Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Great Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving. Now it is not that I am trying to be all sappy, but quite frankly, I am so thankful for everything around me. Today is the day that my parents will be driving 4 hours to come spend time, have a great meal, and reminisce about the past. I love that. Time is so limited and I do not want to waste one moment, rather embrace every second and enjoy it to the fullest. I love my mom, dad, family and friends, and nothing makes me happier than to sit and enjoy their presence. Although, sometimes those past old time stories haunt me when told in front of my friends. But, that's what makes them parents.

I hope today, that you too make the most of this day. Time to relax, slow down, and enjoy the family. Ethel Mumford once said, "God gave us our relatives; thank God we can choose our friends." All of our families can be quirky, but they are family. That is what makes them so special. So for the rest of this day, I am going to be sappy. Say nice things, think of the past, but then tomorrow, I go back to work and hope that all these memories will never be lost.

Evoloution of a City

New Orleans is quite a city. Nothing else quite like it. As I arrived here, it is quite evident that the damage from Hurricane Katrina is still ever looming. I guess after a year and half, I expected things to be more back to normal than they are. It was bigger than I ever imagined, and quite frankly it is hard to describe. We all have seen the horrific photos with people stranded on rooftop screaming for help, but now we just see desolate building boarded up from one of the worst disasters this generation has ever seen.

Now don’t get me wrong, lots of progress has been made, but there is a long way to go. I really have not heard much about New Orleans lately, mainly since bigger news stories have come along. But this city is coming back, and it will blossom like it never has before. As I look around at some of the devastation, there are buildings with big red X marks on the doors when they were hunting for survivors and those not so fortunate. It is an eerie experience here quite hard to describe, yet something about it shows a strong backbone community that will not die.

With only about 20% of the city inhabitable those that are here have heart. They love who they are and where they are. They have had a hard knock, but are fighting back with a vengeance. It actually is inspiring to see how something can go so low, and then fight to be better than before. I have never experience such a tragedy and hope I don’t, but if I do I can only hope I have the courage to fight back the way so many of these individuals have.

Although visiting this city again is different than the last time I was here, the heart of the people still remain. Devastation is everywhere and one could totally understand once seeing what I have seen why one would want to just quit and go on, but these people are fighters. They take great pride in their city, and it shows. I only hope that when disaster strikes in our lives that we can be as strong as those who are there in New Orleans now, committed to rebuilding the past.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A New Day

It's 5 a.m., the start of a new day. I am here in Overland Park Kansas(just over the border from Kansas City), waiting for the next cup of brew to be ready. Today is one for me that I am not sure how to approach. Normally, I want to learn, find something new,see something I have never seen however small or insignificant it might be to others. It has to do with that longing to be creative. Finding that treasure that others might overlook as they whiz down the highway trying to get to their destination as fast as humanly possible.

Yesterday, as I was driving up here from Springfield, there was a horrific wreck where a semi-truck and a car had collided and overturned. There were no less than 10 emergency vehicles attending to the scene, and I could not help by think how that could have been me. Or you. Although I don't know the circumstances, it was quite apparent that someone was in too big of a hurry, not paying attention, or maybe leaned over to pick up the fallen item on the floorboard. Tragic.

I can't help but reflect that in our daily lives we just don't stop enough to be thankful for what we have, who we love, and where we are. It appears that one is constantly trying to push harder in life and business to succeed. Succeed? Succeed how?

Success means different things to different people. Most people I have met look at it as wealth, and ignore the very best things they could ever have which are right in front of them and taken for granted. Love, friendship, and health. Yes, I know, so obvious, yet often overlooked. We worry way to much about building wealth and therefore our focus is swayed. A very smart man once told me that if you focus your business on the people and their needs, go way out of your way to serve them, the money will come. Never, ever put the money decisions before the peoples needs. Easy to say, but harder to do. Funny thing is, our lives are not that much different. If we focus on the ones we love, the love will come right back to us.

A new day. Yes, the day is in front of me, I do not want to look back tomorrow and regret today. I want to live today and enjoy every breath that I have. My son and I will be together all day. We will play, shop, swim, and even go to a ballroom dance competition to see "mom" compete. She is a great dancer by the way. We will look for new things and meet new people that will enhance our lives. We will smile at everyone we meet, hoping that little gesture will make them smile too, as if to say, it's all going to be fine.

Tomorrow will be a long day. Up at 3:30, off to airport for an early flight to New Orleans for the Real Estate convention. I can't wait to learn more, and enjoy every moment along the way. If I happen to run into you, make sure you smile and say Hi, because even this optimistic guy gets worn out too.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sometimes, Pain is good

Free Hearts -

I never liked pain very much. Somehow, it just doesn't feel that great. There is the physical type like an illness, a broken heart (I hate that one), and the pain that comes with growth.

As our business has grown, we have had to adapt to all kind of different things I never even thought of. For years I have been going to hunderds of seminars and conventions, and yet none really have taught us how to manage the increased busineess they teach us to obtain. Keeping it all together and still providing the same great service can be a challenge. So how do we get knocked down, and still pull it all together?

Delegation is the key. Assistants are critical to growth as they can assist the agent do many of the daily tasks that one cannont do in a single day. But even with assistants, growth comes with pain. Just as in a relationship, pain is never fun, but we learn. Learn to adapt, change, and grow some more. We have to be willing to allow them to succed on their own, let them fly if you will. We have to train our staff to see the vision, see the future, and grab it. Although I hate the pain and heartache, I wouldn't have it any other way.

For example, in our market a small local bank started a few years ago with one location, gave great service that everyone loved,so the word spread. A few years later, the same great service that built the bank to multiple locations turned into just another large bank with automated lines, less overall service and higher fees. Growth can be great, but sometimes with a cost. This is why we as agents are committed to provide PADM serice in every transaction. Promise a lot, deliver more.

As we grow, never forget who is really in charge, and quite frankly, who should be.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bring out the hats! Time to plan

It is getting cold outside again and it is that time of year again for us. Plan, budget, create, and plan some more. We are looking toward 2007 which as hard as it is to believe, is almost here. Where did this year go? So, we evaluate everything we do; every checklist, file, accounting detail, client list, thing that went well, things that did not go quite as well as we had hoped, and so on. It is time to prepare.

November of each year is our National Realtor Convention in which this year is being held in New Orleans. Jay and Jessica left today and are arriving rested and ready for a full day tomorrow of learning the newest technology and ways to aid our clients to the best of our ability. I will be joining them but not until Sunday. I will be spending the weekend with my wife and son in Kansas City, where the above photo was taken (and let me tell you, it was cold!)

I must admit it, planning one, two, five years in advance is not an easy task for me. For some this is very easy, but for me, I want to know for sure what will happen and not speculate about something that is not certain. With the aid of great people and visionaries like Jessica, it makes seeing the possibilities easier. She is a great planner. She has the skills that everyone wishes they had.

So, if you too struggle with planning, goal setting, budgeting or whatever it may be, surround yourself with people that are good at those tasks. A simple thought it is, but few do it. Funny thing is, I am a great planner and visionary, as long as my staff is there with me showing me the way.