Dave Liniger, chairman and co-founder of RE/MAX, has a long list of accomplishments. He’s raced cars at Daytona and trained with NASA. He’s parachuted from airplanes and hunted big game in exotic locations around the world. He’s been a police officer and a soldier. How does a guy like that face the idea that he may never walk again?
In late January of last year, Liniger discovered he couldn’t move his legs. What he initially assumed was part of his chronic back pain turned out to be a staph infection that not only ran the entire length of his spine and into his brain stem, but it also spread to his blood, meaning he was septic and in real danger of dying for weeks on end. My Next Step: An Extraordinary Journey of Healing and Hope (Hay House Inc., 2013) is Liniger’s memoir of the next seven months of his life, from feverish hallucinations to drug-induced comas to the long recovery from multiple surgeries and partial paralysis. The book includes short vignettes from family, friends, and professionals who helped care for Liniger in the hospital and through physical therapy.
The book isn’t really about real estate, but the main character might be familiar to real estate pros, even if they’ve never been affiliated with RE/MAX. Liniger has that I’ll-sleep-when-I-die attitude that many successful real estate brokers display through long hours and an ever-present can-do spirit. That kind of determination might lead a person through a tough transaction or office merger, but can it lead a person back from the brink of death? Continue reading »
Back when her life ran smack into the foreclosure crisis, Stephanie Alison Walker started blogging. It didn’t stop offers from evaporating or credit scores from plummeting. It didn’t keep her and her husband out of bankruptcy court. But it did turn out to be a great little love story.
Walker strung together her blog entries and created a book called Love in the Time of Foreclosure. You ride with her and her husband, Bob, down the rocky path that millions have traveled since the start of the housing crisis. Originally they had put 20% down on a 30-year, fixed-interest loan, with the income to back it up. Then, Bob lost his job and their dream house wasn’t too far behind.
Here at the Book Scan blog, we’ve covered the real estate + romance novel mashup. But Walker’s story isn’t about poofy blouses or forbidden trysts. This memoir is about how to keep a marriage together and romance alive under one of the most stressful situations a couple can go through together. And this isn’t about the perfect couple that can handle any of life’s problems, either. Stephanie and Bob have almost broken up before. What’s to say the end of homeownership might not also be the end of their union? Continue reading »
Stories of salespeople going from rags to riches are a dime a dozen. And books chronicling abuse and recovery often seem overly congratulatory and hazily constructed, with the most harrowing parts excised.
After reading all of the ways that Robert Radcliffe managed to almost kill himself before the ripe old age of 22, however, I’d say 180 Degrees stands out as something a bit different. Radcliffe, or “Robert R.” as his nom de guerre reads, writes about being a dropout addict who became a dealer to support his habit. He shares some pretty shameful stories, giving readers a believable inner narrative to go along with them. He explains the thinking behind what must have seemed like the erratic behavior of a crazy person, without requesting pity or subjecting readers to self-flagellation.
The book is split into two parts, one chronicling addiction and the other recovery. The first half of the book is addictive if only in terms of shock value and sheer honesty. Radcliffe exposes some pretty awful things done by a kid who was once deathly afraid of doctors’ office needles and who swore he’d never do drugs. As Radcliffe admits his self-destructiveness stemmed partly from the fact that he “never believed [he] would make it to adulthood,” you find yourself wondering how he did. Continue reading »
Buying a house, moving, home improvement… these are all things that can be funny, heartwarming and entertaining. It’s just that when you’re surrounded on all sides by boxes, closing documents and plaster, it’s hard to be coherent, much less endearingly hilarious.
Author Matthew Batt does not have this problem in his debut memoir, Sugarhouse: Turning the Neighborhood Crack House Into Our Home Sweet Home (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, $14.95 US). His story of finding, purchasing and fixing the sort-of, maybe-someday perfect house in Salt Lake City with his wife is one of my must-reads for the summer.
Batt travels the roads you’ve seen so many new home owners go down. He manages to tumble through the common roadblocks with a healthy sense of humor and the entertaining vocabulary to back it up. He waxes poetic on the importance of countertops, the meaning behind carpeting, and the sheer weirdness of househunting. Continue reading »
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
They called him Neutron Jack. Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch accumulated other labels during his 20 year tenure, but for many years that nickname stuck. Some employees gave it to him in the early eighties, after a tough-minded decision to cut employment rolls; in honor of a type of thermonuclear weapon designed to kill people, but leave buildings standing. By the time he retired this past spring, however, he was celebrated in many quarters as the CEO’s CEO, a icon of business leadership. Now Welch returns with Jack: Straight From the Gut (Warner Books, 2001. $29.95), recounting his story from his Massachusetts Irish Catholic upbringing to his final days at GE. If you manage a company, or have dreams of doing so one day, this book provides an opportunity to learn about leadership from a business great.
Brokers might find Chapter 24: “What this CEO Thing is All About” especially illuminating. It distills some of the key ingredients that Welch feels led to his success. Obviously, there are many differences between running a Fortune 500 company and a small real estate business, but effective leadership values remain the same on any scale. Some of these elements are characteristics that leaders must build in themselves, such as integrity, self-confidence, and passion. Leaders do more than make decisions, says Welch, they set the tone for the entire organization.
Welch’s people-oriented business philosophy is reflected throughout the book, as he repeatedly stresses the importance of having the right people around you to achieve business success. He describes being a CEO as “a job that’s close to 75 percent about people and 25 percent about other stuff.” Among the many lessons he learned about managing people were:
- Don’t punish honest mistakes. When people make mistakes often the last thing they need is disciple, Welch says. Instead, a leader’s job should be to restore the employee’s self-confidence. If you fail to create an environment where people can learn from their mistakes, their mistakes will pile up as they begin to second-guess themselves.
- Don’t hire on appearances. Falling for slick, empty packages is an easy mistake to make, Welch says. He talks about how he sometimes let himself be swayed by credentials such as academic degrees, when what he really was searching for was a passion for the business.
- Always be direct. Welch scorns what he calls “superficial congeniality” the bureaucratic art of smiling to someone’s face, while waiting for an opening to stick a knife in their back. Whether or not they agree with your decisions, he believes, being direct earns the respect of people around you.
A self-described round peg in a square hole, Welch says that his outspoken honesty sometimes rubbed people the wrong way. Critics predicted he was too different to survive long as CEO, but his 20-year success at GE proved them wrong. Jack: Straight from the Gut offers his view of why he succeeded. Along the way, it provides real estate practitioners with the opportunity to learn about leadership from one of the best. Real estate is essentially no different than any other business. If a brokerage’s leadership exhibits a strong sense of the company’s goals and values, then this spirit will spread throughout its members. Though he was not universally loved throughout his GE tenure, he had a distinct vision for the company’s direction. Whatever else people called him, there was never any doubt that Jack Welch was the boss.
By Lucien Salvant, REALTOR® Magazine
As soon as you hear the title of Harvey Mackay’s book, Pushing the Envelope All the Way to the Top (New York: Ballantine Books, 1999; $24.95), you know the business advice guru is tipping his sleight of hand. The “punch” line, as Mackay fans know, is that he’s the successful owner of an envelope business.
Easy-to-read chapters are in his usual anecdotal style: short, pithy, entertaining, and humorous. They make a point, and just in case you miss it, Mackay concludes each chapter with “Mackay’s Moral,” quoting a range of successful folk from Yogi Berra to Dirty Harry to John LeCarré. But mostly the quotes are Mackay’s own, and that’s the strength of the book. Here are some samples.
- On getting started: “Start your new year today. And remember, anyone can make a resolution. Very few people can keep one.” His favorite is using imagination that leads to making you different from your competition: “I will encourage risk-taking . . . I know that many businesses fail from lack of boldness rather than from trying something new.”
- Using your resources: “Time is precious. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”
- Birth of a salesperson: “Good salespeople have three priorities: their customers, their company, and themselves. In that order.”
You can make a list of Mackay’s “morals” to consult periodically, post them on your bulletin board, or select one for your daily business mantra.
By Donald “Jerry” McKeon, vice president of Max Broock Inc., REALTORS®, Birmingham, Mich.
Although we arrived on the Detroit area real estate scene about the same time, and I live and work less than 10 miles from Ralph Roberts’ real estate office, our paths seldom cross. Roberts’ book, Walk Like a Giant, Sell Like a Madman (written with John Gallagher; Harper Business, 1997), recounts much of what I’ve heard about this legend both in local circles and on the national scene.
Superstars often possess fair-sized egos, and Roberts is no exception. You quickly pick up on this as he unabashedly boasts of his record-setting accomplishments. Even though much of what’s in the book is Real Estate 101, there are still some good tips on building a successful business.
Roberts credits the growth of his business to farming. He started with an area of only a few hundred homes but now mails information to more than 60,000 households. His book covers much of the how-to in setting up a farm and the ongoing maintenance required for the best results.
Roberts didn’t become one of America’s top salespeople without some good ideas, and his chapters on prospecting and marketing illustrate that fact best. With an annual marketing budget of $100,000, he has tried just about everything and shares all with you.
An advocate of self-promotion, Roberts endorses the use of personal brochures and believes your personal photo should be on all promotional material. He says a successful program will yield many press opportunities, and he offers several suggestions on how to turn positive press into more business.
There’s also an entire chapter devoted to personal assistants, and you’ll find a number of down-to-earth tips on how to keep assistants happy. Roberts should know, since he has nearly 50 assistants on his payroll.
Walk Like a Giant, Sell Like a Madman falls far short of being a literary masterpiece. It seems as though the book had been written between appointments. But it does inspire. Who wouldn’t be motivated by a practitioner who acquired 300 properties after losing to foreclosure the one home he owned when he entered the business?