Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This is a topic I am pretty passionate about. This blog could even make you feel like I am calling you out. Maybe I am.

I hear so many people gripe about how much the government gives away and how the government gets too involved in private life and over reaches. I don't disagree with the people that gripe about it. My question, however, is this--What are you doing to decrease the perceived need for all this government involvement?

Sometimes the government gets involved in areas of need because no one else will. In other words, some politician sees or hears about something that needs to be addressed and no one is doing it. They adopt it as their little project so they can stick a feather in their own cap and VOILA--more government involvement. Once that occurs, good luck getting them UNinvolved. What if there was nothing for them to stick their nose in because the private citizens were already taking care of business? What if every hungry person, every homeless person, every sick person, every "at-risk" child were already taken care of by churches, community groups, civic organizations, individuals, and private charities? What if every citizen of means was involved in his or her community to the point where the government had no people to "rescue."

I know it is fantasy and a dream world but still, we can start on it. YOU can start on it. Look at how you spend your time. Do you spend any time at all caring for other people besides yourself and your immediate family? Don't misunderstand me, those are obviously the most important people for you to care for. If you don't do at least that, you become a burden. But if you have that down, how much more could you do? I reconnected with a former student that is currently deeply involved in our community. She is working tirelessly with kids and adults in one of the most notorious parts of Smyrna (yes, there are some notorious parts of Smyrna). She saw a need and jumped in to help. She did not see the need and wring her hands wondering when the government was going to take over. Why did she do this? Because it feels good to engage your community and it IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

I challenge you--go find something in your community to get involved with. If you need help, let me know. I can point you in several directions. Give them a few hours a week. I know you are busy and you value time with your kids and all that. Take them with you. They will benefit more than you know. Quit being a spectator and complainer and engage, participate, build your/our community.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Team Edward/Team Jacob

Humans are funny. We like to "pick sides." We like to be on the winning side--unless there's a compelling underdog. This phenomenon transcends gender, age, generation, ethnicity, race and every other category you can think of. It is obvious in the most trivial things and in the life and death situations. And what's even more crazy, we get REALLY passionate about it. We make t-shirts (team Edward or team Jacob), shed tears, make signs (picture every rally, demonstration, etc.), riot (so many big cities after a major sporting event) and even take up arms. Why do we as humans do this?

I think it feels good to belong to something. It is good to be important and it is great to feel "right." It's also fun to be "in the know" and in the "in crowd." So when the Titans win the Super Bowl, I feel great because I've always been a fan and I feel like I am a part of their success (I'm not, by the way). When people join "Team Jacob" they publicly profess their opinions about a wildly successful story line. They proclaim that they would have chosen Jacob over Edward. This frames them as sympathizing with the tragic hero. The lovable underdog (pun intended) that has a seriously messed up problem with love.

Sometimes the side choosing is for a little more of a significant cause, like politics (I know, the significant tag is arguable). We have a passionate opinion about the right way to do something. We look for a leader to represent our opinion and then throw our support behind that leader. And we get pretty dang passionate about it. We forget that the other side is made up of fellow humans who have passionate opinions just like us. We forget that, ultimately, both sides are attempting to do what they feel is "right." We marginalize the human and push the opinion to the forefront. This makes it easy for us to justify our unacceptable actions as just the means to get our "right" point across.

What is my point? Simple, before you get so wrapped up in being right, don't forget that you are human and so is the other side. Be civil. Be compassionate (not just passionate). Be nice! Also, take a moment to think about your opinion. Is it really as important as your pending actions are going to paint it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Professional Tolerance

First let me say that this blog is not directed at anyone or any specific situation, its just a topic that has been on my mind.

I don't know why people put up with some of the crap that they get from "professionals". It blows my mind sometimes some of the stories I hear. My philosophy is simple, if you hire me to do a job, I am going to ALWAYS try to work as hard for you as I am capable. I consider it a privilege for someone to hire me when there are literally thousands of choices. As a service to my fellow service providers, I have compiled a list of rules to follow. I know many of you won't do this, but at least I am trying to help you help yourselves.

7 Basic rules for excellent customer service:
1) Communicate. Find out how your client likes to communicate and use that medium. Remember that communication is a 2 way street. Just because you are blasting your client with emails, does not mean you are communicating if they never check their email.
2) Don't be afraid of your client. It is never fun to share bad news but it is necessary. If you messed up, own it and come up with a way to move past it. If something happened outside your control, find out why and be ready to explain it. Either way, tell the client!!
3) Be grateful for the business. I look at listings sometimes and I wonder how in the world some Realtors make any money. They are obviously not grateful for the business. If they were, they would do a much better job. Eliminate typos, use a full arsenal of methods (whatever is appropriate for your industry) and NEVER STOP learning how to make yourself better.
4) Remember that you are an employee. Be humble and don't get so full of yourself that you think you are above making mistakes. My clients catch things sometimes that I miss. Its ok to make the mistake, just don't be a jerk about fixing it.
5) Get fulfillment from a job well done. I sit back sometimes and look at the body of work I do for a single client and feel good about it. I know that I have given them my all and that they will benefit from my work. It makes me happy. Find out how to have those moments
6) Do more listening than talking at first. Hear what your client is saying. Listen to their expectations. Tune in to their needs and personalities. It will help you out in the long run.
7) Tell the truth no matter what. I have lost business by telling the truth. I will tell you what your home is worth. Sometimes you don't like what I tell you. I won't lie to you and I will do the research to back up what I say. Other Realtors will tell you what you want to hear just to get a listing. Then they will pressure you to lower the price. That's not right. Of course this practice is common in all fields. In the long run, the liar never wins.

So there they are. If you have some to add, feel free.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Payments and Why, a Two Part Blog

One of my favorite US myths is that you will always have payments, specifically credit card and car payments. I often wonder who started this myth and why it has been perpetuated. I do not have a car payment and I do not have a credit card. I do have some debt but it is 100% tied to real estate. I am not better than anyone else out there. I just decided that I will NOT always have a car payment or credit card payment. I made that decision because it provides freedom.

There are lots of myths out there. I have written about many of them. One surefire way to identify a myth is to look for absolutes--you will always have a car payment. Before you blindly believe things like this, don't be afraid to ask, "why?"

Part 2
"Why?" is a dangerous question for some folks. It challenges the status quo. It makes you stop and think about your actions. It may even make you realize that you don't know why. That means you have been doing something blindly, like sheep. That makes you uncomfortable. I love "why?" If I can't come up with a good reason, then the answer has to be preference or tradition (pretty much). I am ok with those answers if, and only if, you are ok with giving me those as the reasons. If you have thought about it and your requirements are your requirements because of your preference, great. I am for it. If I want whatever it is from you, I have to go with your preference. Whats dangerous, however, is when you tell me to do something, I ask "Why?" and you have no idea. I am not ok with that. That means the action is up for debate or adjustment.

I asked "Why?" all the time growing up and I used to get frustrated with my parents for saying things like "because I said so." That was never good enough for me. Give me a reason. Even if the reason truly is, "no reason, just my preference." I think it is lazy to not give a why. Believe me, I catch myself now saying "because I said so" to my son. I acknowledge that it is laziness.

When folks ask you "why?", don't be offended, don't feel like they are challenging your authority. Perhaps they are building their own basis for understanding and trying to use you as a role model. Most kids build their sense of morality, right and wrong, from their parents. Finding out the motivation for things--the "why?" is an absolutely essential part of this moral code. Not just that you do something but why you do it is very important.