Musings of a Career Consultant

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#boom Moments from The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time March 4, 2015

This was an easy read so if you’re jumping into business development and not looking to take on Rockefeller or Carnegie’s autobiographies quite yet, this is a good jumping off point.

A lot of my highlights happened in the forward written by Jim Collins (author of Good to Great) so it doesn’t make my number of aha’s surprising.

  • What’s your greatest hedge against uncertainty? Having people who can adapt to whatever the mountain throws at you.
  • Great decisions begin with really great people and a simple statement: I don’t know.
  • I tried to make heroes out of those on my team who identified flaws in my thinking.
  • No major decision we’ve studied was ever taken to the point of a unanimous agreement. There was always some disagreement in the air.
  • What is the truth of this situation?
  • What is the truth about the outside world?
  • Some decisions are much bigger than others; some are forks in the road.
  • We are responsible for our own outcomes. –Southwest
  • You can’t entirely control your own destiny with good decisions. Luck is still a factor.
  • Decision-making is ultimately a creative act.

About Steve Jobs: his leadership matched the culture of the company… a sense of flair, showmanship and pride. –Adam Lashinsky

The decisions that make or break companies are often cobbled together on the fly. Why? Because no one can come up with anything better. Over a drink… they decided… to make yet another momentous decision. –Jennifer Reingold about Zappos

With the Tylenol recall of 1982, Johnson & Johnson decided that “everyone came before stockholders.”

There are so many more. This is a taste of this easy-to-read book. Enjoy!

 

Telemarketing? Take Notice! February 21, 2014

NEW ROBOCALL RULES

REALTORS® who use telemarketing are subject to the Do Not Call rules. The FCC’s new Robocall rules impose some additional requirements for obtaining consent when making a prerecorded
telemarketing call to a residential phone number or making an autodialed or prerecorded telemarketing call or text to a wireless number. The new rules require that telemarketers first obtain written consent to receive such calls or messages, on paper or through electronic means, including website forms, a telephone key press, or a recording of oral consent.

Additionally, a telemarketer will no longer be able to make a robocall to a residential
landline telephone based solely on an “established business relationship”. Business callers must now have prior express written consent before making telemarketing robocalls, even if they have an established business relationship. Telemarketers have never been permitted to make robocalls to wireless phones based solely on an “established business relationship”.

Finally, the new rules require that telemarketers must allow an immediate opt out from receiving
additional telemarketing robocalls, even if prior consent has been given. The opt out provision must be announced at the beginning of the call and must be available throughout the call. This new requirement means that the person receiving the call will not have to hang up and make a separate call in order to stop further telemarketing robocalls.

Originally produced by CAR Realegal. More information can be found here.

 

Finding Value in Your Business March 22, 2013

This article by Keller Williams Metro NW Team Leader Melissa Krchnak originally appeared on YPN Lounge by REALTOR Magazine Blogs.

We often get asked, “What’s the return on investment on this or that?” And most times, we can quantify our answer. Although if it’s about Facebook, we might respond the way Gary Vaynerchuk would: “What’s the ROI of your mother?”

But do you know the difference between something being an expense versus asking about its ROI? As REALTORS®, we all probably have those inevitable monthly expenses: sign storage, database management software, and digital signature services. Have you ever taken the time to really think about these things and what they mean—and cost—for your business?

I was having this conversation with a colleague and here is how he described the difference: An expense is something in which we’ve yet to find the value. That was a big BOOM moment for me! I see the value in those “expenses” just listed and yet I’ve never questioned their ROI.

Go check your bank statement and see if there’s something on there you’re not finding valuable. That, my friend, is an expense. My advice is to pull out your income statement and clear your books of these “expenses” so you can better invest in items with an “ROI”. Don’t have an income statement handy? Here’s a sample chart to peruse.

Melissa Krchnak is the Team Leader for Keller Williams in Pikesville, MD. Connect with her on Twitter @mkrchnak.

 

You’re My REALTOR®, I Just Didn’t Use You February 26, 2013

This article by Keller Williams Rancho Cucamonga Assistant Team Leader Melissa Krchnak originally appeared on YPN Lounge by REALTOR Magazine Blogs.

You’re really lucky if this hasn’t gone down with a friend before:

Friend: Melissa, can you answer this mildly vague real estate question? *insert excitement*

Melissa: Of course, Friend. I’m happy to help with all of your real estate needs.

Friend: Awesome! So, we’re buying this house and our agent said… *insert face palm*

Have you ever had that go down? And, you know what killed me? The next time I saw them:

Friend: Hey, Friend 2, have you met our REALTOR®, Melissa? *your REALTOR®, Melissa?!?!?!*

That’s right. I’m happy to accept the title as *their* REALTOR® even though I — and I really do blame myself — missed the boat on helping them with their purchase.

You want to know a dirty, little secret? I didn’t think they were financially ready to purchase. That was such a valuable lesson. Not only did I learn I needed to get better at my follow-up/touches/dripping, I learned that I shouldn’t judge or assume anything about my clients (or my friends), including what I believe they can or cannot afford.

If you’ve yet to have a friend use someone else, please heed this lesson and learn from my mistake. I’m glad I was able to help my friend with her purchase. I just wish I would’ve been one of the REALTORS® getting paid at the end of the day.

 

Who Do You Keep Around You? January 17, 2013

I’m on a bit of a Seth Godin kick right now so bear with me. He wrote an article today about the two people you might need in your professional life and I think I’m used as one for most of my office. And, I’m okay with that.

See, when you’re an independent contractor (i.e. REALTOR), sometimes doing it all can drag you out of your highest and best use. Sometimes you need someone like me, what he calls a procrastinatrix, to keep you accountable. And, to get you to do it NOW.

Next goal? Be someone’s agonist!

 

November = Saturday & December = Sunday October 29, 2012

It’s time to finish 2012 strong and get prepared for 2013! I’ve heard it said that November = Saturday and December = Sunday. What will you do this “weekend” to start off a great “week”?

We’ll be hosting a 2-day event; the MREA: Business Planning Clinic on December 13th-14th. The class will be moderated by Brett Dunne and myself with lots of dynamic speakers from our Top 20%. They’ll be sharing their aha’s from their Business Planning and teaching portions of this 2-day dedication to your success in 2013.

In the meantime, please let me know how I can help you obtain a career worth having, a business worth owning and a life worth living.

 

How’s the Market (From an Agent’s POV)? October 19, 2012

CANADA

  • Debt soars into danger zone. Canadians have entered the debt danger zone that helped trigger real estate crashes in the U.S. and Britain.
  • May Dodge Housing Hard Landing. Pressures in the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets are moderating with neither a bubble nor a hard landing in sight for the country’s property market.
 

New California Laws for 2013 Affecting REALTORS® October 18, 2012

The ink may not yet be dry on some of the legislative bills that Governor Brown signed into law yesterday, as the 2011-12 legislative session drew to an end. A summary of over 60 new laws that may be of interest to REALTORS® is available to our members in the 2013 Laws section on the legal page of our website. The full text of each legislative bill is available at www.leginfo.ca.gov.

Many of the significant upcoming laws are in the landlord-tenant arena, but other new laws involve foreclosures, HOAs, settlement agreements, smoke alarms, mobilehome parks, and much more. Some of the highlights of the new laws that may affect REALTORS® are as follows:

Landlord Must Disclose Notice of Default to Prospective Tenants: Starting January 1, 2013, every landlord who offers for rent a residential property containing one-to-four units must disclose in writing to any prospective tenant the receipt of a notice of default that has not been rescinded. This disclosure must be made before executing a lease agreement. If a landlord violates this law, the tenant can elect to void the lease and recover one month’s rent or twice the amount of actual damages, whichever is greater, plus all prepaid rent. If the lease is not voided and the foreclosure sale has not occurred, the tenant may deduct one month’s rent from future amounts owed. The written disclosure notice as provided by statute must be in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean. A property manager will not be held liable for failing to provide the written disclosure notice unless the landlord has given the property manager written instructions to deliver the written disclosure to the tenant. This law will expire on January 1, 2018. Senate Bill 1191.

Restrictions Against Cancellation Fees for HOA Documents: Beginning January 1, 2013, an HOA cannot collect a cancellation fee for HOA sales disclosure documents in either of two situations: (1) a request is cancelled in writing by the party who placed the order and work had not yet been performed on the order; or (2) a request is cancelled in writing and the HOA had been compensated for any work performed. Moreover, an HOA must refund all fees collected for HOA documents if a request is cancelled in writing and work had not yet been performed on the order. Additionally under this new law, the HOA cover sheet itemizing the HOA sales disclosures must be in at least 10-point type. Our C.A.R. standard form Homeowner Association Information Request (Form HOA) complies with this requirement. Assembly Bill 1838.

Landlord May Dispose Abandoned Personal Property Less Than $700: Commencing January 1, 2013, the total resale value of personal property left behind by a tenant after termination of a tenancy that the landlord must sell at a public auction (rather than dispose of or retain for his or her own use), has been increased from $300 to $700, if certain procedures are followed. This law, however, also prohibits a landlord from assessing any storage cost if the tenant reclaims personal property within 2 days of vacating the premises. The statutory notices of Right to Reclaim Abandoned Property have been revised to reflect these changes. Furthermore, a landlord’s notices of termination of tenancy and pre-move out inspection must contain specified language that former tenants may reclaim abandoned personal property left on the premises, subject to certain conditions. Assembly Bill 2303.

Tenant Entitled to a 90-Day Notice to Terminate After Foreclosure: Effective January 1, 2013, a month-to-month tenant in possession of a rental housing unit at the time the property is foreclosed must be given a 90-day written notice to terminate under California law. For a fixed-term residential lease, the tenant can generally remain until the end of the lease term, and all rights and obligations under the lease shall survive foreclosure, including the tenant’s obligation to pay rent. However, the landlord can give a 90-day written notice to terminate a fixed-term lease after foreclosure under any of the following four circumstances: (1) the purchaser or successor-in-interest will occupy the property as a primary residence; (2) the tenant is the borrower or the borrower’s child, spouse, or parent; (3) the lease was not the result of an arms’ length transaction; or (4) the lease requires rent that is substantially below fair market rent (except if under rent control or government subsidy). The purchaser or successor-in-interest bears the burden of proving that one of the four exceptions has been met. This law does not apply if a borrower stays in the property as a tenant, subtenant, or occupant, or if the property is subject to just cause rent control. This law will expire on December 31, 2019. This new California law is similar, but not identical, to the 90-day termination notice requirement under the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (12 U.S.C. § 5201, et seq.) (as extended by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), which is set to expire on December 31, 2014. Assembly Bill 2610.

Smoke Alarm Requirements for Home Improvers and Landlords: Starting not next year but January 1, 2014, for all dwelling units intended for human occupancy for which a building permit is issued for alterations, repairs, or additions for more than $1,000, the issuer of the building permit will not sign off on the completion of work unless the owner demonstrates that all smoke alarms (previously “smoke detectors”) required for the dwelling unit are devices approved by the State Fire Marshal. Also starting January 1, 2014, to be approved and listed by the State Fire Marshal, a smoke alarm must display the date of manufacture, allow a place for the date of installation to be written, incorporate a hush feature, incorporate an end-of-life warning, and, for battery-operated devices, contain a non-removable 10-year battery. These rules may be superseded by a local rule or ordinance that is more stringent than state law. For properties rented or leased, an owner is generally responsible for testing and maintaining smoke alarms in an apartment complex or other building starting January 1, 2013 and in a single-family residence starting January 1, 2014, and also responsible for installing additional smoke alarms as needed to comply with building standards starting January 1, 2016. Senate Bill 1394.

Lender Must Provide Summary for Foreclosure Notices: A lender must provide a borrower with a specified summary of information attached to a copy of a notice of default and notice of sale for any property containing one-to-four residential units. The summary must be in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean. The beginning of the notice of default and notice of sale must also state in these 6 languages that the summary is attached. The attached summary does not need to be recorded or published. The Department of Corporation (DOC) must provide a standard translation of the statement free-of-charge on its website atwww.corp.ca.gov. This requirement takes effect on April 1, 2013 or 90 days after the DOC issues the summary translations, whichever is later. Under existing foreclosure procedures, notices of default and notices of sale must be mailed to borrowers by registered or certified mail as specified. Assembly Bill 1599.

Anti-Discrimination Protections For Religious Grooming and Breastfeeding: Commencing January 1, 2013, the protection against religious discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) has been expressly expanded to require an employer or other covered entity to make reasonable accommodations for an individual’s religious grooming or dress practice. Religious grooming or dress is to be broadly construed, and includes head, facial, and body hair, head or face coverings, religious clothing, jewelry, artifacts, or other items that are part of the observance of a religious creed. Segregating an individual is not a reasonable accommodation of someone’s religious grooming or dress practice. No accommodation for religious grooming or dress is required if it violates another law that protects civil rights. Additionally, the FEHA protection against sex discrimination has been expanded by way of a declaration, not a change in existing law, that requires an employer or other covered entity to make reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding. Senate Bill 1964 and Assembly Bill 2386.

Courtesy of Realegal® which is published by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, a trade association representing more than 160,000 REALTORS® statewide. Edited by: Stella Ling, stellal@car.org

 

Please Don’t Leave Me! – Avoid the “Unsubscribe” September 12, 2012

Along with the author of this article, I’m a SATC (Sex and the City) fan so when she made reference to the infamous “post-it break-up”, I knew exactly what she was talking about. Berger got back with Carrie just to leave the below message for her when she woke up… harsh, huh?!

 

I’m Sorry. I Can’t. Don’t Hate Me.

Is this how your sphere feels? Are they ready for a break-up and don’t want to tell you to your face? Or are you delivering the value they want? Read Kim Stiglitz‘s article courtesy of Verticle Response:

As an avid Sex and the City watcher back in the day, I’ll never forget the episode where Carrie got broken up with via a Post-it note. In this day and age of mass marketing and virtual anonymity, our prospects and customers can be and are sometimes total strangers to us. Why then, do we take it so personally when they “break up” with us via an unsubscribe? And why are they often unsubbing en masse? As a smart business person and marketer, how can you keep your customers in love with your business and engaged in your communications? Marketing, like dating or marriage can be a slippery slope to navigate. Read on and I’ll share a few tips from my years in the trenches.

First, some scary stats to illustrate that this is serious stuff:

91% of consumers have unsubscribed from opt-in marketing emails. (This means they chose to subscribe to your communication, then later changed their mind – Hmm, why?)

77% of consumers have become more guarded about giving companies their email address in the past year.(Because they suspect we may do something unscrupulous with it perhaps?)

The stats speak to an epidemic that marketers and businesses face. In a split-second we go from inbox cock rooster to feather duster. Why?

Many marketers, and I am not going to name names here, are not delivering on the golden promise they made when someone opted into their list. Deliver What You Promise. It’s that simple. If, when someone signed up for your email list, you promised you would send them tips on home repair once a month, do that. If you start sending emails every week with offers for 50% off paint and wood flooring, you break your promise. When someone provides you their email address, they’re saying they trust you to do the right thing with it (i.e. not bombard them with excessive self-promotional stuff). Your customers want something of value from you. There has to be something in it for them. And, usually that’s what you promised them that caused them to sign up in the first place. That’s why your opt-in form and page are vitally important. It is there that you vow that you’re a good, upstanding person/company and that you will use the power of email marketing for good, not evil. Capisce?

You Get Old & Boring. Of all the consumers that unsubscribe, nearly half cite that they found content to be repetitive or boring over time; another 25% found content irrelevant – Egad. We’re being replaced by a younger, hotter and more interesting version of ourselves? Now you get the dating analogy, eh? So, short of a tech version of a nip and tuck, how do we stay hot in the inbox? Content Rules. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, you must deliver relevant, value add content to your subscribers to keep them engaged and coming back for more. We even did a webinar about it.

You can get a good feel for how engaged your readers are by keeping an eye on the open and click-through rates (CTRs) of your emails. You can even segment your list (we’ve got a webinar for that too) on this information and provide specific content based on what your readers are responding (or not responding) to. If you notice your open rates dropping, take a look at things that may have changed. Are you sending out the same amount of mail as you have in the past? Are you sending at or around the same time and day you have in the past? Does this need to be tested or changed? And, how are your subject lines? Are they attention-grabbing and action-oriented? Or, are they a snoozefest like the oh so popular, September Newsletter? Your click-through rates can actually be a stronger indicator of reader engagement because they illustrate that not only did the recipient open the message, but they found content that made them want to learn more, or do something. You can affect your click-throughs by including strong calls-to-action in your message and being very clear about what you want your reader to do. Use an active voice and language in your calls-to-action and watch the CTRs climb.

SPAM I am (Not). When your subscriber has had enough, how do they choose to end it? 67% click “unsubscribe,” 17% just delete the email. And 8% stick it to you – they click the spam or junk button, sending your lovely message to the black hole of email hell and your sender reputation along with it. So, how to avoid email purgatory and stay in the good books with your subscribers? Mail on a schedule and stick with it. If you decide to increase the frequency that you mail your subscribers, communicate it in advance and let them know the value of getting more mail from you. 47% of subscribers unsub because they get too many emails. We’re all suffering from message overload, so the messages we allow in our inbox and engage with better deliver.

Check out this unsubscribe infographic from our friends over at Litmus to learn more.

What value are your messages adding for your subscribers? Share how you use email marketing for good, not evil, in the comments.

Stats sourced via Litmus.

 

New Short Sale Guidelines for GSEs Will Make Process Easier August 28, 2012

Esther Cho wrote this great article for DSNews.com and I wanted to share its content:

Starting November 1, 2012, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will implement new short sale guidelines to make the approval process easier for eligible borrowers.

“These new guidelines demonstrate FHFA’s and Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s commitment to enhancing and streamlining processes to avoid foreclosure and stabilize communities,” said FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco in a statement. “The new standard short sale program will also provide relief to those underwater borrowers who need to relocate more than 50 miles for a job.”

The changes are part of the FHFA’s Servicing Alignment Initiative and will require a streamlined approach with documents, leading to a reduction in documentation requirements. For example, borrowers who are 90 days or more delinquent and have a credit score lower than 620 will no longer be required to provide documentation for their hardship.

The GSEs will also waive their right to pursue deficiency judgments. Borrowers with sufficient income or assets can make cash contributions or sign promissory notes instead.

One major barrier that is also being addressed is the issue with second lien holders. To prevent second lien holders from stalling the short sale process, the GSEs will offer up to $6,000.

The new guidelines will also enable servicers to approve a short sale for borrowers who are not in default but face certain hardships including the death of a borrower or co-borrower, divorce or legal separation, illness or disability or a distant employment transfer.

In addition, all servicers will have the authority to approve and complete short sales that follow the requirements without first going to the GSEs for approval.

Provisions were also created for military personnel with Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders. Servicemembers who are required to relocate will automatically be eligible for short sales even if they are current. They also won’t be obligated to contribute funds to pay for the remaining deficiency.

“Short sales have become an increasingly important tool in preventing foreclosures and stabilizing communities,” said Leslie Peeler, SVP, National Servicing Organization, Fannie Mae. “We want to help as many homeowners avoid foreclosure as possible. It is vital that servicers, junior lien holders and mortgage insurers step up to the plate with us.”

Tracy Mooney, SVP of Single-Family Servicing and REO at Freddie Mac, said, “These changes will make it clear that Freddie Mac servicers have the authority to approve short sales for more borrowers facing the most frequently seen hardships. These changes will further empower the industry to minimize foreclosures and help Freddie Mac in its mission to minimize credit losses and fortify a national housing recovery.”

Fannie Mae will send the announcement for the new changes to servicers Wednesday. Freddie Mac sent their announcement Tuesday.

In April, the GSEs also announced they were setting requirements to have a decision on a short sale offer made within 30-60 days.

What do you think? Are you believing in the hype?