Monday, September 16, 2013

The Listening Rock

Nugget For The Noggin
The Keller Williams Listening Rock
Article by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown

Stephen Coven in his CD series, “Beyond The 7 Habits” talks about an old American Indian communication technique called a “Talking Stick”.  It is a very simplistic technique involving a stick.  The person who is doing the talking MUST have the stick.  The person being talked to is not permitted to utter one word until the stick has been passed to them.  This causes the person to really listen to what is being said and the person with the stick fully understands that it is the other person’s job to listen.  What’s more, the person knows that when he or she relinquishes the stick, it becomes their turn to be the listener!

Habit Number 5 of the 7 Habits is “Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood”.  The American Indian's use of the “talking stick” helped to achieve this basic principle of effective communication.  One person would talk and the other would listen and absorb what was being said.  Then the roles would be reversed and the talker would become the listener and the listener the talker.  How difficult can that be?

Be honest, do you not agree that most of the problems we encounter in life and in business are the result of a lack of EFFECTIVE communication; communication that REQUIRES one person to talk and another to listen?  But in business, most of us have either been taught or we think we know that to be successful we need to be the one doing the talking.  We truly believe that in order to sell, we must be talking (presenting) and to be a "typical" Real Estate Agent that is probably true.  But what defines a successful Real Estate Agent? 

At this writing there are well over 800,000 members of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR).  The 80/20 rule applies, meaning that 80% or about 640,000 associates are doing only 20% of all the business.  That also means that only 160,000 are doing 80% of the business.  To put that number into perspective, divide 160,000 by 50 (states) and that means fewer than 3200 people throughout each state (on average) are doing about 80% of all sales within the state.  There are over 3000 licensed agents just in the city of New Orleans!

If you want to be a really successful Real Estate Consultant, you can only become one when you learn to listen.  To be able to listen several things must occur.  First there must be a customer (lead generation).  Then there must be a need (needs analysis).  Then one person must initiate the communication and unless you are asking questions, there is no compelling reason for the customer to respond.  Therefore, QUESTIONS are the key to your success followed immediately by becoming an effective LISTENER.  One without the other is meaningless and the root cause of almost all misunderstanding and eventual problems.  Zig Ziglar says, “We are born with two ears and one mouth and we should therefore listen twice as much as we talk!”  Or as I say, “You do the math!”

I personally think the Indians had it backwards.  I believe that to be an effective communicator and to get YOUR position expressed, you MUST first become an effective LISTENER!  You must learn to not only HEAR what is being said, but also to understand WHAT is being said and WHERE the other person’s ideas originate. Therefore instead of using a “stick” to signify who has the authority to speak, I believe we should consider who has the “rock” and the BURDEN or RESPONSIBILITY to listen.  And, just as the “talking stick” gave the outward signal that the person has the floor, or the right to speak, the rock signifies that the it is the person’s responsibility to listen and not to speak until they are relieved of the burden of the task or in this case, the rock.

The “talking stick” or the “listening rock”, are simple metaphors to signify a responsibility of the person holding them.  When you are engaged in effective communications, the burden, at least to me, is obviously placed upon the listener, not the speaker.  There is no communication if no one is listening.  The act of listening is extremely important to the process.  But the ability of the listener to decipher, adapt and understand is even more crucial.  Synergy occurs when two people with differing or opposing viewpoints ultimately create something greater because two people used their joint efforts to resolve any disagreements that provide mutually acceptable solutions.  It is NOT a matter of compromising; it IS all about working together to create a Win-Win solution.  Oftentimes the solution could not be discovered with only one person working alone on the problem.  Two heads ARE greater than one!  If we apply the Keller Williams belief system to this situation, we must Communicate – seek first to understand.  Be Creative – ideas before results.  Then enjoy the results of Teamwork – together everyone achieves more!  This all results in a Win-Win; or it truly is no deal!  This is the Keller Williams WI4C2TS at its finest!

The next time you are working with a customer, engaged in a discussion with a co-worker or a competitor or a member of your family, imagine holding the big, heavy Keller Williams Listening Rock in your hand and avoid speaking until such time as you are convinced the other person has finished.  Then and ONLY THEN, is it YOUR turn to speak.  Imagine passing the rock to the other person and it is then their turn to become the effective listener.  And remember this crucial point, people tend to respond in the manor that you expect them to.  Therefore, since you have a choice, expect them to be an effective listener encouraged by the way you had been an effective and intent listener to them.  People simply rise to your level of expectations of them.  Then when you are sure you are finished speaking and you had an opportunity to get your point across, imagine asking for the rock back before you engage in any further conversation.

I also believe, that to make this as effective as possible, the mental rock must be BIG and it must be HEAVY (and it would help if it were also RED) because most burdens are BIG and HEAVY.  Being an effective listener should be a burden or responsibility upon you, listening does NOT come naturally, you must work on it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Baroque - World's Best Kept Secret

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown

Be honest, have you ever heard the word Baroque or better, Baroque Music?  Could you identify Baroque Music if you heard it?  Most, certainly not you, would say that they could not identify Baroque Music when played.  Yet if you ever attended a wedding, you most certainly heard at least one very common Baroque work of art; The Canon!

Here is the deal, so to speak.  Baroque Music for some mystical reason can and does open pathways to the brain that enables the listener’s brain to become more receptive to ideas while reading, watching something or generated from deep within the brain.  That is the Gymbeaux definition of Baroque Music.  If you really are interested in a more scientific explanation, go to where you can learn all you ever needed to know about Baroque Music and studying than you probably will ever use or wanted to know.

Here is the real deal:  IT WORKS!

Today it is a beautiful Sunday morning and I took the current book I am reading out to the patio and two things happened.  First I turned to Chapter 7 of Jeffrey Gitomer’s new book, 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling.  Second, I put my I-Pod on to Spotify and then selected the Playlist I created entitled Canon.  Here is what happened next.

As I read the Chapter on “Be Assertive and Persistent” I could not help but to think of how I approached the opportunity to work with a buyer or seller of real estate in 1980 when I first became a licensed real estate agent.  I should have taken notes!  For whatever reason and on my very first listing appointment, I did as I have since preached, I arrived about 10 minutes early and then sat in my car in front of the home to be listed.  I turned off the radio, sat perfectly still, closed my eyes and did my best to totally clear my mind.  Remember this was 1980, long before any of the so called sales guru’s had a chance to mess with my head.  I had little to no real estate sales training not to be confused with the training required to obtain your license which has very little to do with actual sales training.  So there I was, my first listing appointment, sitting in my car, untrained and with my now clear mind.  What next?

I actually created a very vivid picture of me sitting at the owner’s kitchen table with both owners sitting with smiles on their faces and each one signing the listing agreement.  I had obtained the listing!  Time to celebrate!  Then a small miracle happened.  I went to the front door to meet the owners for the first time.  I can assure you that they probably had better things to do than to meet a stranger who after all was selling something, at least in their minds.  As they answered the door I was unusually calm and proceeded with my plan.  It went far better than I could have even envisioned in the front seat of my car.  Fast forward to the end, I obtained the listing and eventually sold the home.

I have told and taught that story to hundreds of real estate agents but I fear that for most the lesson fell upon deaf ears.  Since then I have also learned of the value of listening to Baroque Music because that activity enabled me as I am sure it will you to see things more clearly than you can believe.  For some strange reason it just causes you to think clearly, be creative, or in the words of Gitomer, “be assertive and persistent” because Gitomer described exactly what happened to me in 1980.  I became assertive and persistent without being overly aggressive; I became self-confident in what I was about to do and it worked.  I just didn’t know what I was doing until much later in my career; I only knew it worked.  The key here is that it was my very first listing appointment.  I had no sales credentials; I had only me and my mind and what I truly believed I could do for the owners.  I specifically remember answering a question they posed when they asked why they should list their home with a brand new agent.  I said something like:

“Mr. & Mrs. Seller, that is a great question and I would ask the same of me if the roles were reversed.  Let me explain.  You will be my first listing; I have no other listings to market and sell and while that may sound like a detriment let me explain why it is in your best interest.  You see because I will have only your listing, I can promise you that you and your home will have 100% of my efforts to get it sold.  Other agents with many listings have their attention divided amongst their various listings; that is not the case for me.  And think of this.  If you list with one of the more experienced agents in the area your name will go on their list of satisfied customers.  You, on the other hand, will go on my list of satisfied customers but more importantly, several years from now when you see just how successful I have grown my real estate business, you can tell your friends and family just how you helped me to get started in the business.  What do you say; can I count on your help?”

I made that up on the spot and every time I think about it I can’t help but think that I meant every word of it and far more importantly the owners believed it because they listed the home with me.

Linking 1980, today, and this Nugget:  It was partly what Gitomer had written in Chapter 7 and it was partly because I was listening to the Canon playlist that caused me to think back to 1980 and the above incident and how important that day became in my life and career.  Sometimes we tend to forget some of the most important lessons in life because we get so busy or so consumed with what is happening today that we forget yesterday and all of yesterday’s valuable lessons.


  1. Read 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer.  Whenyou finish reading Chapter 7, think of me and my story.  If you are in sales, and who isn’t, this book should be considered REQUIRED READING!  (
  2. If you have not already done so, go to and sign up for a free account.  Then create a Playlist entitled Canon.  Go to the search box and enter the word Canon.  You will see several options but look for the heading “Tracks”.  If you click on one of the tracks you can play it to hear what the Canon sounds like and I can almost guarantee you that you have heard it before but just didn’t know its name.  Then you can place your cursor over the track that is being played and drag it over to the left where you have created a Canon Playlist.  You can also put your cursor over one of the tracks, hold your shift key down to highlight more than just the one, and then release the shift key after you have selected the last track to be copied.  You can then drag all of the selections over to your playlist at the same time.
  3. Just try it.  Pick up a book or sit and listen.  You will be amazed at what happens to your thinking process.  It is quite possible that you will think of something that could turn into the world’s next big idea or just something that will help you.  Either way, you win!
  4. The free version of Spotify is great but only lets you listen while you are on your computer.  If you pay the monthly subscription fee of just $10.00, you can listen on your phone, your I-Pod or whatever your pleasure is with no advertisements.  That is what I have done.  I plug my phone in to my car radio while driving and listen to the kind of music I like without no advertisements or interruptions.
  5. Added SPOTIFY Benefit.  I searched online for music that would enable me to walk at a certain mile per hour, example, 3 miles per hour.  I then went to Spotify and created a Walking playlist, searched Spotify for those specific tunes and copied them to the Walking playlist.  Now when I go to the gym and get on the treadmill, I play the Walking playlist on my I-Pod (because I subscribed to the service) and the music helps me stay on pace to achieve my goal of walking at 3 miles per hour.  I have created many playlists.  Another benefit of creating an account is that you can share playlists amongst other Spotify members.  So if you would like to listen to the music I listen to, send me an email to and let me know you signed up on Spotify.  I can send you access to my playlists to help you get started, like the Canon Playlist; the one I am listening to as I write this Nugget, or a playlist 1963, the year I graduated from High School; cool songs.
 Now you will have to pardon me; I’m onto my next great idea. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

What Do Teachers Make?

What Do Teachers Make?
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 2, 2013

Today I was sent a YouTube link called What Do Teachers Make?  You can find it at:   ttp:// Taylor Mali and I encourage you to go there to watch, listen and hopefully learn.  It is outstanding!

It caused me to think about being a teacher.  I do not have a degree from a University that indicates I am a teacher or that I graduated with a degree in education.  In spite of this personal shortcoming, I am and have been a teacher and am very proud of it.

There is an excellent web site regarding left-brain and right-brain teachers and students.   Again, I highly recommend that you go there to read and hopefully learn.

You would think that a left-brain person would make the best teachers because they would be detail orientated, like the quiet classroom and structured agenda for teaching and you would probably be right. 

In reading the above article it reinforced my belief that I am a right-brain person in a left-brain world.  I like to color outside the lines.  I like music.  I like to write.  I like to start something and see it finished in the shortest period of time.  I like to think up “stuff” and then have others finish it not to be confused with starting a project and handing it off for others to finish.

Having said that and in spite of that – I am a teacher.  What do I make as a teacher?  If your immediate thought is in reference to money, I don’t and never have made a great deal of money doing what I love to do – teach.  I first taught my military skill in the U. S. Coast Guard.  At the risk of sounding immodest, I thought I was pretty good at what I did in the Coast Guard.  That does not mean I was perfect only that I was pretty good.  The Coast Guard selected me to be one of the instructors (teachers) of my elected skill to others.  I jokingly told my students that I wanted them to be “mini-me’s” long before that term was ever used in the movies.  Again, it was not out of immodesty, it was simply out of the belief that I believed in doing things the right way all the time!

Then I became a real estate agent and then broker and discovered that I had skills from the Coast Guard that easily applied to the real estate business and that many of the agents in my office did not have them.  As a result they often looked to the “new guy” for help, especially on anything dealing with computers.  Therefore, even though I was a brand new agent there was a degree of acceptance because I was able to “help” someone else get what they want.  While I had never heard of Zig Ziglar ( or Jeffrey Gitomer (, that became my mission in life, helping others.  I first heard Zig Ziglar say it, “To get what you want in life, just help someone else get what they want!”  I lived by that statement for the next 20 or so years.  Then I heard Jeffrey Gitomer literally put an exclamation mark on it by saying, “To get everything you want in life, just help someone else get what they want, FIRST!”

I created my Life Mission Statement which is:  “To help people do what they do to do it better!”  Then I used Joe Tye’s Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) ( and would ask myself the following question:

Is what I am about to say or do consistent with my desire to help people do what they do to do it better?  That made the decision process very simple!

Some people learn “stuff” and then keep it close to the vest in fear that by sharing the “stuff” someone else may become better at what they do than they are.  Others learn “stuff” and then immediately want to share what they have learned with others because they know that it is not only good for the person, it is good for the company the person works for, it is good for the business the person works in, and therefore ultimately good for the country.  Given the two choices, I chose the latter by sharing what I knew; definitely a win-win for everyone!

So…..what do I make by being a teacher?  Hopefully the agents I taught…….

  • Were good and honest real estate agents
  • Empowered people to buy homes without stress
  • Empowered people to sell homes without stress
  • Had lives worth living*
  • Had businesses worth owning*
  • Had careers worth having*
  • Always did the right thing, especially when no one was watching
  • Would not guess; they would seek to understand the question, then find the answer
  • Would be learning based
  • Would put the customer’s interests above all other parties to the transaction including their own, especially their own
  • Would share their knowledge with others

My reward was not in the paycheck; it never will be for teachers.  My paycheck came daily in the smiles on the faces of successful people.  When they received honors and awards for their business I felt like I had a small part to play in that success.

It is all about numbers.  I teach someone and in turn they teach someone who teaches someone, etc. etc. etc. 

I found the following poem in an abandoned home; unfortunately I know not who wrote it.

Measure of a Man (or Woman)

Not – how did he die?  But – how did he live?
Not – what did he gain?  But – what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man regardless of birth.

Not – what was his station? But – had he a heart?
And how did he play his God-given part?
Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer,
To bring back a smile to banish a tear?

Not – what was his church?  Nor – what was his creed?
But – had he befriended those really in need?
Not – what did the sketch in the newspaper say?
But – how many were sorry when he passed away?

And when my time comes I would add the following to the above and ask each agent the following questions:

Are the people I served better off because of my professionalism?
Is my family and I more prepared for what lies ahead?
Am I a better REALTOR and more importantly, person?
Am I happy because our paths have crossed?

I pray the answers are all YES!