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Thanksgiving Memories of Waldemar

My Stepdad, whom I called ‘Pop’, was a quiet, patient and hysterically funny man.  He came into our lives when I was a sophomore in high school, and brought with him an air of comfort and peace.  Pop had a sister who owned a sprawling ranch in Hunt, Texas, called Waldemar.  It was (and probably still IS) a gorgorgeous place that had cabins, a giant pond with swans, deer that would wander onto the grounds and great horses to ride.

Pop & his red-headed step-child

A couple of my sweetest memories are centered there and at this time of year I am so deeply grateful that we had the opportunity as a family to get away to such a retreat.  These were such gracious, generous and kind people.  I miss them.  There was a Great Hall where I remember getting & giving some of the most wonderful foot rubs and shoulder massages while smelling hickory burning in the fireplace.  I remember laying on the couch with my Grandma Honey and talking about whether or not it would be wise for her to go horseback riding with me.  She was in her mid-70s at the time.   I remember my baby nephew, Austen, there.  Honey never put him down.

Austen is now poised to graduate from college this year, and Pop died several years ago. This picture still makes me laugh and remember what foreign objects we were to each other.  I miss him so much – His understatement and my effervescence was a study in opposites that attracted.

Take too many pictures and make sure those you love are shown this love in word and deed.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all – enjoy the PEOPLE (not things) that count this year.

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10 Reasons Why I Like MoreSolds.com

MoreSolds.com founder Knolly Williams

Knolly Williams saw a problem in his business. As a Realtor, he was sick of using one tool for his contacts & calendar, another to keep his newsletter intact and yet another to manage the many facets of his transactions. He did a lot of duplicate data entry to get everyone’s contact information faithfully enshrined across multiple platforms. First, it’s time-intensive and second, it seldom gets done because it’s a fast-paced world that shouts “NEXT”!

Oh boy – that’s missed opportunity in an industry where leads are to be nurtured for the long haul. Knolly knew that his time was best spent nurturing relationships and that there had to be an easier way for him to automate his back-office work. The concept for www.MoreSolds.com, was born.

Designed by a Realtor FOR Realtors, here are the top 10 attributes I like:
  1. It’s cloud based – this means it’s accessible anywhere you have an internet connection and collaboration is made easy. Add up to 10 users on your account.
  2. Powerful contact management – not only can you store a picture of your client, you can log special dates, kid’s & spouse’s names, notes and more.
  3. Schedule drip campaigns such as eNewsletters – from the contact screen, you can send template emails, schedule campaign begin & end dates and even lay out an action plan.
  4. Set reminders – need to order that inspection? Better set a reminder. It’s your electronic conscience.
  5. Elicit listing feedback from your peers – have a listing that might be listed too high? Need some help convincing the sellers to get rid of the hot tub? Get the buyer’s agent(s) to take a quick survey (fast & easy) after they view your listing. No more unreturned calls for their feedback. The survey is on their time, and is simple.
  6. Buyer & Listing Manager – keep your buyer’s preferences at your fingertips! For your sellers, keep track of the property specifics.
  7. Online Calendar – great for sharing with a team. It does not yet sync with Outlook, but that fix is coming soon / late fall 2011.
  8. Lead Router – there is a web-capture form can embeded into your website that will populate your contacts tab with the information the lead is comfortable disclosing.
  9. Import and Export Contacts – ah, this is nice. The great support team at MoreSolds will even help you do it.
  10. It’s FREE for the Standard Plan and only $14 per month for the Premium Plan.

I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Knolly, who is a stand-out agent at Keller-Williams in Austin, Texas. His kindness & responsiveness have impressed me over and over again. With his entrepreneurial spirit, evolving cloud CRM (Contact Relationship Manager) and his drive to get himself and his fellow Realtors back out into the field where the people and business is, MoreSolds will grow quickly.

I am not a paid endorser of this product. I just LIKE IT and think you will, too. To me, Knolly represents what I think is best about America – creativity, freedom and filling a need that not only helps ourselves, but also lifts others.

Future additions & improvements will include:

  • Reporting
  • Exporting your completed transaction to a zipFile
  • Automated showings that log when the lockbox is accessed
  • MoreSolds mobile
  • Goal setting & numbers analysis
  • Short Sale Transaction Manager
  •  Facebook integration

If you’re interested in contacting Knolly directly, please see his site and reach out: http://knolly.yourkwagent.com/

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LinkedIn ‘Recommendation’ Recomendations

I confess:  I LOVE LINKEDIN!!!!

This week I have been privy to a wonderful discussion in a LinkedIn Group (Paul Castain’s ‘Sales Playbook’)  that is discussing the use & abuse of ‘Recommendations’.  Have you ever gotten “Can you recommend me?”, message on LinkedIn from someone that you never worked or otherwise engaged with?  Let it be known that it is a great platform for professional interactions & connections.  We get to know each other’s backgrounds, specialties and more.  However, it has ground rules that need to be observed for success.

Enter the ‘Recommendation’.  If I sense that someone is casting a wide net –  trying to socially elevate themselves, it’s a turn off. It’s like a compulsive collector that cannot help themselves.  To them, I’m just a tool, a set of stars, to set upon an e-shelf.  Sometimes the pressure gets so bad that it makes me not want to be ‘friends’ anymore.  It becomes one-sided and weird.  Seriously weird.

Know that according to LinkedIn’s own data,http://www.linkedin.com/references?mrs=,   a person with recommendations is three times more likely to be considered for a project.  That’s powerful motivation in a stressful time.  I understand the desperation, but question the method.  I think you will be better served by thinking your requests through and considering the information below.

On LinkedIn recommendations, a requestor can send out 200 requests at a time.  Yeah – that’s what I said too.  Where’s the personal plea in that?  If you want me to recommend you, here is my criteria: 

  1. We have actually done some sort of transaction together
  2. You did an AMAZING JOB
  3. You are asking ME because of our unique relationship and you value my feedback and opinion
  4. You received a thank you card or email from me and you’re asking me if I will take a moment to copy & paste that same glowing language in a recommendation for you.

Remember that mud thrown is still all over your hands, and not very exact or effective.  With today’s wonderful environment of targeted marketing and easy accessibility, it may be tempting to cast a wide net for people to ‘recommend’ you.  I would encourage you to do this with caution online:  If you ask for a recommendation you should:

  1. Write a personal message to me with the request
  2. Ask me to recommend you based on specifics (help ME help YOU)
  3. Tell me how much you appreciate my time & opinion.

Be prepared that some people will ignore your request.  This is normal and it’s just life.  Let it live in LinkedIn and don’t bring any uneasiness into the relationship by calling the other person out over an unanswered request.  Let it serve as a lesson to pick up the phone and perhaps ask for their permission before you elicit the recommendation in the first place.

Lastly, there is nothing more wonderful to see than an unsolicited recommendation for your work.  It is a joy & an indescribable kindness to receive the accolades of your co-workers, clients and friends.   Let life surprise you and don’t be so anxious.  Let them come.  If you tend to your sphere and if you are a generous and wonderful resource and practicioner, then the gratitude will flow back into your arms and eventually onto your LinkedIn profile.

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Unemployment E-Love

Unemployment.  Underemployment.

Looking a little familiar?

What more can the working person do to alleviate the pain of our friends and family caught in this chapter of their story?

While listening to a message left for me yesterday from a fabulous girlfriend actively pursuing every opportunity she alluded to the fact that not since the Great Depression has America seen something like this.  She told me of the people in training with her – the deep swath of humanity but also of the proliferation of people in mid & late-life.   This struck a chord with me, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

Her point was this:  thank God that we are so connected these days.  Whether it’s Facebook, phone, email, Twitter, LinkedIn or even a pop-by visit, we are as connected as we want to be if we open our hearts to the pain of others.  We really do have the power to encourage, love and cry with our friends in these mediums.  But those during the Great Depression had to endure much of this on their own in private, which is where pain likes to live.  It has been said that ‘pain is the price of intimacy’ and when you are there through pain with family & with your friends your bond is inextricably strengthened.

Today, please reach out to at least one person in your life who is hurting and either send him / her a Facebook message, live chat with them, or even get downright old fashioned and send them a quick card.  You never know how much it means to that other person that you reached out very specifically to lift them up and to hug them (as best as you can) from a distance.  Whatever your faith may be, ultimately we all live by grace.  “There but for the Grace of God go I.”

Here is an article excerpt that I think you’ll find interesting By Kundan Pandey:

“10 Facts About the Great Depression

  • During the period between 1929 and 1932, the average income of an American family decreased by 40% from $2300 to $1500 per year.
  • Some 3 million children had to quit school and 2,00,000 were homeless by the end of 1930.
  • To enhance employment opportunities, American government came up with construction projects like the Empire State building, the Chrysler building, the Golden Gate Bridge and Rockefeller Center!
  • The drought in Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma coupled with the Great Depression between 1935 – 1938 forced 800,000 people to leave their homes. The drought was given the name “Dust Bowl”.
  • The period of Great Depression led to major political changes and Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected as president of the US replacing Herbert Hoover in late 1932.
  • The first week of depression led to a loss of US$30 billion and this amount was more than what the US government spend in the World War II!
  • Almost all countries quit the gold standard so that they can print more money during the recession phase!
  • Some historians believe that the US entry into the World War II acted as help for it to come out of the Great Depression as the US started manufacturing arms, which the Britains were going to require soon.
  • Surprisingly, movie and entertainment industry flourished in this era and nearly 60 to 80 million Americans went to a movie each week!!
  • President Herbert Hoover received severe criticism for his speech claiming “the worst was over” in 1930. Apparently, it took nearly 11 years for the economy to recover!”

This passage is taken from  http://www.buzzle.com/articles/great-depression-facts-about-great-depression.html

 

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My Friend Has Cancer – and I feel stupid.

When the word “cancer” enters the conversation, I tense up. However, it seems that more and more survivors are telling their stories and that certain cancers are even gaining an interesting ‘branding’ identity to help raise awareness and fund research. We see ‘cancer’ all of the time in ribbons, wrist bands, t-shirts, bumper stickers & even on NFL players. Yes, it’s around, but it wasn’t in MY life. So when my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer a short while ago, it was hard to know how to ‘love her through’ her treatment and her new ‘normal’.

I was emotionally stunted on what to say or do. So I asked her what she wished people knew about being a (breast) cancer patient, and here are her candid answers:

1. As a breast cancer patient, what do you wish the rest of us knew?

If I have to have cancer, then thank God I got breast cancer…it has all the money and research behind it. It has races and walks. It has its own month (October) and EVERYONE knows that light pink is the breast cancer color. If I had pancreatic cancer, I would be a hot mess (not that I am not sometimes, but I think I would be in a constant state of hot mess-ness with another cancer) because they probably would not have caught it in time and they don’t know nearly as much about it as they do breast cancer

2. Do you like that there is so much attention?

I hate breast cancer awareness month…but maybe the timing is just bad. If, for 2 minutes, I could blissfully forget that I have breast cancer, invariably something will bring it to my attention again.

3. What’s the best way to let you know I am thinking about you and ‘love on’ you?

While I know that people mean well and have no idea what to say, and I am so grateful to be loved as much as I am, I have found that there are days when I just cannot take the “Please let me know if there is anything I can do” comment (I may just start thinking big!) or the slight head tilt and “how are you?” question. That sounds terribly petty, I know, but when you have heard it 20 times in one day it almost becomes too much. I am so grateful for friends who have just started doing without asking…making an appt for a makeover, bringing over an extra casserole, offering a specific thing. And instead of asking, maybe just say, “You look great,” or “You look like you are having a hard day. Do you feel like talking about it?” Anything but, “How are you,” please.

4. Given a magic wand, what would you change about your medical treatment?

Please know that I am thankful every day that I have paid time off, a terrific manager and health insurance. There are so many people that do not and I cannot imagine having the stresses of trying to pay the rent or the medical bills on top of the exhausting course of treatment. I simply can’t fathom what a horrible existence that would be. I know they now give free mammograms (thanks to Susan G. Komen and all the funds behind breast cancer) but what do you do if they find something and you have no health insurance? I have Kaiser and for the most part they have been good but here’s the problem: You go from radiologist to surgeon to oncology with no one really talking to each other. So when you meet with them they may (or may not) have read your record. It is very disconcerting and frustrating and requires the patient to be super vigilant. For example, my oncologist read my record wrong, but I knew it because I had received the pathology report from another doctor. I went from no chemotherapy to aggressive chemotherapy in the space of two minutes after it was pointed out to her. Billing is the same: the people collecting the co-pay have no idea I have met my maximum out-of-pocket for the year. I am still waiting for the letter from Member Services for them. I think that when you get a cancer diagnosis, a team should be assembled before the patient is even seen. They should talk regularly so everyone knows what is going on. And there has to be a way for the computers to get integrated so the billing and front desk folks have the same information.

On a more positive note, I have encountered so many wonderful people along the way. One that stands out is the gal at Super Cuts when I decided that I had to get my hair cut shorter because it was falling out. I had to tell her why I was getting it cut so if any clumps came out she wouldn’t be freaked out. She refused to accept payment for the cut or a tip and gave me a huge hug. What a gracious person! Neighbors, family, friends have all been wonderful, kind, generous beyond belief and I am so incredibly blessed to have such a support network. And the best way to love on someone is, really, just do it.

Just give a hug.  Just drop a card in the mail.

More info?  http://www.cancer.org

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Be Who You Are In Life & In Social Media

Look closely!

What’s your social media personality?

Do you find it a CHORE to engage in social media?’
If you find the right social media match for your natural sharing inclinations, then it will begin to be a joy and not a ‘chore’.
I tell you this because it has been heavy on my mind & heart.  I met with a client recently who struggles with the idea of sharing  ANYTHING about her personal life. Chalk it up to privacy, paranoia, or that our mamas told us not to call attention to ourselves. However, this woman is BRILLIANT. She is fascinating DEEP WATERS. She finds Twitter, Faceobook and blogging to be ridiculous endeavors.
So I ask her “why do you want to participate in social media if you find it so inane?” Answer, “because I understand that I can get business there.”
I let her know that if she is not naturally a ‘sharer’, then this will not be enjoyable and that she’ll stop doing it rather quickly. This will feed her assertion that social media is useless, silly and a waste of her time.  Hmmmm….
I tell her this story: There’s an old story of a farmer who is sitting on a bucket milking a cow. His neighbor comes over and asks if he can borrow the farmer’s tractor.
The farmer says, “No.”
The neighbor, stunned, replies, “Why?”
“Because I’m making soup.”
“What? What does that have to do with the tractor?”
“It doesn’t matter – I don’t want you to use it, so any excuse will do.”

Any excuse will do when we are faced with something that we don’t want to do, even if it’s something that could genuinely be enriching, rewarding, fun and horizon-expanding.  If we don’t want to do it, we’ll find a way to STOP.
Before you start any social media venture from which you want a certain outcome, you really need to think deeply about it.  YES, by all means write down what your goals are and work toward them but be ever-mindful of the fact that these are people you’re dealing with on the other side of this connection, not a computer program that has predictable outcomes.  Think honestly:  are you pushing your agenda onto someone else?   How do you feel when this is done to you? Do you just see dollar signs on your clients / friends / family, or are you sincerely and genuinely interested in their daily lives?

We live in incredibly hard economic times and it is tempting to manipulate relationships into business instead of just having genuine conversations with people in day to day life that will naturally blossom into business down the road.   However, the worst smell in any social environment is desperation.   Relax.  Stop trying so hard to close the other guy and just ENJOY him.  The thing that is often overlooked by people who monetize social media is this: relationships grow when two people connect on a personal basis where trust exists.  We must first and foremost foster TRUST born of a genuine shared experience, friend, product, need, religion, belief or otherwise, and then go from there.  C.S. Lewis put it this way, that friendship is,  “born the moment you say to another person, ‘what?  You too? I thought I was the only one.'”.

Don’t cheapen the process.
Here is a quick primer for personality types and the social media outlet that might be best fit:
1. Twitter – You could liken Twitter to a giant ballroom where hundreds of conversations are going on, and you catch key words and phrases from each and decide whether or not you want to hover and learn more. It offers shallow initial engagement where you can scan quickly but delve deeper if you so choose to read more or ‘search’ for certain keywords. I’ve heard that this is sort of social media for people with ADHD, and yeah, that about sums it up. This is how we receive SO MUCH news these days. Rapid fire and then we filter out what is important to us.
2. Facebook – Great for serial sharers of photos, quotes, experiences, family and TMI (Too Much Information). Successful Facebook users report that they feel more connected to their friends because of their online engagement. Facebook is the BBQ where we are all having fun, re-connecting with friends from high school, seeing the pictures from our co-worker’s trip to Hawaii and sharing what we are listening to on Spotify. Sharing Sharing Sharing.
3. LinkedIn – This is a great place for the professional who wants to keep it professional. Everyone that reports for duty on LinkedIn is there for the same reason: business. It’s a haven for vetting out whom we will or will not work with and seeing their connections too. It’s your online resume and needs to be carefully groomed for maximum effect to attract clients and to let your sphere know more about YOU, but simply on a professional level.
4. Blogging – Are you a contemplative thinker? Do many things interest you? Are you interested in being perceived as a subject matter expert in your field? Do you enjoy email and answering complex questions? Are you simply a smart guy or gal with many years in a certain field that you wish people knew more about? Do you find yourself jotting down ideas or want to write a novel (someday) but the task seems sooooo daunting? Then blogging might be your venue.
Frankly, there are many more, but I’ll leave those forums for you to explore. I am on all 4 of the above outlets, and adore each one for its place in my life.  I am authentically myself on all of them, but to different audiences who care about different things in different amounts. As human beings, we are so wonderfully complex! How can you fit all of me onto a Facebook Profile page? I’m also more than the sum of my resume and the recommendations for my work on LinkedIn. I care about more things than I can ever Tweet. And ultimately there are more things I want to write about in this life than my blog on WordPress will ever see.
Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

At the end of our one-on-one, my client and I hugged and she felt released of a lot of pressure to be someone she is not.  At this time she is contemplating an inspired blog that will marry her many different interests and will point back to her profession at times.  I am also helping her craft a gorgous and thorough LinkedIn profile.  This is so she can be found online and showcase her depth of experience and showcase the many people who have recommended her through the years.   She is delighted,  and therefore so am I.

Please, don’t pretend to be someone you are not for anyone. Success will follow when you are authentically and unapologetically YOURSELF,  both in your life and online.

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“Your time is limited, so don’t waste

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” (Steve Jobs, 2005)

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