Thursday, December 26, 2019

Feathers in the Wind 2019

Article by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, originally written 8/16/2006 revised 12/26/2019
Anything in BLUE is a linkable entry

I originally wrote this Nugget in 2006.  Why have I revised it in 2019?  Over the Christmas holidays someone said something to me that in the moment really upset me.  The comment could never be justified or explained away.  Some 24 hours later I find myself still thinking of the situation that created the comment to be made and what was said.  It hurt.  Even worse, there were a lot of people who heard the comment; that hurt as well.  Today I realized I needed to take some of my own advice originally written in 2006.

This is what I wrote in 2006.  Yesterday I received a telephone call from a woman I had 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 she 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 to buy 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 all of the discrepancies on the list 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 seller 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 and Lori Palainik’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 all 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 person 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 the situation above with the telephone call, I instantly remembered a conversation I had with a former broker of mine Diane Romano, who said that 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.  Surprise – they come from our own mouths!  Well “mouths” may not be technically correct – rather they come 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 do it.  People can call me a racist as often as they like, but in my mind, I know I am not; therefore, I don’t worry about it.  If a lot of people called me a racist, I would then have to take a look at my language and actions and ask others how they perceive me to be.  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 (one of my favorites I oftentimes heard)
  • 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.  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 I think and therein lies the lesson of this Nugget.  Learn to “think in a certain way” (said by Wallace D. Wattles in almost every book he has written) 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!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, December 17, 2019
Reader Note:  Words appearing in BLUE mean they are links to web sites

I suggest everyone read Bill Wiersma’s book, ThePower of Professionalism.  However, you do not have to read it before reading The Power of Identity.

I can sum up The Power of Identity in just two word, WHAT IF? 

I am 74 years old and as I read both of Wiersma’s books, I could not help but wonder WHAT IF I had the opportunity to read these books when I was just 15 years old?  Would my life be the same today if I had?  I seriously doubt it.  I am proud of what I have done in those 74 years but it became very obvious to me that I could have done them so much better had I known what is contained in these two books.  If you want to be the best person you envision becoming, read the book.  If that statement doesn’t interest you, don’t read the book but don’t complain that life has been unfair to you; I would also avoid operating any heavy machinery!

If you were going to repair a car, fix a kitchen cabinet or even write a book, you need tools and you need a plan.  To build a better you - the person you desire or have dreamed of becoming - it will not happen on its own – YOU NEED TOOLS AND YOU NEED A PLAN!  This book provides you with both.  It would serve you wisely to read both books starting with The Power of Professionalism and then The Power of Identity but as stated that is not a necessary before you read this book. 

I did find the book at times difficult to read, not because it was poorly written, on the contrary it is well written.  I found it difficult because as I read it, I had to stop and think and consider how what I had just read applied to me and my life.  I gave a lot of thought to what I could have done differently and better had I only known.  As a writer you could not ask for anything more than getting the reader to think.

Except for a few dollars and your time, you have nothing to lose by reading The Power of Identity but the benefits that you could obtain by reading it are priceless!  My advice, don’t just read it, study it and use it as a guide to becoming the very BEST YOU!

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”  This IS one of the books you should read!

Who should read this book?  Since I absolutely believe that everyone who reads the book would benefit from its contents, everyone should read it.  I feel that teenagers who read the book will especially benefit from its wisdom and content and could use it to create a better future than if they did not read and study it.
Would I read it again?  Given my age, probably not.   It is, however, a book that if actually studied, would be a book people would read and study again.  I cannot go back and re-write my personal history but readers could certainly re-write their futures.
Would I give it as a gift?  I definitely would! 

Monday, December 16, 2019

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, December 16, 2019

Throughout my 20-year Coast Guard career and then my 33-year real estate career, I had always considered myself as a teacher using the definition of the term that I understood teacher to mean.  In reading BillWiersma’s book, The Power of Identity  I realized that “teacher” really did not define what or who I was during those years.  Read the following section from his book and you decide if teacher or educator would apply to you or someone you know.

“Helping people reveal their best self is central to my consultancy and essential in other aspects of my life as well. For example, this book is about being better, which is consistent with that. Being a purveyor of information—which is so much of what teachers do—plays only a small part in helping people actually be better.

People have an innate desire to obtain an education. After all, who doesn’t want to be educated? That can come through traditional channels such as schools, life experiences, or by other means. And with education being about the attainment of knowledge and understanding—including knowing who we are—it’s educators who prove to be central in enabling learners to turn information into knowledge and understanding. Want an education? Surround yourself with educators.

For instance, in my view, educators aim for something that is akin to transformational learning. That includes, among other things, helping people discover how to think and lessens the centrality of the teacher in the learning process. Educators don’t tell students what to think. A teacher perceived as all-knowing can create an unhealthy dependence. When appropriate, an educator leverages principles so as to enable students to extend the life of the lesson beyond the educator’s presence. This is known in some circles as principled-centered learning. The educator focuses on the students’ being something as well as doing something. And as we’ve seen, when it works, it’s dramatic. People’s thinking changes and they discover new ways of knowing. As I see it, an educator is a teacher, but a teacher isn’t necessarily an educator. And the difference is significant.”

Those few paragraphs made me stop and think about my careers.  I was NOT a teacher, and giving it a lot of thought, I was also not an educator.  I truly believe I am a “thought provoker” especially during my real estate career.  In fact, as Bill Wiersma would suggest, I believe I am a “thought-provoker, extraordinaire.”  Real estate agents had a tendency to do what others had done because that is what you did in your career.  If you happened to follow the lead of top producers you probably did well for yourself.  But like the 80/20 Rule would suggest, it is much easier to find a member of the 80% of low producers than it is the 20% of top producers.  Others do it so why shouldn’t I do it the same way. 

I taught over 35 different real estate related classes in my 33 years in the business.  During those years I also engaged in recruiting.  In both subjects I looked at what other people were doing.  I read a lot of books and articles, attended a lot of classes.  I would then ask myself if there was a better way to reach the objectives.  In almost every case there was.

Looking at the real estate classes I taught I would present those “different ways of doing business” and would encourage the class to discuss those “different ways.”  In a lot of classes, the agents would suggest that those ideas “wouldn’t work in our area,” as if “our area” was somehow different than other areas of the country.  I would then suggest that we discuss how we could make them work.  In most cases we came up with ways to make them work. In very few cases it was decided that they actually would not work and that was okay.  The subject matter caused everyone to think outside the box.  They “provoked thought.”

This, therefore, is my understanding of being a thought-provoker of all things real estate.  If you look at a doughnut you see a round object with a round hole in the middle.  The middle hole represents what you know – it is critical knowledge to have in order to live and do your business.  The actual doughnut represents the information you don’t know.  If you look at the doughnut, you realize that you don’t know more information than you do know. That is okay unless you permanently reside within the inner circle of what you know and make little to no attempt to expand your knowledge through education both formal and self-education as so many people tend to do.

Looking at what Wiersma said in his book about teachers and educators and my thoughts on being a thought-provoker I wondered what kind of person would you want to engage with if you wanted to expand your inner circle of knowledge? 

“EDUCATION, bridging the gap between your ears!”
A quote taken from a coffee cup I have.

Or how about an original quote from yours truly:

“The rubber meets the road between your ears, not beneath your feet!”


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

I believe Jones referred to the “educators you meet” when he referred to “the people you meet”.  After all, everyone is an educator in some way.

There are teachers and there are educators.  The better question becomes are you a student or are you satisfied with the status quo?  If you are not always the consummate student, then Jones’ statement will become a reality for you.  You WILL be the same person in five years that you are today.  Is that what you want?  If not, you must always be a student!  One way to make that happen is to ALWAYS ask yourself one question whenever you meet someone.  WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM THIS PERSON?  One way to make that happen is to imagine the letters, WCILFTP tattooed on the forehead of everyone you meet.  Then you can’t help but learn something from them.  You can then decide if what you have learned is worth knowing.

If you always have that one question in mind, you WILL learn something from everyone, even the people you don’t like and you will always be expanding the inner circle of your donut of knowledge and that is a good thing.  This happens much more rapidly when you find mentors in your life who are also educators or in my way of thinking, thought-provokers! 

In life, you are either a student forever moving forward through formal or self-education or you are a lemming.  If you don't know the definition of "lemming", here it is:

“A person who unthinkingly joins a mass movement,
especially a headlong rush to destruction.”

By “mass movement” in this case it means the majority of people who are apparently happy with the status quo and make no movement forward.  That defines a great many people in 2019 and that is sad!  In fact, if you apply the 80/20 Rule, 20% would be unhappy with the status quo and work to become better and 80% would be satisfied with the status quo and do nothing to advance in life.  Are you part of the 20% or part of the 80%; are you sure?  Keep in mind…

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile!”
Roger Staubach

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, December 10, 2019
Reader Note:  Words appearing in BLUE mean they are links to web sites

Why am I writing this Nugget?  I like to think it is a word to the wise and that it “should” be sufficient but I am certain it won’t be and a great many won’t read pass this one sentence.  Ignoring this information could be very detrimental to your children or children that you may know.  Choose not to read at their peril.

What is Tinnitus?  Here is a definition from the following web page: 

Tinnitus is the PERCEPTION of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 15 to 20 percent of people. Tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.
Although bothersome, tinnitus usually isn't a sign of something serious. Although it can worsen with age, for many people, tinnitus can improve with treatment. Treating an identified underlying cause sometimes helps. Other treatments reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable.

Have you ever noticed that when you can’t sleep at night and you watch television that you see all the ads for products relating to physical discomfort?  Have you ever noticed that when you conduct a search on the Internet all of a sudden and sometimes immediately, you see advertisements popping up all over the place relating to what you searched? 

Having Tinnitus is no different than having a sore knee in this regard.  You search and suddenly you see all types of remedies “guaranteed to work.”  THEY DON’T!  As of this writing there is no remedy for Tinnitus.  Why?  Primarily because no one is certain how you develop Tinnitus or where it comes from and where within your head it manifests itself.  How confusing is that?

Most people (and I hate that phrase but is seems applicable in regards to Tinnitus) think that Tinnitus starts with being exposed to loud noise over a period of time.  How long a period of time would it take? No one knows.  In fact, I believe that they are all guessing otherwise all the medical experts would already know and also know how to treat it since it affects upwards of 20% of the population.  If it in fact DOES START WITH EXPOSURE TO LOUD NOISES, wouldn’t you think parents and friends of children would be more aware of what their children are being exposed to and why it is important to pay attention and make adjustments accordingly?

I have Tinnitus and it is impossible to explain to people without Tinnitus just how horrible this issue is.  Imagine hearing a ringing or a buzzing in your ear 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?  As I write this, the noise in my head is a buzzing noise and it never really goes away.  But it is not about the ear as the ringing/buzzing is as stated above “a perception” that it occurs in the ear when it actually occurs somewhere in the brain.

Here is the deal, so to speak.  There ARE times of the day I don’t realize I am hearing the buzzing I am hearing at this moment.  Why is that?  The answer lies with people who live close to a railroad track.  When you ask them about the train noise, they respond, “What noise?”  They have mentally programmed their minds that the noise does not exist.  That actually seems to work but it is not a permanent solution nor is it something that you can just begin doing – it takes a great deal of work to reprogram your mind and thoughts.

I have tried the over-the-counter pills you see advertised – for me they were a waste of money.  They didn’t work.

The Veterans Administration purchased a Sound Pillow for me.  It is a pillow with speakers built in and an electronic device that resembles an Ipod.  The device is programmed to play upwards of 13 different sounds over and over again throughout the night that only you can hear when you place your head on the pillow.  How does it work?  It is one way to distract you from thinking about the noise in your head.  Instead you hear a babbling brook, surf, rain, or gentle flowing music.  Does it work?  For me, not particularly but it is nice to go to sleep to so in one sense I guess it does work.  I have become accustomed to having a fan(s) on at night for the same reason – the constant noise tends to distract you from thinking about the Tinnitus noise.  You in effect are substituting one noise for another.

The Veterans Administration also purchased and gave me very expensive Hearing Aids.  I was told they typically run about $4000 for the pair.  I do not have a hearing loss.  The aids have a device to (1) control the level of noise I can actually hear like any hearing aid but more importantly (2) they have a built in 3 program selection of very hard to hear noise that is suppose to distract you from hearing the Tinnitus.  Does it work?  Hasn’t for me but then that may be just me since I really didn’t like wearing the devices all day long.  They tend to change regular noises that you have come accustomed to hearing including your own voice and that is weird. 

As you read this you might have thought about self-hypnosis as I did.  I purchased several CDs that use the guided self-hypnosis theory.  Did they work?  They actually did because I would routinely fall asleep with my headphones on and that meant I would wake up within the first hour of sleep due to the headphones on my head.  Then the process would start all over again or I would just try to go to sleep without assistance.

I also read the book, Tinnitus; Turning The Volume Down written by Kevin Hogan, Psy.D and Jennifer Battaglino, LCSW.  Did the book help?  It definitely informed me about the medical and mental issues about Tinnitus.  It too involved using a CD with guided self-hypnosis techniques.  Is the book worth reading?  Absolutely!

My Primary Care Doctor prescribed a mile sleeping pill and that has help me to fall asleep and stay asleep.  Without it, sleep is very difficult for me.

The ONE major take-away from the book was the word DEPRESSION!  Hogan described how some people with Tinnitus have actually taken their lives because of the depression caused by their Tinnitus.  I can attest that my Tinnitus is very depressing.  You just want the noise to go away and it doesn’t; it never really goes away.

This hopefully explains why having Tinnitus is no fun.  As a parent or as a friend, you could save children a great deal of difficulty if you and they just pay attention to what the noise they expose themselves to.  Have you ever heard a car pass with the windows UP and be able to hear the Boom-Boom-Boom of the bass on whatever they are listening to?  Can you imagine what they hear through the ear buds and head phones they wear?  Constant exposure to noise may or may not be the cause of Tinnitus but until they discover that it isn’t, you cannot make a mistake by permitting your children to listen to loud music.  Tinnitus also seems to attack musicians, people who work around engines, people who fire weapons, etc.  Where there is a loud noise, you run the risk of developing Tinnitus and as stated, it is no fun!  NO FUN!

I sincerely hope that this Nugget helps someone.  I only wish I had known about Tinnitus growing up; I would have used ear plugs more frequently.  Actually, I never used them until only recently in the hope that I was not helping the Tinnitus to grow more aggravating.

I beg of you to never put me in the position of saying