Anyone who has, or is responsible for anything of value knows the word.
Both a noun and a verb, it’s a complete and unblinking account or listing of what exists, tangibles, even intangibles. It’s a frozen moment in time, usually done because of some greater, larger value.
Whether you are 8 years old and doing a daily check of your Halloween candy-as a precaution against marauding older siblings, a person in recovery looking to stay that way, or a businessperson needing to balance their books, it’s a tool to base further actions on.
As we are rocketing to another new year, it’s a big topic of conversation. Having a clean slate and a plan in place for the new year is an attractive thought, but it can feel like a daunting task to look back and honestly, thoroughly enumerate our actions-or inactions, and the results. Here are a few things that many years in retail taught me to get started, and get through it:
Listing/recording is all it is. There is no critical analysis, guilt, or judgement, in the proces of inventory.
Whatever is, “IS”. You can’t re-write history, but you can learn from it. And sort of a Darwin-ian corollary, if there are aspirations to continue-grow-even thrive-you need need to first know all of what “IS”.
It’s rarely as bad as you think it is. The guilt/procrastination is the worst.
You can’t do anything genuinely productive until you really know what “IS”
SURPRISE! A solid inventory also reminds you of all the good and positive things.
As a store manager, it was lots of paperwork before, then after, to reconcile. As a human being hoping to keep evolving into the best person I can be, it means revisiting those too-flip comments that hang heavy in the air, hours later. Since the refreshed home carries little physical inventory, professionally it means asking other trusted professionals for their opinions, and their feedback
If you have read this far, chances are good that bettering yourself is one of your goals as well. ALSO-that there is a fair amount of ”good stuff” that you have long forgotten, or taken for granted.
No matter if it’s for personal or professional reasons, taking an inventory is not just a great way to start the new year, it’s an even better way to wrap up the current one. Take a deep breath, you’ll be fine.
Been thinking about Winston Churchill a lot lately…HA-bet you’ve never read that opening line before!!
Always found his quotes both intriguing and centering…direct and succinct, yet often personal and witty. No matter his context, they seem contemporary, and are perfectly suited to help me keep my focus and equilibrium perfectly calibrated.
Last year, for my birthday, I asked a learned friend to pick me out a simple biography. It is currently occupying the ‘on-deck’ position in the pile of my ‘to-reads’, but maybe this will be the weekend…
Meantime, with all the drama in DC, and this housing market, it’s been hard keeping some distance, and not feel the life-force get sucked out of me…. maybe you need a bit of a boost, too? Here are some of my favorites to ruminate on:
-Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.
~A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.
~You have enemies? Good. That means you stood up for something, sometime in your life.
~We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
~If you are going to go through hell, keep going.
~To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
~Solitary trees, if they grow, grow strong.
~However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
~I never worry about action, only inaction.
~The first quality that is needed is audacity.
-Meeting Franklin Roosevelt was like opening your first bottle of champagne; knowing him was like drinking it.
What IS It About People Like Ellen, Julia and Tom?
Earlier in the week, heading out the door, turned the TV on to check the weather on the local 2 minute traffic/2 minute weather channel. NBC is the default channel that shows up first, the talk show ELLEN was on.
It was an audience quiz segment, where they were all up on a big stage, and if they gave the wrong answer, the floor disappeared underneath them. YIKES!
I knew how it would turn out (hugs and smiles all around), yet on a no-time-to-spare kind of day, I sat down watched Ellen poke fun at some of her audience…THEN a commercial for Larry Crowe, the new Julia Roberts-Tom Hanks movie.
That’s right, the same commercial we all have already seen, maybe 30 times. And it still made me smile.
We all know people we are just drawn to…but why? Whether media celebrity, the guy at the hardware store, your dentist, the vet-even a Home Stager or Realtor-what is it that just makes us like some people so thoroughly and in many cases, almost immediately??
While initally curious just for curiousity’s sake, of course it led to pondering these things in the context of running my business. What are these vital qualities that not only get the job, but insure good communication, then paves the way to a great result?
After a week of thining and observing, here is my certainly subjective, and probably partial list:
We all like people who like to have fun, and have a joyful attitude. Even silly is ok.Those choosing-to-be-happy, glass half-full types make us feel good.
They/their characters may poke fun of, or tease, but are never mean or mean-spirited. No one gets hurt, insulted, or embarrassed.
We like people who make us feel good. Easily, and naturally, they reinforce some essence we believe to be true, generally or specifically: Life is good. My dog is beautiful and loves me. I care about what I do. Even when it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. I have a cavity, but my flossing is better.
They don’t put ‘space’ between you and them. Of course there are boundries, not expecting an invite to a BBQ from Ellen/Julia/Tom-OR my dentist, anyone from Hecht’s (my favorite hardware store), or any of my (MANY) favorite Realtors. But in whatever the connection, it’s about the matter at hand, not about them.
We like knowing what they stand for. They are passionate about what they do. Sometimes, even if you don’t agree with them, you admire them for walking the walk.
Ellen champions equal rights and pet adoption; we run a fair business, coach Little League, and run book sales at the library.
Julia and Tom each won an Oscar for portraying regular people fighting injustices (Erin Brockovich, enviormental crimes; Andrew Beckett, a lawyer fired because he had AIDS); we can sing in the choir, walk to raise funds, or lead a Scout troop.
They/their characters-are thoughtful and kind. Julia’s Evil Queen in Snow White is not due out til 2012, but betting on a Evil Queen with a soft side. Tom was a hit-man in Road to Perdition, but hit man with a cause.
And I love my dentist and his staff. Even though it seems I am STILL not flossing enough, I leave appointments feeling smarter and cared-for.
Mirror, mirror on the wall-what qualities do YOU think make people the fairest of all??
Stagers And Agents: More Alike Than You May Think (Part One)
Last weekend on Active Rain I wrote a Members-Only post asking agents who never worked with a Stager to please tell me why.
Great contributions, and a some points I did not expect. Knew this was a national stage, but did not expect this amount, or range of input. It’s taken a few days to wrap my brain around it all-and how it relates to my original question.
Whether you are a home seller, or a real estate agent, being comfortable with all that Staging might be may seem a formidable task, but here’s my pitch: It’s really not, because Stagers and Agents really have a lot in common.And where not alike, they can be complimentary.
Goals: At the end of the day, Stagers and Agents both have a single goal, to create and facilitate a new housing situation for their client. What is 100% absolutely the same here is that each does it in their own unique way. We build our brand which encompasses our decisions on marketing, communications, personality, strategy and pricing.
Skills and Expertise: True of really any profession, Stagers and Agents have ranges of skill, and levels of expertise. Descriptions like Short Sale Expert, Top Producer-or Accredited Stager!!-are not a standardized entity, NOR a guarantee of the sale of a property. It comes down to the individual.
Education/Accreditation: While not (yet) standardized or mandated for Stagers as it is for Agents, IMHO it should be. Til then, it’s a great interviewing tool…certainly for consumers, but for other professionals as well.
I like Agents who are Realtors. And have, are proud of, and can explain their designations. (AND PLEASE-ASK ME ABOUT MYDESIGNATIONS!)
I take CE Staging courses, and also audit CE RE classes. Both for knowledge, and frankly, to scope out Agents/Realtors I might like to work with. Sure, some if it can be pretty dry, but those sitting in the back of the room, reading the paper- sorry, we wouldn’t be the best fit.
Mark Twain once commented ‘Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today’. Little good can come when one is more focused on differences. But start the conversation with what you have in common, and be prepared to succeed.
Although it sounds a tad bit too contemporary to me, most Google searches credit Confuscious with saying ‘Choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’
Well, I love what I do, pretty much always have; but I also really love my husband, and really really love being married to him; being away this week has proven to be a bit of a challenge.
Working for, and mostly by myself, I’m less aware of how my mind races, how may cool ideas are beingentertained, how many internal conversations I’m having at once; it’s just how the typical day goes. It’s only the presence of others that gives you pause…you know those pauses, where you immediatly want to insist “Hey, I can stop anytime I want to!”-like I was sneaking a drink, or a call to a bookie…!!
After some adjustments, it’s been a week of thinking BIG. Not ‘going multi-national’ big, not ‘how to make this into a franchise’ big, but some good overall contemplative thoughts on where I want the refreshed home to go, and how it’s going to get there. The week isn’t over yet, so stay tuned.
Meantime, a clip of one of my favorite big thinkers!
Have talked about ActiveRain before…it’s an online community of real estate professionals, now aver 200K strong. Have been an AR member a little over a year, active with it about 9 months. I’ve learned a lot, adding both smarts and polish to my repertoire.
Technology options and applications is a skill that does not come easily to me; I personally know and have worked with ARers numbers 1-3 in our area, and a big shout-out to each has generously helped me:
White Plains’ Ruthmarie Hicks has helped me understand Google juice is not a new sports drink (although if someone was looking to develop one and market it to realtors…); just yesterday Debbie Gartner of Floor Coverings International recognized a need and offered to show me how to wrap text around graphics on my posts, and Phil Faranda even volunteered to go to the Verizon store with me and rough them up a bit on my behalf..what pals!!
Now I know Phil is really excited about mixing it with those Verizon folks, but truth is I know them all, and friends help friends. What about people who don’t really know each other?
Last night I tested the whole professional help and support thing out. Felt kind of sheepish, but thought WTH and went with it. W-O-W!
Did a post titled I Need To Upgrade My Phones, Any Recommendations?and only sent it to 2 AR groups I joined moments before, Tech Corner and Gadgets, Tools and Extras. (Checking in with groups you had no strength or expertise in-and asking for help-IMAGINE!)
Literally within moments I got my first reply; over a dozen within the half-hour. Plus two others who had the same questions I did, and was just as interested in the feedback. At 1am on a Sunday morning, EST.
I learned 2 things from this: yes-about phones/service, but more importantly, it was a real gut-level learning moment-how to ask. Have found the fellowship among AR members to be both supportive and challenging, thank you, thank you, thank you!!
Looking to make a move this week, watch for the post script!
John Belushi had a recurring character, Science Editor on the Weekend Update. He offered commentary on ordinary current events, like St. Patrick’s Day, Skylab falling, or the weather.
They started out as expected, but he’d go off on a tangent, until what he thought was the real insanity would get him so worked up that he literally would go flying off his chair.
I can identify.
Recently there’s been a change in how I talk and blog about Staging. I’ve always felt passionate about what I do; but there’s been a different tone. Yesterday on ActiveRain I was one of close to 200 who commented on a post 7 Reasons Why Your House Won’t Sell.
Written by a Realtor, mostly for other RE professionals, and all were in agreement…yet I’m writing my own pro-Staging manifesto, out of breath and drained after I hit the ‘submit’ button.
Have never been one for those caterpiller-into-butterfly metaphors, but changes are coming. Stay tuned!!
Fluffy bunny…rattlesnake…you might guess how a situation like this would play out.
Guess again! Elizabeth Arduian, a Realtor from Lubbock, Texas found a different ending-AND- a great metaphor for almost any field or situation you can think of.
In a recent blog post on ActiveRain, the online Real Estate community, she used a great YouTube clip and asked us to look at how we react when things don’t go our way, how do we handle challenges?
We all have days that get the better of us, it’s part of being human. But we can also choose to let those be the minority. If you are not happy where you are-wherever that may be-you have options. Challenge what is expected, don’t passively accept the status quo.
The current ecomony, as well as the recent elections have left many of us feeling stuck, powerless and off-track. I say: change the channel, get in touch with you inner bunny, and move forward!!
A founding belief here at the refreshed home is that if you are in charge of your space, you will be incharge of your life. Taking action will free up space in your head, and let you get on with your life, REALLY.
Ahhh…The Smile. They are happy people, looking for good times. Positive, upbeat, who doesn’t love the bouncy Smile?
You know them, or, more accurately you’ve heard them, having animated conversations…in crowded elevators…or across the floor in a restaurant. Or seen them-they’re first on the dance floor, or the most ardent fan at the game.
People who operate from this most expressive modality talk fast, think and move quickly. Depending on your perspective, they are enthusiastic-or loopy and overly excitable. They are usually ‘the life of the party’, even in un-partylike circumstances, which is the crux of the matter.
Understanding where people are coming from is always helpful, but in transactions, it’s like driving on a straightway-you can see what’s coming and be prepared to act accordingly.
The Gut will appreciate the speed The Smile operates with, but could be turned off by the ‘unnecessary drama’. The Heart will believe they are genuinely nice people, but then secretly focus on if they are really that happy, perhaps they should settle down a bit? The Head will have the hardest time dealing with the smile, because just like the Gut-Heart combination, they are diagonal opposites.
The Head, (being The Head) is ohso sure that information is king, could doubt TheSmile’s sincerity, even their stability. Similarly, The Smile will think..well, not happy thoughts about the head, and unhappy thoughts are just their #1 buzzkill.
SO-what’s a partner in this transaction to do?
Smart agents already know they need to keep all the different hats handy, ready to change them as circumstances dictate.
To engage the most buyers, smart sellers will prepare themselves and their properties fully. I almost never think it’s a good idea for the seller to be present for showings or Open Houses-this is one ofmany reasons your should always hire a Realtor-but there is much that sellers can do to make it work better for all:
They’d know a definite move-in date for The Gut, have service records on the boiler handy for TheHead, make a list of personally recommended restaurants printed up for The Heart, and plant flowers, and set up a volleyball net in the backyard for The Smile.
Regardless of their own style, buyers who like having choices should be similarly prepared. Before even going to the house, they will have their financials in order, and truly be prepared to make a move. They will then show up on time, and know/have a list of the questions they want to ask.
They will be respectful in the house-wiping their feet, shutting the door behind them. If the owners ‘happen’ to show up, they will listen to a story or two, be prepared to ohh and ahh suitably over family pictures/heirlooms, and discuss the house’s decor only when they are safely in their car, on their way back home.
Of course transactions are about dollars…but Real Estate is also intrinsically personal. If you can connect with the other parties on that level, you have the best chance of getting what you want. And yes, it really can be as simple as listening, watching, subtley mirroring the other’s style when possible, and always, always RESPECT for the other parties.
Know the phrase ‘still waters run deep’? That’s The Head, personified. Very still. Very deep. You may need to put a mirror under their nose for signs of life…better, wave some market comps or stats in spread sheet form, just see the pink return to their cheeks!! OK, I may be exaggerating here a bit, but really, not that much.
Real Estate is a lot of numbers, facts and interpretations. The Head loves it all, nay, needsit all. They are detailed, focused and precise. Numbers and facts, preferably on paper, is where they find comfort and value (a little foreshadowing here-it’s often also where they believe most of their own value lies).
Sure, this way of thinking in extreme-and when it’s not your deal-you’ll chuckle, but until you have established a good working relationship with The Head, any missteps will cost you.
Those operating from this modality I believe has the hardest time seeing the point of others, including the value Staging. Not out of ignorance or arrogance, they are just that sure of the superiority of data. Real Estate is hyper-local, and (more foreshadowing) there is no reliable/independent gathering and reporting process.
Residential Real Estate has a strong emotional and interpersonal component to it; buyers, sellers, even agents-anyone really entrenched in the data-misses all the other signals, and can easily lose the distinction between “Data” and ”Guarantees”, and-say it with me now-Guarantees?? There’s no guarantees in RealEstate!
If you are working with The Head, either as buyers or sellers, be punctual, be organized, and be prepared (be veryprepared).These folks do not like vague answers, overly optimistic scenarios or anecdotal stories. Just as with any other different modality-to connect, watch and mirror their actions: speak slowly, and never, ever rush them.
They take their time and deliberate everything, but generally there is no mystery: they will tell you where they are and why they are stuck, and decide when you have answered all their questions. You may be in for the long haul, but once won over, these folks are very loyal.
If you are a Head, I have a confession: we are brethren.
In 1981, I took the job at Ethan Allen on a dare. I was young, had instinct and raw skill, but little professional training or experience, and I was selling fairly expensive furniture to people whose own kids were my age. Memorizing measurements and other facts seemed the best way to for me to succeed.
Yes, I made some great connections with 25% of the customers I met, and for me at the time, I thought that was great. But looking back, by keeping in my comfort zone, I wasted so much time, and missed so many opportunities with the other 75% of the people I met.
Remember-none of this is judgemental, and no one personality type is better than another. Understanding the different styles is like having the right eyeglass prescription: Sure you can see the eye chart, but different lenses give you the most clarity, and lets you get the job done.
“Home” is both universal and intimate in nature. People get involved in Real Estate for a myriad of reasons. It’s not just a product or a paycheck, it’s a way to assist-connect-facilitate-another’s happiness and sense of security. Some times are easier than others (!!!), but deep down, true Home Professionals know this is where they are supposed to be.
The Heart: People who come primarily from this place are not just nice, they really are all about others-their comforts, concerns, issues and needs come first.
Great quality in a friend or spouse, but depending on the degre and the other personalities involved, it can slow, stop, even reverse a business transaction.
Polar opposite of The Gut, they are pleasant to deal with, but present a real challenge in business. To make decisions and move forward, the decision makers need to well, decide…which means taking some stands and putting their needs ahead of others-not their comfort zone.
They are deliberate, speaking, moving and thinking slowly. They consider all options, and rebel if you try to nudge things along before they are ready. They want you to like them.
These sellers still have every report card, lost tooth and piece of macaroni art from their grown children; these buyers find something special about each house and the people who live there…which then makes them reconsider, just where the heck did they getthis crazy idea to buy another house and move in the first place??
It takes longer for these sellers to get their house ready for sale. Slow and steady win the race, but their being highly motivated to start with is a close second.
They know how easy it is to get wrapped up in someone elses’ “stuff”-and understand how it would take attention away from the business at hand, getting their house sold. Also-focusing on the prize at the end:-a yard for the kids, rooms for visitors to stay, or one-level living for a loved one-will be what moves this seller forward.
Buyers who come from the heart will linger when attention is paid to the ‘secondary’ rooms-kid’s room, guest rooms, even the powder rooms.
They will appreciate the fresh towels, nice soaps and fluffed bed pillows. These are the people that we light fires in the fireplace and put out homemade cookies for. Welcoming kitchens, and discussions of how many people could fit in the Dining Room will put a sparkle in this buyer’s eye.
They can frustrate agents and annoy more quickly moving people on the other end of the transaction, but remember the parable about the Wind and the Sun?
They disagreed who was more powerful, and decided the winner would be whoever could make a passer-by remove their overcoat The Wind went first….stong and blustery, he blew and blew, trying to blow the coat off; but the passer-by only wrapped the coat around themselves more tightly.
Then it was the Sun’s turn. He shone and radiated, and in short order, the gentle warmth induced the coat to be taken off.