on golf for the four hours it takes to play. Instead, they only have to focus for the very few seconds it takes to hit just one shot at a time. What they discovered was that if they create a certain motion or movement like adjusting the strap on their golf glove, that action starts a certain chain-of-thinking and action events just prior to and during the golf shot. It is a “trigger point” that causes something else to immediately follow systematically and routinely. In relation to the CDs and using golf as an example, first I have to accept what has already come the past; I put my golf ball into the hazard. It’s history and there is nothing I can do to change it. I also have to accept what is present; the ball is in the hazard, what am I going to do about it, I need to be in the moment not worrying about how the ball got into the hazard. No one can know for certain what the future will bring, certainly not me, so worrying about what will happen next is extremely non-productive. The only moment I can control, observe or possibly have an impact on is the present moment. In this moment what must I do? Analyze the shot, the lie of the ball, the hazards between where I am and where I want to go, select the best type of shot to make and what are the consequences that could happen with each type of shot. Select the best shot that would provide the most predictable AND acceptable results. Then, and this step is huge, accept your decision and the results you know you could get in advance and then make the shot never looking back on what might have been. How is that any different than almost any problem you are currently facing?

Look at your problem again but this time think: “What was, WAS! In regards to the Future; What is, Is. I control only this moment. Certainly make plans but don’t dwell at all on what might happen in the future. If you want to create your own personal nightmare – create your own mental future and then you can really start to worry about it and think of all the “what ifs” in the future. But it is THIS moment that you can change - only this moment. Then once this moment is past it is history and nothing can be done about what was done while it was in the moment.

This is what I am suggesting: The past truly is the past and no amount of worrying will change what happened.

The future is just that - the future, there is no guarantee what you think the future is going to be or if it will actually turn out as expected; good or bad.

The important thing to remember is that I can only experience this very moment.

So if you happen to be hung-up on a situation or a relationship, get over it. Take the one moment you control and use it to make a change. A golfer who came in second place this past Sunday said he had not talked to his father since the player had married; quite a while ago. Johnnie Miller the announcer suggested he might get all his ducks in order because it is difficult to focus when all cylinders are not functioning. When someone chooses not to talk to a father or mother, there is something terribly wrong that needs to be fixed sooner rather than later. He was obviously dwelling on the past and nothing can be done about what actually happened but everything can be done about the way you think about it right now, this very second. What was, was; what is, is! I can only control this very second.

Therefore, I created an 8 x 11.5 wall photo that I use as my “trigger point” to remind me to begin thinking in a certain way whenever I see and read it. It reads:


What Was; Was! What Is; Is I Control Only This Moment

In real estate sales, I see people getting really upset quite often regarding the actions or inactions of a buyer, a seller, a broker or manager, a loan officer, appraiser, etc. They are mad! But move forward 6 months and few if any of these “present” situations are but a distant memory if remembered at all and certainly no one is angry any more. So why do so many people get so angry? It is my opinion as reinforced by Katie’s “The Work” that instead of focusing on the present, what are your choices at this very moment, you tend to dwell on what happened and you worry about all the variables that might happen both of which will accomplish nothing.