Tempering the sometimes overly-sweet world of self-help books can be an age-related challenge, and we may just have popular culture to blame for that.
Though there are any number of references I could conjure to make my point, I have a specific one in mind. There’s a moment in the book/movie Fight Club that spoke deeply to my generation. Author Chuck Palaniuk writes these words for the chaotic character of Tyler Durden:
You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.
The reason that quote—which may just sound like a flowery insult to some—was meaningful for kids growing up in the ‘90s had a lot to do with the fact that we were overstuffed with goal-setting exercises and surrounded by elders who believed all kids needed to succeed was a positive self image. Saying that this was, in fact, not the case was a resonant and revolutionary statement for many of us.
Perhaps that’s why it’s difficult for me to get into certain self-help books. For example, Bill Fields’ Get Up, Get Over and Get On With It: Lessons for Turning Life’s Setbacks Into Successful Comebacks, recently came across my desk. In Lesson Two of the book, Fields preaches the exact opposite sentiment of that expressed in the aforementioned quote:
You are absolutely unique…If you did not exist, there would be a hole in creation, a gap in history, something missing from the plan for humankind.
So, am I a snowflake or not? Continue reading »
When I was a kid, I loved comic books. Reading about the exploits of the Uncanny X-Men, the Amazing Spider Man, and the Incredible Hulk filled many of the evenings and weekends of my childhood. (Oh, who am I kidding? It filled a lot of the time I spent in my elementary school classes too.)
The comic-book version of How to Master the Art of Selling (2011) put out by SmarterComics was not, admittedly, as exciting as my pre-adolescent journeys to the Marvel Universe. But what it does offer is a very user-friendly explanation of the basics of sales that can be digested in a single sitting.
In panel after panel, a caricature of author Tom Hopkins walks the reader through animated descriptions of selling concepts like motivation and presentation. If you consider yourself a master or if you’re looking for complex, arcane tips on how to sell, there may not be a lot here for you besides an entertaining, breezy read. But if you’re new to the business, or need a reaffirmation of the fundamentals, it’s worth checking out.
FROM THE BOOK: 5 LESSONS FOR REAL ESTATE PROS
▪ Learn to look at the bright side of rejection: Even the best salespeople will face a great deal of rejection throughout their careers. Bouncing back quickly from rejection requires taking certain views of those situations. Take lessons from these situations, or find the humor in them, in order to move on and up.
▪ Emotion first, logic second: People’s first impressions upon being introduced to a new product or service are grounded in feelings. A more analytical evaluation comes later, sometimes as to justify a purchase after it’s happened. As Hopkins points out, “You prequalify people by finding out whether the emotion that’s necessary to carry the sale to completion exists or can be created.”
▪ Don’t spend too much time face-to-face with clients and customers: Continue reading »
By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Famed investor Sam Zell, who made his fortune in commercial real estate, is part of the same billionaire genus as Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates. Most people tend to view him as either a hero or a tyrant, with very little middle ground in between. This controversial figure has been in the headlines quite a bit over the past couple of years after he bought the Tribune Co. (which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times) and sold the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field (which were owned by the Tribune Co.).
(Disclosure: My wife worked at the Zell-owned Equity Residential for about a year, and even met the guy once at an office Christmas party. He also has an office in the Tribune Tower, which I’m looking at through the window of NAR headquarters as I’m typing this. Sometimes we wave to each other from across the street. OK, I made that last part up.)
Anyway, there’s little doubt as to whether Ben Johnson, author of Money Talks, Bullsh*t Walks: Inside the Contrarian Mind of Billionaire Mogul Sam Zell, falls into the superstar or villain camp. His book about Zell’s rise to power and navigation of complex business deals frequently borders on hero worship (though, to be fair, this is toned down somewhat as Johnson recounts the Tribune deal).
Is Zell a wildly successful businessman because of his inimitable, analytical mind, or because of his doggedness and determination? That’s the kind of conundrum that Johnson seems to present to the reader throughout the book — rather than, for instance, how can someone who is such a fierce competitor hate actual competition so much? (Zell is quoted as saying, “The best thing to have in the world is a monopoly … I’m more than willing to leave all the rest of the highly competitive world to everyone else.” It would be like Tom Brady saying, “I love winning Super Bowls, but I hate playing football.”) Continue reading »
The following is an excerpt from the book SuccessMapping: Achieve What You Want…Right Now! (Emerald Book Co., 2009) by Arlene Johnson. The book provides a step-by-step roadmap to achieving success and your personal goals.
Here’s a very basic and universal truth: We all have far more potential than we will ever realize. Really, you are wired to experience success in all that matters to you. It’s who you are. So, equipped with your belief in what might be possible and what you next want to accomplish, SuccessMapping will show you how!
The Eight Success Blockers
Even when we strongly believe that we are totally capable to achieve a specific goal, we can stall out and stop taking action before we accomplish what we set out to. What keeps preventing us from starting or completing our most important journeys toward life dreams and goals?
There are eight major reasons-”success blockers”-that can stop you from starting something you want to achieve or completing it once you’ve started.
The Eight Success Blockers are:
1. Neglecting your potential. Not believing that you can succeed with-or, because of multiple options, having no clarity about-what you really want to accomplish.
2. Lack of focus. When your thoughts, behaviors and actions are not “laser-focused” on what you want to achieve.
3. Choosing not to engage. Making decisions that Do Not Help you achieve what you want: When needing to change, choosing to wait and see and do nothing different. Or choosing to oppose or resist engaging in the change opportunity. Continue reading »
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Sometimes you need to slow down before you can speed ahead. TurboStrategy: 21 Powerful Ways to Transform Your Business and Boost Your Profits Quickly (AMACOM, 2003, $19.95), by prolific speaker and consultant Brian Tracy, reveals how taking the time to assess your business operations, workers, market conditions, and competition, can help you formulate a forward-looking plan to transform your business into a streamlined profit machine.
The book promises to help you turn around a lagging business or even help accelerate an already thriving business. It stresses the importance of flexibility, so sudden changes won’t knock you off course. This is a timely message for the current real estate market; business is booming now, but have you prepared yourself for any eventuality?
You might feel as if pausing—even for a moment—will cause you to fall behind your competitors. But moving at breakneck speed without a plan can prove disastrous. The book cites a statistic from the American Management Association that a staggering 70 percent of managers’ business decisions are doomed to failure. Pulling over and mapping out where you are, and where you’re going, can help bypass these detours.
The book provides a soup-to-nuts approach to this process, with a 21-point plan designed to reinvest struggling businesses and boost already successful ones to the next level. Each chapter ends with a series of questions that crystallize what points you should remember after reading the main text. For instance, “Chapter 3: Conduct a Basic Business Analysis” asks you to define your competitive advantage, describe your business in terms of what you do for your customers and what results you produce, and determine which 20 percent of your activities generate 80 percent of the returns.
These points may seem elementary, but as the Tracy points out, many business owners still overlook them. He quotes Harold Geneen, the CEO who built ITT Industries Inc. into a major computer conglomerate: “Get the real facts. Not the apparent facts, the hoped-for facts, or the obvious facts. Get the real facts, based on analysis.”
This means focusing on the cold, hard numbers. What is your current sales level? What are you selling, at what price, to what customers, and with what level of profitability? Geneen believes that becoming trapped in doing the same old thing is a constant danger for business owners. He advocates “ zero-based” thinking, which basically means asking yourself, “If I weren’t doing this today, would I do it again, knowing what I know now?” Sometimes it’s more efficient just to tear a system down and start over from scratch, rather than trying to fix it.
Another key component of the book’s strategy is setting goals. How can you expect to succeed if you don’t even know what it is that you’re trying to achieve? This involves setting both quantitative business goals, as well as defining overall vision. Clarifying your goals is often simply a matter of restating them within a logical, structured framework. In “Chapter 4: Decide Exactly What You Want” Tracy outlines the “GOSPA Model,” which provides a template for strategic planning.
The GOSPA Model consists of five parts:
- Goals. Your quantifiable targets in areas such as sales, growth rate, market share, or percentage of return on investment.
- Objectives. The interim steps, or subgoals, that you must take to achieve your goals, such as a specific rate of return on advertising or a reduction in costs for an activity.
- Strategies. The menu of strategies that you can use to achieve your objectives and reach your goals.
- Plans. Concrete blueprints for achieving your goals, comprising step-by-step lists of day-to-day activity, broken down by sequence and priority.
- Actions. Clear, specific, time-bounded tasks to carry out your plans.
Later chapters present tactics to ensure that you are ready to face market changes. This includes analyzing not only your own business, but also your market and your competitors to compete in current conditions.
“Chapter 11: Do It Better, Faster, Cheaper” explains the importance of differentiating your company from competitors to achieve market superiority. According to Tracy, competitive advantage—what you do better than anyone else—is the most important determinant of success. Simply trying to cut prices (commissions) alone isn’t enough to separate you from the pack. Perhaps your sales force possesses special expertise, such as language skills or knowledge about buying second homes. Or maybe you are well versed in technology and can offer customers a little extra, such as sending buyers automatic e-mail notifications when a property meeting their criteria comes on the market. No matter what you choose to highlight, Tracy believes that you also need to be better, faster, and easier to use in at least three areas, and that you should emphasize these areas in your marketing and sales work.
The book also recommends planning out possible scenarios as well as how you will deal with them when you face change head on. But you also must focus on making continual improvements to anticipate gradual changes. Stripping down your business operations to peak efficiency will create an organization that can respond rapidly to change. “Chapter 17: Reengineer Your Company” shows how to streamline and optimize your business to raise your profits. Complexity creates a barrier to peak efficiency. Tracy’s “Law of Complexity” states, “The complexity of a process increases by the square number of steps in that process.” He advises listing the steps you take to complete business tasks, then look for steps that can be eliminated or outsourced, such as hiring an outside computer specialist, rather than having a tech support person on staff. Similarly, you should examine your own schedule to look for tasks that you could delegate to an assistant.
It’s virtually impossible to predict how long the real estate market can sustain its present heat. However, whether you own an independent company with a two-person staff or run a major franchise, taking a moment to outline concrete goals and watching out for adverse changes will serve you well in any market. This all starts with slowing down to examine where you are, where you’re going, and how you plan to get there. By taking these steps, you can maximize your ability to succeed and boost your bottom line.