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Op/Ed

3 business tips subtly offered in bingeworthy series, Stay Here

(EDITORIAL) Stay Here is not only our new favorite Netflix show to binge, it will subtly educate you about business along the way.

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stay here netflix

Thanks to the dawn of Netflix, we’re all accustomed to binge-watching our favorite shows, then feeling dead inside when there are no more episodes left, and going in search of a new series to obsess over. My newest favorite is Netflix’s Stay Here, starring America’s Sweetheart (sorry, Paige), Genevieve Gorder, and former-DJ, current broker, Peter Lorimer.

They’ve tapped into the wildly underserved (by HGTV, TLC, and others) short term rental market and help owners transition to mini-hoteliers. We watched the entire series in one night, thinking it would be another lame home makeover show, finding ourselves surprised by the quality, and eager for a second season.

Meghan O’Keefe at Decider similarly asserted that she was skeptical going into the series, but said, “I was soon transfixed by the show.”

What stood out to O’Keefe is that their motives are ultra clear (to promote these properties) while traditionally, makeover shows promoting designers’ brands are more opaque with their intent.

What stood out to us is how universal Gorder and Lorimer’s business advice was, with four consistent themes woven into each episode:

1. Focus on what sets you apart.

Every professional is scared of losing any opportunity, so it is common to keep your marketing broad. For example, if you ask a Realtor what their ideal referral looks like, almost everyone says, “I help people buy and sell homes.”

Uh, which people? Which types of homes? Do you focus on buyers or do you focus on sellers? If you say you’re a Realtor, we already know that you help people buy and sell homes, but we’re not going to refer to you over the 8,000 other agents int he city.

The fear of missing out on opportunities overwhelms entire industries, but saying “I help first time home buyers in downtown Dallas” or “I love working with people that are downsizing” is far more memorable, and plants a seed of need in peoples’ head. In two years after meeting you at a networking event, if they hear of a first time buyer in Dallas, they’re going to recommend you in a heartbeat whereas they would have already forgotten you by now.

The same can be said in Stay Here. The duo grooms every homeowner to understand what makes them stand out, and focuses squarely on that with every ounce of their effort. And every business professional should do the same.

stay here firehouse

2. Refine your model.

Many of the owners in the show frequently treat their short term rental as a hobby. But Lorimer (whose focus is the business) coaches every homeowner into understanding that if you’re taking someone’s money for something, you must deliver.

But what are you delivering?

Many people enter an industry and don’t set up any sort of business model, it’s more like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks. And this tip is one of the most subtle offered by the show.

Without spoiling too much, one episode of Stay Here had an owner that ran out of budget for furniture, so in the town that is a destination for antiquing, they went to a few shops the owner knew, and curated fine furniture and art in the rental that is for sale in the actual unit. I was blown away at the creativity and how they not only helped design an interior, they gave the homeowner a business model (short term rental owner acting as a boutique hotel owner with antique and art curation).

Brilliant. What are you doing in your industry that is different than your competitor? How are you partnering with ancillary services in creative ways that no one else is? Consider your model and how it can be refined (and trust me, after watching that episode, you’ll be inspired to do just that).

3. Create a social media moment.

Every episode has a “social media moment” in the form of a bold interior design choice that offers a space that is so photogenic people will insist on taking selfies there.

And for the first time ever, a show understands hashtag activation, giving each property a unique (albeit verbose) hashtag that is woven into each property visibly, on the website, and throughout social media efforts.

The point is that they empowered the renters to do the social media FOR the homeowner.

How does that convey to your business? Obviously, if you have a storefront, is there a spot that is selfie-worthy that includes a visible hashtag? Whether it’s a mural on the side of your building or a unique display, if you have a standard store with no “social media moment” offerings, you’re not giving people an excuse to photograph your shop and share it.

Maybe you’re a Realtor – is there something in every listing that is worth photographing, and a hashtag that goes along with the property? Hair stylists – is there a post-design space that is luxurious and all about taking selfies, even if it’s a simple backdrop in a well-lit corner of your salon?

The bottom line there is to give people a reason to do your social media marketing for you.

No matter what you do for a living, be sure to go stream Stay Here – it’s great brain candy with so many actionable pieces of advice that can be translated to so many other types of businesses!

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Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Op/Ed

A negotiation strategy successful people always use

(OP/ED) Successful people didn’t wake up one day in a leadership role, they used this negotiation strategy every day to win.

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assertive broker meeting negotiation team

One of my earliest lessons in the art of negotiation went down at home, as the youngest child trying to get the one up on my older brother. It was the mid 90s, Pepsi was rewarding loyal customers with Pepsi Points hidden in their 24-packs. I don’t think either of us knew what the hell we would even do with the Pepsi Points, but we both knew we wanted them. So for hours we negotiated.

There was yelling. There was name calling. Finally, my dad came in with a pair of garden scissors and proceeded to cut the Pepsi Points voucher in half. We were speechless. Our dreams of amassing a wealth of Pepsi Points turned into a lose-lose scenario.

Sadly, our negotiation experiences today end up following a similar pattern. Long, energy draining negotiations end in lose-lose scenarios. My own pattern of negotiations gone wrong only began to change when I became a community mediator in college. I learned from leaders in business, law, and social work negotiation skills that have helped me in both my professional and personal life.

A good starting point to any negotiation scenario is understanding negotiation motivators. Some of the obvious motivators are money and resources. These obvious motivators are at the tip of the iceberg. In negotiations, these motivators are often written or verbally communicated. However, there can be a handful of other motivators hiding beneath the surface. These motivators represent the hidden, yet powerful underside of the iceberg.

Here are some common hidden motivators to keep in mind: respect, accountability, safety, and power.

Seeking clarity involves slowing down the negotiations and proactively checking in with the other party to ensure you’re understanding points of agreement or disagreement correctly.

Often, this looks like simply taking time in the negotiations to summarize progress. For instance, negotiating with the head of another department about the use of meeting rooms. A summarizing statement on when and why each party needs the meeting rooms can be critical in correcting assumptions earlier on rather than later. It also helps ensure objectivity.

I’ll be totally honest and admit to times when I’ve been tempted to turn negotiations personal. In my head I’ve said things like, “Sally wants the meeting rooms all to herself” or “accounting is always trying to hold me back.”

Seeking clarity by summarizing key points helps keep us grounded in reality, and ensures that we are working towards each side’s true needs rather than the needs we assume in our heads.

We hear this term in sales pitches, business seminars and relationship workshops. But how can we create win-wins the midst of negotiations that are often stressful and complex? Well, let’s break down the win for both sides.

First, we create the win for ourselves by coming into our negotiation meetings with a clear picture of what our goals are both long and short-term.

In negotiating a purchase, I may want monetary savings now, but in the long term I’m willing to pay more if a product can meet my long term goals of reliability and convenience.

Ensuring a winning scenario for those on the other side of the negotiation table involves creating buy-in. This doesn’t mean stating your solutions and getting the other party to begrudgingly agree. It’s about asking open-ended questions and giving the other side a chance to craft their ideal solution. Sometimes, simply asking the other party what their ideal solution looks like can give you a head start in reaching a mutually beneficial scenario.

The most important step in creating a win-win scenario is to embrace creativity. Click To Tweet

We do this by focusing not just on WHAT the needs are, but HOW those needs are met. Think outside the box. For instance, what are some non-traditional ways of structuring payments? What are some non-traditional employee benefits? What are some non-traditional services you can add to a contract?

Negotiating is one of life’s necessities. Unless you live in your own self-sustaining plastic bubble, eventually you’ll need to practice the art of effective negotiation.

Don’t be like my Pepsi Point obsessed eight-year-old self, slipping into a lose-lose scenario due to lousy negotiation skills.

Practice seeing the other side of the iceberg, seeking clarity, and embracing creativity. These three negotiation skills can quickly turn a lose-lose scenario into a mutually beneficial one for both parties.

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Op/Ed

The music you’re listening to may dictate your productivity levels

(EDITORIAL) Whether it’s a podcast, news, or music, most people are listening to *something* while at work – so what makes you the most productive?

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music for productivity

For some, productivity requires a state of concentration that can only be achieved in silence. But workplaces are seldom so quiet, and truth be told, most of us prefer to have some background music playing while we work. Some people swear they can’t work or study without it.

Personally, I find music helpful for encouraging productivity and creativity. It distracts the part of my brain that would normally be chattering away – the voice in my head worrying, wondering, and daydreaming. I find that music neutralizes this inner voice, freeing up my brain to focus on the task at hand.

More and more research backs up what many of us experience – a state of enhanced calm, focus, and creativity when we listen to music while working. Deep Patel at Entrepreneur.com has a list of the best types of music to serve as the soundtrack to your workday.

Typically, music without lyrics is best for working or studying, since lyrics tend to catch our attention. Research has so consistently shown classical music to boost productivity that the phenomenon has it’s own name – the Mozart effect.

But other forms of wordless music can work as well. Patel recommends cinematic music for making the daily grind feel as “grandiose” as a Hollywood epic. Meanwhile, video game music has been specially designed to help gamers concentrate on game challenges; likewise, it can help keep your office atmosphere energized. Soothing nature sounds, such as flowing water or rainfall, can also help promote a calm but focused state.

Music with lyrics is okay too, as long as it doesn’t turn your office into a karaoke bar. Cognitive behavioral therapist Dr. Emma Gray worked with Spotify to identify the characteristics of music that can actually change our brain waves. She found that music between 50 and 80 beats per minute can trigger the brain an “alpha” state that is associated with relaxation and with being struck with inspiration.

Really, any music will do, as long as you like it. Research from the music therapy department at the University of Miami found that workers who listened to their preferred artists and genres had better ideas and finished their tasks more quickly.

What styles of music help you focus during your workday? I myself enjoy the collection of “lo-fi” or “chill-hop” playlists on YouTube. This music has a consistent beat that is engaging without being distracting, and the accompanying video generally features an adorable cartoon character to keep you company.

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Op/Ed

Is anyone NOT a social media influencer today?

(EDITORIAL) Is there a human alive today that doesn’t feel the pressure to be some sort of influencer, be it for personal or business reasons? I’m not sure.

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influencer

Is it just me, or does it seem like everybody and their brother (or dog) is now some sort of influencer? Don’t get me wrong, I am all about sharing ideas with others and, with that, blogging also brings a degree of creativity which I am also an advocate for.

My concern is, with all of the influencer noise out there, how do we know what we can trust?

Additionally, what criteria is needed to have a brand see you as an influencer?

I have always been curious on this subject, but it didn’t hit me over the head until I watched both Fyre Festival documentaries and thought, “okay, this influencer culture is IN-TENSE.” While watching, I thought about the people who purchased tickets to this event: had they built up a trust with the influencers spreading the word of this “experience” or were they intoxicated by the viral video of a once-in-a-lifetime-party on the beach?

A few days after watching these documentaries, a thread on Twitter caught my eye (okay, actually the gif of Catherine O’Hara on Schitt’s Creek caught my eye, but, whatever):

It was all about a New York-based influencer who built a strong following and decided that – at 23 – she was the ideal person to hold a seminar to teach people “how to live their best lives” (or some hokum like that).

Long story short, she got people to buy tickets but was in over her head and had to cancel appearances and seemingly screwed some people over and it’s the oldest story in the book.

I had never heard of this gal before and, after creeping on her social media for a little bit, I couldn’t figure out why she would be someone others would seek advice from.
This brought more curiosity to mind and begged the question of: exactly how involved is it to become an influencer? Given the vast amount of influencers who have popped up in a relatively short amount of time, I gathered it can’t be that difficult.

I’m a blogger, but never once considered myself a person of influence. However, I wanted to know what it would take for a brand to see me as such.

Without getting into the details, it didn’t take a lot and I now have a variety of products to test and review on my blog. My point is, I was surprised that my requests for sample were taken to so easily, and while I’m grateful for the opportunity and plan to write honest and in-depth reviews, I worry about others not being honest, and misleading impressionable followers.

With all of this in mind, my plea is this – follow whomever you want, like whatever posts you want, but please do your own research. Don’t be swayed by a well-filtered photo of a pretty girl sipping tummy-shrinking tea.

There is so much noise on the Internet that it is easy to get caught up in the mess of the storm, but take the time to do your own digging and spend your money and time wisely, especially when it comes to your profession.

Thank you for coming to my Taylor Talk.

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