The following is a compilation of Nuggets For The Noggin written shortly after Hurricane Katrina.
Article by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, August 29, 2005
Today as I write this Nugget, I
am sitting in Birmingham, Alabama at my daughter’s home (who by the
way is in England
visiting her in-laws) and Hurricane Katrina is bearing down on my home in Slidell, Louisiana
– a direct hit I believe.
For years I have watched as
storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters have struck other parts of the
country and could not help but wonder how I would feel, what I would think or
how I would respond. I guess that is why
I like to watch some of the old World War II films as I always wondered how I
would have reacted when placed in Harms’ Way.
I do not think anyone could know for certain. I also cannot help but think that there will
be a sequel to this Nugget when I finally get to return to whatever is left of
my home and see it firsthand.
For today, these are my thoughts
as I watch television and the coverage of the storm as it approaches Slidell.
I would like to pose a question
to you: “If you had only minutes or even
a few short hours to make some decisions such as my wife and I had to make, AND
you only had so much room in your car or truck, what would you take with you if
you were forced to evacuate your home?”
Now before you answer, you really have to set the stage by remembering
you have only a few minutes or at best a few hours to decide while at the same
time you had to get your home ready the best you can to take on the onslaught
it is about to experience.
Assuming that my wife and my
Miniature Schnauzer Sophie were going with me, what else would I want to
take? What would you take? The family photos are the most precious to my
wife (not that they are not for me but they seem MORE precious to her), the
family photos were loaded onto the truck.
Insurance papers! Of course,
without them how would you know who to call?
Other family papers that would be difficult or impossible to replace. (If ever there was proof that you need to
make copies of such papers and store them somewhere other than at your home,
this is it!) When it came down to it,
just about anything worth saving were “papers”, either documents needed for
AFTER the crisis or documents/photos that simply could not be replace. Believe it or not, that included income tax
papers and records. Why? Because I do not have the faith necessary to
believe that our Federal Government would understand that I may have just lost
everything in my home including THEIR documentation of my taxes. How sad is that? Dollar value?
Hardly any! Emotional or
sentimental value – priceless!
We did not take many clothes with
us, there was simply not enough room and I guess we are still hoping that our
home will be left untouched or at least we would be able to retrieve things
like clothing that may be soaked but not necessarily ruined.
Now you can laugh if you wish,
but the last thing I put in my truck besides myself was my golf clubs. Not the entire bag, just the clubs. At first I was just going to leave them
behind with everything else but then the more I thought about it, they are
precious to me and for anyone who plays golf knows, clubs become very personal
to you. You finally got them just like
you want them, the right heads, the right shafts, and the right clubs; how
could you even begin to replace them?
New clubs are not the same; you want your old ones. I was afraid to tell my wife that I was
taking them with me so when I did, you can appreciate my surprise when she
said, and “I thought they would be the first thing you want to take.”
So now it is the next day, the
storm is only minutes from Slidell
and I had a chance to think about what we put in our truck. You think of your military records, uniform,
awards and medals. You think of all the
books that I have accumulated in my library that number in the hundreds. You think of the knick knacks around the
home, some valuable, some just knick knacks.
The china you were given at your wedding along with the silverware. Your furniture. The pictures on your walls. Your tools.
But you know what, all that can
be replaced in time or at least most of it.
Even the books; I have read them, the knowledge is in your head, the
books are but shadows of what you learned and Katrina cannot take that away
from me. There are things, however, that
I really will miss. I have a signed and
numbered print by LeRoy Neiman that proudly hangs (hopefully) on my wall. It was at this thought that my mind suddenly
went negative. You start to think of all
the "what if’s” that could happen.
What if this… What if that… Then is really hit me. What if my home survives the storm or is only
partially damaged. And then “what if”
the looters take over? It was then I got
angry, not over my home being hit by a storm, that is “chance” but looters,
that is not chance, that is opportunity for people with no principles or
ethics. I know they will be busy
over the next several days and there is nothing that I can do about it.
But even that can be put into
perspective. When I deal with a crisis
of any kind, I always ask myself, one month from now, a year from now, five
years from now or after I am gone from this Earth, will anyone really remember
what happened on this day or as a result of some activity? I doubt it.
Every day we have opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life
(by the way, those opportunities did not make it in the truck either). That is what is important. The LeRoy Neiman is not important (cannot
believe I just wrote that) and if the truth be known, neither are my golf
clubs. Diane and Sophie are important at
least in our small world. But what is
really important is the difference I may have made in someone’s life – and even
more important the chain reaction that difference may have caused in many more
lives; people I do not even know.
It would be nice to know these
things but even that is not important.
The important thing – I gave it my best even when my best may not have
been good enough for someone – I gave it my best and in that knowledge I am
okay. I think it was A. L. Williams who
said, “All you can give is your best and your best IS good enough!”
So maybe, just maybe, the most
valuable thing I put in my truck, next to Diane and Sophie, was me so I can
continue to give my best and hopefully provide something of value to others who
in turn do the same for someone else.
I am not blinded to the fact that
as stated earlier, once I see my home in whatever condition it is in, I may
have different thoughts but somehow I do not think so. But in my desire to be honest with everyone,
I will let you know.
I ask you again, think about
this. If you had to leave town right now
– what would you put in YOUR truck?
What is Important Here – Part 2
Article by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown,
September 2, 2005
Today is Friday, September 2,
2005 and it has been 5 days since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast
of the United States. The initial shock has worn off. The television images will be with me the
rest of my life. The original Nugget, ”What
is Important Here” is just as valid today as it was before Katrina struck – but
my world has changed dramatically to where it will never be the same ever
What has happened since
Monday? Let me review.
If I could have put all 70 of my
crew (the real estate agents in my office) and their families into my car I
would have. As it stands now, I have
heard from only 1/3 of them. As for the
other 2/3, who knows for sure? I feel
confident that they are all safe and sound but the cell phones are not working or
the circuits are too busy to take my calls, either way, I have no idea if they
are safe or not. That is not a good
So I use the Internet, more
specifically email, to try to reach out to my crew. Then came the surprises. Email after email came in from Keller
Williams Realty Market Centers throughout the country all offering some form of
assistance. They offered food, money,
water, clothes, and/or a place to stay.
Frankly the response was overwhelming.
Actually it was MORE than overwhelming; it brought tears to my eyes (not
an easy thing to admit for a macho guy like me J). Not only did they come, they continue to
Then I received an email from Mo
Anderson of our Corporate Headquarters who informed me that Keller Williams
International has raised more than $800,000 in just over two days of
trying. This is money donated from my
fellow Keller Williams Realty associates.
That speaks volumes about our company and its culture and beliefs.
I am asked what can we do to
help? How do I respond? I don’t know where all my associates are let
alone their condition, financially, emotional or physical well being. I know what it means to want to help as in
9/11. You have such an overwhelming
helpless feeling at the same time being a little grateful that it was not
me. To answer their question; I simply
don’t know at this time. I would suggest
sending money to Keller Cares because it serves the Keller Williams Associates
who are experiencing difficulties beyond those normally experienced in life. In that regard, I would say Katrina would
Then my mind wanders onto
reality. How will my crew sell real
estate over the next 4 to 6 months and thus earn an income? This feeling was magnified today when I
returned to Slidell
and saw my city first hand and what Katrina had done to it. It was not a pretty picture! There were trees down everywhere. Telephone poles were sheared off half way up
the pole and the top with transformers were lying on the roadways. There was damage to almost every building in
one way or another. Then I came upon my
home. There it was intact with every
tree lying on the ground with huge clumps of dirt and sod still on the roots
but protruding upwards like a monument to Katrina. Then in my back yard a massive tree, it had
fallen only a foot from my home and a foot from two other homes. It was as if God said it was time for this
tree to die but it was not time for it to take out my home or my neighbors
homes. Instead, it looked like it had
been gently placed on the ground between the three of us – imagine that! The only real damage to my home was a missing
attic vent/fan that left a 12 inch diameter hole in my roof and water stains on
the ceiling of my master bedroom. In
addition, many roofing shingles were missing.
Maybe it signals a new roof. Just
two short weeks prior to Katrina I had called to get an estimate on my “old”
roof; it was time. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not! (2013 update.
It was not until weeks or even months after Katrina that other damage in
our home started to appear like cracked bricks on the siding and cracks in the
sheetrock on several ceilings and walls.
I called a structural engineer who came to look at the home and said it
was fine that all the damage was superficial and probably was created when the
home was shaken by the severe winds.)
Then my wife and I went about Slidell to check on
relatives homes. That is when the tears
started to flow. Beautiful homes with
furniture piled up in the front rooms having been tossed and floating about the
home in water up to waste high. Garage
doors literally blown out as the incoming water and wind literally pushed
debris against the doors from the inside pushing the doors outward towards the
street. There was debris everywhere you
looked. Damaged roofs, toppled trees,
down power lines, abandoned cars. Then I
saw what I still cannot believe. A local
car dealer had cars sitting on top of cars and one SUV was literally balancing
itself atop fence in a ditch in front of the dealership. Another rare site was a houseboat, intact,
sitting on the west bound lane of I-10.
When I checked out my niece’s home, I was shocked to see a huge shipping
container sitting on the front yard of the home next door to hers. Where did that come from? Her home also had water and the shingles on
the roof were almost totally gone.
One cannot help but ask, Why does
this happen? What have any of these
people ever done to warrant such unbelievable destruction? What are we going to do now? Will we rebuild? Will we relocate? How are we going to survive? How are we going to pay our bills which will
not come because there is no one home and the Post Office is probably holding
the mail anyway? Even if I get a bill,
the mailing address is in New Orleans
and no one is going to receive it. Then
the Big Question! Why was I spared this
destruction? I am no better than any of
the people whose homes were devastated.
As I write this second Nugget I
have no answers to any of these questions.
I am simply grateful that it was not Diane and me sitting in the
Superdome or treading water in New
that selfish? Maybe so, maybe not but it
is what I am thinking.
Throughout this entire ordeal, I
have a tremendous sense of pride. First
in the U. S.
Coast Guard of which I was a member for twenty years. You have to admit, they look great on
television. I have been out of the Guard
since 1985 and I still get goose bumps when I see a Coast Guard Cutter or
Helicopter go by. Today I have a new
sense of pride in the men and women of the organization I currently work for,
Keller Williams Realty. I am confident
that in the future, I will experience those same goose bumps whenever I see a
Keller Williams Realty yard sign or advertisement. There is the same unique oneness with each
other that I experienced as a member of the Coast Guard team. For those who are reading this and have not
served in the Coast Guard or work with Keller Williams Realty, you will have to
take my word for this – it is truly special.
So I am now back in Birmingham,
(the power is still out in Slidell), not knowing what the future holds nor does
any of my crew. Uncertainty abounds
everywhere yet there is a feeling that all will be well if I just let it go
wherever it wants to go. That there is a
higher power that already has a course for me and my crew to follow and that I
ought to just let it happen. I know I
should look for signs; something that is there right in front of me but if I
allow my mind to dwell on the disaster, I will fail to see it or worst, fail to
act upon it. There is no such thing as a
coincidence! Things happen for a
reason. Why was my home spared? Who knows?
Why my neighbor’s home so severely damaged, again who knows?
I do expect that there will be
another Nugget to come when time wears on and patience wears thin. How will I feel a month from now? Will I be angry or excited? Will I look upon this as a learning
experience or a personal tragedy? Will I
be a better or worst person because of it?
Who knows; maybe so, maybe not!
Only time will tell but I do believe in the universal law of attraction;
you become what you think of most. So if
I am not very careful, I am destined to become a golf ball!
What is Important Here – Part 3
Article by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown,
September 7, 2005
When something as all
encompassing as Hurricane Katrina hits, one tends to lose track of time. I had to stop and calculate not only what the
date is but what day of the week it is.
Well it is Wednesday, September 7th, I am alive and well working
from my battery driven laptop.
Tuesday, I decided that while
staying with my daughter and her husband and two children was a fine thing to
do, I also felt I had to get back to Slidell
to start repairing my home. So at 3:30
AM, Tuesday I was on the road to Slidell. While it was hot in Birmingham this morning was unusually
cool. I rolled down my windows and put
“Watercolors” on my XM radio. If you
have traveled over a long distance and have access to satellite radio, you know
it is really unique. So I put on
Watercolors, which is a smooth jazz station that I can literally listen to from
one coast to the other without changing channels. What does all this have to do with Hurricane
Katrina – actually a great deal.
There I was, on I-59 south out of
turn the volume a bit louder, and discovered really cool air on my face and in
my hair. In fact it was so cool, I had
to put the heater on in the truck. Then I realized, I was keeping time with the
music with my head, my hands, my feet and my mind was actually clear of
Hurricane Katrina. Hardly a thought
passed for the better part of the 5 hours it took to reach Slidell.
So to people like Joe Sample, Herb Alpert, The Rippingtons, Rick Braun,
Chris Botti and others, I sincerely thank you for mentally taking me to a place
other than Hurricane Katrina.
There is a lesson here; your mind
can not focus on two things at the same time.
Therefore, when you are really troubled, think about sitting back in
your best chair, put on some music that allows you to get involved with the
music and let go! With all the trouble
in New Orleans, there is nothing that I personally could do about it anyway,
especially doing 70 (ok I was doing 77) on I-59 south. So why not let go and give your mind a
rest. Not only did it rest, it was
rejuvenated. After 5 hours of smooth
jazz, I was ready to kick butt and take no names let alone prisoners.
Now it is one week and two days
after the devastation. I still have not
heard from 30 of my 70 agents. I am
still confident that they are OK while the same I am sure cannot be said for
their homes. Then I thought about
something that occurred as recently as two weeks ago where an associate was
really upset over something that happened.
I would dare say the agent has not given that incident one thought since
Katrina – kind of puts things into perspective doesn’t it? But why do we have to endure something as
horrible as Katrina to realize that life’s “little” problems don’t amount to a
hill of beans so why do we let them amount to a little hill of beans? You don’t have to answer, it was just a
It is hot in my home. I spent the
last two days cutting up fallen trees and clearing my lot and patching the hole
in my roof. At first I worked for about
2 hours and then took a 10 minute break.
Then for about an hour with a 20 minute break and you can guess where
this is going. I am not as young as my
mind thought I was. It was really hard
work in a very hot sun. You learn to
appreciate not having to work that hard; that I can assure you. You learn to appreciate the little things at
times like this. For example, my home is very hot, every window is open, the
sun is setting just over the top of my laptop and, yep, it was what I thought
it was, a very gentle breeze cooling me ever so slightly. When was the last time you gave thanks for a
gentle breeze? You don’t have to
So I sit here at my laptop
writing about my experiences with Katrina.
I have a chocolate SnackPak pudding and of course my XM radio is on and
Watercolors is playing more smooth jazz and believe it or not all is right with
the world in spite of Katrina. Sure
there are people in harms’ way but there are always people in harms’ way, some
beyond their control and some within their own control. By the way, Gregg Karukas is currently on
Watercolors playing a song entitled “Healing Song”, is that a coincidence or
I received several phone calls
today and that in itself was a small miracle.
One was from Lee Shelton whom most of you probably do not know but
should and the other from Joe Tye whom most of you probably do not know but
should. Lee is an extraordinary man who
has had a very creative life and now speaks to large groups about such things
as “Creating Teamwork” something that everyone should hear. He called to see how his student was
doing. Then Joe Tye called also to see
how his pupil was doing. Joe’s book
“Never Fear, Never Quit” seems somehow very appropriate at the moment. It would be easy to think of giving up and
doing something else or going somewhere else.
Leave it to Joe to put things into perspective.
I mentioned to Joe that it was
easy to feel sorry for yourself until you realize how miserable some people are
in downtown New Orleans. Joe reminded me that pain is pain and it is
OK to not only feel your own pain but to let go and give in to how you
feel. Holding back your pain
accomplishes nothing. Once you can
acknowledge how you feel, it becomes easier to really let it go and move
on. This is NOT the end of the world. In fact, it is a new beginning. We had BK and now we start AK (before Katrina
and after Katrina).
That noise? Oh, that is another thing to be thankful
for. A gas generator; J I hooked one up to a fan and now I am also
thankful for a smallish hurricane that is blowing across my back. It was off when I started this Nugget but as
the sweat started to run down my arms and onto my keyboard; I thought it was
time to light it off. It was not totally
selfish, my battery on my laptop was about to expire.
So what’s the lesson some 9 days
after Katrina (AK)? GIVE THANKS!
What or who should I give thanks
to or for?
- I am alive – God!
- My home is in tack
- I have my laptop computer and it is working
- A gentle breeze through the screen window
- Chocolate pudding
- Gatorade lemonade
- Gas generator
- A fan that works
- Lee Shelton
- Joe Tye
- Too many people to name who have called or emailed
wishing me well
- My office building is in tack
- I still have my golf clubs
No one knows for certain what the
future holds; it could be good, bad or indifferent. It really doesn’t matter does it? What’s important part 3?
- My wife Diane
- My Miniature Schnauzer Sophie
- The people who care about me and my well being
- Geeze, I almost left off my golf clubs (had I not
said that no one would have believed a word I said here)
But the most important lesson I
have learned 9 days into Katrina is to stop and give thanks to what is
important and put everything else into its proper perspective because when it
comes down to it, nothing else really matters.
I have over my desk three very
- 7 Habits of Highly Successful People –Stephen Covey
- The Self-Empowerment Pledge – Joe Tye
- The Traveler’s Gift – Andy Andrews
These documents are very
important to me and I review them on a daily basis to keep me focused on what
is important. As good as all three of
these documents are, they left off one character trait I have learned as a
result of Katrina and that is “to be grateful” and to “give thanks” even for
the smallest of gifts like the cooling breeze over the top of my laptop when
everything else seems to be falling apart around you.
P.S. If anyone would like a copy of the three
documents identified above, send me an email to JimBrown@gymbeaux.com and simply put
the word “documents” in the subject line.
When everything gets back to normal, I will send them out. No don’t do that! I’ll just them out to everyone any way.
Oh yea, I am also very grateful
to the over 400 recipients of Nuggets for the Noggin and the many comments I
have received about them. Thank you from
the bottom of my heard (has anyone ever wondered where that saying comes
from? Why not the TOP of my heart?)
I worked hard today, think I’ll
try the vanilla pudding – I don’t think the grandkids will miss one or two of
What’s Important Here – Part 4
Article by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, 9/9/2005
Another day, another life’s
lesson learned! Just when I thought I
had seen it all, comes Keller Williams International and more specifically
Keller Cares. Yesterday I attended a
meeting of the Gulf States Region that consisted of those Operating Partners,
Team Leaders and Market Center Administrators that could make it to Baton Rouge – that in
itself was a daunting task with limited gasoline, bridges out, road blocks and
what have you. Each Market Center
briefed us on how they were coping, what kind of damage they sustained and how
the individual agents made out.
I did not have a lot to offer
since I have been unable to talk with most of my agents. In fact as of yesterday, I had been able to
account for only 50 of the 70 agents in the Slidell Market
Center. That was yesterday, today is today and I am
in Birmingham when suddenly I have been able to contact more and more of my crew. This has turned out to be one of the toughest
days of my life emotionally. Call after
call I shared in my crews’ trials and tribulations and some of them have been
severe. Some are still missing family
members, some had homes completely rendered uninhabitable, some with upwards of
4 feet or more of water in their homes and yet there was an air of optimism
even in those hardest hit.
Words fail to describe how it
made me feel to report to them the reason for the meeting in Baton Rouge
regarding what Keller Cares has already done, is going to do and WILL do for
the Keller Williams associates and Market Centers that were adversely affected
by Katrina. Briefly, every Keller
Williams associate will be adopted by another associate who will help them get
back on their feet. They will serve as
sort of a guide to help them wherever the help is needed. Each Market Center will also be adopted for
the same reason by another Market Center.
Keller Williams Cares has stepped up to the plate and has virtually
guaranteed the salaries of all Keller Williams Realty employees and will also
help cover some of the operating expenses of those Market Centers in need of
help. The goal? The survival of every associate and each
Market Center. But it was all exceeded
when Mo Anderson announced that every affected Keller Williams Realty associate
who was affected by Hurricane Katrina would have $5,000 deposited in their bank
account; no questions asked. What made
this promise extra special was that the Keller Cares account had only about
$800,000 in the account when the promise was made. Within the week, associates from all across
the country had donated enough money to backup the promise; over $4,000,000.
Amongst all this news about
Keller Cares was hidden another wonderful fact and that is that we as a company
have just surpassed the 50,000 associate count – loud round of applause
Keller Williams Realty associates
and Market Centers have been providing assistance in money, supplies and
facilities. I am sure that in a short
time everyone will know what everyone has been doing and I think everyone will
be absolutely blown away at the response our company has provided its “family
There is one recurring thought
that crosses my mind during times of crisis and that is “Oh but for the grace
of God, there go I.” I have felt that
way during 9/11, the recent floods in the far east, etc. It was always someone else, not me and for
that I had been grateful. Now it is US,
my crew and the crews of the other affected Market Centers. Words fail to describe the emotions that
permeated the meeting room when Mo Anderson asked each of us to stand and hold
each other’s hand while she said a prayer for us and our recovery. It is NOT
just about us – it is truly about the Keller Williams Realty family and one
member of the family is hurting everyone is hurting.
I am not an emotional kind of guy
or at least I thought I wasn’t. But
today when making these calls I discovered that I am not the macho man I
thought I was. I was emotionally caught
off guard to first hear the voices of my crew that I had not been able to talk
with for over a week. Then to hear their
stories, wow! When I asked the Keller
Williams Realty Market Center in Birmingham if I could use their space, they
immediately introduced me to everyone in the office from the Operating Partner,
Team Leader, Market Center Administrator to associates. It was then I met Ken and Linda Hankins. Ken was counting up all the nickels, dimes,
quarters and bills that had been collected in coffee cans on behalf of Keller
Williams Realty associates. Linda then
told me that she and Ken were donating 10% of every sale they make to Keller
Cares. I had to leave the room! So much for being a macho kind of guy.
This is going on all over the
country. Never have I been so proud to
work for a company as caring as Keller Williams. We will all have our stories to tell in the
future about Hurricane Katrina but no story will be as moving or compelling as
the response that was initialed by Mo Anderson and her team of angels in Austin
and other Market Centers and associates around the country. This is one very grateful Team Leader/Broker
and I think I can speak for the associates in the Slidell Market Center (and
probably the other affected Centers as well) when I say thank you. I sincerely hope that no one is ever in the need of help as we have but if you do,
your/our company will obviously rise to the occasion and respond as it has over
the past week. Everyone should pat
themselves on the back – we will survive and come back stronger than ever but
we could not have done it without the support of Keller Williams.
May God bless each and everyone
Article by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown,
It’s late; it’s been a long drive
home from the Mega Management Camp conducted by Keller Williams Realty
University in Austin, Texas. Before I
tell you my story, let me preface it with a follow up on the series of articles
of “After Katrina” and “What Is Important Here.”
I did not want to miss this
opportunity to learn more about Keller Williams Realty so even though my Market
Center was recovering from Katrina, I decided to attend Mega Camp if for no
other reason than to demonstrate that life goes on and we need to get back to
“normal” whatever “normal” really is. So
I went. As I sit here at midnight I am
not sure it was the right thing to do.
The training and presentations were great, no they were
magnificent. I had the opportunity to
listen to Dr. Fred Grosse who I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing almost
15 years ago. I could not believe how
many of his principles and sayings I have been using over the years and had
forgotten from where they came – he was worth the trip!
The real reason I wanted to attend
is that if you want to walk the walk, you must first learn to talk the talk and
there is no better place to learn the talk than where it is taught – at Keller
Williams University. Reading about it simply is not the same.
Hearing it, hearing others describe
how they use it and how it benefits them and their market
centers, how it has not only helped
to retain great associates, it also
has improved production and profitability.
What is IT?
It is the culture of Keller
Williams. It is not simply memorizing
the WI4C2TS or the Mission,
Vision and Values of the company, it is literally becoming those things in
everything you do. Walking the
walk! One of the most unique results of
this session was the development of a Keller Williams Agent (I prefer Associate)
Bill of Rights/Declaration of Distinction.
Everyone is going to applaud this effort when it is published.
OK, so what’s my story? From the moment I first arrived in Austin, I quickly became overwhelmed with emotion from the
outpouring of support from our Keller Williams Family Members from all parts of
North America including Canada. I cannot begin to tell you how many people
said they had been praying for us. I cannot
tell you how many people said they had read my Nuggets For The Noggin and used
them in their Market Centers and had not had a chance to say thank you. One Team Leader told me that for two days she
thought she would never get the opportunity to say thank you and that since we
all survived, she would never let an opportunity to say thank you to anyone
ever pass again. I think that was the
beginning of the end for me; emotionally speaking.
Mo Anderson asked several of us
from the Gulf States Region to have lunch with her and some very special guests
who donated thousands and thousands of dollars to Keller Cares. Everyone had a chance to talk and we talked
about Keller Cares and the stories from the Gulf Coast. It was not an easy conversation. Everyone was crying.
Then at the beginning of each
session after a break, Mark Willis would ask people to come to the microphone
and tell everyone their Big Aha or their Action Plan for when they get back to
their Market Centers. I wanted to use
that opportunity to say thank you on behalf of my crew and the rest of the Gulf
States Market Centers. Easier said than
done! I just couldn’t get the words
out. Words simply did not do justice to
what 52,000 of our team mates have been doing for the Gulf States Region. I wanted to say just two words, thank you and
they just wouldn’t come out of my mouth.
I got some semblance of “thank you” out and said that I wanted to
dedicate the recovery of the Slidell
to Mo Anderson. I have learned a great
deal from Dr. John C. Maxwell and he advocates that if you want to succeed at
anything, dedicate the outcome to someone special and at this moment in time
there is no one more special than Mo Anderson and her team of angels!
OK, I made it through that
ordeal, on a scale of 1 to 10, I probably hit a minus 4 for being suave and
debonair, and in fact I was more like Art Carney. Then as if I needed it, Mo asked me to sit on
a panel in front of 400+ fellow team leaders and operating partners and talk
about Keller Cares and Katrina. I sat
there but I could not talk. The entire
time Mo stood beside me and rubbed my back – that was the good part – wanted to
tell her she had about two hours to stop it!
Driving home I tried to remember what I said but whatever I said I am
not sure people understood it. I was a
complete mess, not an easy thing to admit.
Just for the record, the attendees
at this conference donated well over $200,000 for Keller Cares and they
announced that our agent count is now over 52,000 – large round of applause
Now for those who read this and
who were in attendance, let me say what I really wanted to say but couldn’t.
Thank you from the bottom of my
heart and the hearts of over 700 of your Keller Williams Realty Associates most
of whom you have never met but did not let that stand in the way of your
contribution to their recovery.
Yes, I was emotional, OK, VERY
emotional but it was not for what you think.
Yes, the stories are sad and they took their toll on me over the past
couple of weeks. I was emotional because
it was just so hard to believe the emotional support, the support in supplies
and the financial support that everyone was so eager to provide. It was just overwhelming and I did not deal
with it very well and for that I am truly sorry. I wanted to tell you just how much it means
to my crew as I am sure it means to the other Market Centers
affected and their crews.
Because there were so many Team
Leaders in the room, I wanted to tell them how helpless I felt when I heard the
horror stories of my crew and that I had not prepared myself very well
I wanted to tell them not to wait
for a disaster to hit to get prepared.
Create a plan. Grab your TL and
MCA computers and take them with you.
Make sure you have a list of everyone and their contact numbers. Make sure you enter everyone in the member
section of your Market Center Intranet Site so you can access it from any
computer with internet access. Create a
contact phone number away from the afflicted area were everyone knows to call
to report in. These are the lessons I
wanted to talk about but couldn’t and it was an opportunity lost and for that I
am really very sorry.
I called one of my crew who I
knew was in trouble with her home to see if she had heard from Keller Cares and
she said yes but that she COULD NOT TALK
ABOUT IT! She simply said, “I am sure glad I am with Keller Williams!”
So back to my story. I am driving home; not feeling very good
about myself and my behavior. Did not
listen to Gary Keller, Dave Jenks or John Maxwell on this trip home, I listened
to my XM Radio tuned to Watercolors and smooth jazz. As Dr. Fred suggested, I also put the windows
down and let the wind blow my hair. You
may or may not believe the rest of this story but I swear to you that it is
I remember telling Mo at lunch that
my concern and I am sure the concern of everyone in the Gulf States Region was
the uncertainty of the future. What will
the future bring? How many of my crew
will decide to go elsewhere or pack it in?
What will the market be like?
Then I remember Joe Tye who said,
“Adversity is a quiet teacher. You must probe it for the meaning it
contains, and interpret the subtle answers with which it will respond.” He also said, “Courage is to stop worrying about all the possible tomorrows and the
trouble they MIGHT bring, and to
give your whole attention to the one today in which you always live.” If
there is a more powerful statement I am not sure I have heard it. The emphasis should be on MIGHT BRING, not WILL BRING! No one knows
what tomorrow will bring but if you expect the best you stand a much better
chance of achieving it than if you expect the worst.
So onward I go toward
Louisiana. As I approach the Sabine
River, the river that separates Louisiana and Texas, I started to
think; wouldn’t it be nice to have some sort of sign that everything will be
OK? That we all will recover from
Katrina and while things will never be the same, they will also not be that bad
either. Shortly after that thought what
should appear in the window of my mobile university? A beautiful and perfect rainbow – no kidding
– it was there right in front of me as if it were creating an arch into the
State of Louisiana. But it did not stop there! No sir, on the radio Richard Elliott was
playing a song entitled “People make the world go round!”
So I counted my blessings:
- My wife was safe.
- My kids were safe.
- My dog was safe.
- My golf clubs were safe (I didn’t dare put that
- My KW crew was safe
- Our Market
Center was safe
- Keller Cares was on our side in a massive turnout
- I got a couple of hugs and kisses from Mo Anderson
and that is never a bad thing
- People all over the world prayed for our safety –
prayers are always welcomed
- Mo said we need 7 hugs a day, I had enough hugs over
the last two days to take me through Christmas – 2006
Looking ahead, the storm was the
easy part; it was over in a short period of time. Now comes the recovery and there will be
achievements and there will be setbacks but we will succeed, all of us in the
Gulf States Region. More importantly,
every member of the Keller Williams Realty Family will be proud of their
contribution to that recovery and keeping the Keller Williams family INTACT!
There is however, one daunting and impossible task that lies ahead for
everyone in the Gulf States
Region and that is how do you adequately say thank you? You might as well try to get toothpaste back
into the tube, you would be more successful!
Thank you! ;-)
Article by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, October 6, 2005
This Nugget was drafted in hopes
of preparing others for what happened AFTER Katrina hit the Slidell, Louisiana
area. Some of the below items were to be
expected while others came as a complete surprise.
I am not sure who said it but
believe it was Zig Ziglar, “Money tends to exaggerate that what we already
are!” By this he meant that if you are
caring and compassionate, with additional money in your life you become even
more caring and compassionate. But if
you are a greedy SOB, you simply become an even greedier SOB.
If one thing was evident after
Katrina, this theory has been proven to be correct. Here are some of the things that have
occurred since Katrina:
- If there were Purchase Agreements in effect BEFORE
Katrina and the home survived, Sellers were trying to find ways to cancel
the contract, put the home back on the market because they “felt” their
homes were worth more than before Katrina.
- Purchasers were writing Purchase Agreements that
included a contingency that the repairs were to be made by the Seller
prior to the Act of Sale which Sellers agreed to do. Then during the home inspection process
they change their mind with the false belief that they don’t have to make
repairs because if THIS buyer does not want the home “as is” there are
plenty of buyers who are desperate enough to take it “as is” and probably
pay more to do so.
- Real estate agents who prior to Katrina were admired
and respected are now hanging up on people, threatening everyone with law
suits and have become a general pain in the neck.
- Buyers and sellers are constantly threatening law
suites when contract negotiations do not go their way.
- Some sellers are accepting offers for less money
because the purchaser has a horror story as to what has happened to them
and then a second purchaser who offered more gets upset because they did
not get the property.
- Multiple offers abound so if your procedures on
handling multiple offers are not in place and everyone understands how to
work them, it will only lead to serious legal problems.
- Everyone wants rental properties and if you are in an
area such as Slidell
where under normal conditions there are not a lot of rental properties,
this becomes a nightmare.
- Sellers think their home is now worth $20,000,
$30,000 to $90,000 more than pre-Katrina prices. Appraisers are under close scrutiny by
the Federal Government NOT to let all cash sales influence their appraisal
process. Therefore the all-cash
sales will not influence property values until there are sufficient
numbers of cash sales where a trend can be establish. So over the long term prices may increase
but in the short term they will only increase very gradually.
- Patience is a rare commodity on the part of everyone,
buyers, sellers, agents and even Keller Williams' Realty associates.
- Depression will set in, not if, when. You need to know this is going to happen
and be ready for it. Traffic is a
nightmare. Slidell still has residents that have
not as yet returned even after one month yet the population of our city
must be at least double because of all the support workers and people that
have come here to stay because their homes in other areas were
destroyed. There are lines to wait
in no matter where you go.
- If your home and business survived while so many
others have been devastated, guilt creeps into your thought process, why
was I spared?
- The 80/20 Rule still applies but in reverse. About 80% of the people accept what
happened and what continues to happen and do their best to get into
recovery. The remaining 20% are impatient,
rude, do what they can to get what they want when they want it and have
little regard for anyone else.
This is a slice of life AFTER
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I don’t
want to paint an ugly picture because with every day there is one less pile of
rubble and another business opening. Our
phones have been ringing off the hook.
Two, three and four calls coming in at the same time – that is a good
thing if you can answer them all. The
real estate market, in my opinion, will be very good for some time to
come. Yes there will be shortages but
the market is definitely changing.
Prices in this area have been low as compared to other parts of the
country and they will most assuredly begin to rise. There will be tremendous development and
repair work ongoing for one or two years (2013 update, turned out to be years
and years). So all things are not all
bad. People are talking to people that
they otherwise would not have talked to – that is a good thing. People are helping people who before Katrina
they did not even know.
I close this Nugget with a true
story. My Call Coordinator was sitting
in a line of traffic trying to get off the Interstate and get to work. This in itself is an ordeal because it could
take up to 30 minutes to get off the Interstate. She noticed two men walking along side the
off ramp; one had no shoes and was obviously in pain trying to walk on stones
and everything else you see along the side of the roadways of America. The car in front of her stopped and the
driver got out, opened his trunk and handed the fellow a pair of tennis
shoes. The man began to cry on the
spot. A month ago this would not have
Life has changed in Slidell and it will never
be quite the same ever again. In a great
many regards, this is a very good change.
And by the way, during the next storm, there are 7 less trees to fall on
my home! And, that is a very good
thing! And if you want even more good
news, there are probably a hundred less trees to get in the way of my golf ball
and that is FABULOUS NEWS!