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Being Nice To ‘Nobody’




Paying More Attention

I find myself replaying conversations in my mind a lot. Usually they are the small, seemingly insignificant conversations that come back to me at odd times, as I’m driving or before I fall asleep at night. When my mind is free to think, it often revisits bits of interaction which at first appear ordinary. Recently I’ve come to believe that these replays are no accident and that I’m supposed to be paying more attention. So here I am.

Suck-Ups Suck

I’ve never been real good with the whole idea of sucking up…you know, people who un-genuinely compliment you, or worse, yes you to death. A couple times in the recent past, I’ve had people I see pretty often approach me with a smile and say ‘Oh, I didn’t know you held such and such position with a certain organization!’ as if, somehow, finding out this new bit of information about me has made me more likable and worthy of kindness. That the smile and the tone were very different than the ones I usually see and hear put me on edge. Knowing they had something to gain (theoretically) by ingratiating themselves made my radar go wonky.

The Respect Pyramid

Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed these changeling behaviors before. In discussing the idea of customer service, I often use this example: I’ve walked in the office of my homeowner’s association as a renter, as a homeowner, as a member of the Board of Directors, and as President of the HOA, and noticed a distinct difference in how I was treated in each circumstance. With the former being treated as someone slightly better than a slug and at each each subsequent ‘level’, the treatment got a little better, culminating in the latter scenario where I felt I got the red-carpet treatment.

We have since fixed that problem, as excellent customer service demands that everyone walking through the door be treated like they are the President, but, again, it got me to thinking.

Lowly Assistant v. Worthy Boss-Man

Another example…years ago, in working as an Assistant to a real estate broker, I handled a lot of client calls which included the occassional unhappy customer. Many times I would be astounded at how the caller spoke to me on the phone and then changed their tune when the Broker got on the phone. It was ok to be nasty and rude to the Assistant, but when the ‘important person’ got on the phone, civility returned. WTH?

Self Reflection

I wonder, do I treat people differently based on who they are, or what they look like (see Susan Boyle), or by what I think they might be able to do for me? Gosh, I hope not, but I’m afraid I might. I will have to pay closer attention to that.

Lisa sells residential real estate in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern PA, and authors The Poconos Real Estate Blog. Being a strong believer in community participation, she currently serves as President of a 1700 home Property Owners' Association and Secretary of the Board of the local REALTOR Association for 2009. Her most challenging and fulfilling role, though, is that of Mom to two teenage girls, and her main hope for them is that they learn to appreciate the abundant joys of a life lived with a positive attitude. You can connect with Lisa on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn.

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  1. Louise Scoggins

    May 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    It’s the unfortunate truth that not everyone lives by the golden rule…it happens in every field. I treat all of my customers the same…whether they are buying a $60,000 foreclosure condo or a million dollar mansion (I closed both within the same month last year and my office was joking about how I worked the entire spectrum). Something tells me, Lisa, that you apply the golden rule in all you do though, so I wouldn’t worry too much about your replayed conversations!!

  2. BawldGuy

    May 13, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Hey Lisa — You and Louise make excellent points of course. Speaking from a purely business standpoint, a lesson I learned early on has proven invaluable countless times, is the ‘you don’t know with whom you’re dealing until you do’.

    As a 20 year old salesman in a local haberdashery, he spied a farmer, still dress in overalls, wearing a straw hat, and lookin’ like, well like a farmer. The guy pointed to a very expensive (for the time, about 1949 or so) shirt in the window display, and said he’d like to see one in his size. Dad, having sized him up in two seconds, opined that another shirt might cost less and look as good. The farmer smiled, and, says Dad, “Pulled out a wad of cash that would’ve choked Secretariat”.

    From that day forward and forever more he never pre-judged anyone based upon anything but personal experience — and then very slowly.

    I can say with confidence that attitude has not only earned me many paydays I might otherwise have walked right by, but also saved me who knows how many embarrassing moments.

    Good stuff, Lisa.

  3. Ken Brand

    May 13, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    This is important. There are a handful of life changing habits that ripple through all aspects of life. What you’re sharing here is one of them. Treating everyone with respect and courtesy. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Kathleen Buckley

    May 13, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Paying attention, making observations, constantly seeking to improve–thank you for sharing your secret to excellence with us!

  5. Lisa Sanderson

    May 13, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Louise & BawldGuy: Don’t judge a book by its cover has to be pretty high on the list of business rules, for sure. Respect pays, not just in karma points either!

    Ken: Yes, an important lesson indeed. Hoping this message is getting through to our children too.

    Kathleen: Aww, shucks! (Thanks for noticing LOL)

  6. Joe Loomer

    May 14, 2009 at 8:09 am

    I learned long ago that it’s all about respect. In this market, I’ve done better with the honest truth about the market rather than painting a rosy picture of what sellers’ options are. Turned down a few in the proccess.

    Coming from a military background, I had to tone it down quickly when I entered the real estate fray – I’m a different man now than I was the day I stepped ashore for the last time. The thoughts here are pretty much a litany of what I went through – thanks Lisa for reenforcing the simple every day acts that will keep that look in the mirror a smile…..

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  7. Karen Rice

    May 14, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Excellent thoughts here. I saw a blog written one time by a new agent who was complaining about the “hicks” that came in on a Sunday afternoon just as she was about to take the rest of the day off. Her tone was so rude and she was so offended by these people who were “wasting her time.” I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn those people went to another agency where they weren’t annoying the agent with their business. Not to mention, how many people was she offending with her blog?

  8. Debbie O'Brien

    May 15, 2009 at 9:16 am


    As you know, I’ve had the honor of experiencing the same treatment referred to in Lowly Assistant v. Worthy Boss-Man. Soooo true! I look at it this way, we all put our pants on the same way each morning no matter who we are. I also feel that no matter what your title or position in this world is, we are all human beings, brought into this world with nothing. If you are a lousy person, it doesn’t matter what your title is or how much money you have. One of the best things you can give someone is respect…and it’s free! 🙂

  9. Lani Rosales

    May 17, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Lisa, this is a great reminder not of just how we interact with each other in person in our businesses but online- there is a lot of ignoring of “nobodies” and a lot of ass kissing of “sombodies” in the social media arena and we have to remember that yesterday’s nobodies are today’s somebodies.

    Jeff knows my favorite “don’t judge a book” story but I’ll summize it here anyhow: a Houston farmer I was friends with walks into a Corvette dealership in a nice part of town- he wears overalls with no shirt, didn’t shower and failed to wear shoes. All of the sales people scoffed as he walked in and acted disgusted, he heard “who does he think he is?” On the showroom floor, he got into one of the cars and the 2-day young saleswoman kindly walked over and said, “it’s a gorgeous car, isn’t it?” “Ah yes, I do love this one,” he said as he smacked a wad of gum. She jokingly asked, “how many would you like, sir?” With a straight face he said, “I’ll take four, do you take cash?” Suddenly all the staff started jumping asking if they can get him a drink and he said he’d only work with the one young saleswoman and last I saw him in 2004, he’d bought over 20 Corvettes from that one woman, not because he wanted or needed them, but simply because she didn’t judge him and he cared to reward her.

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Green Live & Work

Regenerating architecture: green building product innovations

(Green News) Sustainable design has evolved beyond robotics, and has tapped into the basics, using pre-historic methods: bacteria. Genius!





A Third Grade Teepee

Remembering back to third grade science class, about ten sticks bound together at the top with twine of some sort, and a little beansprout planted at the base of each pole, eventually became the coolest shelter this eight year old had ever seen. Seedlings wound their way up, tendril by tendril until their leaves reached just far enough to clasp and join, and create and fantastic teepee that was actually a food source, too! Talk about the ultimate in sustainability – but that was old school.


Making Something Out of Nothing

Enough about my blast from the past. I was seriously thrown into nostalgia when I thrust onto the path of this fantastic article by Gary Wollenhaupt earlier this week regarding some of the most inspirational green-building products I have heard about in quite sometime. It must have something to do with the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Innovation Challenge and building products that seem to become something from nothing! Apparently these folks were up to the task!

So, maybe the little teepee which was representative of the sacred “three sisters” or corn, beans, and squash that the Native Americans utilized as their staple crops symbolized something else to me. The regeneration of soil, the regeneration of the land, and a regeneration of that happy little elementary school structure, covered in beans which became the perfect hiding spot.

Obviously, the teepee wasn’t innovative, but for this little kid, the shelter “appeared out of nowhere” once those leaves filled in. The Forbes article pulled together an arsenal of truly innovative products that are not only environmentally friendly, sustainably-minded products that will certainly turn many green-builders on their heads!

The Home that Regenerates Itself

Innovation comes in many different forms. Lots of great builders looking to build sustainable homes look towards energy efficiency in a hard-core way and building with products that take building to a new level; however, these innovators have gone and created building products that supposedly grow themselves, or are fire-retardant, or are -say what?- regenerating when they are broken? Oh, ok? This sounds like something out of the future, and we don’t even have our hoverboards yet!

Seriously though, it is amazing to think that there is a product made of a bacteria which will regenerate itself. Self-healing materials have been around for a while, but not necessarily for home building. Wollenhaupt noted that the”Bacteria engineered to thrive in dry climates is helping to create a concrete that can repair itself.

The bacteria are mixed into the concrete and release calcium carbonate, similar to limestone, as part of their waste process. The material fills in holes and cracks in the concrete, making it last longer and reducing maintenance costs.” As someone who is incredibly interested in developments like these, I am quite curious as to their durability and what the testing has been like for the products, but can’t wait to see what the future holds for green building products that bring us full circle! Fascinating, isn’t it?

Watch it Grow

It will be fascinating to see what happens when these homes are built out of these biologically and ecologically innovative building products, and if they will indeed withstand the test of time and do as they say they will. Take some time to view the entire roster of impressive applicants to the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the California based non-profit who put on the event, check out their information, and applaud their achievements in green-building and design!

Now I want to go in the yard and build a little pole-bean teepee, and watch it grow. I don’t think my back yard is at the “coral-like” regenerating concrete bio-product level quite yet.

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Green Live & Work

Superadobe: super sustainable building phenomenon

Taking something that already had the power to be awesome and making it, well, super-powered, that is what one bright-eyed architect did with an age-old building concept. Let’s take a mini-adventure into the world of Superadobe, where a blending of concepts which are thousands of years old with some new ideas has created yet another buzz in the stratosphere of sustainability and green building.





Superadobe, I am Your Father

I believe it was Christopher Nolan who said “Batman and Superman are very different characters but they’re both iconic and elemental.” Either way you cut it, adobe is elemental, and adobe is nothing new; I make the comparison the Batman and Superman because they are both superheros, however different…

Adobe is also something nothing short of super. From the ancient Egyptians to the Anasazi Tribe, many cultures near and far have utilized the brilliant mixture of straw, soil, sand and water tamped together to create a sun-hardened earth house for shelter through the ages. These homes are sturdy, cool on the inside in the heat of the Sun, and warm on the inside during cool nights.

It is quite possibly some of the most amazing architecture that we can find when we look at the history of our progression of architecture, next to the great pyramids and cliff dwellings. Let’s face it, in many parts of the world, because of its magical simplicity, adobe is, after caves, how humans survived the elements.

Superadobe is Born Powerful

In the present, an Iranian born architect, Nader Khalili, has discovered, well- I say present, but it was some twenty plus years ago- how to perfect the concept of adobe and bring it forward into the new age. Through modification of the structural processing of the staging of the adobe, Khalili has managed to create a product and process that he has coined as Superadobe. Khalili has said that “Superadobe is an adobe that is stretched from history into the new century. It is like an umbilical cord connecting the traditional with the future adobe world.” He has an interesting take on adobe and its re-emergence to the “new world” through his superadobe product.

Moon-dust or Sand. Take Your Pick – it is Still Super.

What this really means is that his process of taking long tube-like bags, usually made of sturdy polypropylene or sometimes straight-up burlap, and filling them with sand, or rice or any sort of fill, then creating a trench for the foundation, and forming the frame out of these tubes which are filled with the “fill of choice” and then tamped down, either by hand or with a pneumatic tamper. As the foundation is created, windows can be created by having voids not filled, or cut out after the fact. A huge part of superadobe, beyond the tubular filled bags of soil or the like is the barbed wire which reinforces the shape of the buildings, which are generally a coil of these reinforced tubes which ultimately form a beehive shape. There have been extensive experiments with the concept of superadobe, or the earthbag building concept, which Khalili first came up with after attending a symposium at NASA in 1984 where he was trying to figure out who to build structures on the moon! Imagine, bags full of moondust. That sort of sounds magical, or super! Doesn’t it. Just agree. It does.


From the Moon to Your Backyard it seems that not even Kryptonite will take  this stuff down! Superadobe is one sturdy building concept. It is aerodynamic, just as its predecessor, just regular old adobe is. However; with the beehive and or rounded edges that it tends to take on, it can survive hurricane force gales. A superadobe home or building can be built by unskilled labors in a matter of days by the resources available on site, either of the sandbags, or of the specific tubing and barbed wire. The buildings are sturdy, sustainable, cost effective and can be built in nearly all elements. As a builder, one would look to superadobe from the cost effective standpoint for a client who is thinking about passive solar design; it tends to stay cooler during the day in those hot climates, and warm in the evenings in cold climates. The stuccoed exterior is incredibly low maintenance and provides the client for an exceptional opportunity for reduction in utility bills, or for even being off the grid, if they so desire. New offices looking for an interesting, cost effective and sustainable building concept, could certainly look at superadobe as an option. The unique building structure of the circular and hive-like shapes lend towards something new and different. If you want to stand out from the crowd, be sustainable, and possibly have a quick build, superadobe could be for you.  It From the moon to Costa Rica and everything in between, superadobe is a sustainable building concept that has green building aficionados looking towards the sun. It’s a bird, it’s a plane. No. It’s superadobe.

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Green Live & Work

GreenSpur: sustainable construction, reclaimed materials

GreenSpur Unveils their first OneNest Project home built in Virginia, a sustainable construction project that could be duplicated across the world.



sustainable construction

sustainable construction

One of a kind sustainable construction project

This weekend was full of anticipation and completed, what could be called “full-circle-excitement come to fruition” for those who have been keeping tabs on the GreenSpur construction team. Not so long ago, I brought word to you about the incredible opportunity that Mark Turner and his concept team were working on regarding a fully sustainable, green-built home constructed of Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPS) and reclaimed materials.

This project is the first of its kind and is hopefully going to be one of many that will be replicated internationally as a model of sustainable construction that meets the needs of a true nest.

Flying into the Nest

Minimalism, with a true rustic elegance is what you find peering out at you as you make your way up the steep, curving drive to the Delaplane OneNest home set atop a perfect hill overlooking the foothills of the Shenandoah mountains. It is almost as if someone has called in the gentle fog to hover just at the top of the treeline for intrigue, mystery and sultry ambiance to pull you into the site. Recall those mystical tendrils of smoke that lure… that is what pulls you here…to something new and exciting.

Before you get to the site, strategically placed communal fire pits with site-found logs are hissing, popping and generating that delightful campfire smell and then there is that house. With the elevation of a classic barn marrying a contemporary sanctuary, OneNest sits there among newly planted native river-birch trees, nestled in yet peeking out. The patina of the tin a deliberate match to the brick-red rust of the seamed and painted hardi-plank that covers the SIPS.

The standing seam metal roof line is a delicate yet masculine balance to the reclaimed history that is woven into this home through the use of wood paneling straight from past cabin quarters of the John Marshall property. The facade wouldn’t be complete without the mirror image of floor to ceiling windows flanking a steeple like fireplace that is masoned in stone harvested directly from the site. Usable porches galore. Panoramic views of the fog rolling on and on across the pits and valleys of the foothills while the cows come home. A matching barn is just beyond the main house that has an awning wide enough for a classic riding tractor. Classic is right. This is just the exterior.

Getting Cozy on the inside

Delivering more inside, OneNest’s vaulted ceilings are welcoming and open, leaving one to be baffled by the thought that this space is one-thousand square feet. It could be thousands more; the trompe l’oeil affect of the grande windows to the view beyond pulls the eye out and into the distance. The living room has very functional usable built-ins and is open to the stunning kitchen with a wonderful amount of storage. The fantastic use of counterbalanced Connecticut-style pull down lanterns is just one more ‘trick of the eye’ and fun for the gorgeous space and means to draw the eye up to the loft space above which is the master suite.

Past the kitchen, a full bath, well appointed and glowing is to the left, and storage to the right. Beyond that, windows, again floor to ceiling brighten the space and pull in the outdoors while highlighting the spiral staircases to go up and up into the nest. Before heading up, a nosy poke into the crawl space reveals some more smart design, wine-cellar in the crawl built from galvanized metal buckets and wine-racks; a good use of space in an otherwise unusable crawl!

The second floor is home to the lofted main bedroom, which has a lovely view of the great wide yonder and can be conveniently enclosed with thoughtful curtains; wrapped around the far right of the bedroom is a little nook- great for reading, a dog-friend or maybe some lovely indoor plants for creating a nice indoor air quality. The master spa-bath is impeccable with an egg-shaped soaker tub, walk-in shower complete with rain head and well, it is simple, yet stunning. Plus, there is a fireplace above the bath. Nice… I

n the central stairwell, up once again, the next level houses the guest room with incredibly functional use of space, reclaimed wood and a sumptuous bathroom which is just incredibly well done. This OneNest space is an unbelievable four stories of beautiful, reclaimed, green living space built to help the owner truly nest in, living in what they need.

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

Nesting as a Trend

Why OneNest? Business partner, Arian Lewis, stated “this is something that can be replicated in any country across the world. I’m currently talking with contacts in Malaysia to see about using our concept houses there.”

Lewis is the partner based out of the Oxford England team, who has been working on outreach to developing nations. These homes can be built anywhere. They are sustainable and don’t have to take up a lot of space or resources. Minimal or luxury finishes can be put into them and the product can be built an a relatively small amount of time.

Mark Turner, the brainchild behind GreenSpur and the OneNest project, said when asked what the biggest take away should be for the project, “Well, this was absolutely a labor of love and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I wanted to do something different that other builders weren’t doing and that would change the way things were being built in the construction industry.” He has proved it once before when he built a net-zero house on Capitol Hill, now he has done it again with the OneNest project’s first completed home, built in 100 days in Delaplane, VA.

Turner reminds us all that “OneNest is the context of everything in one world- a natural resting place.” Mark has also been quoted, “When I think about designing and building PLACE, I am inspired by Stegner’s quote, ‘There it was, there it is, the PLACE where during the best of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters.’ This 1000 SF OneNest Project is our team’s best attempt to capture this spirit. We are using radical approaches in design, materials and building science to capture that simple notion that we all universally yearn for: ‘happiness its headquarters.'” I love this about this team, they are so grounded in their since of duty to balance and harmony with nature, life and the elements.

What is Next for OneNest

Looking at their mission, Delaplane was a lovely place to select for the first part of this project’s journey. Just off of John Marshall Highway in historic wine country, this may be an idealistic “happiness headquarters.” The first OneNest will be open for extended stays as well as events for the next six months to continue to the conversation within the community and beyond about this intriguing and passionate design and building concept.

Where do you think we’ll see more of these beautiful, sustainable creations across the States and internationally? Start the conversation by making the visit.

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