Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Use What You've Got

“If you don’t have big breasts, wear pigtails in your hair.” Barbara Corcoran, a runaway success in real estate in New York City, shared these words of wisdom from her mom. This was also the original title of her book, which has since been renamed “Use What You’ve Got.”

Are you using what you’ve got, or are you trying to be someone you’re not?

So often, I find people are struggling because they’re trying to BE something so far removed from who they authentically are that it creates an undefined internal conflict that paralyzes action.

There’s a model taught in coaching called “Be – Do – Have.” What we find is most people are living it backwards. They think if they only had certain things (more money, more time, a certain car, a better spouse) then they could do what they really want to (buy that upgraded Web site, take that vacation, impress that seller) and eventually would be the person that they know they are, deep down inside.

Laws of Nature actually support the opposite. Get clear on who you BE (are) first. What do you stand for? What are your core values? That clarity creates the foundation that supports you DOing things that support your integrity, and when those two line up, you’ll find you HAVE everything you need for a happy life.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Happy 8-Week Anniversary to Changing Lanes!

Today marks exactly eight weeks since I made the decision to open a coaching and consulting business specifically focused on driving real estate professionals to succeed. What a whirlwind eight weeks it's been!

Shining Star and top-producing agent Marsha Sell reached out to me this morning with a simple, "How are you doing?" After responding to her, it fired me up to post on the blog. Thank you again, to all of you for checking in to see what the latest news is. I hope to have my Web site up in the next week or so that Pro Step Marketing is putting the finishing touches on. When the site goes live, I’ll do an official announcement to those who were kind enough to reach out to me. Then the real work to prospect begins in earnest.

Starting a business is something you all are already so familiar with. It’s exciting, sometimes exhausting, and a little scary. And, I have 100% confidence I will be successful. How could I not be with the support, guidance, and wisdom of all of you?

And bottom line, having the caliber of FRIENDSHIPS that I do with a select number of you makes all the difference in the world. Star top-producing agent Tom Cain made an offer to me: when I hit a wall, I can pick up the phone and call for a big hug and then a swift kick in the butt to get going already.

In eight weeks, I have facilitated a team planning retreat for The Sanders Team in Denver, done onsite consulting with Diane Stow's Team in my own Longmont, CO, and The Nellis Group in Burke, VA, and welcomed seven one-on-one coaching clients into my business.

I’ve set some very specific goals for the rest of 2008 – I am seeking six more onsite consults, seven more team planning retreat facilitations, and 21 more active coaching clients. Should you or anyone you know in real estate be considering a coach or consultant, I would appreciate an opportunity to compete for the job. My rates are seriously competitive!

Hugs and love to you, dear friends. I hope to see you all very soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Take Care of Your Best Source of Business FIRST

The number one source of business for the top-producing agents in the country is repeat and referral business through their spheres of influence. It makes sense to get a system in place now that ensures regular follow-up with your most important people. Top producer Judy Markowitz of Flushing, NY, calls these people her VVIP's (Very, VERY Important People).

The simplest method I know of that really works is to call your sphere quarterly and mail at least monthly. Mailing can take on a variety of forms, from added-value postcards that offer people discounts on local services or even free items (top producer Janet Parsons sends a card at Valentine's Day for each person to get a free rose when they visit a local florist), to an e-newsletter with market updates and useful tips on preparing a property to show, for example.

When designing the monthly mailings, always keep in mind that the piece must bring value to the consumer. In addition, you may choose to place a call to action on the mailout to get a higher level of engagement with your sphere (e.g., ask the consumer to update their email with you and offer to enter them into a drawing for a dinner certificate or other valuable item).

More challenging than the monthly mailing for most agents is the quarterly phone call. Most people don’t do an Hour of Power daily for the following reasons:
1. They don’t schedule the time.
2. They don’t know who to call.
3. They don’t know what to say.

Break your sphere into manageable bites. If you’re going to call quarterly, then do it over ten weeks and take three weeks off each quarter. This will give you the space to factor in vacation time and not have to worry about the calls getting done!

Steps to making the Hour come together:
#1 – block off time on your schedule each day, Monday through Friday. You may need 30 minutes or two hours, depending on the number of calls you'll be making each day (see #2). Real estate legend Allan Domb is still making 100 calls a day, and he is so disciplined that he can make that happen in 90 minutes when he's focused.
#2 – take the number of total people you have in your sphere (past clients & customers, and best referral resources) and divide those calls first by ten weeks, and then by five days in a week. For example, let’s say your sphere is 500 people. That’s 50 a week, or just ten a day.
#3 – people need to know two things when you call: that you’re still in the business, and that you care about them. Whether you’re leaving a voice mail or reaching a live person, these two items remain key. So anything at all you communicate that lets them know you’re still active in real estate and that you truly care about what’s in their best interests will work.

If you're still doubting your ability to follow through, find an accountability partner to hold you to the commitment.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Whether You Think You Can or Can't You're Right

My mother is not only a great lady, she is also one of my best friends. She retired on February 1, 2008, after over 25 years at the same company. She is the epitome of a loyal team member. She worried too much about work, and stuck it out through thick and thin. She worked full time most of our childhood years, so our family could make ends meet. She is a very pragmatic, detail-oriented person.

When my dad died unexpectedly (massive heart attack) May 28, 1999, we weren't sure what would become of my Mom. First of all, as much as my folks grumped about each other, they did love and need each other. Second, she had never been alone in her life. Thank God my older sister, Shari, jumped in and filled a maternal role with our Mom to help her through countless episodes of anger, fear, anxiety, and loneliness.

Thanks to the huge blessing of the STAR POWER network, I had met Dr. Tom Hill of the Eagle Institute and he sent me a fantastic book for my Mom to read about finding the second love of her life. My Mom ended up moving into a new mindset. She discovered she could be independent. She sold the house she and my Dad had lived in and bought a brand-new house. She put herself out on the dating circuit after well over 35 years. She fell in love and married in September 2003. And now, my Mom is traveling the east coast in an RV and enjoying life. That's my Mom, in the picture, holding an alligator! She's discovering an adventurous, carefree life and she's proving it's never too late to start living the life you want.

Moral of the story: my Mom went from a mindset of despair and loneliness to a vibrant, fun-filled future. Your thoughts are powerful things. Be mindful what you're feeding your brain.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Onsite Consults Provide Direction and Bring Change

I had the absolute pleasure of spending three days with The Nellis Group in Burke, Virginia, outside of Washington DC. This was an onsite consult, to evaluate the effectiveness of their team, their structure, and their systems.

Many people ask how they would know if they needed an onsite consult. One of the benefits of an onsite consult is that the consultant can look at your business from a "helicopter view" - as a part of that team yourself, you often are unable to have an unbiased perspective on what's going on and how to improve it.

Another benefit of an onsite consult is reorganizing roles and job descriptions on the team. In Jim Collins' book, Good to Great, he talks about having "the right people on the bus" and then having those people "in the right seats on the bus." A great consultant will be able to identify if you have the right people, and whether they're in the roles that give the team the most efficiency and the individuals the most personal satisfaction.

I took the time while at The Nellis Group to share the DISC profile of individual team members, and elaborated on how the personality types are different and what that means in terms of daily interaction. Most people are operating off the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you. If you're ready to take that to the next level, practice the Platinum Rule: treat others as they want to be treated.

Recommendations follow the consult, in all areas that were agreed upon to discuss. It's up to you to choose what you'll implement. In one case, a team I consulted only did one item on the multi-page list of recommendations within the first thirty days, and it was one of the most minor of suggestions. In another case, the team took my recommendations to heart and had implemented every item on the list within 90 days of my visit.

I've always heard that change won't happen until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change. If you're willing to invest in having a consultant, be willing to do what it takes to make the changes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Coping with Chaos

“I work long days and never seem to catch up. I’m constantly distracted by thousands of things running through my head that need to get done. I’m full of anxiety. Help!”

Many of the clients I coach have experienced this. Let me share a three-step process to bring order to your personal chaos.

Step One: CLARITY. Ask questions that help you become clear on what you want; go deeper into not only your business but also a personal understanding of what’s driving the surface issue. In business you have learned the ‘three-deep’ process for helping clients get to the issue beyond the issue. How about going three deep with yourself? Example: you don’t have the energy to get it all done. What’s impacting the energy? Are you getting enough sleep? How are your eating habits? What sort of physical activity are you engaging in?

Step Two: ALIGNMENT. Focus in on what you’ve gotten clarity on. What resources are available to you to support a change? Identify what your action steps will be as you design a plan of action. Continuing with the same example, you might dedicate one hour, three days a week, to working out (plan of action), and hire a personal trainer (gather resource). You might do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training each session (action steps).

Step Three: ACTION. In the words of Nike, just do it. Make sure you have accountability. Set benchmarks for progress. Check out a great book on The Power of Personal Accountability written by Mark Samuel.

Finding someone to partner with - be it a paid coach, a peer partner, or even your significant other - in this process will help you reach your goals faster, with adjustments being made along the way as life continues to unfold. Your “coach” will hold you accountable and help you make significant changes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Book Review of Presentation Mastery

When I think of who some of the all-around, most successful businesspeople in the real estate industry, I think of Linda & Jim McKissack. Not only have they built an incredibly successful real estate team, but they also built it to run without them involved in the day-to-day business. They have created many other sources of revenue in their lives so that they are no longer reliant on the real estate sales income. And they've succeeded at partnering in business with people who are also lifelong friends.

How did they do it? First and foremost, they walk their talk. Spend a few minutes with either one of them, and you'll witness first hand their passion for leading a quality life and encouraging others to do the same. They're smart businesspeople, and they're full of integrity.

Their book, Presentation Mastery for REALTORS, does a great job of laying out what they've focused on in order to create a sustainable, ongoing successful real estate practice. If you're a new agent, it's a great blueprint. If you're a seasoned agent, you'll find yourself saying, "Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that," or even, "I'd heard that before and I'm ready to do it now."

I recommend you pick up a copy and read it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

From a Concept to an LLC in Three Weeks!

Many of you have asked for an update. Let me tell you, this is as good as it gets! 100 of my dearest friends across the continent want to know what I'm up to, whether I am okay, and how the business is coming together!

It is so true that when one door closes, several others open. God called me to open my own business. We chose a name, bought domains, and are partnering with Pro Step Marketing(TM) to design our logo and build our Web site (launch target is March 1st). As of yesterday, we are now officially a Colorado LLC (thanks to my husband Jeff)!

And so it is, that I already have seven wonderful coaching clients, have facilitated a team planning retreat, am doing ongoing consulting work for one real estate team, and have booked an onsite consult for another team for mid-February. Remember, referrals are my lifeblood - send those names and contact information my way!

I am headed to the Keller Williams convention February 9-13, 2008, in Atlanta. This trip will give me much-needed hugs and reconnects with a bunch of great people. While there, I hope to organize a dinner with some of my dear local friends (Marsha, Zac, Christine, Leslie, Bonnie, I'll be calling!).

At the end of February, I will be in Seattle taking the LYV Licensing course at the Academy for Coach Training. What does this mean for clients? We'll be creating a small-group (8 to 12 people), intense retreat for them to get clear on who they are and what they want out of life. I went through this process one-on-one with my coach, Susan McKay, in July 2002. It changed my life. So be on the lookout for more information on that!

Thank you, and God bless you all for being such an important, reliable, supportive part of my life.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Team Planning Retreats Support Growth

I had the distinct honor of facilitating the Sanders and Associates Team Planning Retreat on Thursday, January 25.

Talk about a motivated team! Chris and Christine skyrocketed from just over 60 transactions in 2006, their first year in Colorado real estate, to 220 transactions in 2007, and they are setting an ambitious goal for 400 transactions in 2008!

To set the stage, everyone on the team and I read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Only a strong team will survive this reading! It's truly a gut check for people looking to embody true team function.

We spent time identifying core values of the team, established categories for standards, and then jumped into systems creation. We packed more into five hours than most would believe possible.

To ensure implementation, and to outline the next phase in the growth plan, we'll be meeting again the third week of March. Check back for an update on their amazing progress!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Help Prospects Get Buying - Educate Them!

The biggest reason prospective buyers aren't buying right now is because they aren't educated about how amazing the opportunity is right now. Between the record-low interest rates (yes, they dropped in response to the Fed rate cut, to around 5.25% for a 30-year conventional loan) and the low prices available in most markets, buyers would be crazy not to buy.

But if you don't tell them, how will they know? Sam Miller out of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, regularly posts valuable information through video stream on YouTube and his own Web site. Go listen to his broadcast and create your own, or if you don't have the time and resources to do that, send his link out to your prospective buyers. Third-party experts carry credibility!

Monday, January 21, 2008

What Changing Lanes Consulting Offers You

Several of you have asked that I post more information on the blog about my services. So here you go! Call me at 303-956-6749 if you have questions.

Executive One-on-One Coaching
These sessions are conducted entirely by phone, with you and your coach working in partnership to break through challenges, set actionable plans for your business, and achieve extraordinary results both professionally and personally. You are responsible for calling your coach, documenting your commitments, and providing status reports on progress made and challenges encountered. Your coach is responsible for helping you get clear on what you want, helping you formulate your commitments, listening for potential obstacles, and advocating your choices and successes.

Because Amy has been deeply entrenched in the real estate industry since 1992, those of you who are real estate professionals receive the additional benefit of hands-on help with specific real estate business tools and techniques, for no additional charge.

Together with your coach, you’ll determine whether weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly calls will best facilitate your growth.

Enrollment: $250 per call; special through April 15, 2008, just $125 per call (50% off)

Onsite Consulting
Your consulting coach travels to your market and office location for the purpose of assessing the effectiveness of your operations in three areas: your team, your systems, and YOU. You will receive a comprehensive report within two weeks making recommendations for specific changes and enhancements in all three areas. Six monthly follow-up calls can be used for facilitating meetings and enacting accountability with team members alone, with you alone, or with everyone together. You pay a flat fee, as well as your consultant’s travel, hotel, and per diem expenses.

Fee for two days: $7,500 plus expenses; special through April 15, just $3,750 (50% off)
Fee for three days: $10,000 plus expenses; special through April 15th $5,000 (50% off)

Annual Team Planning Retreat
Your coach comes to you to facilitate your team's annual, semi-annual, or quarterly planning retreats. Areas of focus you may choose for your team advance include:
· Team goal setting
· Personal visualization activities
· Team unity exercises
· Ideal week schedules
· Systems development processes
· DISC personality training
Follow-up calls at 30, 90, and 180 days facilitate implementation and give accountability to the team. You pay a flat fee, as well as your coach’s travel, hotel, and per diem expenses.

Fee: $5,000 plus expenses; special through April 15th $2,500 (50% off)

Retainer Services Package
Some clients may choose to benefit from the more flexible retainer package, which offers not only one-on-one telephone coaching, but also hands-on help from the coach with the client’s copy writing, marketing, and desktop publishing needs. For a monthly fee, the client will be given access to a bank of hours that can be used for any combination of coaching, consulting, and administrative support. Call for rates.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and The Dream

I received this quote today from my dear friend Russell Shaw, top-notch agent in Phoenix, Arizona. It was spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Deep down in our non-violent creed is the conviction there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for. And if a man happens to be 36 years old, as I happen to be, and some great truth stands before the door of his life, some great opportunity to stand up for that which is right... a man might be afraid his home will get bombed, or he's afraid that he will lose his job, or he's afraid he will get shot, or beat down by state troopers. He may play it safe and go on to live until he's 80. He's just as dead at 36 as he would be at 80, and the cessation of breathing in his life is merely the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. He died."

We all have moments of holding back, for whatever our reasons may be. Most of us will find ourselves at a significant crossroads in our life at some point. This fine man was willing to lay his life on the line for what he believed and held dear. Take some time today to reflect on what those things are in your life that mean so much to you, that you cherish at a level you would be willing to die standing up for them.

What level of priority are you placing on those ideals, those people, those items? Check in with yourself and see whether it's time to make some adjustments.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Daily Rituals Set the Tone for Your Best Days

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing-that's why we recommend it daily." – Zig Ziglar

What’s your daily ritual? When you get up in the morning, what do you have planned to start your day on the right foot?

Take some time today to assess whether the actions you’ve chosen are putting you in a frame of mind to succeed on every front. Here are some possible outlets:
Meditation or prayer
Listening to motivational CDs
Playing with kids or a pet

Motivate daily, and make sure you wash behind those ears!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Stay on Track - Bad Days are a CHOICE

We've all had them - the proverbial bad days. For me, they come few and far between. When they do hit, I know it's critical to go to a positive source and re-center myself.

Top-producing agent and dear friend Russell Shaw from Phoenix is one of those sources. He's the kind of guy you can't be around one minute without at least giggling just a little. Russell is the embodiment of positive attitude.

Check out his blog post from yesterday. It's truly beautiful and inspiring. Bookmark it and go back to it when you're having a "bad day" and you'll be reminded how blessed your day actually is.

Hug someone today; smile at a stranger; make the minutes count!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a name!

I have been moved by the sight of lions for as long as I can remember. Whenever we visited my grandparents, we would go to the St. Louis Zoo, and my primary focus was to get over to Big Cat Country and see the lions.

While in the Denver International Airport between business trips back in 2003, I visited an art gallery displaying the works of artist Thomas D. Mangelsen. I came across a stunning picture of a pride of lions traversing a dirt road. Its title was Changing Lanes.

As I consider my purpose for opening this business, I realize that people are at different stages in their business and personal lives. Some are looking to jump into the "fast lane" and explode their business. Others have been driving the fast lane too long and are ready to get in the slow lane. Some are poised to set the cruise control and travel that middle lane. And some are ready to flat out get off the road.

No matter where you're at, Changing Lanes Consulting is here to help you. It's time to get clear on where you want to go, develop the map of how to get there, and enjoy the drive along the way.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Coaching and Consulting Business is Born

Wow, I am still in shock and so excited to be starting my own coaching and consulting company. Many know I am the former Executive Vice President of STAR POWER Systems, the absolute top of the line real estate training, motivating, and educating organization in the world.

Back in 1992, I was recruited into real estate by a local Coldwell Banker office in West Lafayette, Indiana. There I was blessed to be introduced to Cathy Russell, the top producer in the county. I started doing open houses for her, and before any of us knew it, I was on her team!

In November of 1993, I traveled with Cathy to the National Association of REALTORS convention, where she was interviewed by the one-and-only Howard Brinton, founder and CEO of STAR POWER. An incredible relationship was born.

In 1996, after much soul searching, I knew God was calling me to step up to the next level. I reached out to Howard Brinton, and with Cathy Russell's blessing, picked up and moved, with my husband Jeff and 13-week-old (at the time) son Calvin, to Colorado.

What a profound and impactful step that was! We were able to create and successfully launch the renowned STAR POWER University programs (first class was Team Training, November 1-3, 1996); Conference leaped from 970 attendees in Naples, Florida in 1996 to nearly 2,000 in New York City in 2006; and a host of products were developed (I am very proud of developing Changing Markets First Aid Kit, which launched the summer of 2006 and sold over 1,000 units its first year out.

The greatest gift, by far, was the family I gained in the STAR POWER network. You won't find a more brilliant, gifted, generous, sharing bunch of people than the STAR POWER Stars. Some of my best friends have come from this network.

In 2001, both Howard and I decided to get first-hand exposure to what coaching was by becoming trained coaches ourselves. We enrolled in the Academy for Coach Training in Bellevue, Washington, and after five courses and a year of training, we each received the Certified Professional Coach (CPC) designation.

In June of 2002, God brought me my business coach and lifelong friend in the making, Susan McKay. She saved my life. And because of her rare and awesome talent, I have grown to be the coach I am today. Powerful hardly describes the woman.

Hundreds of clients and hours later, I am thrilled to open my own coaching and consulting business, focusing primarily on real estate professionals. I love this industry, and aspire to give back to this network that has been so kind and generous to me.