Thursday, August 27, 2009

It Pays To Be Skeptical

Nuggets For The Noggin
It Pays To Be Skeptical
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 1, 2009

“If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” Unknown

Good question: Do your ads and marketing materials set you apart from all the others; are they eye-catching and unique? Better question: Are your ads and marketing materials believable? Best question: Are your ads and marketing materials true?

Turns out your mother was right (again), be skeptical of sales people. “But Gymbeaux,” you say, “how can you say that, aren’t you a sales person?”

Great question and the answer is yes and no. I have never considered myself as a sales person in the traditional sense because I never sold homes. Surprised? I have always taken the position that I did not care if a buyer bought a particular home after all, the homes I showed were not my home therefore I really did not care. I deeply cared that I was helping my customers find a solution to their real estate needs. If their need was to put a new roof over their head, I knew eventually that together we would accomplish that goal. I was an adviser. I was a consultant. I was a service provider. But yes, I did sell – I had to sell the probable buyer that I was the answer to their real estate problem. I had to sell me to them FIRST before they would permit me to help them. I believed then and I believe even more so know that Zig Ziglar had it right when he said, “To get everything you want in life, help someone else get what they want." Jeffrey Gitomer enhanced that statement by saying, “To get everything you want in life, help someone else get what they want – FIRST! Amen to that I say!

Advertisements and marketing can “puff” or “fluff” (lie or exaggerate) a product and service to make it “seem” like it will solve a probable purchaser’s need. Television infomercials are notorious for this. People in need of pain relief, in need of money, in need of a mate, just simply in need of something but especially pain relief will buy anything that is perceived to work and will do so from someone they do not know or necessarily trust. For example, have you ever wondered how many of the people providing testimonials as to the value of a product actually used the product or are they simply actors? If you are paying attention, some of these people appear in other advertisements for different products; what are the chances of that happening?

Advertisements and marketing pieces can also speak the truth but how can you know the difference? You can’t; but you do know if they are your own advertisements and marketing pieces and YOU do know if they are true or puff pieces. Gary Keller defined integrity as doing the right thing. I define it as doing the right thing especially when no one is watching.

To give you an example, a large real estate franchise advertised that they closed more sales than any other franchise. At the time that was probably true. What was not said was that they also had more unsold (expired) listings than anyone else as well. What would a probable purchaser want to know (whether they knew they needed to know or not)? If the purchaser was considering using the company to market (list) their real estate it should be what percentage of your listings actually sell and in how many days? When your advertisements and marketing pieces paint only half a picture you are providing only half the truth. It is very misleading if not outright fraud when the customer “thinks” they are getting the whole picture. Many years ago an automobile manufacturer advertised how safe their vehicles were. They showed various cars running off cliffs landing on their roofs and the roofs did not collapse. What they failed to show was the roofs had been reinforced. A soup company advertising vegetable soup added filler to the bottom of the bowl to make the vegetables rise above the soup level leaving the impression the soup was loaded with vegetables. A very successful real estate agent would list a home that would remain on the market for months and months. When an offer to purchase was finally received, she would remove the properly from the listing service and show it as a withdrawal. She would then re-enter the listing as a new listing and then take it out as a property under contract. She showed her potential sellers that her listings sold in days rather than months and could show them “proof” on paper. Who would not be impressed with statistics like hers?

President Obama is currently selling the public on health care with a “public option.” A study was reportedly conducted where people were asked if they were in favor of a public option or a government option and the majority selected public option. The problem is that the public option IS the government option. One simple word is misleading where “public” to most citizens means public and public to the government means government. Same word; different meaning and understanding.

Some of the products or services being advertised on television do what they claim; some do not. The Internet can make a huge difference if used. When you see a product you think may satisfy a specific need, simply type in the product in a search box to see what web sites appear. You may be surprised at how many unhappy customers post their displeasure with a product or service they have purchased or used. What would happen if you put your name in the search box? What would happen if someone entered the name of your company in the search box?

Gymbeaux’s Law of Unfairness: The Law of Unfairness says that if you satisfied 100 customers and dissatisfied 1 customer, the 100 would say nothing but the 1 would tell the world. Now they tell the world on the Internet. How many probable purchasers would be affected by the comments of the 1 dissatisfied customer? Most likely a great many. Hollywood movie makers are now concerned that movie goers who post their critical reviews on web sites like Twitter and Facebook are adversely affecting the number of people who go to the movie being criticized.

Every adviser, consultant, and sales person MUST have an effective Customer Service Department in their business; in real estate sales, that would be you. It is unfortunate that most of these people have no clue how their customers perceive their service because they never ask. They never see their business through the eyes of their customers both good and bad. They believe that one customer lost is only one customer lost; big deal. WRONG! As stated, one customer will tell the world what is wrong with you and your product or service not to mention your company.

If the consumer is becoming more skeptical (and they should be), is it possible that you are not perceived as you might believe? Do you know for certain? How do you know for certain? If you are not asking your customers either directly or indirectly, there is no way to be certain. If you do not know, how many sales might you have lost or continue to lose? You cannot fix something you do not know is broken. If you really want to test how good you are, arrange to have a mystery caller call as if they were a customer and then report the results of the call. You just might get the surprise of your life – you may be even better than you think. Of course the reverse might be true as well. SURPRISE!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who Would You Be If You Hadn't Met...

Mitch Album has written a book entitled “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” and that prompted me to think about the five most influential people I have met on Earth and why I think they have been influential. Every day we come in contact with people who have had both a positive or negative influence on our lives; some more than others.

I would like to pose a question to everyone who reads this Nugget. Who would you be if you had not met (you insert the name of the person who has had a positive impact on your life)? Using the above book as a basis for this question, identify the 5 most influential people in your life and then explain why. Then considering that this is the Christmas season when giving means so much, write each of them a note to thank them for what they have meant to you.

Because I “practice what I preach”, here are my five in no particular order:

DR. TOM HILL: Dr. Tom taught me that the past has very little bearing on the future. Far too often we blame the past or take the lessons from the past and use our past consciously or subconsciously to create restrictions or boundaries regarding our future. The past is the past. You can do nothing about what has happened except to learn from it. The future is limited only by your imagination. Dr. Tom taught me the difference between Right Brain and Left Brain thinking and it was through Dr. Tom that I discovered that throughout my life, I had been a Right Brain Person in a Left Brain World. What that meant to me was that I was NOT a slow learner as I suspected, but instead I tended to “think outside the box”. I was in fact a creative type person but in the early days of my elementary education, thinking outside the box was NOT a good thing. In the Left Brain world of education, you had to “color within the lines” and anyone who dared to color an oak tree as being purple was considered weird. I also learned from Dr. Tom to be patient. To be focused on the prize and that you can do anything you want to do. Other traits Dr. Tom exemplified were honesty, integrity, a sense of humor and a deep thirst for learning. All these things have remained with me and upon which I remain focused and work to improve upon. Dr. Tom Hill writes a wonderful Friday Ezine that you can subscribe to by emailing him at Dr. Tom Hill has written a wonderful book entitled “Living at the Summit” that I highly recommend. Update, Dr. Tom Hill has collaborated with Jack Canfield on a new book, “Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneurial Soul”, a very good read!

JOE TYE: I can sum up Joe’s contribution to my life in one word – values. Everyone has values to some degree but Joe Tye has made a study of values and how they affect our everyday lives and more importantly our decision process. Joe Tye has written several books, again I highly recommend all of them but the two that stand out are, “Never Fear, Never Quit”, and “Your Dreams Are Too Small”. Joe Tye teaches the 12 Core Action Values and because he routinely sends out weekly Spark Plug updates in addition to more in depth works on each value, it is easy to remain focused on values. Joe has taught me to use the Direction Deflection Question, DDQ, to date the most effective tool to accomplish whatever you wish to accomplish. You ask yourself a question in regards to your values, your goals, or whatever it is you wish to do. For example, if you want to weigh a certain weight, let’s say 185 pounds, you say to yourself, “Is what I am about to eat or drink consistent with my desire to weigh 185?” If yes, eat it, if no, don’t. I have used this system in just about everything I wish to accomplish. Joe also has taught me never to compromise my values. If you would like to subscribe to Joe’s Spark Plug program, send him an email to and ask to be included on his distribution. He also has a paid subscription to Spark Plug Plus so you might also want to ask him about that. Not a day goes by where I do not review the Self-Empowerment Pledge written by Joe Tye. There is a different Pledge for each day of the week. This being Thursday, the pledge is: I Contribute! I earn the help I need in advance by helping other people now, and repay the help I receive by serving other later! 2009 update: Joe has published at least two more book, The Healing Tree and The Farmer; both compelling reads. Joe has also put his 12 Core Action Values in book form that is certainly worth reading.

BOB BURG: Bob is an exceptional writer, thinker and speaker. I have read just about everything he has written, especially “Endless Referrals”, “Winning Without Intimidation”, “Gossip” and the latest, “Master Your Traits; Master your Life” and this is a real winner! What have I learned from Bob Burg? Where do I begin? I believe that I have learned to work with people. Through “Endless Referrals” I learned how to meet people and then develop relationships that could and should eventually result in future business. Through “Winning Without Intimidation” I learned to be more tolerant of people and their unique behaviors. Bob has taught me to listen, and then respond in ways that tend to get you what you want primarily by acknowledging that people are different and using creative ways to get them to agree with you. “Gossip” is a real work of art. I could not help but identify with many of the situations discussed in the book. While there were many lessons, the most value from the book involved hearing other people make jokes about people or engaged in discriminating language during which I would say nothing nor would I leave. This implied that I agreed with what was being said even though I didn’t. I was afraid to hurt someone’s feelings but by not saying something I was giving my approval to what was being said. Bob’s latest work is by far his best. He took lessons from Benjamin Franklin (not actually took the lessons from him, but learned from him through research). Ben Franklin knew he lacked a great deal and in fact people initially did not care much for him. Ben created a system whereby he identified the 13 personal traits that he needed to improve upon. He then focused on just one trait per week for thirteen weeks. At the end of each week he would grade himself. By focusing on just the one trait, he could not help but improve upon it by simply being aware of it an example would be, “positive speech”. If you concentrate on the positive speech for a week, it is hard to speak negatively. Bob’s book, “Master Your Traits; Master Your Life” is a thirteen week course to improve your traits. My character traits were improved just by reading the book. I intend to start the course on January 1, 2005 and taking Bob’s suggestion, I intend to repeat the course every quarter in 2005. Go to and you can sign up for his free Ezine or purchase his wonderful books and tapes. 2009 update. Bob has written another absolute winner in The Go-Giver. Check it out at

STEPHEN COVEY: If you want to be successful, find someone who has already done it and repeat it. Stephen Covey’s book, “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” has become a classic work on self-improvement. Mr. Covey has studied successful people and then has identified what they have done to achieve the success they desired. His book clearly points you in the right direction and gets you thinking in a certain way. He has written other books including “Focus” and the one I am working on at the moment, “The 8th Habit” and they are all thought provoking, life-changing books. As I do with Joe Tye, I review one of Covey’s “habits” every day, one for each day of the week. Again, this being Thursday, it is: I Think Win-Win! I seek mutual benefit in all interdependent relationships! I have not as yet met Stephen Covey but it remains as one of my life’s goals to do so. As have the others described in this Nugget, Mr. Covey has become my mentor and coach albeit unknown to him. On his web site at, he has created a wonderful free program to help you build a personal mission statement. From that exercise, I have created mine, “To help people do what they do, to do it better!” The five people identified in this Nugget and their works and their leadership all have become intertwined in my life as one tends to build on the other. Together they set an awesome and very high example to work towards. I know I will never reach perfection but I also know that I have come a long way and will never return to the Gymbeaux of old. 2009 update. Although it is not a Stephen Covey book, it is a book written by his son, Stephen M. R. Covey, The Speed of Trust that I highly recommend.

LEE SHELTON: There was no specific order to the people listed in this Nugget in regards to importance because they all have meant so much to me. Lee Shelton, however, is the one person who started it all for me. I had just retired from the U. S. Coast Guard. I had been in real estate for 7 years (some while on active duty with the Coast Guard). I was about to embark on a real estate management career when I came across an ad for a 4-tape set entitled “Creating Teamwork” by Lee Shelton. I ordered it and listened to it about 5 days prior to starting my new position. Not only did I listen to it, I listened to it at least 3 times during those 5 days. You have heard of the proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear!” I did not know I was a student when I purchased those tapes. I have become friends with Lee and he has said that I could recite the tapes word for word – they were that good! I still use the principles taught and discussed on those tapes and that was 15 years ago. One of Lee’s suggestions was that everyone should read “I’m OK; You’re OK” by Thomas Harris and that it should be read every six months. I thought the information on the tapes was so good that this suggestion must also be good so I bought the book and read it. In all honesty I have not read it every six months but the content was so good, it started me on my path to reading. Because of Lee, his tapes and the book “I’m OK; You’re OK”, I have set a personal goal to read at least 12 books a year – one-a-month. I have far exceeded that goal (not bragging, only stating a fact) because reading has become such an integral part of my life that was void until I listened to Lee’s tapes. Had it not been for Lee Shelton, I would not have been exposed to people like Dr. Tom Hill, Joe Tye, Bob Burg and Stephen Covey. I certainly would not be writing this Nugget. 2009 update. Because of Lee’s lessons, not only have I read at least a book a month, my personal library now includes over 500 books, over 100 E-books and I have no idea how many cassette tapes, CDs and now DVDs that are in my library. Speaker Jim Rohn later said, “An EDUCATION will earn you a living; SELF-EDUCATION will earn you a fortune.” Had it not been for Lee Shelton, I would be earning a living. The fortune was not measured in monetary standards but rather in what I have learned.

These are my five. Who are yours? They are at the top of a list of many who have influenced my life. Others that I admire and have learned from are Andy Andrews, “The Traveler’s Gift”; Dr. Wayne Dyer, “The Power of Intention”, Wallace Wattles, “The Science of Getting Rich” and “The Science of Being Well”, Jim Paluch, “The Five Important Things”, and “Leaving a Legacy”, and Michael Dunn, “What’s the BIG Secret?”

As suggested at the top of this Nugget, Thank You notes are going out this week.

So I have to ask. Are YOU making a difference in someone’s life? Who would list YOU as one of the 5 most influential people in THEIR life?

If you want to make a difference, use Joe Tye’s Direction Deflection Question (DDQ):

Is what I am about to say or do going to
make a positive difference in someone’s life?


Since I first wrote this Nugget in 2004 I have been introduced to the work of Jeffrey Gitomer. While there have been so many more books, classes, and tapes over the years that I have listened to and all have had an impact, Jeffrey Gitomer has had the most influence. It all started while waiting for a plane in Dallas. This one black covered book caught my attention by its appearance. When I opened it the inside appearance also caught my attention, it had color throughout the book, color cartoons, colored highlighted wording, it had a permanent book mark ribbon like you might see in a bible and it had lists, one numbered list after another. I bought the book, The Little Black Book of Connections and the rest is history. I have read everything that Gitomer has written, all of his book, at least twice. His Little Gold Book of YES!Attitude I have read 6 times. Gitomer writes about sales, customer relations, attitudes, presentations, techniques, etc. I would highly recommend reading anything he writes but I would start with the Little Gold Book of YES!Attitude, my personal favorite.

I have also written a Nugget in 2009, My 45 Favorite Books which can be read in the Archive section of