The Carrot & the Stick

The following is an excerpt from my latest book, “The Individual Team: How Fairness Wrecked the Workplace” available now at Amazon.

PAIN VERSUS PLEASURE

Not everyone is motivated in the same way. Perhaps the most basic motivator is how individuals deal with potential consequences. Some respond more to the avoidance of pain rather than the pursuit of pleasure. Unfortunately, the majority of humans fit into the former category. People tend to be more reactionary than proactive. This is perhaps because humans feel comfortable at a certain level and take solace in being there. Why toil for “better” when you can relax and have “good enough”? Only a disruption in that comfort will force a change to be made. Does this mean the majority need to be threatened? No. Threaten one and you may be able to get more productivity out of him, at least in the short term. Threaten another, she may publicly push back or simply slash your tires in the parking lot. However, most people are smart and understand what natural consequences lay ahead for poor performance. We all know those who have been fired for not achieving minimum production, but I have never heard of someone being let go for not breaking the company sales record. Most tend to find a comfortable spot and stay here.

Painting a rosy picture of pay raises and promotions doesn’t work on everyone either. Not everyone else wants to be a manager someday. In fact, most do not. Talk to someone of going beyond mediocrity or “grabbing the brass ring” and they will stare at you in stone silence. Many workers just want to put their time in and leave at the end of the day. It’s as if to say; “The carousel doesn’t move any faster or slower if I grab the damn ring, so why try?” This type of worker is just fine being fine. They do not see the benefit of doing more than is required. Of course, there is nothing wrong with showing up to work and doing exactly that for which one is paid. But at the end of the day, it is the end of the day.

That’s not to say there are not other motivators outside of work, however. Some see work as just a way to pay the bills until their photography business gets off the ground. Or working to spend quality time with grandchildren on weekends may be all they think about. For these employees, security from the notion of a job well done motivates them to work toward their own external goals. A good manager will have an understanding of what those goals are.

So, how does a manager motivate someone who is simply there to pick up a paycheck? First, understand if they are doing what the job requires and not being detrimental to the rest of the shop, then they are doing their job. One should appreciate them for showing up on time and putting in a full day’s work. I have seen managers want

You are not going to change someone else’s priorities. Instead, play to them. At the company picnic, be sure to praise an employee for a recent accomplishment in front of the family. If someone is a budding photographer, ask if they can take the official company photos. These are ways of investing in your team while building a bridge between the two worlds. In turn, they will feel more invested and understand how important that bridge is to them.

Others are specifically looking for a company with advancement opportunities. A secure nine to five would be a complete dead end for these people. Keep in mind they will jump ship for a better opportunity in a heartbeat. If there are opportunities within, they can be instrumental to the company down the road but will have to be engaged with meaningful work in the meantime.

We all want stars on our team, but that comes with a price. If a star is brought onboard with the prospects of moving up the company ladder, she will need to be given a certain amount of responsibility and authority. People like to feel their own forward momentum. Long gone are the days where someone is willing to incubate for two or three years waiting for their predecessor to retire. We have all seen where promises did not pan out and the heir-apparent looks like a schmuck. I have never been a fan of making someone an heir-apparent to a future position anyway. Give them the “assistant” title and make them an heir-obvious.

If you have a beast on your sales force, just remember, you are going to have to feed that beast. Arbitrary caps because the company thinks a salesperson will “make too much money” will see them become someone else’s representative or worse, start their own company and be a competitor. Long team meetings, a toxic office and changing compensation plans are just a few of the things that will see those stars fizzle out.

All of this goes to that old metaphor of the carrot and the stick. How do you get a stubborn mule to move? For some, whacking them with a rod will get the mule up and pulling the cart. While another may only shift from the sitting position to lying in the road in protest of being beat. Whereas, a carrot waved in front of a mules nose will move the animal to the ends of the earth. No, people are not mules to be whacked or bribed, but the analogy does hold true; not everyone is motivated the same way. It is up to the manager to understand the individuals of his team and how to motivate them.

An Historic Meat & Three

Even if you’re new to Murfreesboro, it’s hard to imagine anyone wouldn’t discover the City Café. The century-old diner is a staple and historic landmark just off the Square. The food is good, but so is the company, there are always lively discussions and exchanges of ideas. That’s what attracted the Kellogg’s to the restaurant in the first place; the people.

When they first heard the business was for sale, they realized it was an opportunity to bring a dream to fruition.  Teresa Kellogg and a business partner bought the Café in 2014. In 2017, Teresa’s husband Rollin retired and bought out the previous partner. Now, it is truly a family business. Rollin added baking to his set of skills and Teresa runs the kitchen. The couple says it’s easy to be business partners when you are best friends.

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The restaurant first opened on February 10th, 1900. Though it has moved a couple of times, it has always been downtown and been a favorite gathering spot for local residents. It was founded by Dorsey Cantrell who also ran a dairy atop the original location. Though there have been a handful of different owners over the years, the menu has remained largely the same.

Though you can’t get a hamburger for a nickel anymore, you can great home cooking at a good price. The establishment has always provided a hearty breakfast or meat-and-three for lunch. However, that doesn’t stop the owners from changing up the menu every now and then. Rollin offers seasonal pastries and very soon, Teresa will be serving her red beans and rice.

They are open at 6am to go to 2pm every day but Sunday. Currently, dinner is not available though you may reserve the restaurant in the evening for special events. The dinner option is something the owners want to bring back but of course, that means more staff and food items. When asked of when that might happen, they responded we will have to wait and see, but it is something the Kellogg’s are actively working toward.

With MTSU and new businesses popping up, the majority of Murfreesboro residents were not born here. But a visit to the City Café is a great way to take in Middle Tennessee culture. There are old menus and an original sign that adorn the walls. The food is also a nod to antiquity as it is all made from scratch.

But the place isn’t just a throwback to the past. Each and every morning people meet their friends or wait to make new ones and strike up an engaging conversation. It is said if you want to know what is going on in town, this restaurant is the place to be. For years local politicians have held court and pundits have discussed current events. There is also the occasional prayer breakfast upstairs. As Teresa put it; “You may come here as a stranger but you will leave here as a friend.”

A challenge the current owners face is retention of staff, a common issue for all restaurateurs. Though, they have servers who have been with them for years and even employees who have been with the Café for over 30 years. It’s that type of loyalty that keeps good consistent customer service.

As for promoting the business, it was featured on Tennessee Crossroads a while back. Some people will bring friends and family in on Saturdays for live music. Rollin states “You have to utilize the tool s you can use and social media is a big thing.”  You can also check out the daily specials on their Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/citycafe.murfreesboro/

As I ask the owners my closing question; “What gives you momentum”, their response is the love for the restaurant. “It’s the love of what we do. History isn’t alive anywhere… Older people say they remember coming in here when they were in college and now their children come here”, Teresa said.

City Café truly is a Rutherford County institution. On February 10th, 2010, the Café will celebrate 120 years of continual business. That could very well be the longest-running restaurant in the entire state. Whether its breakfast, lunch or one day dinner, check out the City Café. While there, take in the ambiance, homemade food, and history.

Blaine Little is the founder and CEO of Momentum Seminars Training & Coaching, helping companies remain profitable by investing in their people. Learn more at www.MomentumSeminars.com

 

 

 

Girlfriday: Every Successful Person Needs an Assistant

Recently, I interviewed a good friend of mine, Takisha Bromell. Bromell always had a knack for organization. In 2017, she started helping real estate agents with their sales and listing contracts, having a background in real estate herself. Despite the encouragement of others, she still thought the biggest challenge lay in herself and the initial seed money, or rather the lack of it.  A friend once told her “Every successful person needs an assistant.” Not being exposed to the concept of an assistant for hire, she sought counsel from business professionals as well as family members who understood what made her tick. Now, she considers her work a labor of love.

 

Bromell says the best things she can provide other businesses is balance and purpose. She has several clients who operate from a shared workspace or otherwise away from the corporate office. These regional managers or high-level sales reps don’t have an onsite staff anyway, so it makes sense to use virtual assistants.

“How I help the business owner is to create balance in their lives so they can go home and rest assured things are going to get done. By helping them, I create that support system, that foundation so that they can go out and be great. They can do what it is God has called them to do.”

Read the entire Murfreesboro Pulse article here. https://boropulse.com/2019/07/girlfriday-every-successful-person-needs-an-assistant/

 

 

Favoritism in the Workplace

A common concern for well-meaning leaders is to avoid the appearance of favoritism. Let’s take a closer look at this. What exactly is favoritism? In its purest form, it is a preference of one person to the exclusion of all the others. In short, it’s a teacher’s pet. Only the leader need not be a teacher, it can be a boss or even a parent. As a foster parent, I have witnessed this latter relationship all too many times. Perhaps this is most apparent between just two siblings. Favoritism does nothing but spur feelings of resentment and a lack of will for much of the life of the disenfranchised.

Most of us would agree anyone who would show more love to one child over another is simply a bad parent. In fact, it’s not about love at all as true love is without strings attached. So why might a parent create such a dichotomy in the first place? In most situations I have observed, it appears to be due to the favorite sibling making life seemingly easier for the parent. Essentially it goes to the self-interest on part of the adult. As stated, it makes for bad parenting, but favoritism also goes for making a bad manager. A team may not be supervision’s children, though they do seek consideration, appreciation, and support just like children. Furthermore, employees deserve consideration, appreciation, and support.

In a large group, those of us who have experienced it first-hand will observe favoritism is generally more than one single person who has the approval of the leadership. In an organization, it’s a partiality toward those who are simply liked by the boss, while everyone else must suffer a bias to work harder, longer and without appreciation. In short, you are either in the club or you are out of the club. Merit, that is to say, appropriate recognition for a job well done doesn’t exist if you have been deemed unworthy for whatever political reason. Just like the slighted child, they will suffer feelings of resentment and a lack of will. This leads to low morale and a loss of production. A leader sets the overall tone of morale within a team and if that morale is low due to a lack of fairness, the boss has only him to blame.

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Millennials; Nature vs. Nurture

When I mention the Millennial Generation, Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers alike conjure thoughts of “Village of the Damned” or worse, twenty-something’s living in their parents bonus rooms. It’s a strong stereotype; the need for instant gratification, hover parents and texting across a table. I for one, would have been mortified had my parents contested a grade I made to my college professor or be given an award for no more effort than than standing (or sitting) in the right place. Those and $5 coffees are exactly the true stories we hear about the younger generation.

But is it a stereotype that is completely founded? In order to better understand them, we have to take a closer look at the other generations and how our culture has shifted over the past century. Or, is it even important for the rest of us to understand them at all?  Considering Millennials are moving up the food chain, more and more of them each year will be the ones who interview us for our next job if not the boss himself. They will be the leaders, politicians, administrators and those who make decisions for the rest of us once we are out of power. In short, we have to learn to play nice.

First, let’s address the glaring cliché of what a millennial is; someone late to work, rude, expectant, lazy and self-absorbed. However, we can apply that image to ANY generation when it is in its youth. Many times, young people just haven’t found what motivates them and so we hear stories of kids leeching off their parents. This could be due to the lack of experience, a good role-model or belief in themselves. We can all think back to our college days or when we started working and had high school friends still living with mom and dad, not having a direction for their lives. Eventually, many of these people got it together and finally took responsibility for their lives. Sadly, some did not, but that shouldn’t label an entire class of people. We must separate the age from the generation if we are to better understand them.

Safe-Space

So how did they get to where they are now? We first have to look at perhaps the best model of a “tough” society, the World War II Generation. Some call them the “silent generation”, Tom Brokaw called them the greatest generation and I tend to agree with him. These are people raised in the Depression and sent off to another continent to defeat the evils of Fascism and Imperialism. It fell to largely farm kids to fight the elite and defend Democracy. No doubt, their youth was vastly different from the experience of the average college student or young person today. When they returned home, they were grateful for a job and steady paycheck. So appreciative in fact, many worked forty years with the same company. Leaving one job for anther without just cause was viewed as a sort of betrayal. Being on the bottom rung of the company ladder, however, meant they could take pride in doing a good day’s work and putting food on the table for their families.

The Baby Boomers, however, wanted more than what their parents had. There is nothing wrong with that, it’s a natural progression. The bottom rung wouldn’t do for Boomers. At this time there was an explosion of college enrollment. Future employees wanted to be better equipped for their careers and ready for new, higher positions within the organization. As organization would typically promote from within, most of this generation would stay with a company for several decades.

Fast forward about twenty years, and Generation X came on the scene. They learned from the previous generation that loyalty to a company will not always be reciprocated. The good news was there were several other corporate ladders to climb within the same industry. If the young, upwardly mobile professionals wanted to get ahead, it meant they would have to make the leap every few years. There is nothing wrong with that, it’s a natural progression. This perhaps meant moving to another region of the country which led to a more integrated America.

That brings us to the young people of today we see in the workplace or who are perhaps still in college. The rungs of a Millennial corporate ladder look more like the slats of a of a roller coaster than anything upwardly mobile. They may work one place only for a few months and leave for a competitor that offers an industry certification with hands-on experience. A couple years later, intellectual tools in hand, move to an organization in a completely different field only to find everyone there is a “clone” of the company president. So, they join the Peace Corps or similar organization for a year in order to “give back to mankind”.  Then, still in their mid-twenties, they start work at their fourth corporation which is nothing at all like any of the previous jobs. They like it here and over time are promoted into management. Then a move is made to the original company because new leadership has changed the corporate culture there and it’s thought to be more rewarding work, even though it’s a pay cut. For most of us, it would be a wild ride! Again, there is nothing wrong with that, it’s a natural progression.

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Through the ages, Beatniks, Hippies and Yuppies got strange looks when it came to their clothes, hairstyle and mannerisms as typecasts for their era. Now, it’s the Hipsters turn! They seem to always be on their Smartphone to keep informed about current affairs, friends they have never met and the latest gadgets. Millennials are not any smarter than the other generations, though. Nor are any of us any smarter than mankind several millennia ago. What makes them stand out, is the technology at their disposal. That technology is everywhere, though most of us never have use for the majority of it. When I was in my twenties, I would approach my boss with a new idea only to have him tell me, “We tried that before and it doesn’t work”. NOW, a low-level employee may have an idea and created an app that will MAKE it work! For this point alone, we need not be dismissive of young people’s enthusiasm and ideas. Just because we couldn’t figure it out, doesn’t mean they can’t.

So, how do we keep Millennials in the organization? Well, just like any other generation, they seek satisfaction in their careers, though the focus of that satisfaction may be different. It will be NATURAL for them to set their sights on other opportunities elsewhere. For that, companies may need to NURTURE these growing corporate members in order to keep them around. Understand, I did not say coddle them. However, they do need to grow. This doesn’t necessarily mean UP. Millennials seek new tools such as accreditation and certifications or membership to an industry association. They also want to fully understand WHERE the company is going and how they fit into the overall plan. For this, leadership (that means the C- Suite, not middle management) will have to do a better job of telling their subordinates what the plans are for the immediate and long-range future. They also want to know the organization of which they are a part has a sense of community. If a charity event is corporately sponsored, Millennials will more than often volunteer their own time to help. So give them opportunities to really make a difference. For them, being part of a diverse crew where they regularly interact with others from different backgrounds is paramount.

Oddly, this sounds a lot like… teamwork. They want to be involved, so let them be. Add them to project management teams, ask their opinion of prototype products and new services. Let them know the specifics of their contribution to the business and you will keep them around longer and get more effort out of them. They will feel good (which is what they want) about coming to work. I still don’t know what an “emotional safe space” is, though.

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Jeff Mullins, the real thing

Recently, I had the good fortune to sit down with prominent business owner and one of my best friends, Jeff Mullins. Jeff is the proprietor of J. Mullins Jewelry and Gifts at 352 W. Northfield Blvd. here, in Murfreesboro. The reason for the interview was a long-time curiosity of what it takes to create a successful business. In this and subsequent Business Momentum articles for the Murfreesboro Pulse, I will look at how to start and maintain a business, as well as advice to take and pitfalls to avoid. The segments will feature new or re-branded businesses in the area.

 

(As usual, Jeff has me laughing)

If starting a business or wishing to purchase a new accessory, Mullins is a good source.  He has a long-standing history of success. Labs can create fake diamonds in a matter of years rather than centuries, but they are not the real thing. Department store counters and online websites will come and go, but Jeff Mullins has stood the test of time. He’s the real thing! To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Analysis Paralysis

I have taught Realtors and sales forces for almost a decade now. From brand-new rookies to career agents, I know one thing that will never change… change itself! Change will constantly come at us, and no matter how much we think we know, we don’t. There is always the need for additional knowledge and training. Information and experience are vital to the decisions we make on a daily basis. With the knowledge we have, and the benefit of past lessons learned, we can better assess the risk involved with any endeavor that may require an investment of our time, money, or emotions. That being said, we will seldom have an unqualified answer to the question: “Should I stay, or should I go”?

Several years ago, I was training a new twenty-something agent on my sales force when I was with a local RE/Max franchise. One of the first skills I taught this group of “newbies” was how to find prospective clients. This particular agent was attentive, thoughtful, and took copious notes in my Tuesday morning sales meetings. Jeff was what most sales trainers dream of; a clean slate devoid of bad sales habits, someone who was “coachable”. Indeed, he asked a lot of questions every Tuesday morning, and most every other day as well. He asked a lot of good questions, but mostly just A LOT of questions. Initially I didn’t mind. After all, that was part of my job. Although, after a month or more of this, and no clients to show for it, it finally dawned on me where his head was. His lack of confidence in being able to overcome every possible objection, stopped him in his tracks.

One Tuesday morning, after the rest of the team of new agents cleared out of the training room, I said to him; “Jeff, you do realize you will never have all the answers to every challenge that may arise beforehand, don’t you? In other words, you cannot possibly absorb everything from a textbook, or class in an attempt to eliminate a problem before it reveals itself to you”. Jeff looked to the side, back at me, then widened his eyes. This was his moment of Zen. Though I do not consider myself his “guru”, a light had clicked on for him. A switch that for many of us never gets flipped. It’s the realization that in order to pursue success, we must first be willing to fail.

So many people want to keep a perfect track record. As though THAT was more important than actually doing the job itself. I have stated several times; “perfection is overrated“. More on that in a later post. But, this concept of never being willing to make a mistake is sadly permeating our society. It’s not just with the young people, either. Those changing career fields, also seem to have a certain aversion to failure. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do a job well. That’s admirable, though it shouldn’t stifle our ability to perform at all. In the words of Marcus Lemonis, “Have no fear and be willing to fail.” Most challenges have more than one solution, but none of them will be completely perfect anyway.

Fortunately, it is NOT the job of a Realtor to know everything. It is the job of the Realtor, or sales professional to understand our client’s goals, then find the information that will be pertinent to our clients making an informed decision. Yes, we are compensated for helping others to avoid (or at least properly assess) the risks involved. That’s why we exist! We are the professionals. But, we didn’t become that by never making mistakes or by just asking a bunch of questions. So stop worrying about not knowing everything, and get to work. Your clients need you!

www.MomentumSeminars.com 

The End is Near!

What does the end of 2018 mean? It’s time to start thinking about our ambitions for 2019. (Pssst, it’s just a number). According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, only 8% of Americans actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions each year. Yikes! Statistically speaking (92% to be exact) I will NOT achieve my 2019 goals. Now what? Well what is a “goal” any way? It’s a dream we write down on a piece of paper to make us feel like we have accomplished something, or that we’re at least on our way. In short, we get a certain short-term satisfaction for having done something positive that day. We believe we are beginning to take charge of our lives! For a little while, we feel as though we are in control. Sadly, reviewing our little wish lists, is not taking action. And what were we doing the REST of the year, anyway?

Of course, you could scrap those goals all together, and simply BECOME the person you want to be, irrespective of the number on the calendar. That’s right, simply take on the disciplines and behaviors of the top sales rep in your company, act as if you were already regional manager, or earned that coveted industry designation.  We can incorporate the aspects of a positive personality TODAY, and that will get us to where we want to be a whole lot faster than a “wish list” on a slip of paper. In order for us to redesign our lives, it’s going to take… wait for it… CHANGE. Perhaps we avoid change not only out of complacency, but more the fact that to change today is to admit we were wrong yesterday. It’s a vicious cycle, but we can break it by becoming, rather than planning.

I’m not suggesting we should not have goals or pursue worth-while accomplishments. But we mustn’t be lulled into believing the goal itself IS the accomplishment. It is not. In order to achieve something new, we must do something different. That means moving out of our comfort zones, no two ways about it.  Fortunately, that’s something we can do that any time of the year, not just January first.

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SHOW Them You Mean Business!

Sales can be a fickle thing. Fickle because professional salesperson has to deal with other human beings. With that, comes all the thoughts, feelings, miscommunication and paranoia of those prospective clients. Throw a new home in the mix and you have a recipe for disaster!

In any industry, the onus to explain the process of how a customer can take advantage of a product or service falls to the sales professional. Ethically, this should include all the caveats of finalizing the agreement and disclosures any unforeseen liabilities. In real estate, this is a part of an agent’s fiduciary (financial) responsibility. A Realtor may market well and give sound advice when an offer comes in, but what about the period in between?

This is the time where clients, especially sellers, have the most anxiety and need a little bit of hand-holding. Yes, dealing with someone else’s emotions and frustrations is part of the job.  If one becomes a real estate agent because he loves beautiful homes, but dislikes dealing with people and their problems, then he is in exactly the WRONG industry. At the risk of sounding cliche, it really IS a people business. The best way take the temperature of your client and avoid a potential melt down is with good communication. That means preparing them from the very beginning.

People want to be led through the real estate process. They want to know what to expect. There are hundreds of things that may go wrong, and many of them are out of the Realtor’s control. What is in the control of the pro is how hard he or she will work on behalf of their clients. Over a decade ago, I developed a marketing plan detailing what I will do in the first 30 days I have a home listed. It was a way of actually showing what I would do. This is a small part of what I share in my Improved Communications for Real Estate Professionals” seminars. However, it is an important one. If I am going head-to-head against another professional for a client’s business yet they do not have a marketing plan, who do you think the prospect will choose?

Marketing Plan

Note, this 30 Day New Listing Marketing Plan does NOT guarantee I will SELL their home in 30 days. It simply reiterates what I am doing to get the home sold while I have it listed. Part of which, is good communication.  Having a frank conversation about what you will… or will not do to represent the client is not only sound business, but it will prevent miscommunication down the road. There is nothing new here. In truth, this is a culmination of several ideas I gathered along the way. A Realtor… or any other industry professional should have an explanation of serviced they can readily share with their prospects.

Keep watching for my latest “Improved Communications for Sales” workshop.

http://MomentumSeminars.com

May I Offer a Little Friendly Advice?

There is an old saying: “Free advice is only worth what you paid for it”. Well, hold on! Not everything that is free is completely worthless. Consider the air we breathe. Yes, there are times when advice can be good and beneficial to its receiver. There is another adage: “The best things in life are… FREE”. Perhaps more than the actual advice, we should better scrutinize the source. WHO is the one imparting the sage wisdom? Are they actually a sage? In other words, is it someone who actually has experience in that field?

When I was in business school, we had the occasional adjunct professor teach some of the upper class courses. An “adjunct” was someone who was not on regular staff, but still worked in the industry of which they were teaching. That being the case, they were usually night classes. I always had this feeling that the regular faculty didn’t like adjuncts. Nonetheless, THEY are the ones from whom I learned the most. If I saw an instructors name in the course catalog I didn’t recognize, I knew it was probably a business owner or CEO. It would be someone I could ask real-world questions and get a straight answer. An answer based on experience and not what was already written in the textbook. In other words, I valued their advice.

In real estate, it is estimated over half of all agents nationally quit after the first year in the industry.   One major reason for the high turnover is rookies feel they are not adequately trained in the BUSINESS of real estate. Over a decade ago, I was a real estate trainer for one of the largest RE/Max franchises in the country. It was a job I enjoyed and held that position for about five years. The program I put in place for new agents was hugely successful as evidenced by the stint of their careers. The training was said to be so good that veteran agents of other companies would recommend their friends who wanted to get into real estate to come see me! The managing broker loved me.

Given the acclaim from within as well as externally, you would think all the newbies would always hang on to every word I said in our training meetings, right? Nope! A new agent would knock on my office door and ask “Do you have a minute”? I always made the time. Once they asked a question or told me of a challenge they were having, I would tell them the best course of action or even offer a couple of suggestions. USUALLY, it was based on an experience I actually had throughout the course of my own career. I was puzzled the times they would not heed my words and go it their own way, sometimes re-inventing the wheel.

On one particular incident, one of my agents asked if she could simply use the old house photos from an online listing that had expired with another company. Though I had never heard of such, I told her it was best she take her own listing photos and “start fresh”. Simple enough, right? It may have been laziness on her part, but it certainly was not by accident she posted the old agents pictures online. Three days later the broker of the expired listing’s company called my broker and words were exchanged. I believe the topic was intellectual property rights. Once my young agent caught wind of the conversation, she called the old agent and further exacerbated the situation. Feelings were hurt and there was now bad blood between the two firms, which in real estate is NOT good. Not good at all. All she had to do was take my advice… and her own damned photos.

What I realized was there are people who seek validation rather than unbiased advice. They have an idea and go to the expert. IF the expert agrees… YAY! But if the veteran dissents, they simply do what it is they really wanted to do all along. I use to be extremely annoyed by this, as I considered my time was wasted. Now I see it is part of being human. To varying degrees we all do this. We get it in our head what we want to do, but ask opinions of others to cover ourselves. This is why it is vitally important to suspend making final decisions on important issues until enough workable information is in. Granted, it’s hard to separate our emotions from a logical decision. That’s the human part I was talking about. Consider all the down on their luck gamblers in Las Vegas; a prime example of not separating ideas from emotion.

Real estate is a tough career, but so is public speaking. I’m not even talking about being on stage. That is only 10% of it, the tip of the iceberg. As a public speaker and corporate trainer, I have about ten people a year ask me how to get started as a motivational speaker. I always stop what I am doing and take time to talk to them and answer any question they have. Why? Because a lot of successful speakers along the way stopped to talk to ME. They gave me advice and I took it. I always let novice speakers know the one most IMPORTANT bit of advice I can spare for someone just getting in the business; join Toastmasters International. Toastmasters is a public speaking club where one can learn the skills. The cost is only about $100 annually and generally, members are warm and welcoming. So, how many would-be Tony Robbins took me up on my advice? None! Not a single person I ran into again or called a month later actually joined Toastmasters. My guess is their dream is more attractive than the actual work of bringing it into reality.

My advice to you: the next time you seek someone’s opinion and their idea is contrary to what you initially thought, do further fact finding. However, they may be able to spare you some heartaches and stress. Has this person actually done what it is you want to do? If not, then WHY are you asking them?  Find someone qualified with real-world experience. If something isn’t as easy as you originally thought it was, you’re probably on the right track.

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