Thursday, January 30, 2014

Remember When...

Rob Hartman taught class last night at church and his lesson started with the question, "Reflect back on a time or two when everything just fell into place and felt right, like it just couldn't get any better than this." (ok, that is paraphrased a bit but you get the idea). His overall point was that, regardless of how great that moment was, Heaven will be better--much better. Those moments aren't even appetizers for Heaven because Heaven is that much better. Excellent point and a good way to frame it.

It was fun though to reflect back on some great moments and reminisce a bit. I like doing that from time to time, not because I live in the past but because the past creates the present. You are where you are right now because of events from the past. Some were your fault, some were not. Some were "circumstance", some were very purposeful manipulations of your environment. Some events were gifts from others, some were due to the failures of others. Regardless, all those events shaped you into you, with all your baggage, all your strength, all your wisdom, all your insight, injuries and prejudices.

Here are a few defining moments from my life:

1) My parents moved us from South Texas to Middle TN. 100% not my choice (I was 4) but it absolutely was a defining moment in my life

2) I had the choice to go back to Smyrna Middle with all my friends or to go to Stewartsboro for 8th grade the year it opened. I chose Stewartsboro. I didn't get to take algebra 1 in 8th grade and that affected me in high school but I did develop a relationship with Daniel Chunn. He is still my best friend and his friendship led to many other friendships that have totally shaped my life--including, ultimately who I married.

3) Hanging out with my best group of friends at Camp Meribah in the lobby when we were supposed to be in bed and then raiding the kitchen. That is still one of my all time favorite memories. That and camping with Tater's mom (inside joke).

4) The anti-prom party my junior of high school

5) Going to MTSU--I could have gone to lots of other schools but I stayed around here and went to Middle. I can't imagine how different my life would be right now if I had chosen otherwise.

6) Marrying my wife--Can't imagine life without her.

7) Parties at the Trailer--including Bocce OVER the trailer

8) Kids--I have two amazing kids. I also have some amazing nieces (no nephews yet though!!) and young cousins. They all help shape my life because they add value and perspective that no other adult can.

9) Spiritual decisions. I have made several. I joined a different church from my parents when they did not want me to. Then I kept going to it and was very active in the youth group. Then I turned my back on it in college. Then I was redeemed after nearly losing my life. We have considered leaving a few times (and did once), but we've always come back and now are very faithful members. That church has been good to me in so many ways. I hurt when it hurts. I rejoice when it rejoices. I now work with the college kids at church and they are simply a blessing to my life and my family.

10) Moving to GA and then back to TN--it was an awesome adventure to try a different state and it really made home that much more special.

11) Real Estate--I was a teacher and I got fired because I wanted more time with family (ultimately). I could have sulked and not done anything with that opportunity but instead I re-evaluated everything and decided to go a different way. I am not cut out to be a teacher. I want to be a teacher but I am not built for it. I have supreme respect for those that are because I am not and it is truly a noble profession. I am cut out to do what I do now. I still get to teach but I don't have the same kind of restrictions or the same kind of pushback teachers do. I can fire my clients if they are disrespectful (they never are though). If I had been the type to feel sorry for myself, I never would have been bold enough to try something new.

Remember that life is a process not an event. You have countless moments that make you who you are. If one of those events was unpleasant or painful, don't dwell on it, learn from it. Understand how it shapes you, tempers you, puts your guard up. I do have some regrets and that is ok. The idea of "living with no regrets" is stupid. If you have no regrets, you probably didn't learn anything or you are not being honest with yourself. It is not noble or macho to "have no regrets." It is also not mature or introspective. You make mistakes and you should regret making them. If not, you will likely repeat them. All that said, you should not live in regret. Learn, adjust and move on.

What are some of your defining moments? Maybe even just some nostalgic moments that you love to visit in memories?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Asking For Help

This has got to be one of the hardest things for me. I believe in self-sufficiency. I don't want to be a burden on people and I don't want folks to feel obligated to do something they don't want to do. I am also a bit on the proud side. It could be the way I was raised, my dad is a pretty self sufficient guy and my mom is pretty independent as well. It could be my own stubborn pride. It could be that I have been very blessed and don't feel like I have the "right" to ask for help. Either way, it is a problem I struggle with on a regular basis.

That's right, not asking for help is a problem. Here's why:

  1. When I don't ask for help (but I need it), I over-extend myself and can sometimes do a bad job. Over-extension inevitably leads to stress and hurry and not my best effort
  2. When I am stressed and in a hurry, I forget to do important things like pray with my kids or help get them to school/daycare or pay attention to my wife or spend time with friends
  3. When I don't ask for help I forget to make other people feel important. I like to help other people. It makes me feel important, like I have a mission. When the task is complete, I like the feeling I get when someone says, "Thanks man, I couldn't have done it without you." Other people like that same feeling and when I don't ask for help, I rob someone of that feeling.
  4. When I don't ask for help, I miss opportunities to build stronger relationships. Nothing will build camaraderie like a good day's labor together or solving a problem together. If you do everything on your own all the time, you don't get this.
  5. When I don't get someone else's opinion on complicated tasks, I don't get to learn. I am a pretty smart guy. I know a little bit about a lot of stuff. However, there are A LOT of people that are A LOT smarter than me. If I don't enlist help sometimes, I never get the opportunity to learn from someone better than me at that task. In other words, I lose. 

The funny thing is, most of the time people don't ask for help because they "don't want to bother" someone else. A lot of times, that someone else would truly LOVE to help someone. They would love to be important enough and held in high enough regard that the person would ask them to help. It makes us feel good to help. So ask and I will too. Just don't over do it. You can change your own light bulbs (unless they are way high up, then don't call me, I'm scared of heights). 

Things you can help me with right now:
  1. I need some listings to sell. If you or your friends or your friends' friends are thinking about moving, tell them about me. Give them my phone number. I want to meet them and see if I could help them.
  2. I would love some buyers! I need some clients that are ready to buy. Taylore and I would love to work with you and your friends to help you find the perfect home.
  3. I need some agents!! I am hiring!!! If you've ever thought about starting a career in real estate, I want to talk with you. If you are currently in real estate and feel stagnant, I want to talk to you. If you are in real estate and want a fresh approach or you don't like where you are, I want to talk to you!!!
  4. I want to hear from you. I am on Yelp, Facebook, Zillow and several other sites. I would LOVE for you to provide a review on these places. 
  5. I would love for you to pray for me. Last year I helped almost 60 families make a huge life decision. That is incredibly humbling and almost a little scary. Pray that I do a great job for my clients and offer the best advice for them.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Who Do You Work For?

So Jonas asked Mommy yesterday, "how many jobs has Dad had?" She asked him how many he thought I'd had and he said 3-- high school teacher, wrestling coach and Realtor. Interestingly, those aren't even the only jobs I've had while he's been alive! In my still relatively short life, I've had a LOT of different jobs. I've helped build houses, mowed yards, worked in restaurants, delivered pizza for 2 different companies, worked in a gas station, interned at the Small Business Development Center, helped open a retail store (stock and set up), washed dishes at the MTSU Grille, was grunt labor in a warehouse, worked in HR, was a shift lead in a warehouse, managed inventory in a warehouse, worked at the Boys and Girls Club, taught at 2 different high schools, coached wrestling, sold fireworks, been officially "unemployed" (and got paid for it), sold real estate and, most importantly, been a daddy and a husband.

So many people hate their jobs. They say "Thank God its Friday" and then "Dear God its Monday." They are miserable and think there is no way out. I've discovered that often, not always, but often, the change you need is you, not necessarily the job. I have found at least something fulfilling and even "fun" in every one of those jobs I listed above. Granted, there were parts of each that I found repulsive, annoying and "quit-worthy", but I can usually find a level of contentment in whatever I do. I think the main reason is that I try to see who I am really working for.  Most people, in their minds, work for their companies. They wake up and say, off to earn XYZ company some more money. Some may decide to work for their bosses (if it is someone they like). This may last a while but even that will fade as the boss loses his or her luster or moves away. A few people will switch their minds a little and work for their own wallets. These folks look at their jobs simply as a way to get money so they can do the things they actually enjoy. They are working for a hobby, a vacation, a new car, to pay off the house, etc. A very few people look at work as service to their family. They wake up and say, time to go earn tomorrow night's dinner for junior and the missus.

It is my opinion that the later two categories are the people that see work as it should be--selling your one true natural resource--your time--to someone else so you can have a different resource to help you achieve your goals. I believe that when you make that slight shift in your thought processes, you can find contentment in almost any job. You can stick around if it isn't fun one day because you are motivated outside of your actual job. If you can't, you have the "gumption" to move on, make yourself better (improve the resource you are selling by gaining more skills--i.e.- make yourself more marketable).

One conundrum sometimes presents itself, however. Sometimes people realize this too late and they have a mess to clear up first. Sometimes, people will put themselves in a position where they can't work for anyone but Visa or Mastercard or Toyota Credit. Those people say, "WOW!! I am stuck in this horrible job because I can't afford to leave. I have to stay here so I can continue to pay for my car, the big screen, the vacation, whatever." You learn who your master is very quickly and, hopefully, take drastic steps to right the ship. Buy your way out of that position so you can work for someone you want to work for--your family, yourself, whatever, just NOT for the Creditors!!

Please understand, this is not an "anti-debt" blog entry. This is a self awareness blog. Figure out who you are working for. Some of you may not get "paid" in the traditional sense (stay at home mom or dad, volunteer). You still work. Who do you work for? Identify who you work for and it will hopefully change your entire outlook on things. For me, it gives me a sense of purpose, almost ministry. Here is my list of "employers":

1) I work for God. I try to include him in everything I do so that the love he has given me will be poured out on the people I come in contact with. I am richly blessed and I want to be a blessing on my community, on other people, on my clients, on my church, etc.
2) My family--I work so they are comfortable, safe and without worry
3) My clients--I work for them so they can make their lives better--whether it is by selling a home that they have outgrown, buying a first home so they can start to feel that security that comes with "home" or relocating here for a better life.
4) I work for my community--Homes comprise the community. Families make up the community. Thus, my job directly impacts the community. I want to help the community. I try to give back to my community whenever possible.
5) I work for my reputation--I try to always act with integrity so as not to mess up any of the other 4 above.
6) I work to afford the things I want to do.

Give it some thought. Who do you work for?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Pandora's Box of Social Media

For me it all started with AOL Chat. I set up a profile and started finding my friends on there. They started finding me and we had conversations on the Internet because it was so much cooler than talking on the phone. Then I got a MySpace page and I felt like the coolest guy on the planet (along with all the other 100 million users--literally). After that came Facebook and I sort of plateaued. I was happy with Facebook, knew how to use Facebook and I, unlike many other users, did not get all bent out of shape every time Facebook changed a little. I was home and was happy with my social media outlet. I also had a Linked In account but rarely used it.

Then my wife found Twitter and Pinterest and Instagram and FourSquare and on and on. She told me that those were platforms I needed to be on and I agreed with her. In the past year I have started tweeting regularly, pinning regularly, checking in on FourSquare and I started a Yelp profile. Two years ago I set up a YouTube account to post home tours. I even started a few Facebook pages this year! My wife helps me with managing it all. Come to find out, social media is a lot of work!

Social media helps small businesses grow without spending a ton of money. It gives you unprecedented access to people like no traditional advertising can. It allows you to reach people when they want to be reached. TV commercials blast in your ear when you are trying to watch a show. We have technology in place that lets you skip them. Social media puts the message out there and lets people discover it. There are a few keys if you are going to get into social media as a part of your business plan.

1) Know the platform and how the majority of users use it. Moderation and self-control is the key in some (Linkedin and Facebook), quantity, catchiness and uniqueness are the keys in others (Twitter and Pinterest)
2) Have a game plan--know why you are on each platform, what you want your overall message to be, who you want to reach and what you want to accomplish. Understand why you are on each platform. I did not understand why I needed to be on Pinterest until my wife explained it to me. Pinterest is a wonderful platform for sharing ideas and dreams. American males where very, very slow to the party.
3) Be ever vigilant about what you say AND what people say on your profiles. It is so easy to destroy your carefully groomed image by allowing one poorly worded quote from a guy you knew in 8th grade to stay on your Facebook post too long.
4) Pay attention to the unintended messages you send with your social media posts/offers. I will never buy something at full price at Joseph A Bank. Why? Because the message they send out with their gazillion emails and radio commercials is that their stuff is really only worth buy 1 get 2 or 3 free. Maybe that is their intention, I don't know. If it is NOT their intention, then they have ignored this rule.
5) Have fun with it, but not too much. Again, this is choosing messages that are appropriate for the given platform. If you are a service provider of some type that wants to advertise on Facebook, I STRONGLY recommend creating a separate page for your business. Be very cautious about alienating your friends by putting a bunch of business stuff on your personal Facebook page. I only jumped on this bandwagon about a year ago. I realized I was busy enough and was putting enough business content on my personal page that I was becoming "that guy" on Facebook. Not cool.
6) Remember, its permanent, even if you delete it. Someone will take a screenshot, someone will share or retweet it. Once its out there, its out there.

This is how I approach social media. I am definitely not an expert. I have seen it impact my business tremendously, however. It is a great outlet for small business. Just be careful. For every profile you set up, there are 20 more you could. Stick to your plan and do it on purpose. That is my mantra for the year!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

4+ Bedrooms In Smyrna

Happy COLD Tuesday!

I wanted to do a quick search today on homes that have at least 4 bedrooms in the Smyrna area...Check out what I found!

615 Excalibur Ct
Total: 6 bedrooms
Click here for full listing

205 Laural Hill Ct
Total: 4 bedrooms
Click here for full listing

606 Seawell Ct
Total: 4 bedrooms
Click here for full listing

One important thing to check into when you are looking at a home- be sure the home was perked for the amount of bedrooms that is being marketed to you...

-Taylore Massa
Weichert Realtors, The Andrews Group

Thursday, January 2, 2014

How Good is Your Word?

Well, the holidays are over. Always an interesting time for me. I love that I get some down time and some time with family but it doesn't always feel like down time as we are moving about from relative to relative. Real estate certainly slows down though as people shift their focus temporarily. 2013 was a great year for me professionally. I closed 55 transactions, hired Taylore, earned my broker's license and started the process of opening a second location for my firm in Murfreesboro. It was a year of ups and downs. There were a few transactions that went south and just broke my heart. In at least one of those cases, however, it didn't take long to find out why the Almighty made it fall through as the family came into some pretty trying times within about a week of the transaction falling apart. Interesting how that works out sometimes. Well 2014 looks to be just as good, if not better. I am excited to get it started and I love the challenge a new year brings.

Typically at New Years we do a little introspection and set resolutions to change something about ourselves. Some folks choose to resolve to lose weight, find a different job, spend more time at home, etc. Some will resolve to stop procrastinating (but may not start that one till February). I want to challenge all of you to evaluate and strengthen your "word." What I mean is, make your word your bond. This seems to be something people have gotten away from, slowly but surely. If you tell someone something, make that as binding as if you have a written contract.

Don't make your word "situational." In other words, don't say "my word is my bond, as long as it stays convenient for me." You might be thinking, "well, I don't lie to people." That is a great start. But take it a step further. Do you stay true to what you say when the situation changes and staying true might mean you lose a little or do you try to wiggle out of it and only look out for old number 1?

I know this is hard sometimes. I know it is easier to look for a technicality to get out of less than advantageous situations. That is your character eroding though. Stay tough and be a man or woman of your word. Spend the next couple of days looking back into this last year and see if there were times you valued convenience over integrity. Don't beat yourself up over them now. Revisit those, however, and make a promise to yourself to not do that again. Make 2014 the year of integrity.