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Real Estate Caravan From Hell Revisited

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A few months ago I told you about the caravan with bats in the fireplace, but this story would make you wish for a bat…maybe even a pterodactyl or two. It takes place in Los Angeles of course. What better place to get a healthy heap of crazy on a sunny Tuesday morning? My friend told me the story, and I swear she’s not a candidate for re-hab. Of course, after this incident she would have had justification. Please enjoy:

Ole!

Yes, it was a sunny Tuesday morning and agents were gathering for a lovely L.A. caravan day. Jan was doing a second brokers’ open, as her listing just wasn’t getting any action. In order to re-new interest, Jan had ordered the usual nice luncheon to entice hungry realtors and their (hopefully) hungry buyers. The bill of fare included a selection of Mexican dishes from La Salsa and home made guacamole. Jan was humming, birds were singing, and the bougainvillea was bougaining. You get the picture.

Jan was nearly ready to go when Neighbor Nate blew in like the fresh scent of septic. Nate padded through the door wearing mangy bedroom slippers, gym shorts and a Tee shirt that looked like a death shroud. He said he was a neighbor, but he wasn’t sure what direction he had come from. Jan, sympathetic to the challenges of the elderly, could not see past the wreckage that was Nate, or she might have been wary of the crazy captain of his shriveled ship. But noooo, she asked him to make himself at home and have a bite to eat while she set out desserts.

Bring on the Entertainment

Nate crammed a mini taco past his mine field of yellow teeth and mushy gums, and he was reaching for another when his body thanked his hostess with a loud bit of rumbling, accompanied by an odor that made the burritos smell like hibiscus. Assessing the sitch, Jan moved quickly to steer the gas-filled octogenarian away from the Mexican food and toward the cookies. Alas, whatever he swallowed was accompanied by a hearty gust of flatulence that he either couldn’t hear, or just heartily enjoyed. Jan said the fumes were so bad they could only have been covered with formaldehyde. She may have even momentarily considered blowing out the candles due to the flammable nature of Nate’s gift that kept on giving.

Jan, always quick on her feet, did a body blockade of the table and thrust some carrot sticks at the old relic. She plastered a smile on her face and cheerfully insisted that Nate and his internal fumigation machine go look at the rest of the house. Nate complied, dragging his shriveled frame out of the kitchen and down the hall, his spindly legs lost in his baggy gym shorts like abandoned Popsicle sticks. He left her with a whiff of Nate before moving on his merry way. As the first group of cars pulled up out front, Jan heated cookies in the oven to create a delicious fragrance to try to disguise Nate’s toxic cloud.

Always Keep the Party Lively

When the first group entered, they signed in and proceeded to head for the table like buzzards on carrion. The group was friendly and conversant, so much so that Jan forgot about her other visitor. When a second wave entered, the first group proceeded on a tour of the house, and Jan continued the friendly banter.

Suddenly there was a scream in the bedroom. In a flash of memory so vivid that Jan thought she was passing into the Light, she remembered Nate. She said she doesn’t remember her sprint down the hall, but she does remember the scene awaiting her. There on the bed, stripped of all his clothes, lay a beaming Nate. As the group stood in horror, Jan tried to pull the spread around him, but his seersucker body was anchoring it down. Several agents came to their injured senses and fled down the hall to head off any newcomers while Jan picked up Nate’s shirt and threw it over his deflated package. Unfortunately, Nate did not WANT his package covered, so he kept tossing off the garments faster than she could retrieve them and telling her to “get out of my room or I’m calling Celia.”

Good Manners Can Go a Long Way

Her patience shot, Jan ran back to the kitchen to call the police. Before they could arrive, Nate appeared back in the kitchen, carrying his clothes. He grabbed a cookie and flashed a crumpled grin. “Thank you for a really nice time,” he said. “I’m going to get Celia and bring her over to say hello.” Nate turned as Jan stood speechless, watching while the sun reflected off two atrophied buns as they dutifully followed their master out the door.

Of course, this was aptly timed with the arrival of Dan, an agent from her office who heard Nate’s expression of gratitude. Dan sized up naked Nate and grinned at Jan like a fourteen year old who had just gotten his first glimpse of his teacher’s cleavage. Red-faced Jan didn’t bother to explain, knowing that the story would take on a life of its own back at the office.

Ever the dutiful agent, Jan went back to straighten the bedroom and noticed that poor Nate had left a carrot stick on the pillow…and a urine spot on the bedspread. When she glanced out the window, she saw a policeman gently guiding Nate into the back of a police car, hopefully to help him find his way home.

Of course, no one ever found out who Celia was, but if she’s hiding from Nate, who could blame her? And if Jan now has a fear of old men in gym shorts, who could blame her?

Prologue

I think we can all learn something from this story. 1) If someone seems dyspeptic, usher them toward the door, not away from it. 2) Always keep track of your guests, especially the ones whose eyes are like Jack Nicholson’s in The Shining. 3) If a guest cannot remember where they came from, or what they came for, chances are they won’t remember why they should keep their clothes on. 4) Never let anyone leave without your business card. The one odor worse than flatulence is the odor of an old listing!

Thank you Jan, and all my friends at Nelson Shelton, Sotheby’s International Realty and Keller-Williams for your great stories. Please visit SherlockofHomes.blogspot.com for more tales from the trenches of real estate.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    June 5, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Gwen, I LOVE that your articles are always appalling, entertaining AND make me cringe every time!

  2. Joe Loomer

    June 5, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    note to self: Do not – under ANY circumstances – ever, EVER, eat or drink anything anywhere near your monitor, keyboard, cell phone, desk phone, or any other item that may be damaged by the involuntary snort of whatever is in your gullett when you read Gwen’s posts.

    I also had a momentary pang of sympathy for Nate. Maybe it wasn’t a pang, maybe I was laughing so hard I pulled a “Nate.” At least that’s what I’m calling it from now on – thanks GWEN!!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  3. Gwen Banta

    June 5, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Unfortunately, I have the same effect on men, Lani 🙂

  4. Gwen Banta

    June 5, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I’m not sure that “pulling a Nate” is appropriate for an officer and a gentleman, but I won’t tell. Your visual was great, Joe. I hope I can continue to ruin small electronic equipment for you. Perhaps I will add that to my resume. I’ll call myself a “Loomerator” and give your name as a reference. I look forward to your comments every week – thanks so much.

  5. Joe Loomer

    June 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Sorry Gwen, i figured “pulling a finger” would just be too risque’ for this forum…..

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  6. Gwen Banta

    June 5, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    But oh so appropriate for fragrant Nate-the-odorator…

  7. Karen Highland

    June 5, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Oh my, what a hoot! I needed that laugh, thanks. I have a story about an agent in my office who must have eaten whatever Nate ate, and unfortunately she was with some buyers when she released her ‘gift’ to the basement of a townhouse. The good news was, the buyers were good friends, but years later the story is retold to anyone who meets her friends. The moral: save the spicy food for after the showing.

  8. Gwen Banta

    June 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Oh my gosh – I have heard from several people today regarding stories of contrails following their offenders through open house events. One of my visitors did that once, then he bailed out the front door leaving his gift inside with me. The next visitors of course thought that I was the dyspetic offender. How do you even bring that up, let alone explain it away???

  9. Joe Loomer

    June 6, 2009 at 8:19 am

    I could write volumes about my aircrew days. I can’t even begin to explain the effects air pressure has on a person’s body when you’re flying in a plane older than you are. Most famous of them all – Mikey B.

    My first ever flight in the Navy was out of now-defunct Hellenikon AFB in Athens, Greece. Show time was 0300 (3 a.m., ladies) for a 0500 go (take off at 5 a.m., 12 hr mission, land at 5 p.m).

    Mikey led me over to the air terminal snack bar – affectionately called “Filthy’s.” As I ordered typical wee hours fare – milk, cereal, cup of coffee – I took a look at Mikey B’s tray. Two hours-old bratwurst covered in chili, saurkraut, and cheese. All lavishly dressed in what appeared to be a half-gallon of hot sauce.

    Needless to say, I got my “Baptism by Fire” later on….

    The EP-3E Aeries aircraft is a four-engine, propeller-driven plane designed for intelligence collection duties. It – like it’s mother the P-3C Orion – is designed for airflow to go from the cockpit, through the cabin, and out through a vent in the rear galley (kitchen).

    But Mikey B is the spawn of Satan. The simple law of postive air flow does not apply to him. By 0900 (9 a.m. ladies), four hours into the mission, the pilots where on oxygen, the rest of us either unconcious or wishing we where. The Aircraft Commander actually gave Mikey B a DIRECT ORDER to stop (his derisive, laughing response somehow did not net him the court martial he so RICHLY deserved).

    I somehow spent another nine years flying – off and on – five of those with Mikey B. I must have killed some olfactory nerve that first flight.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  10. Gwen Banta

    June 6, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I LOVE your stories, Joe. I should let you know, however, that even we “ladies” know military time. We can be late in twelve or twenty-four timing – it’s a gift. Incidentally, did Mikey B. retire and change his name to Nate? 🙂

  11. Richard

    June 6, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Gwen,

    You should be a writer. Oh wait a second, you ARE! 🙂 I love your writing style. So descriptive and humorous. I bet if you wrote a book it would be a page turner! Keep it up.

    – Richard W. Bailey

  12. Joe Loomer

    June 7, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Funny enough – Mikey B – also known as “Big Mikey” is in a band – the Jeremy Graham Band. He also moonlights as an Arabic linguist in a hush-hush job. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Or I can just bring Nate, uh, Mikey B over to do it.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  13. Gwen Banta

    June 7, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks, Richard. I did write a novel or two, but finding an agent for fiction is as difficult as finding a unicorn in a top hat!

  14. Gwen Banta

    June 7, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I’m a trained assassin, Joe – known as Snuff Daddy by the trembling masses. So warn him before he gets here.

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Business Marketing

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.

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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.

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Business Marketing

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…

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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.

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Business Marketing

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.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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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