Have you ever been somewhere or talked to someone who made you inspired to do better?  To do more?  To put yourself out there on that fragile limb that says I absolutely trust you?

I spent several days this past week in Denver.  I bonded with a tremendous group of people who not only are my teammates, but I would call them friends.  I met a slew of other folks that empowered me to think outside my little box here in northern Virginia.  Discovering opportunities that I didn’t even know existed … just by exchanging information with people.  And best yet….because RE/MAX Allegiance took seventeen of its Broker/Managers and Owners and staff to the conference, we are offered the opportunity to bring ALL our associates at half price to the convention in Vegas in March.  I’m feeling pretty lucky here right now, and I’m not even remotely CLOSE to Vegas.

I also learned a few humbling things.  I left my phone, inadvertently behind on my kitchen table.  I was able to ask Gwen to go out of her way to get it for me so that I wouldn’t be text-less.  Is that not selfish?  I cannot believe how plugged in I am.   Not that I had anything to do with the something-like-fourteen-hour-trip Gwen had from DC to Denver aside, thank you, friend!  My family was wondering who I was texting from random phones to make sure all was well in my home world.  (Note to self:  NEVER EVER EVER make a long distance call on a hotel phone.  Ten minutes = $23.46.

I was fired from map reading along the ‘trails’ of the Garden of the Gods.  It wasn’t MY fault, however.  They could have marked the trails a wee bit better wouldn’t you say?????  I also know that I will never be asked to be a partner on The Amazing Race.  That one stung a little; I’d always thought I would win a million dollars.  

An exceptionally important personal thing I learned is that Kathy Moore, aka Kathleen Fulton, is the best.  (So are you, Steve.)  I was originally scheduled to spend some time with them over the weekend and things shifted and whatnot…suddenly it was Tuesday afternoon and I am flying out the next day.  So what does my crazy, longest friendship from fourth grade do?  She convinces her Steve to drive an hour to meet me and catch-up and have a couple of beers at a really amazing out-of-the-way pizza joint.  Their faithfulness to our friendship makes me humble.

When I got back I was greeted with great joy and happiness by Niko, the scariest dog ever to live on the planet.  Amongst others who are not scary that are family and live in my heart.  It was 96 degrees when I landed back in DC.  But it felt like home as I felt beloved from the moment my feet hit the pavement.

Tonight?  Friday.  48 hours later.  How do I feel?  I feel empowered professionally because of the attention that RE/MAX Allegiance pays to making sure that everyone gets what they need in able to move forward.  It is almost ten at night and I am writing this on my deck.  I have a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt on.  The weather has shifted a bit.  I feel…coooooooool.  I have been caught up in a maelstrom that captures the essence of my life and makes me smile.  And worry.  And always always trust.  And I am part of something that is greater than I, and for that I am very thankful. 

Sometimes I have a sort-of goofy smile on my face.  I often don’t know why; perhaps my mind retreats back to retrieve memories that tweak a smile.  Tonight…my frogs are frogging.  The world is spinning on its axis.  And I know for sure that the sun will rise in the east….and I am absolutely guaranteed to turn my face to it.  Isn’t that right, my sunshine?

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It’s been a good week.

I got up about six-ish Monday.  My bedside table clock is set for fifteen minutes later.  Roll your eyes.  I already have done it.  Sometimes I forget to put my cell on vibrate and therefore get various dings/bells/whistles for things that I don’t even understand how to open.  But I do have some sort of weird internal alarm that has me on doze button about twenty minutes before the real deal.

Someone that knows me well had already texted me…good morning…..about two seconds before I realized I was awake.  Some0ne else (GWENNNN!) hoped I would drive safe and don’t text when I’m driving.  Oh heck.  You guys are taking all the fun out of a Monday roadtrip.  Seriously?

Heigh ho, heigh ho….it is off to work I go.  Starbucks coffee (with a straw so I don’t need to go  to buy a way-too-good-looking shirt)….(don’t suck in too fast, it will burn the whoknowswhatsit out of the back of your throat.  Just a friendly tip from me to you)

Long day.  Fun day.  LOVED meeting Regina, our great recruiter down there in Hampton Roads.  She will make us all proud, no doubt…not to mention she is an awful lot of good stuff to work with.  A personal favorite, Amy Carder, makes life a little fun for me.  And that puts her up in my fave list!  She brought Regina to  RE/MAX Allegiance’s  attention…and absolutely yes….Regina will build upon our already successful stuff.

Fast forward to today, Thursday.  Big storms blew in.  Trees blew down.  I sat in my car watching literal sheets of rain wash it clean.  There was no way-no how I was going to get out into that.  Especially since I no longer own a functioning umbrella.  Besides…great coversations can be had in cars when you can’t drive because you can’t see but the a/c is working so you are just relishing the quiet little slice of heaven. 

RE/MAX International’s Broker/Owner Conference starts on Sunday…so off to Denver I go.  Seventeen of the Broker-Owners/Managers/Staff will be heading out there.  It is going to be a really great event with a lot of networking, bonding, laughing…and perhaps a karaoke session?  One never knows.   I will miss my three trusty readers while I am gone.  Perhaps I’ll even get really crazy up there in that altitude and I’ll take fun pictures and post and blog from there.  My friend, Brian, says I’m really going to enjoy the running there.  Was he kidding me?  I’m really looking forward to finding out. 

Colorado will be a new state for me, but it won’t accomplish the dream I’ve established with someone.  Two down, forty eight GREAT ones to go!!!!  Next convention:  Vegas, March 2011!  At least that will be three!

Let the good times roll.

You know who you are.

Last year I even confessed that I’d broken two of the Seven Deadly Sins because of you.  I was patient, ever patient.  I even pretended that I was ok with what you were doing.  Yesterday, however, you broke my heart.  YOU, Steve Jobs, YOU and your lousy iPhone.  You teased me with 4G, and I am already with the 4G network, so wasn’t that a bit misleading?  You are staying with AT&T?  Say what?  Steve, you hurt me for the last time.  I’m finished with you.

I’m going to buy a Droid.  Yes, Steve, a Droid.  And I bet I’m going to love it even MORE than your stupid iPhone.  Because let’s face it:  Who needs to be able to play Farmville on the road?  If you do and you are reading this, I am sure that there are support groups that can help you.

I do need a smart phone.  We all do in this business.  If you aren’t running around with a smart phone, quite frankly you are losing business.  RE/MAX Allegiance has brought our company website mobile.  We will even provide you with the technology to bring your personal website mobile.  How cool will your tech-savvy clients think you are then?  Need access to your transactions?  DocBox-to-Go.  Yours.  Here you go.  Thank you for being an associate.  Now go take that vacation on the beach.  You work smarter, not harder with us.

And Steve?  You, the iSisters and iBrothers, Brian Block, Davidson….you all enjoy your iPhones on a sketchy network.  I’m Droiding you.

Now doesn’t that sound better than size 8 is the new 12?  According to Anne Klein.

The running habit is coming back…so much so that I finagled a way to get five in before getting Greyson to ‘school’ and me to work.  This achievement has made my whole demeanor that much more laid back; for a Type C- person, that is pretty darn laid back!  My lovely, sweet, older next door neighbor actually commented that it had looked like I’d lost weight.  When I thanked him and (kissed his feet), he then told me to keep it up; I needed to lose another ten.  The fantasy betrayed by the reality.

The largest problem of all of this running/getting back into shape/losing weight is time.  Balancing everything in my life has always been something of a sideshow act.  Perhaps a trained seal bouncing balls off of his nose.  Less than a decade ago with three teenagers and one pre-teen, working full-time as a Realtor, Queen of my Ingland domain etc; I seemed to have so much better grip on the minutae that keeps me bound inside these days.  Every Saturday, rain or shine, I would be up and on the trail doing my longer runs in order to prepare for the fall marathon that I’d decided to take on that year.  The daily mileage grinds were just keeping  the focus on staying in shape.

I don’t have the hours and hours to train that I, in my quick way of glossing stuff over, perceive that I had back then.  Somehow with one late-teen and one almost-three year old in the house, I’m exhausted.  So I’ve decided that like Anne Klein changing her sizing measurements; I’m going to change my goal-setting so that it is indeed something that is achievable and not something that sets me up for internal angst and external hissiness.  I’m going to train for half marathons, or maras as one corny friend called them.  That is an achievable thing.  Yes it will take some time and commitment, but it isn’t such an overwhelming feeling in the back of my brain as counting how many Saturday long runs there are until the New York City Marathon (the absolute BEST!).  I beat myself up enough daily on other things.  Adding that is just overkill.

Running smarter makes me feel like I’ve got more control over my destiny than before.  Having the mental head-to-head with my ego and my sanity paid off.  I’ll even be able to work more efficiently as I won’t be calculating runs on mapmyrun.com in a down moment or worrying about the full charge on the old iPod Nano to get me four hours of music.  Sweet relief!

Working smarter is something we practice on a daily basis here at RE/MAX Allegiance.  The recognition that time NOT involved in real estate but instead with family and friends or solo with a good book….is what makes the real estate time much more efficient.  We are constantly looking for suggestions that can shave a few seconds here, a trip to pick something up there, a signature that can be gained by an email sent from your smart phone.  Phew.  And to think that Anne Klein thought she was on to something!  We’re on to something.  It is called quality of life, and we believe in it.

Now that my run is out-of-the-way for today, my evening is clear for whatever pops up.  It may be racing cars in the cul-de-sac with Greyson, listening to the frogs coming alive for the evening or just sitting on the deck with a book that I’ll have to steal from a  neighbor’s as I’m out.  How smart are those plans?

Now, if I can just figure out a way to fit in the Novice Rowing Program that starts on Saturday…..

For those of you that do not know, I was born into a military family and have been involved in one fashion or another my entire life.  With that disclosure I have a very strong sense of what we owe our soldiers, sailors and marines for the sacrifices they make for us, the sacrifices their families make for us.

Davidson Lunger, one of the fearless Broker-Owners of RE/MAX Allegiance, along with a couple of his neighbors out on Kent Island, MD; embraced the injured men and women at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) in an all day picnic/fishing extravaganza.  The group that supported the endeavor and helped coordinate it is a group called Operation Second Chance.  Their mission statement: 

  • To aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded service men and women.
  • To assist in the modification of housing to accommodate disabled veterans.
  • To assist the families of wounded service men and women.
  • To facilitate the transition of wounded service men and women back into civilian society

How about that?  Pretty simple, yes?  How about no.  Often these folks haven’t the ability to buy some of the simple staples in life that we take for granted….toothbrushes, underwear….seeing their families often takes on a spin of the ludicrous with a spouse being able to visit the injured partner every other weekend and has to drive with the kids eight hours each way…in a car with 200,000 miles on it.  The love and commitment these folks share is an inspiration to us all.

At Davidson’s soiree last weeked there were amputees playing amazing games of football.  I probably would have cried had I been tackled.  One couple, a husband and wife, both military:  the wife had lost her leg.  The husband had lost his leg and a good portion of his face.  His glass eye?  The pupil was a Purple Heart.  The soldier that caught the biggest fish that day?  He had no fingers.

Who are our heroes every day?  I have a few that come to mind.  But my reader friends:  These folks are the real deal.  These are people that were willing to give it all up for me!    My favorite older brother’s best friend is a man named Brendan O’Connor.  He’s one of my heroes.  Because of him others are alive today.    You can read all about him through the link or you can watch him and his teammates during an interview that was on  60 Minutes a little while back.   That sort of do-or-die scenario is what is faced daily that brings our brave ones to WRAMC to heal.  To learn to live again.  To cope.

On September 11, 2010, RE/MAX Allegiance is going to be having a company-wide ‘cook-out’ , if you will, at Davidson’s digs out there on Kent Island.  The company will be floating the bill…and if anyone wants to, make a donation to Operation Second Chance.  That or giftcards to help alleviate some of the expenses that they face on a daily basis would be a great way to say thank you.  I’m proud of my company for doing something that feels so right to me.  I am more proud, no humbled, to be able to help out those who helped me.  And never even knew my name.

“Dear Lord, if you will give me just one more good market, I promise not to throw it all away next time”….apparently this has been around since the nineties, but I heard it round about via JW Grodt via  Dave Liniger.

I thought that was just the perfect period to what seems to be the onset of a decent spring market with great mortgage rates and programs, opportunities for buyers, sellers and investors alike, etc.

So what are you going to do different this time?  Have you set yourself up as a business entity which alone will save you thirteen percent in self-employment tax?  Any Broker that is worth anything at all will pay you through your corporation.  If he/she won’t I’d beg you to find a better Broker, a BUSINESS person!

Back in 2006 there was an article by Bob Hunt in Realty Times which I found hysterical.  I also saw the Realtor Prayer quoted in there.  The article uses Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s book, On Death and Dying and her outline of the five stages of dying and how they relate to Realtors.  (I have read Dr. Ross’s book and it is really an amazing and empowering work.  In no way at all am I poking fun at her research).

I won’t re-write the stages and how Realtors can fall into each and every one of them, read it yourself and see where you fit in.  Should you have survived the five stages and ‘been cured of your ills’ and are rocking and rolling, or getting ready to, make sure you take the time to re-examine how you run your business.

Yes.  Your business.  It isn’t the Broker’s business.  It isn’t the Company’s business.  It is yours.  You are the Rainmaker for yourself.  Yes, you are the boss of you.  How you flourish fiscally in this market is up to you.  Take the time to sit down with a good accountant and outline your business goals.  Set yourself up for success.  No one else is going to do it for you.

I can only lead the horse to water; I cannot make him drink.  Should you need any guidance in how to go about doing this, give me a call.  I know a few folks that can help you.  Heck, not only does RE/MAX Allegiance educate you in your real estate business…but makes sure to educate you on how to KEEP the money that you earn so that you are never needing to pray that specific prayer again, but a prayer of thanksgiving instead!

Wow.  That is all I can say.  In a conversation yesterday with someone, I was told about a meeting of all the significant producers in the office.  They were called together to brainstorm about how to boost their listings, increase marketshare, and all of those things that successful agents do.

After a little bit of a ‘poor, poor pitiful us’ time, things really got interesting.  Imagine being asked if you could share your resources list?  Your what?  Resources list.  You know, who’s the best handyman out there?  Painter?  Plumber?  Bug guy?  Sharing resources. Wow.

Are they flipping serious over there?

Why does RE/MAX Allegiance with some of the best talent in the industry do that instinctively?  Why do we give away our ‘secrets’ about what makes us so successful?  If you put strong associates together and they don’t know that pooling resources is the greatest service they can give their clients, then they are in the wrong industry.

You better believe real estate is a competitive field.  We all want the choiciest listings, the most qualified buyers, the greatest respect.  But who are we kidding to think that we know it all.  How short-sighted.  Back in the day when I was still listing and selling, one of my clients had a water line break while he was at work.  Imagine his happiness to come down to buckled wood floors, basement ceiling down etc.  His insurance company recommended three flood mitigation options.  He did what any smart guy would do; he called me…his Fabo Realtor….and asked what he should do.  Fabo Realtor immediately sent an email to 800 of her closest friends on the RE/MAX Allegiance Intranet, hit send and sat back and waited.  Within an hour I had more than seventy responses highlighting the work of one company.  Problem solved.

Every day emails come in looking for open house help, structural engineering referrals, lender/title opinions requested, pest control for certain pests.  And that’s just what has happened in the last twelve hours in my email.  If I were still a Realtor…I’d have had several open house opportunities, would know how to best solve some client issues…just because RE/MAX Allegiance associates care and share.

Competitive?  Yes.  For business.  Best serving our clients and customers, help build a great reputation for service and concern?  Ask any one of us.  You will get the best of the best answers.

Seriously….can you imagine NOT sharing your resources?  What kind of people are you surrounding yourself with?  It boggles my mind.