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When the Rubber Meets the Road



Christmaseinmas.jpgIt’s Christmas Eve Day. I look forward to this day all year. For over 15 years I have reserved this day for two activities: 1)shopping and 2) observing human nature.

There’s nothing like going to the busiest mall or downtown to shop on this day. The traffic is gridlock and the energy is frantic. Here in California, the weather isn’t quite as severe as in other locales, but still, the winter chill is usually in the air adding to the holiday cheer.

Rubber-meets-roadWhat I find fascinating about today is the spirit of things. People are out buying gifts for those they love. Everyone has been sending cards promoting peace on earth and goodwill toward men AND Today the Rubber Meets the Road.

Horns will be blaring, parking spaces will be fought over, lines will be long, tempers short, frustration frothing, anxiety peaking – and in the midst of all of this are thousands of people mostly wrapped up in their own worlds and agendas.

pink.jpgSaturday, I was in line at Macy’s buying a pair of pink fluffy slippers (not for you Lani). I was third in a short line. The two women at the head of the line were mother and adult daughter. Between me and them was a woman with a coat to purchase and her 10–year old girl and a 12–year old boy doing what children that age do in such situations – being bored and fidgeting.

The mother and daughter were trying to split payment on the items the sales clerk had rung up – with separate checks. It turned into a 15 minute circus. Mother and daughter were like Laurel & Hardy. The sales clerk a cross between Buster Keaton and Jack Benny.

The other mother and kids started moving and making noises like caged animals while I settled in for the show.

I do love it all. Today will be full of many such instances and there will also be extraordinary acts of kindness and consideration in the mix.

Human-natureIt helps me to reflect on my behavior and actions when the rubber meets the road. Do I walk the talk?

I put a lot of promises on the web and our site about me and our team (most recently this). When the rubber meets the road, what will our clients experience?

That is what today and most days are all about for me.

I am wishing each of you – the best of you.


The Real Estate Party Circuit- Real Estate Humor



girl with nog

Happy New Year, one and all! Many of you probably enjoyed some great office parties over the holidays. The best part for me includes the reports of all the holiday pranks and cranks. These are the best stories I heard this party season. Now that 2009 has had the mercy to end, we are ushering in a hopeful New Year…but some of the folks in these stories will be living down 2009 until NEXT January rolls around.

The Deranged Exchange: 

At one party in West Hollywood, gifts were exchanged. Unfortunately, the host accidentally placed a few of the adult gag gifts in the children’s gift bag. One confused young boy received a glamorous doll from Santa. Unfortunately, it was actually a man-doll…in drag.

In spite of the parents’ coaxing, the child refused to trade the gift for another – he loved his new he-she, complete with removable wig and glittering eye shadow. The parents, who were usually very good natured, demanded a check for damages from the host. The host, embarrassed and apologetic, was at a loss for words. After an awkward moment, the father grinned and explained that the cash was to ensure the child’s recovery from the trauma – either therapy…or make-up lessons. 

Curb Your Enthusiasm 

Another West Hollywood party-goer reportedly parked at a curb in a red zone…close to a hydrant. He left a note on his windshield that said, “If you are thinking of writing a ticket, please have some holiday cheer. It’s Christmas, and there is no place to park anywhere within walking distance.” An hour later, someone ran into the party and yelled, “Patrick, you’re getting a ticket.” 

Patrick ran out to confront the West Hollywood Parking Gestapo. “Come on, man,” he moaned. “Don’t you have any holiday spirit? I guess you didn’t read my message.” 

“Of course I read it,” replied the Parking Officer. “I found the note, but I couldn’t find a gift from you anywhere. It seems to me that you are the one with no Christmas spirit. I, on the other hand, have a gift for you.” With that, he tore the ticket off the pad and handed Patrick the ticket.  He then climbed into his vehicle and yelled, “Merry Christmas, man – and thanks for the cheer!” 

Spicy and Dicey 

One Beverly Hills hostess was throwing a party for her real estate office.  She was running late, so she asked her husband to set out the egg nog, add some nutmeg, and set out the punch cups. The party was in full swing when she heard whispers from the patio. “Don’t drink the egg nog,” someone whispered, “you’ll gag.” 

Horrified, she ran to the punch bowl, poured a glass of egg nog and took a swallow.

Immediately she spit it back into the glass. She hurried to the kitchen to question her husband. There on the counter was the empty carton of egg nog. Next to it were the spices and the Southern Comfort her husband had used for flavoring. She couldn’t find the nutmeg…but she did find a large jar of Trader Joe’s Ground Paprika.

Her “Gag Nog” has been the office joke all week. She is now offering to write down the recipe on an airsick bag for all those who want to add some spice to their holidays.

Those Who Boast Are Toast 

I heard a satisfying story about a guy in a different office who was bragging about his fabulous earnings in 2009 with no regard to those who fared less successfully. I was told that the more he drank, the more boastful he became. When he was in full gear, he announced his purchase of a new Porsche which he had parked outside on the street. Several agents dutifully went out to admire it, although his boasting had become thicker than a porterhouse, but a lot less palatable. 

They all admired the car of course, but they were offended that he was taking two spots in an area near the beach where there is very limited parking. When someone subtly suggested that he move over, he refused, pointing out that his car was nicer than the other cars and he didn’t want his doors dinged. 

Later that night when he left the party, he received his comeuppance. His car had been moved and was now horizontally parked across the two spots, with cars closely parked on each side blocking him in. The group of guys had actually LIFTED his car to turn it sideways. They were standing behind a wall howling with laughter when one called out, “Hey Barry, next year you better make enough money to buy a Hummer – they ‘re too heavy to move!”

Quick Quip and Guacamole Dip

 My favorite tale occurred when a friend of mine named Jan went to a party hosted by another agent. Mexican food was being served, and apparently the home was very crowded. She was trying to slip past a group of guests when she lost her balance and fell backwards onto a chair. Unfortunately, a male co-worker was sitting in the chair holding a full plate of food.

When she struggled to her feet, she realized she had a Mexican buffet on her booty. As she wiped the mashed food off with her hand, she noticed the mess on the front of the gentleman’s pants. She also noticed his shocked expression. Gesturing to the remainder of the dinner in his lap, Jan smiled and said, “Is that a burrito in your lap… or are you just happy to see me?”


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Dear Santa NAR: A Christmas Wish List



Christmas Treet with Stockings

Now that I’ve been stuffed like the turkey I ate and had a chance to reflect on the many things I need to be thankful for it’s time for the next holiday to begin. Parties galore and, best of all, I get to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what I want for [insert name for hugely successful December holiday here].

This year, I know the economy is in the doldrums and, heck, even membership in our beloved National Association of Realtors is down a tad.  So I don’t want to seem selfish.  I just have a few little things I’d like Santa NAR to put under my tree this year.

1. Put the REALTOR back in the National Association of REALTORS

All those nice tax breaks for the home buying public are nice and all.  I understand that they do have an indirect effect on Realtors (especially those that are really working their business) but I would much rather have some direct benefits of membership coming my way.

For example, you know those nice “discounts” you get from the Realtor Benefits® Program.  A little leg work and web surfing can make those discounts look like price gouging.  Hey, get your negotiators in there to make those things really worthwhile.  Make them something other than glorified and targeted advertising for the “partners”.

Another little thing you might do is explain to me how I can explain to anyone who asks what a Realtor is other than “a member of the National Association of Realtors.”  I’ve been doing this for 10 years now and I still haven’t figured it out. And, yes, I know about the Code of Ethics.

Santa NAR, help me believe that being a Realtor means something other than paying my dues.

2. Get Real With Your Our Advertising Dollars

Can we talk, here? Showing ads on TV with the picture perfect family straight from Hollywood Central Casting sitting on the metaphorical (and literal) white picket fence looking wistfully at a house doesn’t do jack. The Hollywood model who is supposed to be “the Realtor” doesn’t look nearly as beat up enough to be anywhere near real.

Look.  I know you guys only have 30 seconds or 60 seconds to get a message across. Why don’t you try getting the message across that Realtors are an important and necessary part of the real estate home buyer and home selling process. “Now is the time to buy” and all the similar message are worthless and fall on deaf ears.  Of course, it’s time to buy and if anyone who can possibly arrange to get a mortgage and has the slightest inclination toward buying will buy a house.  These buyers and their seller counterparts need to know why their first call needs to be to their local Realtor.

3. Get Some Real and Affordable Health Care for Realtors

Forget all that crap about health care reform.  The public option. Death panels. Abortion funding.  Fogedaboutit.  Just get something so we don’t have to go out looking for spouses that have real health insurance.  Supposedly the NAR is the largest trade association in North America (source: Wikipedia) with its one million plus members. Why can’t someone sit done with a money hungry, profit driven, super capitalist, Fox News watching insurance company and tell them point blank that you can deliver 1,000,000 premium paying customers if they’re willing to play ball?

When I was a single (i.e,  unmarried) Realtor I had to get a health insurance policy that was bare bones, expensive as hell and had premiums that increased 10% per year if I so much as filled a ‘script for a generic antibiotic that grocery store pharmacies now give away for free.


4. Stay Out of the Commission Discussion

Hey, guys, we’re paying our dues which are paying your salaries and all the nice perks and nice buildings.  Can you do us all a favor and shutta your face when it come to our compensation?  It’s obvious from Gift Requests 1,2 and 3 that you really consider us as independent contractors and not much of a cohesive group. I understand that it’s sometimes like herding cats.  However, since you really don’t see much value in providing members with serious, direct benefits, the least you can do is let us set our own compensation.  All this talk about “the future of real estate” and “trending” doesn’t do anyone any good unless the master plan is to turn us all into employees.

Whether I want to charge a flat fee or a percentage is my deal.  I’m the one that puts food on my table and pays for all — and I mean, all — my own business expenses.  The best thing you can do is stand back and help us promote the Realtor brand by making it mean something in the minds of the home selling and home buying public. Using whatever influence you folks in leadership may have to determine compensation models is counter productive.

Too Much To Ask?

Don’t worry about the Tickle Me Elmo or whatever toy du jour is out this year.  I don’t need a Play Station 3 or an Xbox.  All I want is a trade association that get puh-lenty of moolah from it’s members to pretend like they care.

By the way, dear readers, feel free to add to the list.  I’m not proud.

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Not another New Year’s Resolution Article!



*photo courtesy of Teresa Boardman*

The Leo in me tends to over-analyze and go into self-discovery mode every so often and although this doesn’t necessarily have to coincide with starting a new year…….why not?

During Project Blogger I learned an important lesson from ARDELL – show your clients what value you add to a transaction….and blogging about it is an incredible tool.  Now a question follows –

What are you good at?

What are you REALLY good at? Is there something that lights your fire and is there a way to incorporate that “something” into your business?  Of course we know that you need to do what you love to be able to do it well….but with the market downturn and the economy the way it is….that may not be an easy task.

So here’s the challenge for you this year – you need to incorporate your passion into your business somehow and you will see the world change colors around you.  It may not be an easy task if you have a passion for scuba diving and you are a mortgage broker……but with a little imagination, you can bring that “BAM!” into your marketing and possibly hook up with like minded individuals that share that same passion.

We have the tools at our reach – from Flickr to Facebook Groups to Tweet-ups and bloggingDigital Media can make it happen, but you need to focus and do it.

I plan to apply more creative juices to my marketing this year, I also plan on focusing on my architecture skills with our real estate business and niche market – it’s easier said than done….but it’s a goal I will achieve.  I love to brainstorm by the way and would be happy to help you get there – so don’t hesitate to ask for directions.  The toughest part is to find the source of your fire.

Happy New Year Everyone!  May you find your matches and have the opportunity to light them up and enjoy the flame. (in my case….I was lucky to have been gifted the matches – Thanks T!)

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