Hi, Book Scan readers. I spent the first part of last week hanging out with community planners at the American Planning Association’s national conference. Though I haven’t read the book described below, I thought the author (who gave the closing keynote at the conference) had some beautiful thoughts on home ownership that real estate professionals would appreciate. Enjoy! —MW
Early Pearl has a great idea for dealing with an intractable problem. As a homeless 11-year old Chicagoan, she sees all of the sturdy housing stock that stands empty and abandoned in her south side neighborhood and decides to take action.
She gets some friends together and, with a few cameras, they snap pictures of these empty houses. They send the pictures—along with their imaginings of how the structures could be transformed into dream homes for kids without anywhere to live—to community leaders in an effort to spark a change in their unfortunate circumstances.
Early is only a character in Blue Balliett’s newest mystery novel, Hold Fast (Scholastic Press, 2013). But there are more than 30,000 kids in Chicago alone who are homeless just like she is, and some 16,000 vacant properties like the ones that Early dreams of inhabiting.
“Kids will easily share their dreams about a home,” Balliett said in her keynote speech at the American Planning Association’s national conference last week. “They never make small plans.”
Balliett, a bestselling author of young adult literature, told planners that she came up with the idea for Hold Fast during the housing downturn, when she noticed a dearth of news stories about the effect foreclosures were having on her target audience.
“The children were invisible,” she said. “I kept wondering about the kids: Who are they and what does it feel like to grow up without a front door?” Continue reading »
Real estate is as cutting edge as it is traditional, and the same thing goes for the English language. Just think: When you’re calling a prospect on your cell, you might “dial” in their number, just as you might also “hang up” when you’re finished. But is there a rotary dial on your phone or a cradle within which you can hang the mouthpiece of your telephone? Nope.
As a word nerd, I love these contradictions that flavor our everyday speech. In I Love it When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), author Ralph Keyes calls these contradictions “retroterms,” or “verbal artifacts that hang around in our national conversation long after the topic they refer to has galloped into the sunset.”
I Love it When You Talk Retro is a fascinating book by all accounts, and worth a read just for fun. But for Book Scan readers, I pulled out a few of the more real estate-related items for which you might want to know the origins.
Ever encountered an actual skeleton in the closet of one of your listings? Probably not nowadays, but in nineteenth-century England you may have. In the beginning of the era of modern medicine, doctors found that dissecting corpses was a very good way to learn about the human body and disease. However, doing so was illegal. So doctors had to hide the results of such experiments in closets, for fear of punishment. Now, of course, a “skeleton in the closet” is more likely to refer to family secrets than any frightening open house surprises.
Some of the best deals are struck on the front porch. Yet, back when political candidates William McKinley, Benjamin Harrison, and Warren G. Harding used front porch campaigns to connect with fellow citizens, they were derided as lazy by opponents who crisscrossed the country for votes. It was not particularly impressive to give speeches from one’s own front porch, but effectiveness is another measure altogether. Though each front porch campaigner experienced success from their efforts, the phrase is still used as a way to describe lethargic efforts to win people over. Or maybe it’s just a soft sell technique? You decide.
Next time you’re showing off the backyard of an early 20th-century home, don’t offer to take house hunters on a trip to the woodshed. Continue reading »
You’re no doubt familiar with the concept of an elevator speech; you’ve probably been told you should write one for this or that idea, or to snag such-and-such a client. But did you know that Ronald Reagan, the U.S. president nicknamed “The Great Communicator,” used a similar technique for connecting with his many audiences?
This factoid is just one way in which Terri L. Sjodin touts the unsung importance of the elevator speech in her new book, Small Message, Big Impact: The Elevator Speech Effect. She marries the succinct communication tool with the butterfly effect, a scientific-turned-cultural meme that insists one seemingly-insignificant action can have outsized effects.
Sjodin posits that the elevator speech has changed significantly since it was first “invented” (likening the difference to that between Pong and Wii). She also insists that the tool is suited to all kinds of professionals (not just in sales situations) and demonstrates examples of how it can be employed outside the elevator to great success.
But really, the book itself and the messages in it are not exactly revolutionary. But that’s OK; Sjodin doesn’t need to convince us that quick, well-thought-out speeches are potentially game changing and worth having in one’s rhetorical back pocket (especially in this era of shortening attention spans). She just needs to show us how to do it.
This is where she excels. You can tell right away that Sjodin is the consummate coach. Once you dive into the chapters on creating your elevator speech(es), it feels like Sjodin is your own personal communications trainer. Readers won’t find it difficult to believe she wants them to succeed.
That doesn’t mean your intentions will be realized at the end of your three minutes. Sjodin both acknowledges the long preparation hours required to perfect effective communication packages and notes that the speech really functions as a step toward your ultimate goal. That first speech, if executed properly, should get you more time with the object of your pitch, or a step up the decision-making ladder. “Just advance the ball. Don’t go for the touchdown,” Sjodin says. Continue reading »