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Confessions of a Self Made Mediocrity



The Proof’s in the Results

The other day I was with a small group talking to Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. In discussing one of his pitchers he said that the hitters usually will tell you how effective you are as a pitcher. Translation: get the hitters out, and you’re doing your job. Don’t and you’re not.

Oddly enough, this got me thinking about my own career as an accused self made mediocrity. When first affixed with this label several months ago I took considerable offense. But then I realized the real feedback is how I performed … either I did my job and sold houses or I didn’t. It’s about that simple.

Last year, I had 20 closed sales plus two other closings referred to other agents. Clearly, I’m not Russell Shaw, though the gross commissions I earned since the switch to RE/MAX placed me in the top 17% or so of franchise agents – and that coming in about nine months of work.

Then again, maybe I overdid it. It seems that just over half that number of sales is all one needs to close to become an expert on who else might be a self-made mediocrity. Who knew real estate sales expertise when measured was in reverse proportion to actual closed sales, the non-PETA approved skinned cats we all seek?

At least, I assume that’s what the name of the real estate sales game is … actually selling.

As for the other particulars, I’m muddling along with a PR 4 on my blog and a PR 3 on my local websites. My only solace in regards to these inferior rankings is I’m currently generating about as many leads as I can handle, and a bit more than I can handle solo if I want to take off any time for such things such as sleep, dinner and possibly seeing my family.

In the same vane, my Technorati ranking is woefully inadequate compared to the real estate sales experts. I guess I’m fortunate in that no buyer or seller has ever wanted to know my ranking before hiring me as their agent. And my wife’s never looked at me with bedroom eyes and asked me to show her my big Technorati ranking because my BlogTopSites ranking got her sooo hot …

… Wow … Where was I?

I don’t have signs where Tobey is the featured attraction and I can’t program php from scratch (though I’m just handy enough with a WordPress blog to generate business.) But I did have five sets of buyers in town two weeks ago (two of the five purchasing), another half-dozen coming in this month and another couple in the wings waiting for their own homes to sell. It may be mediocre, but it’s enough to keep me busy.

Of course, the other thing I don’t have is hypocrisy. I don’t tout freedom of expression and then bash those wishing to exercise it across the heads like a defenseless harp seal. I don’t position myself as an unabashed bully, all the while hoping in the darkness of the night that no one actually looks to see my production ahead of pressing the PayPal button.

And I don’t invite people to my blog by encouraging comments and then take offense when those comments aren’t sufficiently sycophantic, like there aren’t enough folks breathlessly parroting Bundini Brown as it is. It wouldn’t seem that spitting on the carpet would matter when the spittle’s falling on yards of accumulated feces, but that’s not my call.

Truth be told, my business still isn’t where I want it to be. This is the year I want to incorporate a buyers’ agent, all the while making sure I’ve got enough business of my own so as to be able to allow someone else to earn the money on my behalf. And there’s always the next major sales standard RE/MAX has, though it’s going to take more than a few $43,000 homes to get to that point. Stranger things have happened, though.

A self-made mediocrity? Perhaps. But an honest one. And one that’s outperforming more than a few others.

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  1. Ken Brand

    March 5, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Pikes blend with 2 raw sugars and a dose of half & half is shooting from my nose. Another fine shire soiled.

    Harp Seal, Spittle, Show Her My Big Techorati.

    You crack me up! May I have another?


  2. Ken Brand

    March 5, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    By the way, that’s “fine SHIRT soiled”, not shire.

    And what kinda mutt is that in the picture?

  3. Erion Shehaj

    March 5, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I was at Sweet Tomatoes when I read this. Now my sweater smells like Big Chunk Chicken Noodle Soup 🙂

  4. Bill Lublin

    March 5, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    If I were Toby, I might be upset that I was not featured on your signs. I would point out that in the case of my dog, Cisco, and Toby, and any other dogs, they are generally smarter than their owners. After all they live in the same houses as we do, but they don’t need to work.

    Got to tell you that I’m not big on telling others whether they are or are not successful, and I think that doing so is presumptuous to say the least. You’re right that success in our business starts with what you sell and how much you make, not with your page rank. I might suggest that professional growth and contributing to the community come next, and that the truest success comes after your financial security and professional reputation have been established, and that success is found in charitable works and self-fulfillment, but maybe I’m missing something. I just don’t understand where your Google page rank comes into any of that.

    In any case, if Toby is happy then you must be a success, his opinion is probably the most important one of all.

  5. ines

    March 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I measure success in weather people like me or not? 😉 …without even saying cupholders

  6. ines

    March 5, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    that’s “whether” – I hate when I think in Spanish and type in English

  7. Chris Lengquist

    March 5, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    This has nothing to do with anything other than to say I was in Royals Stadium during Clint Hurdle’s very first major league at bat. Over the right field wall and into the fountain. I’ll never forget. I was just a kid….

  8. John Wake

    March 6, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Congratulations on your success!

    And you are covering the Cactus League too? Holy Mackerel!

  9. Elaine Reese

    March 6, 2009 at 9:18 am

    As always, I love your posts. Only the income counts. I love (NOT) when someone says you MUST do this or that, or they brag about their ratings, traffic, etc. THEN you look to see if they have any bu$ine$$.

    Now about your big Technorati rating ………

  10. Melina Tomson

    March 6, 2009 at 11:22 am

    As long as you make your income goal who cares? Some people want to make $50k a year, some $500K.

    Some people have kids that they actually want to spend time with. Some people would like to stay married.

    People need to find their own balance and be okay with it. If you aren’t making your individual goals, then you need to continue to work hard to get what you want.

    People don’t want the same things out of life.

  11. Russell Shaw

    March 6, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Even I am still working on fully being Russell Shaw and I had quite a head start. Nice one, sir.

  12. teresa boardman

    March 7, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    If you are mediocre then I hope to reach that level one day too.

  13. teresa boardman

    March 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Except for the technorati rating and the page rank. LOL Just kidding you know I love you. 🙂

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Business Marketing

Hiring managers keep you on your toes – make them take the 1st step

(MARKETING) If you want to stand out from other job applicants, weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – or it could backfire.



hiring managers interview

According to research by employment search website Simply Hired, hiring managers get an average of 34 applications per job listing, but they spend time genuinely considering an average of only 12.6% of them – that’s less than 1/3. Some applicants may feel the need to go above and beyond the average application and do something unusual or unexpected to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

Simply Hired conducted a survey to find out whether or not “nontraditional” strategies to stand out are worth the risk, or whether it makes sense to stick to a traditional resume and cover letter. They surveyed over 500 hiring managers and over 500 job applicants to find out what sort of outside-of-the-box approaches applicants are willing to take, and which ones do and don’t pay off.

Most notably, the survey found that over 63% of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2% saying they were acceptable. Hiring managers were also given a list of unusual strategies to rank from most to least acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the least acceptable strategy was offering to sleep with the hiring manager – which should really go without saying.

Interestingly, hiring managers also really disliked when applicants persistently emailed their resumes over and over until they got a response. One or two follow-up emails after your initial application aren’t such a bad idea – but if you don’t get a response after that, continuing to pester the hiring manager isn’t going to help.

While sending baked goods to the office was considered a somewhat acceptable strategy, sending those same cookies to the manager’s home address was a big no-no. Desserts might sweeten your application, but not if you cross a professional boundary by bringing them to someone’s home – that’s just creepy.

Another tactic that hiring managers received fairly positively was “enduring extreme weather to hand-deliver a resume” – but waiting around for inclement weather to apply for a job doesn’t seem very efficient. However, hiring managers did respond well to applicants who went out of their way to demonstrate a skill, for example, by creating a mock product or presentation or completing their interview in a second language. A librarian who was surveyed said she landed her job by making her resume into a book and creating QR codes with links to her portfolio, while a woman applying to work at the hotel hopped behind the counter and started checking customers in.

It’s worth noting that while most hiring managers aren’t into your gimmicks and games, of the 12.9% of applicants who said they have risked an unusual strategy, 67.7% of those actually landed the job.

Still, it’s probably a safer bet to stick to the protocol and not try any theatrics. So then, what can you actually do to improve your chances of landing the job?

Applicants surveyed tended to focus most of their time on their resumes, but according to hiring managers, the interview and cover letter are “the top ways to stand out among the rest.” Sure, brush up your resume, but make sure to give equal time to writing a strong cover letter and practicing potential interview questions.

In the survey, applicants also tended to overestimate the importance of knowing people within the company and having a “unique” cover letter and interview question answers; meanwhile, they underestimated the importance of asking smart questions at the interview and personality. In fact, hiring managers reported that personality was the most impactful factor in their hiring decisions.

It appears that the best way to stand out in a job interview is to wow them with your personality and nail the interview. Weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?




Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.



Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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