Tuesday, May 18, 2010

But It Did Not Happen!

Nuggets For The Noggin
But It Did Not Happen!
Article By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 19, 2010

My job is to provide you with food for thought. Your job is to read what I have written and give it some thought. If you finish your job before I finish my job then my job will have been a failure. If on the other hand I finish my job before you finish your job, wella – success!

Remember The Gratitude Stone as discussed in the book/movie The Secret? It is a stone that when carried is a constant reminder to be grateful for all that enters your life. You see it first thing in the morning when you awake, you give thanks. You feel it in your pocket all during the day, you give thanks. And then when you retire at night and remove the stone from your pocket, you again give thanks for all that is good in your life.

This past weekend Dr. Argile Smith of the First Baptist Church in Biloxi, Mississippi gave the keynote address to the graduating class at William Carey University. He had a slightly different take on the art of being grateful. Dr. Smith suggested that in addition to being grateful for the good things in our life we should also be grateful for that which did NOT happen. It was a very thought provoking presentation.

For example:

Hurricane Katrina was devastating to be certain but have we considered giving thanks or being grateful for what did NOT happen? Our office building was virtually untouched thus providing each of us a place to move on with our business and help the people of our area with their housing needs.

We all saw the devastation and even death but did we give thanks for not being among those that perished?

Our company was shut down for a month; that was bad. But were we grateful when the bad times did not extend into month after month? In fact were not the months following Katrina some of the best sales months of all times?

When you close the sale from hell and you say good bye to the customers from hell do you give thanks for the opportunity to demonstrate how good you really are, the lessons you learned and all the bad things that did NOT happen? After all, they did not kill you, right?

When you close a sale, do you give thanks to what did NOT happen, like an appraisal that did not come in low?

Like a termite inspection that did NOT find termites?

Like a title search that did NOT find title problems?

Like a home inspection that did NOT find serious problems?

Like a personal check that did NOT bounce?

Today there was a car parked in the company parking lot. On the back window in very large letters it read, “So & So Appliance Sucks!” Obviously I changed the name to protect the innocent. I dare say that no matter how professional and no matter how well you conducted your business, there are incidents that you would rather forget. So while you are being grateful for all the good that enters your life, be grateful that an unhappy customer did NOT feel the urge to put your name on the back of their car indicating that your service sucks! After all, things could be worse!

It has been said that the mind cannot think of two things at one time. I don’t necessarily agree with that because I can certainly think of a Blue Bell Hot Fudge Sunday at the same time I am thinking of the whipped cream on top. Just kidding; actually no I’m not. Certainly it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to think of two opposing thoughts at the same time. As Dr. Smith suggested, being grateful IS the Secret. If you are forever being grateful it is hard to be ungrateful. Given the choice why would you want to be ungrateful? The same is true about being always positive or always negative or somewhere in between not being able to make up your mind. Dr. Smith asked the question, when you are being grateful (or ungrateful) who are you being grateful (or ungrateful) to? Only you can answer that question but I think we all know the answer except for possibly you-know-who if you-know-who is reading this.

So here’s the deal. Professional golfers use what they refer to as a trigger that they use to get into the zone. What is the zone? They understand that it is impossible to focus 100% of their concentration 100% of the time. Therefore professional golfers will not focus on their next shot until it is time to do so. They will adjust the sleeve on their shirt, adjust the strap on their glove or some other physical activity to get their mind focused on what is at hand, hitting a good golf shot. In between shots they are better served NOT trying to think too much about the next shot. It is impossible to concentrate for four hours of a golf round but it IS possible and even probable that a professional golfer can give 100% focus for the next 60 or so seconds that it takes to strike the ball.

The Gratitude Stone is such a trigger. If not a stone, consider wearing one of the colorful rubber bracelets you see people wearing and then every time you see or feel the bracelet remind yourself to be grateful. Be grateful for all the good things in your life that DID happen and all the bad things that DID NOT happen. Worries, by the way, that a great many of us continually worried might happen. Those are the worries we seem to F.E.A.R. – False Expectations Appearing Real but rarely are.

Enter the Law of Attraction where we tend to attract into our life that which we think about most. As stated, it is impossible to think of two opposing thoughts at the same time. Therefore, stop thinking about the bad things that might happen and focus on all the good things that did happen including having Dr. Smith enter your life through this Nugget. Or thank my daughter Kelly for attending William Carey University Graduate School for had she not, I would not have heard Dr. Smith and neither would you. All things seem to happen for a reason and if my attending my daughter’s graduation ceremony is the cause of you thinking better thoughts, you are welcome!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Nuggets For The Noggin
Article By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, April 30, 2010

What does it take to list and successfully sell a home?
  • Competitive Sales Price: A sales price that is not only competitive with other comparable properties but probably slightly less. If there are more sellers (inventory of available homes), the price may have to be a lot less than what otherwise would be considered competitive. It is a simple case of supply-and-demand. The fewer the buyers the longer it typically takes to sell therefore a homeowner must make their property stand out from the crowd. When there are more buyers than houses (such as immediately following Hurricane Katrina), all bets are off in regards to pricing. But in a “buyer’s market” the correct pricing is critical!
  • Condition: The condition of the property being sold must be reflected in the asking price. If a property requires a lot of work as compared to other similar properties that do not require similar work, the price must reflect that. A great practice would be to encourage the homeowner to obtain a professionally prepared home inspection as the property is being put on the market. The seller can then price the property accordingly and/or make the repairs necessary plus use the home inspection as a marketing tool demonstrating to buyer exactly what they are purchasing. Purchaser may still obtain a different home inspection if they wish to.
  • Seller Motivation: “We’ll just put it on the market to see what happens.” That is not motivation to sell. A seller who is motivated to sell will insure that not only will the price be competitive and the condition match the price, the seller will do whatever is necessary to sell the property. Seller motivation is a huge factor in selling real estate. An unmotivated or unrealistic seller will almost always result in a long sales period if there is a sale at all.
  • Professional Yard Sign: This is HUGE! Yard signs represent a significant number of all sales that are made. A professional yard sign as compared to a For Sale By Owner sign clearly demonstrates to potential buyers that the sellers are represented by a professional, that would be you. On the contrary a For Sale By Owner sign that signifies the seller probably does not have professional real estate experience or knowledge and therefore may be subject to being taken advantage of.
  • Home Warranty: Would you buy a car without a warranty? Most say no but then list their home that is significantly more valuable than their car without offering the buyer a home warranty. Everything may work perfectly on the day of the act of sale and moments later fail. Who would ever believe that the sellers and the seller’s agent did not know that something was about to fail or didn’t work properly in the first place. Who does the buyer call? The sellers and the agents involved in the sale both listing and selling. Who would you prefer the buyer call? A Home Warranty representative! Offering a Home Warranty is the right thing to do.
  • Multiple Listing Service: The use of a professional yard sign and placing the property in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) accounts for most sales. Period!
  • Great Real Estate Agent: This is more important than most real estate agents are aware of. Who wants to work with a jerk? I don’t, do you? Therefore everything you say and do when in relationship while working with other real estate agents throughout the area as well as those in your own office is absolutely critical. If a seller lists a home with a real estate agent who is known to be “hard to work with”, “unethical”, and/or “non-existent”, they should expect that their property will be very difficult to sell. For example, a buyer’s agent finds 15 homes that meet the customer’s needs. Only 5 to 7 homes are going to be shown and remember they all meet the customer’s needs. Which 7 or 8 homes are going to be EXCLUDED? I can guarantee you that one or more will be listed by agents who could be hard to work with so with that in mind why would you want to show their properties when others are available? This is not rocket science. Unfortunately most sellers are unaware of the reputation of the agent they select in comparison to other agents in the area. How do you promote your reputation? Through the use of testimonials both letter format and video format. Nothing speaks more highly of you than satisfied customers as well as recommendations from people within the business like loan officers, closing attorneys, etc. Most agents, certainly not you, never ask for referrals in writing from their satisfied customers or people “in the business.”

Obviously there are other factors that go into a successful sale but these are by far the most important factors. What happens when a seller indicates that they do not want a yard sign in their yard or one of the other essential elements of a sale? Before you can answer that you need to know what the seller believes in regards to the use of a yard sign. Experience has shown that some homeowners do not want their neighbor to know their home is on the market. Not sure why; you need to delve deeper into their reasons. If the reasons are legitimate by all means honor their desires. However most reasons are superficial and really are not warranted.

What do you do or say to convince the homeowners they need to rethink their position? It is important that you not only provide the logic but you also allow them to come to the logical conclusion.

“Mr. & Mrs. Seller, I understand your concern. When we (the “we” is important because you and the sellers literally form a team and it sounds as if they have already listed the home with you) put your home on the market we are literally going to war. By that I mean look at the number of homes we are in competition with. (Show them the list.) In addition to those homes there are the few For Sale By Owner and bank owned homes as well. Everyone wants THEIR home to sell so they typically give their agent all the tools (bullets) necessary to market the home. The most important of these tools (bullets) are; (1) competitive sales price, (2) price that reflects the condition of the home, (3) your motivation to sell, (4) use of a professional yard sign, (5) home warranty, (6) use of the Multiple Listing Service, and (7) a great agent like me. 7 tools. Let’s assume that every agent representing the owners of every other home on the market have all 7 tools working for them. (You can have a bit of fun and suggest that unless they have hired you, the other homeowners will never have all 7 and do it with a definite smile on your face). You have indicated that you do not want a yard sign (or a home warranty or a non-competitive price, etc). You are asking me to go to battle for you without all the tools (ammunition) available. Do you see where we, you and I, are starting out in the hole before we begin?” (Wait for their answer, say nothing before they do, let them answer first. There is no way they cannot agree with you. When they agree they usually permit you to do what is necessary to do the right thing.)

ACTION STEP: Prepare & Practice! If you wait until an objection is voiced and then develop your response, you are doomed to fail. You know such objections are going to come, be prepared for them. Identify potential objections or concerns and then develop a logical response. No trickery, just logic. Help the customer to come to the same conclusion that you have reached by providing them with the information necessary to do so.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Raising The Bar

Nugget For The Noggin
Raising The Bar
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, April 1, 2010

What does “raising the bar” really mean? Pulled this definition off the Internet:

You have a bar (FIGURATIVELY!). It represents a STANDARD, something to get over (at this point you may well imagine the high jump or pole vault contest in track and field). Once achieved this standard remains unchanged over a period of time. Then someone “raises the bar” tries again and succeeds. All of a sudden more is expected to meet the “new” standard. This extra could be absolutely anything. That’s the beauty of the concept. Use your imagination. Before anyone could go to university! Now they have raised the bar; you need to be intelligent!

Using the high jump as an example, it was not that long ago that anyone who could jump over 6 feet high was considered a record holder at that height. Over time, techniques and equipment improved, people in general became larger, faster and more agile and now high jumpers jump well over 7 feet. The same is true for pole vaulters. Each year athletes “raise the bar” ever so slightly and jump even higher.

It has been my sporting experience that there are self-imposed barriers. For example, I can remember when people thought no one would ever run a 4-minute mile, jump over 6 feet high or pole value over 15 feet. All these records have fallen. Did you notice? “4” minute mile? “6” feet? “15” feet? People tend to establish barriers at almost predictable measurements. In golf people talk about “breaking 100” meaning they shoot 99 or less; or breaking 90, or 80. You never hear someone say they are going to break 85 for example.

Now think about the Law of Attraction. You tend to bring into your life that which you think of most. Therefore if everyone (figuratively) says you cannot run a mile in less than 4 minutes that is what most people thought about. Few people were not restricted by such thinking and tried anyway. Along comes Roger Banister and he ran the first sub 4-minute mile. Once he did it, it only took a couple of weeks before the next person and then the next person and then the next person ran sub 4-minute miles. So what is the next barrier? Actually it became the 3 minute, 50 second mile.

In golf, if you typically shoot between 95 and 100, why would you set a goal to break 90? Why not set a goal to break 95, then 94, and then 93 and before you know it you are breaking 90. Then what? 88? 85?

Before you can “raise the bar” what must you know? You must know where the bar is set now. What is the “acceptable” standard whether it is in sports, business or life in general? What do you accept as your standard? How did you come to accept that particular standard? Who set it; did you or did someone set it for you? Why did you come to accept whatever it is you currently accept? Can you do better?

Now there’s a question for the ages; can you do better? Well can you? Is there anything you currently do that cannot be done better? If that is so, what is keeping you from doing better? Let’s count the reasons:

  1. You don’t really believe you can do any better.
  2. Someone, maybe the voice inside your head, has convinced you can’t do any better.
  3. You believe that if you do better someone, maybe even you, might expect you to do better every time; not just this time.
  4. Maybe you relate doing better to being compensated for what you do or, “I’m not getting paid to do this.”
  5. You believe that the more I do the more I will be given to do therefore why do more or better?
  6. Unconsciously you don’t know there is a “better” to actually do; what you are doing is acceptable (to whom?).
  7. One of my personal favorites is “Close enough for government work!” Therefore there is no incentive to do better.
  8. What’s in it for me if I do better?
  9. No one is really looking, why go the extra mile?
  10. Another one of my personal favorites as this applied to me in high school back in…… If I do better I will be considered a geek and people like those on the football and basketball teams will not want to include me in their activities. Sound familiar? Hope not; was for me.

Can you come up with more? I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to the 80/20 rule but it applies to raising the bar as it applies to everything in life. If statistics could be maintained, it would be my guess that 80% of people would accept the standards that 80% of the people currently experience. While the 80% are doing whatever they are doing, what are the remaining 20% doing? I can say with certainty, they are doing what the 80% are doing plus a “little bit more!”

Why would anyone ever want to be in the 80% group who are obviously satisfied with the status quo? What is to be gained by being like everyone else? It may take a while to answer that so I’ll wait…..

See if you can equate to my logic. When I became an instructor in the U. S. Coast Guard I was tasked with teaching people how to complete their paperwork, imagine that for those who know me. We would actually grade people on how accurate they completed a form(s) or process an event. Students would get an A, B, C, D and F just like millions of students for hundreds of years. The first thing I did was change the grading system. Instead of having a student prepare a form and get a grade of 70% or a C, I would mark the areas of the form(s) the student failed to properly prepare or calculate and then return it to the student not with the correct answers but simply the areas that were incorrect. It was up to the student, with an open book, to properly complete the form and return it for review. As in the first case I would mark up the form(s) and if incorrect, return them to the student to try again. It was the same with every form and every procedure. The student would be graded not on each form but rather how many times it took him or her to get it correct.

I can remember it as if it were yesterday when the Training Officer called me into his office to ask me what on earth I was doing. He called me crazy. I told him that a passing grade for the school was 70% and he agreed; it was 70%. Then I said, “Sir, if I were teaching students to be dental technicians, would you want someone who passed with a 70% grade working in your mouth or would you want someone who did it right the first time working in your mouth?” Before he could answer I then asked, “Sir, let’s look at it another way. If I were teaching payroll and accounting, would you want someone calculating your pay check who passed the school with a 70% or would you prefer someone who knew how to do it right the first time?”

The silence was deafening! He agreed. The only problem we then faced was how many times would we permit a student to keep trying to get it right before we came to the conclusion that he or she was just not cut out for what was being taught. After all, not everyone has the motivation and intelligence to be a brain surgeon, plumber or pay clerk. I can tell you that the quality of the graduating students improved when they understood that the standard, or where the “bar was set” was what they were expected to achieve when performing their work. Anything less is unacceptable; anything more, commendable!

Whenever you are performing work, providing a service, or providing a product for someone else, where do you set your bar? Do you set it where the 80% reside or do you set it where the 20% flourish? I’m just asking. You tell me. If you think the work you do is satisfactory or “good enough for _______”, is it really? If the shoe were on the other foot and you were the customer and someone else was performing at the level they considered as satisfactory, would it be satisfactory for you?

Is it possible to set the bar too high? Is it possible to run a 4-minute mile? Absolutely! Is it possible to run a 3-minute mile? Not yet!

Here is another way to think about it. I took my one and only hot air balloon ride with a pilot and one other person, a lot older than I was. It was magnificent but the actual ride is for another story. It was getting dark and the wind had taken us north over forests instead of south over clear pastures. With the sun setting we were definitely in trouble and you could sense that in the change of attitude and presence of the balloon pilot.

“There”, he shouted as he pointed to a very small clearing surrounded by a fence and with one large oak tree in the center. He let the air out of the balloon as much as he safely could and we descended so fast I think it was a little more than he safely could. We landed very hard and the basket turned on its side and dragged us for quite a distance but we managed to get on the ground, not hit the tree or the fence. We had made it slightly bruised but alive.

But wait, we landed in a coral not a pasture and there was a very large and very angry bull in the coral. We were in BIG trouble. Like the joke you hear about one hiker shifting to his running shoes not to out run the bear but to out run his fellow hiker, I felt I was faced with that choice. Neither the pilot nor the passenger was as young as I and neither one able to out run the bull. With only seconds to spare, I decided that I could attract the bull’s attention and get him to chase me while the other two could get to safety on the other side of the fence. I had one chance and that was to beat the bull to the oak tree. So screaming to get the bull’s attention plus the fact that I was scared to death I began a bee-line to the tree with the bull on my tail, literally. It was really getting dark but I could see a low hanging branch about 10 feet high and if I could only reach that branch I could escape the bull.

Running as fast as I could and to this day I remember the heat of bull breath on my neck, that’s an exaggeration but I swear I could feel it. As I neared the tree I jumped with all my power to grab hold of that life-saving branch.

Since I am telling you this story, you can safely assume that the bull did not kill me. As I said, I ran faster than I had ever run and I jumped higher than I had ever jumped – I missed the branch; after all it was over 10 feet in the air. But much to my surprise, I caught it coming down.

Most of that story is true and the part about catching the branch on the way down is not but it serves my purpose in this Nugget. It is perfectly permissible to shoot for the moon and it is perfectly permissible not to make it because who knows what star you might latch onto on the way up or down. The standard or the bar should be perfection. Anything less is like the student passing with 70%.

I have one question for everyone who reads this Nugget. Would you want a dentist working in your mouth who obtained his or her dental degree with a grade of 70%? I’ll wait for your answer…..

When you have a position where people rely on you and your failure could cost them money or as was in the case of the Coast Guard even their life, it is incumbent on you not to score a 70% but to score a 100%; every time! Remember, if the shoe were on the other foot you would expect nor would you accept anything less than 100%, am I not right on this?

Never accept ordinary or the minimum because ordinary and/or the minimum will never make you great; it will only put you in the 80%. More importantly, you cannot expect others to give you 100% if you do not expect the same from yourself when working for another person’s best interests.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The P.M.W.Y.T.I.W. Factor!

Nuggets For The Noggin

The P.M.W.Y.T.I.W. Factor!
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, March 10, 2010
Born from a group of words in MOJO written by Marshall Goldsmith

Did you notice the person who served you at the last fast food restaurant or coffee shop you visited? Most people, certainly not you, would have paid for their food, collected their food and within minutes could not tell you if the person was a male or female let alone what type of service was given. In most cases the failure to observe may have been out of habit, after all it is a fast food place isn’t it?

Ever been through a toll booth? Paid your toll, collected your change and off you went leaving the person in the booth ready to greet another passerby. What did he or she look like? Did the person make eye contact? Did the person say thank you? Do you even know?

Picture this situation. It is early morning, about 6:00 a.m. and you are about to embark on a trip in your car that will take hours. You see the local Burger King opening for business and you use the drive-thru to purchase a cup of coffee. What normally happens? “Can I interest you in a breakfast combo?” “No thank you, just a cup of coffee, regular size.” And that’s it! Probably no thank you and definitely no eye contact. Sometimes the person at the windows is too busy talking on their cell phone to even know you are in the car.

How would you feel if that is what you expected but this is what you got? “Good morning, my name is Debra, how may I help you?” Catch you a little off guard did it? Did me. “Well thank you Debra, I’ll have a cup of coffee, regular size, black.” “It will be ready for you at the next window, thank you.” What’s up with this you think? But it gets even better. Now that we are face to face Debra looks me in the eye, imagine that, sales tip #1, look the customer in the eyes and she says, “Good morning, here is your coffee. Black, no cream no sugar correct?” “Yes Debra, that is correct.” as you hand her the money. She immediately made the change but instead of putting the dollar bills in your hand and then dumping the loose change on top to where they are subject to sliding off your hand and onto the ground, she put one hand beneath my hand and then put the change in my had first and then the dollar bills. “Have a great day and please come back again.”

How did that exchange measure up with your normal experience at a fast food restaurant? Dare I say different? It was for me. So much so that when I returned home several days later I hand-wrote a thank you note to the manager complimenting him on Debra’s service to his customers.

Over a month later, 6:00 a.m. in the morning and on the road again, where do you think I stopped? It was Burger King but this time I really didn’t want a cup of coffee for the road but I just wanted to see for myself. Again it was Debra and again she was just as nice as the first visit. This time, however, she looked me in the eye and she said, “I know it was you who wrote the note. I got a raise because of your note.” Who would have thunk it?

By now you are trying to figure out what this story has to do with the initials above PMWYTIW, admit it; that is what you are thinking except for possibly you-know-who. What do you think would happen between Debra and her manager if when he hired her she said to him, “Instead of the minimum wage, why don’t you Pay Me What You Think I’m Worth?” That would have been an interesting conversation wouldn’t you think?

Let’s say you are a real estate agent and you are meeting with a homeowner. When you get to the blank on the Listing Agreement referring to the commission you say, “Mr. & Mrs. Homeowner, instead of a commission, let’s put TBD on this blank and when we, you and I, sell your home, you Pay Me What You Think I’m Worth?” (In case you-know-who is reading this, TBD means To Be Determined.) What would happen? What do you think the homeowners would say to such a proposition?

What do you think would happen if you sold the home in less than a month? What would happen if you sold the home in six months or it didn’t sell at all? Which effort would bring you the most money?

Before all the real estate agents out their panic, it is not suggested that you tell all your customers to pay you what they think you are worth. Rather - just think about it for a moment. Most sales people in most professions act like they are entitled to be paid for the work they do or not do regardless of the result. How many times have I heard an agent say, “I worked so hard on this, it is not worth it, I’m going to get a real job!”

The problem is in the words “worked” and “job.” In real estate if you are “working” on selling real estate it probably is a job. But if you are servicing your customers while being grateful for the opportunity to do so you have a “calling” for what you do. It is doubtful that anyone with a job is really ever passionate about what they do.

Joe Tye, author, speaker, America’s Value Coach and my friend says, “Someone with a job is never secure, someone with a calling is never unemployed.” Which are you?

While waiting for a friend to arrive at the airport I was sitting amongst a great many people doing the same thing and as I was. I sat reading a book. Several feet from me was a trash can of no particular significance. Not long after I sat down a fellow who by his attire obviously worked for the airport came by with his janitorial cart and stopped at the trash can. He gently pulled the can away from the wall and dusted off the top just before he carefully removed it and set it, as compared to dropping it, on the floor next to the can. He then ever so carefully started to slip the plastic trash bag away from the lip of the trash can making sure not to tear the bag. He then partially twisted the top edges of the bag to put a tie on it but before he did, he pushed down on the bag to compress the trash and let the air escape out of the bag. Be patient, I’m getting there. Next he wiped out the inside of the trash can and pulled another trash bag from his supplies. As carefully as he removed the old bag he installed the new bag making certain that as much air was allowed to escape from the inside of the trash can as possible before he pulled the top edges of the bag over the edge of the can. He replaced the top of the can, took a step back as if to admire his work and before he left he gave the cover one more wipe with his cloth.

No one paid him any attention while he performed his duty and can you imagine how many times he must do that in a day’s work in a busy airport? Unlike other people who I have witnessed doing work that some might consider boring and mundane he took pride in what he did. I said to him as he was about to leave, “You do nice work.” He responded, “You noticed…thank you.” I then asked him, “How many people have told you that you do nice work?” He said, “Just one.” Pity.

I once worked in the summer months between semesters in an Open Hearth at a steel mill in Ohio. It was nasty, dirty and extremely hot. There were periods of time that I had nothing to do and that was my job, do what they told me to do and only that. Getting bored, I looked for other things to do like cleaning up the mess in various parts of the building. I was chewed out for making other people in the plant look bad. Now compare that to the fellow changing out the trash bag.

What if YOU were paid what your customer thought YOU and your service you provided was really worth? There are hundreds of people who do what you do. In what way do you do it differently, or not? If you cannot answer that question you need to go back to the drawing board. You MUST know what your points of difference are as compared to everyone of your competitors. What makes you different? Why would one customer want to work with you as compared to your competitors?

In real estate sales I oftentimes refer to the basic real estate training as the “Three P’s”: I’ll Put it in the MLS; I’ll Put a sign in the yard; and I’ll Pray on Sunday that it sells!” The Three P’s of real estate sales and for a lot of real estate sales folks that is all they do. Remember, only 20% of the people do 80% of the work so your first task is to figure out what it will take to get into the 20% group. Doing what the 80% continually do won’t cut it.

Approach your career as if the customer is going to pay you what the customer thinks you are worth in regards to what you bring to the table. Here is another abbreviation for you – JAR. If you do not discover and then promote your points of difference and the points of difference that your company provides as compared to your competition, you are a JAR – Just Another REALTOR! One of the 80 Percenters who are doing only 20% of the work.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Nuggets For The Noggin

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, March 1, 2010

“People will do business with and refer business to
those people they know, like and trust.”

Bob Burg http://www.burg.com/

Your mother was right, you should never judge a book by its cover and you should never judge people until you get a chance to really know them. I hope she does not read this; Mom may have been right but putting that principle into daily practice is almost impossible.

Who has not bought a book just because the cover was attractive or cute? Who would not be caught up in this title: “Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth, I'm Kissing You Goodbye!” Cynthia Heimel. Here’s another: “Life Is Short, Wear Your Party Pants.” Loretta LaRoche. My personal favorite is “Never Wrestle With A Pig; You Both Get Dirty And The Pig Loves It!” Mark McCormack

First impressions DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE and you have about 10 SECONDS to make that favorable impression. This morning I took my wife out to breakfast and it was great. A couple sat down at the table next to us and the first thing I noticed about the man was a HUGE gold earring hanging from his nose; it was hard not to see. It almost distracted me enough that I might have missed the tattoos on his neck. This man may have been the key to my future but neither of us will ever get the chance to know. At least in my eyes he failed his 10 second opportunity. The reverse of that is also true. I may have been HIS opportunity to an abundant future but as stated, neither one of us will ever know will we? What do you think would have been the result had this man sat in front of me at a job interview? How about you? Could you see past the nose earring? Maybe so; probably not.

How you dress speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying. How you dress DOES make a difference in that first 10 seconds and that includes all kinds of things such as:

  1. Body piercings
  2. Excessively large earrings
  3. Excessive makeup
  4. Hair styles that are either unkempt, out of date or trying to make a statement – Mohawk
  5. Casual dress when it should be business-like or even formal
  6. Formal dress when it should be casual or business-like
  7. Extra short skirts (for women in case you-know-who is reading this)
  8. Low cut necklines, again for women or I guess for men as well
  9. Jewelry, believe it or not, if it is excessive or gaudy
  10. Food on your teeth
  11. Food on your blouse or shirt
  12. Ink stain on your shirt pocket
  13. Coffee stain on your shirt or blouse
  14. Foul breath
  15. Foul body odor
  16. Smoking
  17. The smell of smoke on your clothes and/or in your car if used for business
  18. The smell of alcohol on your breath – a real killer
  19. A telephone sticking out of your ear; come on, you know it looks horrible and sends the signal that although I am with you, I am also with anyone who happens to call me and then you take a back seat - admit it – you know I am right about this.
  20. Old fashioned but...not standing up when a person enters the room.

When meeting people for the first time, the above list represents INSTANT KILLERS to building rapport. How do you measure up? Are you sure? Sometimes you need to ask a good friend and if you ask, you CANNOT BE OFFENDED AT THE ANSWERS! When you ask, set the parameters of the question and your response to the answers, explain that it could mean a sale (and it will if it hasn’t already).

Meeting someone face-to-face for the first time you really do have about 10 seconds to make a favorable impression. Meeting them on the telephone is a little different but not much and it depends on who generated the call. If a stranger is calling you, you have about 30 seconds. A lot of people calling a sales person do so to ELIMINATE them from consideration; not necessarily what they are selling or offering but rather he or she as an individual. If you generate the call you have about 10 seconds especially since the person you call is NOT sitting around waiting for your call. Keep in mind that you are interrupting them from something that at that moment is far more important than your call, at least to them. Therefore 10 seconds might even be a bit optimistic. In this age of caller-ID you will be lucky if such a call is even answered.

What could go wrong on a telephone call that could create a bad first impression? Let’s count the ways:

  1. Eating food; like the other party can’t tell
  2. Excessive noise in YOUR background area
  3. Loud music playing in the background
  4. Typing on a keyboard while you answer the phone; yes it can be heard
  5. Chewing gum
  6. Holding the phone with your shoulder with your head is pointed down toward your desk creating a muffled voice
  7. Not sounding excited about the opportunity you have with a customer
  8. Placing people on HOLD or worse FORGET; use HOLD only as a last resort

There are some simple rules regarding talking with probable buyers on the telephone:

  1. First and foremost, STAND UP! Your voice comes across on the telephone much better than if you are sitting down
  2. If you can, look into a mirror before you answer, stand up and smile into the mirror. A smile comes across in your voice; you want to sound happy and positive
  3. Take 2 to 3 seconds, if you can, to clear your mind of what you are doing and start thinking that the person on the other end of the line could mean a sale for you; he or she probably does
  4. Get in the SERVICE mode, how can you help this person
  5. Don’t get hung up on emphasizing your name and company when ANSWERING a call because the caller either already knows it or more likely, doesn’t care. You can give it to them deeper into the conversation when it will make a difference
  6. In real estate sales, at least in Louisiana, you MUST give your name and company at the beginning of your call when YOU are making the call
  7. Repeat important points to demonstrate to the caller you are both listening and paying attention
  8. Answer questions with the answer to the question. Do not answer with a question. Then ask a related “open-ended” question that causes the customer to think and answer with something other than a YES or NO – keeps the conversation going
  9. DO NOT TALK TO CUSTOMERS IN YOUR CAR WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING. You cannot give them proper attention and you are menace to everyone else on the highway!

Here is a novel thought, why not create a phone message for your cell phone to advise customers that you are either with a customer OR you may be driving in either case you will return their call. If you were a customer, could you accept that premise?


Get in the habit of asking yourself a Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ), originated by Joe Tye, http://www.joetye.com/.

Is what I am about to say or do consistent with me providing EXEMPLARY customer service?

Unfortunately most of the time people, certainly not you, act more like they are interrupted than wanting to serve the public who visit or call. How do you measure up?




Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thank God It's Monday!

Nuggets For The Noggin

Thank God It’s Monday!(*)
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, February 20, 2010

(*) The title “Thank God It’s Monday!” was taken from Tommy Newberry’s book, “Success Is Not An Accident” (a wonderful book I might add and I highly recommend it.)

You have all heard the phrase, Thank God It’s Friday. There is a very successful restaurant chain named TGIF meaning the same thing. What is so special about Friday? Why are so many people happy that it is finally Friday?

Most will tell you it is because Friday signals the end of the work week. Others will tell you that it is because they now get to pursue something they really love to do. Some are just tired of working and others can’t wait to have fun. Yet there are some who are tired of working and have no fun scheduled for their time away from work.

What happens on Sunday night or Monday morning? Do these same people move into a feeling of dread as they head back to their JOBS? Do they refer to Monday as TKIM, Thank God It’s Monday!

In sales we tell our probable buyers that we want them to buy what they love and love what they buy. Why would that same advice not be true for what you do? Do you do what you love and love what you do? The actual career field makes no difference; your attitude towards your profession/career does.

If you loved what you do and did what you love do you think it would make a difference in the number of sales you make? Do you think it would make a difference in your family relationships when you came home for the evening or the weekend having just completed a day at work doing what you love? Do you think it would make a difference in your relationships when you come home from working at a job you hate and can’t wait until its Friday to get relief from something you hate?

Take it to another level. I love to play golf. What kind of golfer do you think I would be if all during the week I absolutely loved my job and had a great relationship with my family and now it is Saturday and I am going to play golf? I may not play a great game of golf but it would not be as a result of a horrible attitude. On the other hand, I would be almost guaranteed a horrible game if I carried onto the course all the dislikes of the past week from my profession/career.

If you are not passionate about what you do, it almost assuredly will carry over into other aspects of your life. If you ARE passionate about what you do, you will discover that your attitude and your goals and objectives become contagious amongst those people you surround yourself with.

Now comes the hard part – improving on a good thing. Find your passion; hopefully it’s something you love to do. But what are you doing to get better? How will you maintain the love for what you do? If you are not getting better, it is easy to understand why you would hate what you are doing. The solution is really quite simple:

1. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Avoid the complainers in life as if they had the swine-flu. Find people who stimulate your thought process, who can appreciate what you do and where you want to go and who can help you get there.
2. Become engrossed in your own self-education. Once into the business world there is no one who will take charge of your education. If you fail to assume this role for yourself, you are almost doomed to mediocrity. It is almost impossible to advance without education and while you may think you are improving you are more likely not even standing still, you are instead falling behind those who value their own educational process.

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” – Charles “Tremendous” Jones. Not one to argue with Mr. Jones, I believe that there is more to this. I believe you will be the same person in five years, ten years, and for the rest of your life unless something intercedes into your life to change the people you “hang” with, the books on improving your life and career you choose to read, the CD’s you choose to listen to, the DVDs you choose to watch and the seminars and conventions you choose to attend.

It has been my experience that the 80/20 rule applies to all of the above; 20% will do it, 80% won’t. With over 75,000 real estate associates in the company, about 8000 attended the 2010 annual family reunion (convention). As good as that number first appears, that’s not even 20%. It was stated that 25% of the attendees were NOT with Keller Williams so that means 6000 were; 2000 were not. The main excuses given, “I can’t afford to attend”, or "I'm too busy to attend." What is really being said is that "I don't see a value in attending." I believe you can’t afford NOT to attend. It is impossible to attend and not learn something that will help you in your business. I contend that it is impossible to attend a convention and not discover at least one technique, one script, one new tool, one new process that will help you close at least one sale you otherwise would not have closed. If that is true, and I believe it is, then the one thing you learn will have more than paid for your attendance at the family reunion (convention) where not only do you learn, you have a lot of fun.

Why do so many people, not you of course, fail to see the value of attending seminars hosted by experts, people who have done what you would like to do? Most say it is a lack of funds. If you thought you would make money by attending, the funds would be there. Some say they don’t like the travel. How much travel is there? If it involves flying and you don’t like to fly, I can understand that so combine it with a family vacation and drive – spend time with your family to and from the event. Plus you can deduct a lot of the expenses as business expenses on your income tax return all while you are learning and having fun with your family.

It has been my experience that money is typically the problem because so few people, at least in real estate, fail to create a business and personal budget and then work their budgets. For those who prepare budgets how much is included for personal development/improvement? If the answer is “0” then without some outside influence, you are more than likely doomed to continue to do what you have always done while expecting to achieve different results – how’s that working for you?

Education is the key to success. It is that simple. Here is a frightening thought. At what point in your life did you learn about money, about savings, about buying a car, about balancing a check book, about buying a home? If you are like me it was much too late in life; it certainly was not during my formal years of high school and college educations. I see nothing changing that process and therefore it is up to parents to make certain that our children/grand children are receiving guidance on the value of having goals, understanding money, interest, taxes, investments and most important – continuing their education – no one is going to do it for them – like so many they will be left to their own devices to discover what should have been taught by either the educational system, parents or both.

TGIM – Thank God It’s Monday! I get to go on stage to demonstrate I can do what I do and that I love doing it. It would be easier to say Oh God, Another Monday! If all things were equal, who would have the better week? If you need help with the answer, please stay off the highways.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Nuggets For The Noggin

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, February 12, 2009

Do you remember the years leading up to Y2K? (That is January 1, 2000 for those folks who may have lived on the moon?) How could you forget? It was like the world was going to end at midnight on December 31, 1999. All the computers in the world were going to crash. Admit it; you thought there was some truth to those predictions. I’ll even bet you ran to your computer soon after midnight to see if it was still working just to see what you may have lost, right?

Can you believe that was over 10 years ago? Well it was, it was over 10 years ago; how time flies.

It is now February 12, 2010 and something caused me to think of Y2K. Think back to January 1, 2000, what were you doing? What goals did you set? What did you want to have achieved in the next 10 years? Did you achieve them? Did you have goals? Did you have yearly goals? Did you have goals for 5 years out? Did you have life goals? If you are like most folks, there is not a lot of difference between January 1, 2000 and February 12, 2010 in regards to setting goals; they still do not set them in writing; they simply are not a priority in life. If so, you still are working without a net. You have no specific goals. You do not have a picture of who you want to be or what you want to achieve 10 years from today. Therefore why would you expect that anything would change between now and February 12, 2020, 10 years from now?

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
Charles “Tremendous” Jones

For those who have read previous Nuggets you know that they emphasize creating an educational plan for yourself because no one is going to do it for you. Run the numbers for yourself. If you had spent 30 minutes a day, every day for the past 10 years, you would have spent 1,820 hours working on your profession. What could you have achieved or become if you spent 1,820 hours working on becoming the best you could be? What and who WILL you become by February 12, 2020 if you spend 1,820 hours over the next ten years? It is never too late to start. If you do not start now, when will you start? If you do not make a study of your profession now, when will you start?

I have a list of over 50 of the best reads for anyone in sales and will make it available to anyone who asks. Just send an email to JimBrown@gymbeaux.com and ask for Best Reads in the subject line.

But for those of you in real estate, both new and experienced, if you want to start a real plan to educate yourself in real estate at least over the next year, this is my recommendation:

1. Start with your state’s Real Estate Law and Rules and Regulations. This should be read twice a year. Yes it is boring but it is what gives you the authority to do what you do so does it not then make sense to become an expert at what the law says?
2. Read the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, again at least twice a year. This gives you the guidelines to enable you to ethically work with the public and with other REALTORS®. Again, does this not make good sense if you want to be the best you can be?
3. The only other book I would read during the first year is The Million Dollar Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller, Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan. Yes I am with Keller Williams Realty (a disclaimer) but this book is NOT about Keller Williams; it is about building a business. Therefore any business person in any business could use this book as a study on how to set up a profitable and successful business, real estate agents being no exception. I would take it a step further and not only purchase the book, I would have a company like Office Depot, Staples, etc take the book apart and insert a spiral binder so it lies flat on your desk. If you take your real estate career seriously you will want to make this your absolute study over the next year and beyond. You will want to highlight the ideas and business practices that will enhance your business. I would also purchase the book on CD to listen to in my University on Wheels whenever I am on the road. Is this an over kill? Only if you do not want your real estate business to succeed. If you truly want to be the best real estate agent you can be you must first become the best business person you can be and this book will certainly demonstrate how than can be achieved.

The key is not to just “read” these items but rather to read, highlight, re-read, discuss, create plans to implement what you have learned, set goals for yourself and your business and then treat your business as a real business. The ultimate result would be that when you decide to retire you will have a product to sell – your business. What will it be worth at that time in your life? If you have it defined, if you have systems in place, if you can show history and success, if you can show a profit and loss statement with the emphasis on profit, YOU HAVE A PRODUCT TO SELL! If you owned a donut shop you wouldn't just walk away from it as most real estate agents seem to do, you would sell it. Why would you not want to sell or derive a benefit from all your hard (smart) work?