The lesson develops
In 1987, a movie called TheLast Emperor told the story of Aisin-Gioro “Henry” Pu Yi, who at the age of three was named the Emperor of China, and died as a gardener at the Botanical Gardens of Peking. In one scene, the 15 year old Emperor is being introduced to his tutor, R.J. Johnston (played by Peter O’Toole), who is teaching him how to speak English. The lesson develops in to a conversation about words:
Reginald Fleming ‘R.J.’ Johnston: Words are important.
Pu Yi, at 15: Why are words important?
Reginald Fleming ‘R.J.’ Johnston: If you cannot say what you mean, your majesty, you will never mean what you say and a gentleman should always mean what he says.
Our business is about communication, no matter what the medium, and we can all learn a lesson from good old R.J. (while disavowing his early 1900’s chauvinism). Sometimes we’re not very good at what should be our core skill – communicating clearly. And I mean all of us- brokers, agents, lenders, title insurers, and even consumers (though they are not culpable, since we’re the professionals). Some of it comes from hurrying, some of it from taking the easy way out (being lazy) and some of it comes from bad habits and a lack of conscious thought (or maybe planning). And as a result of all of these things we fail to get the results we want from our communication, or even worse, we end up with unforeseen and unintended consequences.
Let me give you some examples so you can perhaps feel my pain –
Agents who say,
- “Let me tell you the truth” (Why? Have you been lying to me so far?)
- You have to extend the listing, I have spent a lot of time trying to get your property sold! (And as the seller I would care about your time because…why?)
- I’m sorry, the home you’re calling about was sold. (And I’m too lazy to turn this inquiry into an opportunity to sell you another one)
- Here’s a verbal offer on that property. I didn’t put the offer in writing because I didn’t want to waste your time (So you decided that this phone call was less of a waste of time ?)
- I know the property is a foreclosure being sold “as is” but will the bank repair…(What part of “as is” are you having trouble understanding?)
I hate Lenders who say,”If you extend the mortgage approval date, I guarantee we’ll have an approval !”(Does that mean that if you don’t get the approval in a timely manner that you’ll write a check in the amount of the required mortgage?)
I hate when people…
I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SEND EMAILS AND DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT USING LOWER CASE LETTERS IS AN OPTION (or are too lazy to take the Caps Lock off). i also hate when people think they are ee cummiings and dont use punctuation or spell chekker and are too lazy to use eether the shift key or anything that isnt a lower cace lettr
I H8 ppl who txt 2 much OMG LOL (I hate people who text too much Oh My God, Laughing out loud) TMOT J00 TXT PLU BCOS J00 WAN2TLK TSNF (Trust Me On This/You / Text /People Like Us /Because /You /Want To Talk/That’s So Not Fair)
My hate is a gray wraith swirling around the ceiling as I lay and watch the sun rise and though I enjoyed Ulysses —- written by James Joyce in a stream of consciousness during a single day in Dublin showing the flavor and taste of that city at that time with a literary arrogance that desired the reader to take the same amount of time to read and understand the thoughts of the author as the author took to write the massive missive, I don’t want to read emails or letters or other poorly parsed communications from anyone who is neither a literary giant nor dead because I’ll want to kill them myself-
How do we do better?
So how do we do a little better? Maybe with some really basic ideas-
When you are making a point to a client or customer, think through how you phrase your questions. Ask open ended questions (ones that cannot be answered with a yes or no) – these encourage the consumer to provide you with more information by clarifying their position.
Remember that you speak with some authority, and you need to be sure to tell people what you know, not what you think. As a salesperson, I was always taught that its OK to say “I don’t know” as long as you followed it up with the words, “but I’ll find out”.
There are lots of great dialogues and scripts available if you need help in framing the types of questions that will help your buyers and sellers clearly define and express their needs (they are not alone in the communication process – they need your help). And before someone objects to the less then personal mature of prepared dialogues, think for a moment about what you do that is successful in your business – Don’t you find that most people have similar issues and concerns that need to be identified at the start of the buying or selling process?
Don’t leave voice-mail messages when you are upset or need to communicate anything more than the most basic information. I actually had two agents almost come to blows a few years ago because they kept having a voice-mail conversation that started with a sarcastic reply and escalated each time there was a new response. Voice-mail is one way communication. It is best used when you leave a message asking the other party to call you back.
When you write someone a business email, think about who you are writing to. Take the time to write it like a letter and you’ll get better results. Taking just a minute or two to frame your thoughts and reread for grammar and spelling (to make sure that you didn’t have a correctly spelled word other then the one you thought you wanted (like “too” for “two”) so that it doesn’t look like you don’t care about what you were writing. And once more, if you are upset or angry, wait a little while before responding. Also remember that in case of an arbitration or litigation, this is a document which may come back to haunt you, so choose your phrases carefully.
The message you intended
Business communication should be thoughtful, appropriately formal, concise, focused, and easy to understand even if you’re not in the real estate business. When you write to another, re-read your work to be sure that the message they receive will be the message you intended to send. I sure hope this one was.
10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners
(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.
As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.
From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.
This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.
How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.
Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.
The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.
The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.
StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.
If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.
The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.
One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.
Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.
Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.
Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.
One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.
The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.
Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.
This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.
This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.
The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.
This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.
Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.
Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]
(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…
The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?
Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.
One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.
Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?
At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.
Families’ roles are complex.
You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.
What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.
Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.
Market your side hustle with these 6 tips
(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.
Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.
Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:
- Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
- Start Where You Are
Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
- Gather Positive Reviews
If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
- Be Strategic With Social
It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
- Give Paid Marketing A Shot
Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
- Go Local
Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.
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