By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
It’s the big idea, the one that could change your life, boost your productivity, break open new real estate markets, and let you retire at 45. You’ve visualized. You’ve conceptualized. You’ve brainstormed. You know that you want to do. But when it comes time to implement your plan, everything unravels.
Sometimes even the best ideas go astray. Make It Happen! SNAPP Your Way To Success in Business and in Life by Ron Biagi and Tresa Eyres (It’s the How Publishing Company, $24.95) shows you how to give your project the underlying structure it needs to become successful and how to direct and motivate your team toward the desired goal.
There are five parts to the SNAPP method of project management:
- See it. Defining a project is the vital first step to success. Begin by asking questions that help you clarify your goals. Ask questions like: What does it look like when it’s finished? Why are we doing this? Who is the customer? These answers help you identify your goals and give you a means of evaluating your results.
- Negotiate it. Lack of preparation, miscommunication, and ambiguity between co-workers can sabotage even a well-thought-out project. Meet with key team players on the project to flesh out the project’s basic structure. Ask questions like: What is the project’s scope? What are its assumptions? Who will help? What can change or go wrong? What is the budget? Mapping out these elements ensures that all your team members are on the same page.
- Agree on it. Once you’ve decided on the why and who of a project, creating a blueprint for how is equally important. Ask questions like: What is the action plan? Who is accountable? Who will approve it? You’ve already made sure that your project is built on a firm foundation; now you need to figure out the specifics of implementation.
- Persist. The hardest part for many people is following through. It’s easy to compromise or even abandon your goals at this stage. Persistence helps you keep a firm grip on carrying out the plans that you’ve made so far. Be sure that you: Manage performance. Monitor the details. Make and follow a communications plan. Stay focused. Lead by example. It’s your job to be a leader and shepherd the project to completion.
- Praise the team. Recognizing your team members’ contributions increases efficiency and job satisfaction while the project is underway. The authors suggest some basic, but often overlooked techniques. Say “thank you” Celebrate a successful completion. Let everybody know that you appreciate all their hard work.
The book provides dozens of templates and forms that show you how to use the SNAPP method to define goals, organize action plans, and carry out other parts of the program for both new and existing projects. To help you in applying the principles to everyday life, the book follows the “Tale of the Tangled Web Site” a real-life case study of the AB-Z Company’s efforts to launch a Web site.
While there is no magic formula for success in real estate or in life, Make It Happen! should inspire you to start asking the right questions to organize and implement your ideas. If you believe that you have the vision to succeed, this book may provide a road map for translate thoughts into realities.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Technology has made it impossible to leave your job behind. Work follows you everywhere; pagers beep, PDAs prompt, and e-mail connects us 24-7. The problem is especially acute for real estate professionals, who can easily fall into the trap of always being “on-call.”
It takes more than pawning your pager or tossing your laptop off a cliff to achieve a balanced life, says Gil Gordon, author of Turn It Off: How to Unplug from the Anytime, Anywhere Office, Without Disconnecting Your Career (Three Rivers Press, 2001. $12.00) Telecommuting and virtual office expert Gordon, whose work has been featured in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to USA Today, espouses a philosophy that is not so much anti-technology as pro-moderation. Rather than advocating total abstinence from technology, the book argues that individuals should recognize the effect it has on their lives and take steps to keep those effects under control.
Gordon’s thesis is simple–you have a fundamental right to allocate some portion of your week to work-free and work-limited zones. To regain some balance between home and work, Gordon suggests carving your week into three distinct categories and letting your clients and co-workers know when you’ll be accessible:
- On duty: This is the time you carry out the majority of your work. You are fully available, accessible, and willing and able to do your work.
- Off duty: The polar opposite of being on call. This is your “don’t call me; I’m busy having a life” time.
- Mid-duty range: The middle ground between these two extremes. You can make a deliberate decision about how accessible you will be on weekends or after hours.
Firmly establishing a set of ground rules that address your level of availability can keep technology from invading your life. If your office knows that you don’t check your e-mail on Sundays, for example, you won’t have to feel guilty about spending the afternoon with your family.
Turn It Off also gives you advice on how to communicate your plan without damaging your job or your client relationships. This is largely dependant on advance planning. Improvisation leaves you unprepared and less likely to make convincing arguments for your new schedule. You should know exactly what limits you wish to introduce and your reasons for introducing them. For instance, if long hours are stressing you out, then freeing up some time may actually improve your productivity.
Additionally, you should tailor conversations about your plan towards each individual. Some people prefer seeing a memo in writing before discussing important scheduling issues, others might prefer an informal conversation over a cup of coffee. Finally, always remember to keep your cool and listen to other people’s concerns. There’s a fine line between aggressiveness and assertiveness, but you can get your points across without alienating anyone.
The idea that everyone deserves some time to themselves may seem like a radical notion in today’s wired world. Ultimately, however, ignoring quality-of-life issues can have serious consequences including burn out and diminished productivity. Technology that allows you to stay in touch while you’re in the office, on the road, or working from home has been a tremendous boon to real estate professional. But nobody should have to be a slave to their cell phone. You don’t have tune out completely, but you shouldn’t ever forget that it has an off switch for a reason.