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Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!

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bear2Recently I have heard some hilarious tales of wild animal capers at open house events. Many of these anecdotes come from my agent friends in Lake Arrowhead. And you thought YOU had problems…

Easy Rider

I’m told there are bear travel routes at Lake Arrowhead. I’m not sure if there are biker bars for the critters to hang out and knock back brewskis, but the routes are detours created by the animals themselves as they cruise around the mountains. As a result, there are many bear sightings in the area.

An agent I know was with a client when they parked at the cabin she had just listed. As they approached the porch, they glanced at the pickup truck parked in the driveway and were delighted to see a baby bear asleep in the flatbed.

They observed the little guy for a short time, ooh-ing and ah-ing and discussing whom to call. Duh. Suddenly the answer came to them…in the form of a shadow the size of the Statue of Liberty. Paralyzed with fear, they tried not to move a muscle. Finally, when the words “main course” permeated their individual skulls, they turned on cue and walked slo-o-o-ly to the front porch. They managed to get inside without losing any limbs, but not before the frantic client had wet her pants. After the bears eventually left, the hapless women departed. The agent was shaking uncontrollably, and the client had to sit on a towel all the way home.

(Moral of the story: Ya’ know how you just want to pick up a little bear and cuddle it? Well Mama Bear wants to cuddle you, too…and then crack your head open, rip out your eyeballs with claws the size of hedge clippers, and then suck the meat off your skinny little flailing legs…accompanied by a fine Pinot Noir of course. So avoid even baby bears, fool!)

Bears Need To Relax, Too

One agent had seen bears in the area of his listing and had dutifully informed his clients. While preparing for Brokers Open, he set a bag of dog food on the back porch in his efforts to tidy the kitchen. Halfway through caravan, there was pandemonium in the back forty. When he and several agents ran outside to investigate the chaos, they saw the dog food scattered everywhere.

As the agent stooped to retrieve the bag, he looked across the yard. To his shock, a brown bear was splashing lazily in the spa right under the hand-crafted “Don’t Piss In Pool ” sign. The group high-tailed it inside, barricaded the doors, and armed themselves with whatever they could grab. The agent had to scream out the window at any latecomers, warning them to get outta Dodge, while everyone already there remained holed up in the house until animal control arrived.

When Animal Control finally burst in, they admonished the agent for a lapse in judgement, but only after they had a good laugh. It seems that one guy was brandishing a fireplace poker as a weapon, and the listing agent was armed with a lovely umbrella.  The agent was very embarrassed, but the worst insult was the floater left in the spa by the annoyed bear.

(Moral of the story: If you are on a bear route, never place Dog Food outside unless the bears on your route are Harvard grads and can read the words “Dog Food,”  and “Don’t Piss in Pool.” Less educated bears may think the sign says “After enjoying the bear bidet…please help yourself to the squealing agents huddled inside and screaming like girly-men.”)

Let’s Not Forget the Raccoons

This story was enough to make me stop serving food outside. An agent had set up a lovely luncheon at a house near the lake. Out of nowhere, there was a blur of action on the hillside. A raccoon scampered down the hill, a barking dog with a beer belly close at it’s heals. The raccoon ran around the trash bins and then took shelter in a tight space behind the pool equipment. The determined dog apparently had gone to a Tony Robbins seminar and did not know the meaning of giving up. He did everything possible to get the raccoon to expose himself (so to speak). However, the wily raccoon, while less educated, had street smarts and was waiting for his posse to show up and ice the dog.

Enter the agent. Upset by the ear-splitting chaos, the agent grabbed a utensil and a metal dish and created a cacophony of noise, hoping to scare off the intruders. It worked. Sort of. The raccoon screeched, tore out of his hiding place, and for a split second in time, he stared down the source of the mind-numbing noise. Finally he headed for elevation…the luncheon table being the nearest high spot. The portly dog was too fat to jump onto the table, so he tried to claw his way up the table cloth. The agent, frantically banging her bowl, watched helplessly as inch by inch the entire spread headed south in slow motion. The food explosion was followed immediately by the sound of the table collapsing. The last she saw of the quiche-covered dog or the crazed raccoon was a departing blur back up the hillside. She gave up and threw the bowl in disgust before collapsing in tears.

(Moral to the Story: If you’re going to Bang a Gong, know your audience, Wang Chung!)

And This One is For The Birds

Picture a lovely summer day in California. French doors were open wide, flowers were in bloom, and the agent was preparing for the first Public Open House. Suddenly a Blue Jay flew into the living room and became disoriented. Confused and frazzled, the feathered intruder attempted to fly out via the skylights.  After being thwarted in its numerous attempts to escape, the bird landed on a beam to rest. The agent, also confused and frazzled, decided to deal with the party crasher after the open house was over.

Enter the public. As the agent showed the house and gave her pitch, a menacing kid turned on a screeching musical toy that set off  the downfall of society. The bird, already confused and excited, began to circle overhead frantically seeking an exit. As the voices of the startled group melded into a chorus of screams, the bird responded back in kind…by crapping all over the well-appointed living room. The more the visitors screamed, the more the bird emptied the contents of his well-stocked bowels. By the time the agent managed to herd everyone out, the seller’s furniture was upholstered in cottage cheese. The bird remained for several hours more, no doubt taking photos and texting his friends.

(Moral of the Story: If a bird crashes your party, call the wily raccoon to chase the feathered interloper outside. Then call the dog in as an enforcer to offer the raccoon a deal he can’t refuse. Then hire the bear to scare the beejeesus out of the wiseguy dog. Then call animal control to drag the bear away after he uses your spa as a bidet, but before he gets out his dining utensils and slaps you onto a plate. After that, call all the agents who called you “fool” and invite them to a party in the spa…and leave the floater.)

And a Short One For the Road

Did you hear about the German Shepherd who knocked down the agent’s tent sign and relieved himself all over it as the caravan was arriving? I actually witnessed the performance…and the  two curtain calls.

(Moral of the Story: It seems everyone is a critic. Go do the same thing in his bowl – that will teach him to be a bit less judgmental next time.)

Thank you, Lake Arrowhead!

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    May 22, 2009 at 9:14 am

    OMG I didn’t even know LA had bears much less so many PEEING bears! LOL awesome. Gwen, you are always the humorous cherry on top of my day 🙂

  2. Austin Smith - Goomzee.com

    May 22, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Hahaha…Sensitivity to the Needs of Wildlife = FAIL.

    Nice work Gwen.

  3. Gwen Banta

    May 22, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    And you thought all the wildlife was roaming the Sunset Strip! Come out and see out mountains, Lani – I’ll be waiting for you. Thabnks so much, and have a great Memorial day.

  4. Gwen Banta

    May 22, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks, Austin. We have pushed the animals out of their natural habitats, but they are resisting…and rightfully so. I was driving in Laurel Canyon yesterday when I spotted a coyote walking down the sidewalk in broad daylight. I was so busy looking at the scrawny critter that I almost didn’t see a snake crossing the road! The snake had to be at least 4 feet long. It was like a wildlife preserve. I’m heading for the mountains now, so who knows what I’ll see there. The bears are hungry these days…

  5. Paula Henry

    May 22, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Gwen – When we moved last year, i was looking at homes in Eagle Creek, a wooded lot, nature, you know, the whole natural serenity, love to come home to dream. I drove through several neighborhoods and looked at quite a few homes.

    It’s almost enchanting to see deer in the front yard and just as disconcerting to see raccoons climbing the trees. I chose a little more “city” I still have a lovely wooded lot and see a few deers, but I can live without the raccoons climbing my trees. Stories like this remind me why.

  6. Susie Blackmon

    May 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I’m glad Lani called this post to my attention. Enjoyable read, but also sad to think of what has happened to the habitats of so many animals. Have a great weekend.

  7. Gwen Banta

    May 25, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    I’m like you, Paula – I LOVE the deer…but the raccoons and bears are a bit too ominous for me to enjoy with my Sunday coffee…

  8. Gwen Banta

    May 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Thank you, Susie (and thank you, Lani!). Yes, I am sad everytime I see a scrawny coyote out looking for some dinner. They seem so thin and sad…

  9. Gwen Banta

    May 25, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Betty, thank you so much for sharing my stories up there in your incredibly beautiful Oregon territory. I hope they brought out a few smiles…and maybe even a few loud laughs at the folly of some of us humans!

  10. Betty jung

    May 26, 2009 at 3:05 am

    Thanks for the post. I know I laughed when I read your words!

  11. Joe Loomer

    May 29, 2009 at 6:56 am

    So I meet George the Home Inspector at this house. My Buyer’s a military dude who couldn’t stay in town for the inspection, so I’m there solo. George notes some damage, some staining, and a funny smell from the louvres at the apex of the roofline. Not much else to report about the exterior.

    We move inside, and George heads to the attic via the pull-down stairs. Then George head-firsts down the attic stairs. Seems bats decided they liked the quiet, warm, dark climate. Now the exterior damage (and that funny smell) make a little more sense.

    Guano know the rest of the story?

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

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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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headphones listen podcasts

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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family coworkers

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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