Thursday, October 31, 2013

How Much Is Your Home Worth?


How Much Is Your Home Worth?
May Not Be As Much As You Think!
Article by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, originally written October 31, 2013

DISCLAIMER OR CLAIMER:  I have spent over 32 years in the real estate business as a salesperson and as a Broker/Manager and even owner who has taught real estate courses to real estate agents.  This Nugget needs to get into the hands of homeowners more so than real estate agents for reasons that will become obvious as you read the Nugget.

I would always explain to the homeowners who selected me as their REALTOR® and to the many students in the real estate courses I taught that "a person's home is only worth what (1) a buyer is willing to pay for it; (2) a mortgage company is willing to lend to the buyer if the buyer is NOT paying cash; and (3) an appraiser can support based on sales of "similar" homes over the past 3 months."

What the homeowner paid for the home has nothing to do with its fair market value with the key word being "market".  The market determines the value of real estate based on what has been selling.  The value is not based on what someone paid for it, how much a seller "needs" to net on the sale or what Uncle Louie thinks the property is worth.  The market determined value!

But wait...there is far more to determining value than what was just stated.  Change directions for a moment.  Put yourself behind the wheel of your car as the buyer of real estate, primarily residential real estate.  You and your family, if you have a family, are out and about looking at neighborhoods and homes that are for sale.  What do you see or what do you consciously look for and subconsciously see even though you may not realize that you are seeing it?

If you are like most people:

  • You look for what the route to and the entrance into the various subdivisions look like.  Are they attractive.  Do you have to drive through commercial areas or areas that are not kept up to get to the home you may be interested in?   If the answer is yes you are deducting value in the calculator in your head and you may not even be aware that you are doing it.

  • Now you are in the neighborhood what do you see BEFORE you even get to the home you desire to see?  Are the lawns and homes well kept or do you see lawns that need mowing, flowerbeds that need weeding, homes that need painting, boats, trailers and/or campers parked in the yards or in the driveways, homes with children's toys left lying about the yards, a lot of For Sale or For Rent signs (which would indicate that there may be problems in the area), commercial trucks parked at homes, cars or trucks up on blocks, cars or trucks obviously in a state of disrepair,  or commercial business signs within a residential community.  These are just some of the features of a neighborhood that a buyer typically sees BEFORE they see the home, repeat BEFORE.

  • Now you are at the home you came to see, what do you see BEFORE you enter the home?  Some of the above?  Does the home need any obvious repairs like broken windows, broken or missing shutters or window screens, broken or damaged garage doors, doors needing painting or staining and finishing, and probably even more importantly, what the homes to the right, to the left and directly across the street look like.

As you can see, the decision to buy or not to buy may have been made before you even enter the home.  That is what this Nugget is all about; not the actual home but the environment surrounding a home or property that you or a buyer may be interested in, or not.  As an example, if every day as you leave your home you have to look at the neighbor's boat, trailer or camper parked right next to your home, you are not going to have a good visual experience.  But over time the distraction becomes the "norm" and you ignore it.  But a buyer looking at your home will not ignore it because it is the first time the buyer sees it and the buyer may consciously or subconsciously be ruling out your home before even entering it.

In short, YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD MATTERS!  So the question I would ask homeowners is:  Are you adding value to your NEIGHBORHOOD, let alone your own home, or are you detracting from the value of your home and the homes of your neighbors?  It's referred to as:


Is the "pride of ownership" apparent in your neighborhood, or not?

If you own rental properties, how are you insuring that your tenants are properly maintaining the homes they rent from you?  Do you realize that if the tenants are NOT maintaining your rental properties that the value of those properties is diminishing as well as the other homes in the same neighborhoods?  How do you think those homeowners feel about YOU who have apparently left the decision to maintain or not maintain totally in the hands of the tenant without your periodic inspection?

I have shown homes where the buyers upon pulling up in front of the home that is for sale would refuse to even get out of the car because of the condition of the immediate neighborhood.  I have had buyers who would race through a home being shown because of a lack of interest that started long before we arrived at the home.  I know of one buyer who would park his car near the local schools early in the morning and late in the afternoon just to observe how the students were dressed, how they acted and how they arrived and departed the schools.  This buyer was concerned for the welfare of his children and rightfully so.

Here is the rule:




Monday, October 28, 2013

Feathers in the Wind!

Feathers in the Wind
Article by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, originally written 8/16/2006

Yesterday I received a telephone call from a woman I have never met who immediately, from her very first word on her call, began to shout at me and within the first two or three outbursts called me a racist.  Let me repeat – I had never met her, I did not know her race, religion, or even why she was calling me – yet I had been labeled a racist.

In brief, she was a buyer of real estate and was represented by a broker from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, approximately 90 miles from our market area.  One of my associates had a property listed that this lady apparently wanted and which the seller had agreed to sell to her.  As part of the negotiations, a buyer creates a list of discrepancies that the buyer would like for the seller to address.  The seller agreed to fix some but not others and the buyer REJECTED the seller’s response.  Therefore the seller requested and received a cancellation agreement signed by the buyer.  This situation happens in real estate more often than one would imagine and until this moment was certainly not unusual.  The buyer then recanted her rejection and said she wanted the house and the buyer refused to sell it to her.  Race was never an issue by anyone involved in the sale.

Then came the irate telephone call.  The caller shouted throughout the entire call and would not give me a chance to say more than a very few words at a time but none of my words constituted a complete sentence or thought.  In her mind my agent and I were guilty of racism.   This Nugget is NOT about the failed real estate transaction or what could have been done differently – that is not the issue.  The issue is in the name calling.

We have all heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me!”  But is that true?  Anyone who thinks that is a true statement ought to read Bob Burg’s book, Gossip.  And when you do, don’t skip over “What People Are Saying About Gossip” at the beginning of the book (shameless plug).  Bob suggests in his book that words can be just as deadly as any physical weapon that a person can use.  It was words that caused one soccer player in the world championships to head-butt another player because of what he had apparently said.

The following is an excerpt from Gossip:

A nineteenth-century folktale tells about a man who went about slandering the town’s wise man.  One day, he went to the wise man’s home and asked for forgiveness.  The wise man, realizing that this man had not internalized the gravity of his transgressions, told him that he would forgive him on one condition: that he go home, take a feather pillow from his house, cut it up, scatter the feathers to the wind and return when done to the wise man’s house.

Though puzzled by this strange request, the man was happy to be let off with so easy a penance.  He quickly cut up the pillow, scattered the feathers and returned to the house.

“Am I now forgiven?” he asked.

“Just one more thing,” the wise man said.  “Go now and gather up all the feathers.”

“But that’s impossible.  The wind has already scattered them.”

“Precisely,” he answered.  And it is as impossible to repair the damage done by your words as it is to recover the feathers.  Your words are out there in the marketplace, spreading hate, even as we speak.”

It is a belief of mine that if you were to handle a situation perfectly, you would be lucky if your customer would tell 5 other people about how well you performed.  Yet if the customer perceives that you failed to properly handle a situation correctly, they will most likely tell everyone they talk to.  Being called a racist is probably one of the worst labels one can put on another along with child molester, sexual predator or spouse abuser.  These labels are bandied about without proof yet they tend to “stick” upon the individual(s) so labeled.  At this point, as in the case of the story above, the truth has little to do with the label.

Yes we get angry when such things occur.  In all honesty, in the situation with the telephone call, I instantly remembered a conversation I had with Diane Romano, a broker for whom I worked, when she said when you find yourself in an adversarial situation and one party is angry, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts before you speak and then when you speak, speak more softly and slowly that you otherwise would.  It tends to calm the other person down and they have to strain to hear what you are saying meaning they can not be talking at the same time.  In this situation I in fact remained very calm (surprisingly) and tried to calm the caller down but to no avail.  She refused to let me speak; she continued to spew one accusation after another at me.  The label “racist” came through loud and clear.  Without giving her any reason to do so, she hung up – it was definitely a one-sided conversation from the very beginning.

These things are obvious!  There are times, however, when such labels are not so obvious but can be just as deadly.  And surprise – they come from our own mouths!  Well “mouths” may not be technically correct – rather from our minds in the form of self-talk.  Our own talk can be just as deadly as someone calling us a racist.  After all, when we talk to ourselves, who is listening?  We are.  When we tell ourselves something is impossible, we find ways to make our beliefs come true.

I truly feel sorry for anyone who does not play golf.  In golf, self-talk is what the game is all about.  As Henry Ford famously said, “If you think you can or if you think you can’t, either way, you’re right!”  In golf this is 90% of the game.  If you think you will hit the ball into the water, you probably will.  If you don’t, you think you were just lucky.  If you think you can make the putt, you probably will. If you think you are going to lose, you probably will.

It is the same in life and business.  Whatever you think you can or cannot do, you will or will not achieve.  People can call me a racist as often as they like but in my mind I know I am not; so I don’t worry about it.  If a lot of people began calling me a racist, I would then have to take a look at my language and actions and ask others how they perceive me.  But one angry person in over 27 years does not make me a racist.  That, however, was just ONE label.  How many labels do you put on yourself and how often to you reinforce them?  Think about it and ask yourself if you have ever said any of these things to yourself, outwardly or inwardly:

  • Why bother, I never win anything.
  • They will never want to work with me; I’m new in the business.
  • Why would they want to work with me, they can buy me 10 times over
  • My input is not important, just sit here (in this class) and shut up
  • I can’t do that
  • That will never work in our market; our market is different
  • The buyer will never accept this
  • The seller will never accept this
  • Buyers are liars
  • Sellers are liars
  • The boss will never go for this
  • It’s not in the budget so why bring it up
  • I know smoking is very hazardous to not only my health but everyone’s around me but I CAN’T QUIT!
  • I can handle all this alcohol
  • I had a few drinks but I can handle this car Okay
  • My wife will never know
  • My husband will never know
  • I don’t need any help
  • If I ask for help I will be perceived as being weak
  • No one would ever want to read my book I’m writing
  • I will be considered strange if I write a poem
  • If I get good grades in high school, I will be considered a nerd

Let’s get back to being called a racist.  Terry Cole-Whittaker wrote one of the most beneficial books I have ever read – What You Think of Me Is None of My Business.  You almost don’t have to read the book, the title says it all.  What that irate lady thought of me really is none of my business.  If she files a complaint I know I will be cleared so why worry?  Ms. Cole-Whittaker ought to write a book entitled “What I Think of Me Is Entirely My Business.” Or, maybe I should write it.    Another phrase that comes in handy during times like this is:  “You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”  Eleanor Roosevelt; brilliant!  But having said that, everyone needs to worry about what your internal-self is thinking and saying about you because that is what is going to control your outcomes.  “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, either way you are right!”  That’s scary when you consider how much negative self-talk we engage in every day. 

A perfect example of this lies in writing this Nugget.  Will people think that I have said the things to myself that I have listed above?  Frankly it doesn’t matter what I think you may think, what is important is what do I think and therein lies the lesson of this Nugget.  Learn to think in a certain way and when a negative thought enters your mind, just say to yourself, “That’s interesting; where did that come from?” and then just let it pass and get back to “thinking in a certain way” ala Wallace D.Wattles.


  1. Worry less about what others think of you because they think of you very little.
  2. Realize you are engaging in negative thinking and then just let it go and move on.
  3. Think “I can!” rather than “I can’t”
  4. Read Gossip and learn to identify when you are engaging in damaging conversations about yourself and others!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Real Estate Commissions



(Primarily for Real Estate Agents)

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, October 22, 2013

Disclaimer:  I was first licensed in real estate in 1980 as a Salesman and as a Broker in 1982 and have been continuously licensed by the State of Louisiana through January 1, 2013 when I officially retired from real estate sales.  During that period I was also licensed as a Broker by the State of Mississippi on two different occasions.  That represents approximately 33 years of real estate experience mostly as the Designated Broker for the companies at which I worked.  During that period I worked for small independent companies, a large independent company and 5 major franchise companies.  Special note, most company changes were the result of one company buying out another.  I believe this experience provides me a unique perspective on what would be important for real estate agents to consider in regards to being able to take advantage of the best a real estate company has to offer that will provide the best opportunities for individual success.  Contact Information:  email:; Cell Phone:  985-640-3564.

This is the first Nugget for the Noggin in a series written especially for real estate agents.  I awoke this morning with a nagging question as to what would be important for a real estate agent to consider when selecting a company at which to place his or her license or for an agent to consider when transferring a license to another real estate company.  As stated in the above disclaimer, I believe I have a unique experience level that enables me to address this subject based on my knowledge of how most if not all real estate companies are organized and therefore how that organization can help or hinder the success of a real estate agent, especially one new to the business.  This same unique perspective can also assist those agents considering transferring to another company.  The following are some of the subjects that will be covered in this and subsequent Nuggets for the Noggins:

  • Real Estate Commissions
  • Probable Customer Calls/Inquiries
  • Training
  • Individual Support
  • Group Support
  • Individual Brand Name
  • Company Brand Name
  • Selling Broker/Manager
  • Who Makes Decisions
  • Internal Dispute Resolution
  • A Company of Individuals or a Company of Teammates
  • National Name vs. Local Name
  • Reputation(s) Matter
  • Others to follow

On the subject of real estate commissions, this is not about how much commission to charge a customer but rather how much of the commissions you earn that you get to keep. 

How do you make money selling real estate?  That is simple; you close a sale involving real estate.  In most states, at the closing, your COMPANY where your license is held earns a commission on the sale.  Once the COMPANY receives the commission an internal pre-determined commission split between the COMPANY and the SELLING/LISTING AGENT is applied to the total commission earned.  The importance of that “pre-determined commission split arrangement” cannot be over emphasized.  That is what this Nugget refers to.

As a real estate agent you can only make MORE money in one ore more of the following methods:

  • Charge higher commission percentages for the sales you make
  • Have a higher commission split arrangement with your sponsoring Broker/Company
  • Learn to keep more of what you earn by learning how to take advantage of tax regulations
  • Lower your cost of doing business meaning lower your operating expenses
  • A combination of all of the above

It starts with the commission split you agree to with your sponsoring company.  There is no set rule for companies and agents.  In fact real estate commission split arrangements are truly negotiable between the agent and the Broker/Company.  Agents new to the business are typically not aware of this and usually accept whatever commission split is initially offered.

Most conventional real estate companies will tell the agent that there is an approved commission split.  The approved split may start at one calculation, example, 50% to the Company, 50% to the Agent.  This split may be graduated to where it increases during any given year as the Agent closes more and more sales.  Given enough sales the 50/50 split may actually increase to a full 100% commission but that is rare.  Therefore at most real estate companies, agents within the company are rarely all on the same split at any given time.  Agents new to the business usually start at the lowest split whereas the more experienced agents are usually on another schedule entirely.  The commission splits within the company typically restart either at the beginning of each year, or restart based on the company’s fiscal year which could start at any time or on the anniversary of the agent’s start with the company.

Every licensed agent SHOULD be required to sign an Independent Contractor Agreement with the sponsoring broker and that agreement SHOULD define exactly what the agent’s commission structure/schedule is with the company.  If you take nothing else from this Nugget, you can take this next bit of advice to the bank:  IN REAL ESTATE YOU WANT EVERY AGREEMENT, EITHER BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR BROKER/COMPANY OR BETWEEN ALL PARTIES TO A REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION; OR BETWEEN AGENTS TO BE IN WRITING!   NO EXCEPTIONS!  Therefore, get your commission split agreement IN WRITING!

Obviously you want to “think” in terms of earning 100% of the commission on a sale of real estate; why wouldn't you?  There are companies where that can happen such at national franchise companies (e.g., Keller Williams Realty®, RE/MAX® and others) and local independent companies (you will have to check with your local companies for examples).  I have seen splits as low as 40% to the Agent/60% to the Company for agents new to the business and as high as 100%.  The 100% companies usually require the agent to pay monthly to the company a pre-determined amount for the agent to conduct their business regardless of the number of sales they make (RE/MAX®) or there may be some form of graduated rate they pay (Keller Williams Realty®).  The latter involves starting at one rate and once a pre-determined amount is paid to the company the split is changed to the 100% level.  In the first example there is great risk to the agent because the agent incurs the monthly expense to the company even if no sales are closed.  In the second the risk has been negated or reduced because the cost to work at the company is very low but the company retains a percentage of commissions earned UNTIL a pre-determined amount paid to the company has been reached.  In other words, the agent has “capped” the amount paid to the company during any given year.  At the start of the next year the agent typically reverts to the original agreement; the cap is terminated and the agent starts over.  Having worked at both types of companies, I personally prefer the second method (Keller Williams Realty® as it significantly reduces the risk to the agent while at the same time provides the agent the ability to earn 100% of the commission.  In both cases, you should determine how much you are going to pay to the company to be able to enjoy earning 100% of the commissions; get this agreement IN WRITING.

It has been my experience that agents new to the business typically DO NOT research the various commission split options available in their specific area and go with the first company they interview with.  There are options and these options should be researched but I would caution everyone that commission splits are only one part of the decision process, especially for new agents.  For example Training would be a HUGE issue if I were new to the business.  What type of training am I going to receive and is there any costs associated with that training.  For example a company may state they put all new agents on a 50/50 commission split schedule and have a great training program but fail to explain that there may be a cost for that training.  Other companies may start agents out on a 40/60 split and then have no cost for the training provided.    These are only examples; there is no set or specific split for agents.  Learn to see “the BIG picture” before making any decision regarding which company to join.

If your plan is to make a career out of selling real estate, my recommendation would be to join a company that has a plan to get you to the 100% commission program as quickly as possible and without a great deal of financial risk to you to achieve this status.  You do not want to join one company for one reason and then be required to transfer to a different company to fulfill your goal or desire to reach the 100% level.  Changing real estate companies is usually not a good thing because it confuses your database of customers who have come to know you by the company you keep – the company you work at.  And you may NOT be permitted to take your pending business with you.  This is exactly what a great many agents experience.  They start out with no sales and then work their way up to making a lot of sales and suddenly realize they would make more money at a different company doing the same amount of work.  If that situation turns out to be the case, that would be an excellent reason to transfer to the company that enables you to make more money.  But having said that, wouldn’t it make more sense to research the industry and go with “that” company when you start your career?

Here are some questions to ask your potential Broker/Company during your interview process;  the answers to these questions should enable you to make a prudent business decision as to which company to join.  In face I would strongly suggest using the Ben Franklin method of decision making.  Place a large capital "T" on the paper.  On one side of the "T" write PROS and on the other side write CONS.  They as you research the various company choices you can write down the Pros on one side and the Cons on the other.  When completed, one side will usually be longer than the other and that should help you with your decision.

  • Do you have a printed commission scheduled that I may look at and keep?  I would be skeptical if a company could NOT provide such a printed schedule.
  • Is the commission schedule part of your company Policy and Procedure Manual?  This is another way of asking if the company has a Policy and Procedure Manual.  If the answer is no, I would recommend interviewing with another company.  A company that does not have defined policies and procedures can change their policies and procedures on the spur of the moment; you do not want to work at such a company.
  • Are ALL agents within the company on this scheduled or does the company make exceptions for “special” agents?  As an example, a special agent may be a highly productive agent, an agent transferring from one company to another who has a track record of producing sales, or an agent with a special trait such as computer technology who is agreeable to teaching technology within the company, etc.  If all agents are NOT on the same schedule you want to know why all agents are not treated the same and how can you be given or earn this “special” treatment.  The real question is why you would want to work at a company where all agents are NOT treated equally and fairly.  Ideally the differences should be included on the commission split printed schedule and would therefore be available to everyone including you.
  • What additional costs will I incur such as training costs, office fees, insurance premiums above and beyond the commission split schedule?  What you may earn with a higher commission rate you may lose by being required to pay additional costs for Training or other miscellaneous expenses within the company.  Make absolutely certain you are fully aware of all company costs you are expected to pay.  In fact, ask the person who interviews you to give you an example of exactly how the commission is handled in the company and how much you would earn on an average sale.
  • If I join the company and it turns out that it is not working out for me, would I be able to take my current listings, my pending sales, and my customer database with me to a different company that I join?  Some companies WILL authorize you to take your business with you, some (actually a lot of companies) will NOT.  In my opinion I would avoid working at a company that would NOT permit you to take your business with you.  That, at least to me, would indicate they have something to hide from you and you do not want to start a business relationship based on mis-trust.  If the company indicates you CAN take your business with you, make absolutely certain that you get this agreement IN WRITING.
  • If I decide to join your company at (enter the commission split) what do I have to do to get to the 100% level?  If they have a plan, they will tell you.  If they do have a plan, make certain you get the plan they have in writing.  If they do NOT have a plan, you may want to continue your research for the best opportunity available to you at a different company.

VERY IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION:  If it is your goal to sell real estate on a part-time basis, earning 100% commissions may not be your initial goal or even possible for you.  But…it has been my experience that a lot of agents “think” they are going to sell real estate part-time and then discover that a career in real estate is an outstanding choice and then decide to do it full time only to discover they made a poor decision regarding the company they joined at the outset.  Don’t make this mistake.  Make certain you engage in a due diligence period of researching the various real estate companies in your area and then decide which offers you the best opportunity to soar!

TRAINING:  In my state, Louisiana, you take real estate courses approved by the State and then take the State Exam to become licensed.  Unfortunately the courses you take typically do not have much information on actually listing and selling real estate.  Therefore the education you receive AFTER you become license is critical to your eventual success, or not.  Therefore, in your due diligence period of researching the various opportunities available to you, make absolutely certain you also ask about the training available to you and how much that training will cost you.

NEXT NUGGET:  How does your company handle incoming probable customer calls or Internet Inquiries?  How they do it can either enhance your ability to make more commissions or hinder it.  You will want to read this Nugget when available.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why Do I Read

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, October 1, 2013

You might also want to know, “What types of books have I read?”

Let me answer the second question first.  99% of what I read is non-fiction and consist of sales, business, goal setting, leadership, real estate topics and general self-improvement books and CD’s.  Why non-fiction?  Let me explain.

I joined the U. S. Coast Guard in my early 20’s.  For the first 15 years of my Coast Guard career I read only those manuals and regulations needed to perform my primary and secondary duties.  They were for the most part boring and I had no desire to read anything outside of work.  But what those boring manuals and regulations did provide was the basic knowledge required for me to do what was expected of me and hopefully a little bit more.  As a result I learned to “react” rather than “respond” and there is a difference.  To react is almost an unconscious reaction to a stimulus.  It could be routine like paperwork or it could be emergency like putting out a fire.  They served a clear and needed training purpose.  Thinking outside the box before reacting was not necessarily a good thing; in fact it could get someone hurt or killed.  Responding requires a little forethought where you consciously or subconsciously give thought or draw on your knowledge to provide a thoughtful response to an issue.

But then in my early 40’s I was introduced to a cassette tape series created by Lee Shelton entitled Creating Teamwork.  I almost memorized those tapes.  One recommendation Shelton gave was to read I’m Okay; You’re Okay and then read it again every six months.  I read it but did not read it again because once I started reading material other than what was required by the Coast Guard, it was like turning on a light that I could not turn off.  I read, and I read and I read.  I counted over 1000 titles that I have read since I turned 42.  I tell you that not because I want to brag on the number of books I have read.  On the contrary, let me explain.

During the early Coast Guard years I did primarily what I was told to do.  But then towards my tenth year people started coming to me with their Coast Guard related problems to solve.  Why?  It was because of my position, not so much my actual expertise as much as my perceived expertise because most of these people had never met me.  They simply assumed I knew what I was doing because of my pay grade, my specialty and my title at the time.  Nonetheless they brought their problems and expected me to solve them which I did.

But then about my 12th year a fellow who I had only spoken to on the phone came to New Orleans where I was stationed and stopped in just to pay a visit.  While he was there, several people came in to see me with their problems “to be solved.”   Before he left New Orleans he stopped back but this time he had a stuffed monkey under his arm that he gave me.  I asked him what the monkey was for.  He said, and I will never forget it, he said, “Jim, do you know what is wrong with you?”  Up until he asked, I was not aware that anything was wrong with me.  He then said, “Jim, people come to you with their problems.  In effect they come into your office personally or over the phone and every one of them has a monkey on their back.  But when they leave or hang up, YOU literally give them PERMISSION to place those same monkeys squarely on your shoulders and then all those problems become your problems.

That day I changed my life.  I changed the way I worked and would explain to people I am here to help you but that when you leave, your monkey will go with you.  People would laugh but they got the point.  I was there to help them.  To help THEM to solve THEIR problems not for me to keep their problem and solve it for them.

Towards the end of my Coast Guard career, I had a young woman who worked in my office ask me if I knew why so many people came in to see me with their problems, Coast Guard and personal type problems.  I said no and she said because even though you are in your late 30’s, you have silver hair and to people the color of your hair indicates maturity; that is why they come to you instead of other folks at the unit.  I made a point of asking some of those folks and they confirmed what she had said.  Still those same folks had a certain degree of expectation that I could help them one way or another.

Now fast forward to my 40’s.  I had become the Designated Broker for a real estate company.  Agents would bring their real estate problems and sometimes their personal problems to me and they too would expect an answer.  So how does one become proficient in a career to where they can provide answers without having to do extensive research?  They start reading!  They read and read and read.  And when they are not reading they attend seminars and listen to CD’s.  Then suddenly when their (my) career is almost over they (I) quietly contemplate and discover that they (I) have read well over 1000 books that helped me to be able to respond to inquiries from a position of knowledge that others came to expect and they trusted to be correct.

At first it amazed me how much I seemingly was unable to remember only to subconsciously be able to recall when faced with a situation that matched situation.  I may have read it yesterday or months or even years prior to the incident.  Yet when faced with an inquiry or a specific situation the solution immediately came to the forefront of my mind.  I probably could not tell you from which book or from which author only that it came to me like a light bulb being turned on enabling me to respond to the issue at hand.  This was never truer than when sitting with a buyer or seller of real estate.  I would be faced with a situation or an objection and an immediate response (light bulb) would come to mind that I had not thought of in years yet there it was on the tip of my tongue as if I heard or read it just that morning.  Had I not read it, this could not have happened and I would have struggled with a response.  In fact I would have reacted to the situation rather than thoughtfully responding.

There is a quote that I often repeat:  Education is what you get when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get when you don’t!  Think about that.  The key word is lost in the quote and it is “read” whether the print is fine or otherwise.  Education is what you get when you read!  Period!  I have also discovered that if you are ever quizzed on what you may have read days, weeks, months or even years ago, you probably would fail the exam.  Yet when you suddenly come face to face with the tiger you don’t have to think about running, your education subconsciously steps up to help you.

Initially I began my desire to read to help me.  Ultimately my reading fulfilled a personal goal to help others; maybe including you.  My personal life mission reads:  To help people do what they do to do it better!  Reading has enabled me to do that; at least I believe it has.

I maintain a blog at where I now post short reviews of books that I have read or are currently reading.  I am not telling you about this expecting you to stop what you are doing to visit the blog.  No, I tell you this because of the name of the blog.  It has two distinctly different meanings:

YOU – can READ……for a change!
  Meaning instead of watching TV, you can read or read for the first time in years.


YOU – can read for a……CHANGE!
  Meaning if you really want to change your life, read instead of watching TV.

The choice is clearly yours to make.  If you were to ask me (glad you did) I would strongly recommend reading to effect a positive change in your life!  If you were to ask me (glad you did) which book I would recommend reading first, it would be Jeffrey Gitomer’s The Little Gold Book of YES!Attitude.  There are many great books you can read but this book starts working on your attitude.  With the proper attitude everything becomes much easier and possible!