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The violin prodigy: an inspiring story about passion

We are often discouraged from doing what we love, but through this anecdote we learn one of the top reasons why – the fire.




I’m a writer, I’m writing, I write!*

This anecdote from Lawrence Block’s guide for fiction writing is an amazing inspiration to me and I wanted to share it with you. Many people are struggling right now and are being told to jump ship, but I hope this story tells you whatever it is that you need to hear if you hare having a tough time (as most people I know right now are).

There have been many things in my life I was discouraged to do, namely writing. I was first published at age 10, wrote competitively through high school and began writing digitally in college where I graduated Sigma Tau Delta with a B.A. in English Literature from UT (and now ignore all of the rules in order to blog with the overly enjoyable stream of consciousness method). Had I listened to those in my life that considered my writing a hobby, none of you guys would know me and I wouldn’t be lucky enough to know you and I would be a professional bowler or whatever.

The violin prodigy story

A young violin prodigy was walking down the street one day trying to decide whether or not to pursue a life in music when he came upon the most famous violin teacher in the world. Scarcely believing his luck, he stopped the great teacher and asked if he could play for him, thinking he would abandon his dream of a career in music if the great teacher told him he was wasting his time.

The greater teacher nodded silently for him to begin. So he played, beads of sweat soon appearing on his forehead, and when he finished, he was certain he’d given his finest performance. But the great maestro only shook his head sadly and said, “You lack the fire.”

The young musician was devastated. Nevertheless, he returned home and announced his intention to abandon the violin. Instead, he entered the world of business and turned out to have such a talent for it that in a few short years he found himself richer than he’d ever imagined possible.

Almost a decade later he found himself walking down another street in another city when he happened to spot the great teacher again. He rushed over to him. “I’m so sorry to bother you,” he said, “and I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I stopped you on the street years ago to play my violin for you, and I just want to thank you. Because of your advice, I abandoned my greatest love, the violin, painful as it was, and became a businessman and today enjoy great success, which I owe all to you. But one thing you must tell me: how did you know I didn’t have what it takes? How did you know all those years ago I lacked the fire?”

The great teacher shook his head sadly and said only, “You don’t understand. I tell everyone who plays for me they lack the fire. If you had the fire, you wouldn’t have listened.”

*PS: $2.00 to the person who understands this movie reference….

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has 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.

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  1. Dan Connolly

    October 6, 2009 at 12:37 am

    I think that one of the things that separates successful people from people who can’t make it is that successful people don’t listen to the naysayers.

    I have a friend who is struggling. He lost his business and can’t find a job. The biggest problem he has is that when he starts thinking about doing something new or going back to school to learn some new skill there is always someone who will tell him that there is too much competition, that the market is saturated, that he is under qualified, that the courses are too difficult and he gives up before he even gets started.

  2. Axon

    October 6, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Baby steps through the blog, baby steps scrolling down the page and I’m taking a vacation from my problems. Nice “What about Bob?” allusion! I appreciate the reminder regarding determination. I think the challange for most people is finding what they are truly passionate about. The kind of passion that endures the scoffs and scorns of social norms.

  3. Lani Rosales

    October 6, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Get the frick out, Axon- you got that reference? I thought no one would get it… now how to get this $2 to you….. 😉

  4. Joe Loomer

    October 6, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Awesome Lani – reminds me of Gary Keller’s story – broke, freshly divorced, but absolutely committed to the success of his unique brokerage model. Two bestsellers later he’s the leader of the third largest real estate firm in the country. If you persevere you’re either nuts or brilliant – your choice…. All it takes to make it is to succeed just once more than you fail…

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  5. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 6, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    It’s all about the effort.

    Another place you see this repeated a lot is in professional baseball, the MLB.

    My son is a serious junior baseball player, so I have studied this a little.

    If you read bio after bio they all have a common theme:

    -I never thought I was good enough
    -I thought about quitting
    -At some point, I decided to just GO FOR IT and practice 18 hours a day, seven days a week
    -Boom: PRO!

    Some people are slightly “more talented” than others but hard work and persistence more than makes up for this. Even in something as hard as Pro Baseball, where you might think it’s ALL about skills and gifts from God.


  6. Paula Henry

    October 6, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Lani – I love this story. It only takes a tiny spark to create a massive fire.

    Feed the spark!

  7. Missy Caulk

    October 6, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I had not heard this story…but there are so many where folks were told to stop.

    I think of George Washington Carver, who invented hundreds of ways to use peanuts.

    He was discouraged all along the way. One day someone asked him how he it?

    He said, everyday I get up and ask God what I am to do that day and I go and do it.

  8. Axon

    October 6, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    $2 huh? Well I could send out a fleet of newspaper delivery boys on bikes, I hear they’re persistent. Though I’d settle for a comment on a blog post. I’d love to hear what you think-good or bad-feel free to pass along any tips or hints @

    Thanks for your work

  9. Gwen Banta

    October 7, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Lani, I am going to go home and burn the piles of rejection letters I have received on my novels. Thanks to your inspiring blog, you’ll be able to SEE my fire in Austin!

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Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!



magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:



short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.



short sales

short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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