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Find Your Happy Place

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Donald Duck courtesy of Flickr user SavannahGrandfather


Recharge Your Batteries

It’s been a long year already. This industry has been rough on us all. In the lovely Pacific Northwest, we’re gearing up to go into our 8 months of rain and gloom, so I don’t have much to look forward to in that respect. Watching the market do it’s thing has been depressing. Watching friends get laid off due to market conditions hasn’t been fun. I watched my old college football team’s highlights and I wanted to punch our mascot.

Your Customers Can Tell

I’m sure you’ve heard of the idea of forcing a smile when you’re on the phone because the person on the other end can tell. If this year has been rough on you (it’s okay to admit it) and your face is getting sore from forcing a smile (mine was), it may be time to get away from it all. I like to refer to this as “recharging my batteries”. My tolerance for the phone ringing, my patience level and my temper are all like a rechargeable battery (see how green I am?), over time, my energy gets drained and I need to be recharged.

Where is Your Happy Place?

For me, it’s all of the long camping trips over the summer with great friends. It reminds me that there is good in the world and that we all do make a difference in other peoples lives. I make time to take a few extra-long weekends throughout the rest of the year too just for mini-recharges.

Force Yourself to Get Away

On my last trip, a good friend who is a very successful Realtor commented about how nice it was to finally be in a location where the laptops and cell phones just didn’t work. She couldn’t work if she wanted to. She was forced to forget about these market conditions, the rougher lending conditions, all of it. We normally chat up a storm about real estate marketing and such, but we didn’t even mention it once because none of it mattered.

My Customers Could Tell

I held my first class since I came back on Wednesday and the people in the class could tell I was enjoying this and was ready to help again. We all work with people who have their own sets of problems. When we can’t downplay our frustrations any more, it comes out and can make a bad situation worse. They key is to realize you need a recharge and to find that place or those people who can make it happen, then just do it.

Have a perfect weekend.

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Danilo Bogdanovic

    September 12, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Great post! It’s important to remember to take a step back from it all and relax doing whatever it is you find relaxing and fun. You’re right when you say that clients notice (as do family members and friends).

    My friends and family often say to me “You take a lot of vacations!” I tell them “Try being a Realtor!”

  2. ines

    September 12, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Nick – I think it’s important to always keep in mind that you are not the only one with problems – we all have them and it’s a part of life. Recharging my batteries sometimes has to do with helping a colleague get out of the dump, helping out someone in need and even volunteering my time.

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    September 12, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Because of your post, I have to make a confession – or least comment with one I twittered this morning. From Myers-Brigg; I am an ENTJ. I get my energy from interaction and group events, mainly from sharing and seeing agents be able to better themselves in classes. However, going to work as a full time consultant / educator has begun to take the “fun” out of teaching. The administrative functions and politics of the job have really started to drain me. The extensive hours this week have really drained me.

    I am looking forward to taking a few day break in the future.

    The market does suck, but if your head isn’t in the game – everyone will know and YOUR market will just get worse.

  4. Elaine Reese

    September 12, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Wow, this really hits home. I just celebrated (?) 10 years in the business without any time off other than 4-5 hrs every so often to do work around my home. I work 7 days a week and haven’t taken any ‘get-away’ time in the 10 yrs. This summer has been busy, which is good, but I fear I’m beginning to burn out. I quit walking my dog, because neighbors would stop to talk about real estate. I took my trash out last night and spent 45 min answering my neighbor’s questions on real estate. I REALLY need a break away but don’t feel I can afford to slack off. I’m a good example of what NOT to do.

  5. Bill Lublin

    September 13, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Nick; You know how people say that you get the love you give? Its completely true – point well made!

  6. Nick Bostic

    September 13, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Matthew, your comment really hit home for me. When I was in college, I became a SCUBA instructor because I loved diving so much. Over time, I moved up to become an instructor instructor and had a very large program I ran. But then I got burnt out. I had taken my passion and turned it into a profession. Where I used to do 5-10 dives every weekend and 2-3 during the week, I now may do 5-10 dives per year. That’s always the tough part for me behind the concept of “do what you love”.

  7. Jonathan Dalton

    September 14, 2008 at 1:34 am

    Getting away to San Diego for a week with limited e-mail service was a wonderful thing. And I came home to complete a stretch of putting seven homes in escrow in seven weeks. Not bad for … well, never mind.

    Despite the odds, this has turned out to be my best year in closed sales (or at least is on pace to be.) And the key has been to stop pushing as hard … to stop working until 12:30 a.m. (except for tonight) because there’s not a house to be sold this late in the evening and instead focus on being as productive as possible during the hours people are looking.

    It’s a minor way of recharging but it’s helped.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

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What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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Opinion Editorials

How to build a company culture while working remotely

(OPINION EDITORIAL) It seems that even a post COVID-19 world will involve remote work, so how can you build and maintain a strong work culture that ensures growth and satisfaction?

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culture remotely

New startups and existing companies are starting to transition to a fully remote (or nearly fully remote) model, but what does this mean for work culture? If you’re not careful, your work culture could easily become diminished as you transition to a remote environment, and if you’re building a company from the ground up, you may not have a strong culture to begin with.

Culture isn’t something you can afford to give up, so how can you build and maintain your company culture while working remotely?

The importance of a strong work culture

Maintaining a strong, consistent company culture is vital, even if your company is operating remotely. With a strong work culture, you’ll enjoy benefits like:

  • Better recruiting potential. A company with strong work culture will seem more attractive to talented candidates. The best people in the industry will want to work at a place with a great team and a great set of values.
  • Like-minded teammates. Establishing a consistent work culture allows you to selectively hire, then maintain employees who are like-minded. Employees with similar goals and mentalities, even if they come from different backgrounds, will be able to collaborate more efficiently.
  • Smoother communication. A strong foundational work culture that establishes goals, values, and beliefs within an organization can enable smoother, more efficient communication. Staff members will be on the same page with regard to high-level priorities, and will be able to exchange information in similar patterns.
  • Lower stress and less turnover. Better work cultures generally mean lower stress for employees, and accordingly, less employee turnover. Of course, this assumes you’re hiring good fits for the organization in the first place.
  • A better public reputation. Your work culture can also boost your public reputation—especially if you emphasize core values that are important to your target audience.

How to build company culture remotely

Traditionally, you can use in-person team-building sessions, regular meetings, and workplace rules to establish and maintain your company culture, but while working remotely, you’ll need to employ a different set of tactics, like:

  • Hiring the right candidates. Building a great culture starts with hiring. You have to find candidates who fit with your organization, and already share your core values. If someone doesn’t agree with your high-level approach, or if they don’t like your rules or workflows, they aren’t going to do their best work. These same considerations should be applied to your third party hires as well; agencies and freelancers should also fit into your values.
  • Hosting virtual team-building events. You can’t host in-person team-building events, but that doesn’t mean that team-building is inaccessible to you. Consider hosting a video conference to introduce your team members to each other, or bond over a shared event. You could also host virtual game nights, or provide team lunches to celebrate wins. Any excuse to engage with each other in a non-work context can help employees feel more connected and part of the team, and there are plenty of options to make it work virtually.
  • Streamlining communication. Good communication is both a constituent factor and a byproduct of effective company culture. If you want your culture to thrive, you have to set good standards for communication, and encourage your employees to communicate with each other consistently and openly. People need to feel heard when they speak, and feel comfortable voicing their opinions—even if they don’t agree with their superiors. There should also be easily accessible channels for communication at all levels. Over time, this foundation will help your employee communication improve.
  • Improving transparency. Workplace transparency is important for any employer, but it’s especially important for remote businesses trying to build or maintain a strong culture—and it’s challenging if you’re operating remotely. If you’re open and honest about your goals and how you operate, employees will feel more trusted and more engaged with their work. Strive to answer questions honestly and disclose your motivations.
  • Publishing and reiterating company core values. One of the biggest factors responsible for making a company culture unique is its set of core values. Spend some time developing and refining your list of core values. Once finished, publish them for all employees to read, and make time to reiterate them regularly so employees remember them.
  • Making employees feel valued. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make your employees feel valued. Take the time to show your appreciation however you can, whether it’s through a simple thank-you message or an occasional cash bonus, and be sure to listen to employee feedback when you get it.

Building a work culture in a remote environment is more challenging, and requires consideration of more variables, but it’s certainly possible with the right mentality. Spend time setting your priorities, and make sure you’re consistent in your execution.

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