February’s Top Posts

In case you missed them, here are the top posts from February on the topics of Next Practices in Life, Business, and Commercial Real Estate.

I do want to invite you to subscribe to this blog just to the right of what you are reading now.  This will make it so easy for you to get my new posts without having to remember to check my site.  And I will never violate your privacy!

 

February’s Top Posts:

iStock_000021836294SmallWhat are You Worth?I have a mentor and client who is incredibly successful.  He owns over a dozen businesses. He employs hundreds of people.  He loves Jesus and is one of the most generous men I’ve ever met.  He is an amazing man.  He is someone who we should all want to be like.  A couple of years ago, I was meeting with this man.  I asked him what the inflection point was in his career.  He surprised me with his answer. He told me about a conversation that he had with his mentor.  At that time, my mentor had hit his limit.  He was experiencing what John Maxwell calls the Law of the Lid (read the book – affiliate link).  Read more…

 

Me and the Beast

Me and the Beast

A Letter to My KidsSo, here is a not so short letter to my children.  I share this because I believe intentionally communicating with our children what they should know is a great idea.  Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life, but it could also be my last.  I want to intentionally take steps to share certain things with my children that could make a huge difference in their lives.  I share this to encourage you to do the same.  Read more…

interviewCRE All-Stars:  An Interview with Chad Grout, CCIMI tried something new!  Thanks to my new friend Dan Hayes, I can now record a Skype call (if you want to know how, just leave a comment below, and I will hook you up).  This is the first in a series of interviews of CRE All-Stars.  I will be interviewing CRE All-Stars throughout the United States and bringing you their best practices.  So…meet Chad Grout!  I asked the following four questions to Chad.  Read more…

  1. How did you get into CRE?
  2. How did you decide on your specialty?
  3. How have you gone about establishing your presence and becoming the top-of-mind broker in your specialty?
  4. Explain what having a coach for your business has allowed you to accomplish?

Thank you so much for reading.  I’m excited about the topics for March’s posts.  If you have any ideas on what I should write about, please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

 

 

Why the Biggest Problem with Your Business is You

I hope that you have a mentor.  I have been blessed to have a number of men in my life that have fulfilled this role for me.  You can learn so much from mistakes and experience.  You can also learn from the mistakes and experiences of others.  I prefer the latter.

Having problem concept

A couple of years ago I was having lunch with one of my mentors.  This guy has been wildly successful.  He owns numerous businesses.  He has a great marriage – great family.  Like my dad, he is someone I want to emulate.  I was peppering him with questions.  He told me a story that surprised me.

Years ago, he had somewhat plateaued in his businesses.  He was working too much.  Progress was not being made.  He felt like he had hit a brick wall that he couldn’t break through.  He had a conversation with a mentor of his and asked him what he was doing wrong.  The mentor replied, “The problem with your businesses is you.”

Sobering statement.  My mentor was initially angry.  How could he be the problem?  No one worked harder than him!  He was the leader of these businesses.

I think that every entrepreneur reaches this point.  Characteristics like passion, vision, integrity, hard work, and others are what lead to initial success.  After a while though, the entrepreneur or leader of a business becomes the log-jam.  Nothing gets done with his/her touch. John Maxwell calls this the Law of the Lid.  The business cannot grow past the leadership ability of the leader.  The entrepreneur ends up being his own biggest problem.

At this point, two options exist:  enjoy the plateau or learn to replicate yourself in your business.  In other words, learn to delegate.

I am going to assume that you chose the second option.  The best organization at delegation and reproduction is the Marine Corps.  The Marines regularly take 18-year-old kids and turn them into the best fighting force on the planet.  While you might think that the Marine Corps has a very traditional hierarchical system, it is actually very decentralized.  Twenty year old corporals on the front lines have the training and ability to make decisions on the fly.  Here is how they do it.

Commander’s Intent

I want to acknowledge up front that the Military in general is not good at communicating the “why.”  I rarely knew the big picture.  I suggest that you run your business with the “why” constantly out in front of your team members.

That said, the commander’s intent is the “what.”  This is the directive that comes from on high that says take that hill.  The Commander does not come and tell anyone how to do.  He simply gives the directive.

We recently built a database of all the Dollar Stores in Kentucky.  I gave the directive to my executive assistant to find me the location, physical data, owner, and contact information on every store.  She had the training and tools to accomplish this.  She did not need me hawking and micro-managing.

Rules of Engagement

Remember in the movie Top Gun when Maverick and Goose were in the dog fight with the fictitious MIG-28 at the beginning of the movie?  Their Commander kept telling them “Do not fire unless fired upon!”  (You can see the cigar in his hand, can’t you?)

Rules of engagement tell you what you can and can’t do.  This is where delegation really works.  The best kinds of rules for a team member are the ones that explain what is not acceptable.  In other words, if you can define the boundaries of what is not OK, then everything in that box is OK.

Now your team members have the “Commander’s Intent” or the task to accomplish, and they understand the boundaries.  Within those boundaries, they are free to accomplish the task with great creativity and resourcefulness – and without you staring over their shoulder all the time.

How would these principles of delegation impact the team that you lead?  Are you the lid on your business?  I invite you to share with us in the comments how you could implement these principles in your business.

How the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits Apply to Your Business – Part 2

This is part two of a 2-part post on the 14 leadership traits of the Marine Corps, and how they can apply to your business.  You can find Part 1 here.

I was born with bearing.  God just knitted this one into my personality.  When I was a PFC (private first class), I had duty for the first time.  This meant that I stayed up all night manning a post in the barracks.  I was part of a 3-man team.  This was my first time “on-duty,” and I made a mistake.
IStock 000019509521XSmall
I let a female Marine into her boyfriend’s room allowing her to catch him with another woman.  Chaos ensued, and first thing Monday morning, I was in front of the Company Gunny at the POA (position of attention).  I would classify that butt-chewing in the epic category.  Yet I stood there unflinching.
That Gunny loved me from there on out.  For the next year, he would pull me in his office, shut the door, and have me take a seat.  He would then give me a tongue lashing while smiling at me.  He believed this tactic struck fear into the other students at that school.
Here are the final 7 leadership traits of which one is bearing.

The 14 Leadership Traits of the Marine Corps – Part 2

8.  Endurance – I love this quote from Marine.com regarding endurance.  ”It is impossible to lead from the front when you are falling behind.”  Endurance is seeing things through to the end.  In the context of battle, endurance refers to a mental and physical willingness to press on – beyond what is believed possible.  In your business and mine, endurance is not only going the extra mile, but convincing your team to do the same.  Does your company typify going the extra mile?
9.  Bearing – Bearing is the ability to keep your cool – and professionalism – in the face of extreme stress.  Bearing in business is the ability to take a tongue lashing from a client, say thank you, and continue to work towards the client’s best interest.  That is true professionalism, and I hope it describes you!
10.  Unselfishness – The trait of unselfishness describes the team-first ethos of the Corps.  It is a part of the DNA of Marines to put the warrior to the right and left above himself.  In business, this looks like servant leadership and client-first decision-making.  Servant leadership is the idea the leader serves the team trying to make them successful.  In so doing, the leader succeeds.  Client-first decision-making is when the client’s interests always win out.  This is a huge problem due to the opaque nature of Commercial Real Estate.  Brokers often serve their own interests over their clients.  What about your company?
11.  Courage – When you think of courage, you often think of Maximus in the movie Gladiator or William Wallace in Braveheart.  These characters showed courage on the battlefield.  Courage is much more that this, however.  Courage is having the fortitude to do the right thing when there will be adverse consequences.  The easy path rarely has a sign that says, “The Right Thing for the Right Reasons.”  Only the person with moral courage will travel that path.  Will you?
12.  Knowledge – Knowledge is about personal growth – consistent daily growth.  Know more than you did yesterday.  Have a better grasp on your market.  Know who owns that building – and that one.  ”Without knowledge, judgment is reduced to intuition; decision-making becomes nothing more than a guess.”  Are you guessing?
13.  Loyalty – Loyalty is an unyielding commitment to others.  In the Corps, this is mostly felt towards the Marines in your fire-team, squad, or platoon.  In the eight years I’ve been back in the civilian world, this is the trait I see lacking the most.  Companies are not loyal to their employees.  Employees will take a better offer without batting an eye.  Fathers bail on their families.  The world needs more loyalty.  Why don’t you let it start with you?
14.  Enthusiasm – Passion!  I believe that God created us all with a unique skill set and purpose.  I do not believe that we can do anything that we put our minds to.  I believe that we can truly excel when we find our sweet spot.  That is where passion explodes.  I remember in boot camp being able to pick out the recruits that I thought would be career Marines.  They had found their sweet-spot, and they knew it.
So there are the 14 leadership traits of the Marine Corps.  I challenge you to evaluate your business in light of these time-tested principles.
What other leadership traits would you add to this list?

How the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits Apply to Your Business – Part 1

Last week marked the eight year anniversary of my honorable discharge from the Marine Corps.  It also marked the eight year anniversary of the start of my career in Commercial Real Estate.

2012 11 04 21 58 11

My family also moved into a new home last week.  It has been a while since we last moved.  I feel like a bomb exploded in my new home.  The important thing, however, is that my wife and I are both parking in the garage!

Today, I was organizing my closet.  Hanging there next to my ties and dress shirts were my old Marine Corps uniforms.  They caused me to think back 8+ years to my former life.  So much of my life now is influenced by my enlisted years.  Just as the old meets the new in my closet, so much of the USMC leadership traits apply to running a business.

There are 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits.  You can remember them by the acronym JJ DID TIE BUCKLE:  justice, judgment, decisiveness, integrity, dependability, tact, initiative, endurance, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty, and enthusiasm.

How the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits Apply to You – and Me

  1. Justice – Think firm but fair.  Everyone in your organization needs to know that the rules apply across the board.  Massey-Knakal, the number one CRE firm in New York City, is a great example of this.  Everyone has the same split.  Remember Barry Bonds as a San Francisco Giant?  He had a special recliner – a special trainer.  The rules did not apply to him.  The rules and expectations must apply justly to everyone.  The alternative is a crumbling organization.  How do you rate your organization?
  2. Judgment – Judgment is the ability to quickly make good decisions under duress.  Everything in our experience is speeding up.  You must have the ability to make good decisions with available and incomplete information.  You will make the wrong call, but can you own it and lead through it?
  3. Decisiveness – The Marine Corps operates on the 70% rule.  This states that decisive action based on 70% information is better than a slow decision based on complete information.  Complete information, in my opinion, is a fallacy.  It never happens.  Speed kills.  Your ability to out outmaneuver and out-flank your competition is dependent upon you being decisive and fast.  I just hired a landscaper for the sole reason that he got back to me much quicker than his competition.  Can this be said of your business?
  4. Integrity – My mentor was lamenting recently that integrity has come to mean that people do what they say.  Is that not sad?  Integrity is so much more than doing what you say.  Integrity is absolute consistency – whether all eyes are on you or not.  Integrity is the bedrock of a person’s character.  It is what earns the respect of your team members and peers.  Does this describe you?
  5. Dependability – I read somewhere that, “Marines develop solutions – not excuses!”  This perfectly defines dependability.  Can your clients depend on you to do what you were hired to do?  Can your team members depend on you to be prepared and ready to exceed expectations on a task?  I hear Dave Ramsey say all the time that a contractor who shows up on-time, every time, will never lack for work.  How dependable would your clients say you are?
  6. Tact – Marines are misunderstood when it comes to tact.  Tact is delivering a message in an appropriate way.  In other words, how a message is communicated is as important as the message itself.  My father-in-law was an outstanding coach.  He had tremendous tact and the ability to read his players.  He had players who responded to positive encouragement.  He also had players who responded to a boot up the rear-end.  He communicated with them accordingly.  What about your clients?  Do you pay enough attention to do the same?
  7. Initiative – Someone with initiative never needs to be told what to do.  Initiative is always looking for ways to improve – customer-service, internal systems, etc.  In my opinion, initiative is the single most effective way to get promoted – or get hired.  Couple initiative with the practice of giving value upfront for free – unstoppable combination!  Is initiative a core part of your company’s DNA?

Let me hear from you.  Of these first 7 traits, which one describes your leadership the best?  Which one could use the most improvement?

My Next Week at CRE B.O.S.S

I need to confess.  I am a huge University of Kentucky basketball fan.  Huge.  I have managed to successfully brainwash my children as well.  My parents met while attending UK.  I have been going to games my entire life.  If you don’t know already, after Louisville, Duke is the most hated rival that we have.  Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley….makes me feel icky.

My son and I with National Champion John Calipari and the John Calipari Father-Son Camp

So at this point you are wondering why am I talking college basketball?  Because I am excited about going to Duke University next week.  I never thought I would say that.

Next week is the Commercial Real Estate Broker Owner Success Summit (CRE BOSS) put on by the Massimo-Group at Duke University.  I will be there facilitating the Summit in my capacity as a coach for the Massimo-Group.

I’m excited because CRE BOSS is something new – fresh – different.  This isn’t the same old conference with the same speakers.  BOSS is something else.  This summit is an exclusive first-class event for Broker/Owners and has two goals:

  1. Maximize the Production of Your Individual Brokers – How do you give your brokers and advisors every competitive advantage to be successful?  How can you train and mentor them into becoming top producers?  How do you create self-motivated high achievers?
  2. Maximize the Value of Your Brokerage Firm – How do you control costs while enhancing the client experience?  How can you grow your firm?  Mergers and Acquisitions?  What kind of exit strategy or succession plan do you have?  Is your firm being built to be sold?

Not only is the focus of the Summit to benefit the broker/owner, but the speakers are world-class achievers themselves.  We will get to hear and learn from the likes of:

  • Bob Knakal, Chairman of New York City’s top firm Massey-Knakal
  • Finn Johnson, President and Founder of RunMyBusiness and 25 year veteran at all levels of the Commercial Real Estate Industry
  • Warren Greshes, Hall of Fame speaker, top-selling author and expert in sales, motivation and employee motivation
  • Lee Rust, Florida Corporate Finance, M&A and succession planning expert
  • Rod Santomassimo, CCIM – President and Founder of the Massimo-Group and author of the best-selling CRE book, Brokers Who Dominate

Be on the lookout for some post from CRE BOSS next week!

So answer this question for me.  What are you willing to do in 2013 to ensure that you are investing in yourself by attending events like this one?

How to Get You and Your Agents to Make More Calls – These 3 Easy Ways

Commercial Real Estate (or any) sales is about calls:  cold calls, warm calls, personal calls, and so on.  He who makes the most calls generally does the most deals.  Making calls is also a lost art.

I recently had a review with one of my agents.  He was not making enough calls.  He and I had spoken a couple of times about this subject with no change.  Then it dawned on me.  Performance flows from leadership.  The problem was with me.

When I was in college I had a mentor who would teach me things by this method.  Teach me why.  Show me how.  Do it in front of me.  It was incredibly effective.  Answering the questions ‘why’ deals with casting the vision for the desired future outcome.  And this is rarely about making money.  Teaching the ‘how’ is the book smarts.  Demonstrating how introduces the street smarts.

I had been neglecting the third step.  So Friday morning, we went into my office and I spent nearly an hour making calls – on one of his deals.  I believe doing this on a regular basis is going to reap rewards.  More deals will be done, sure.  But there will be growth in our team in this area.

Here are 3 easy ways to make more calls:

1.  Block out time on your calendar.  This seems like such a no-brainer, but we don’t do it.  Prospecting for new business is the key to healthy deal flow and sustainable cash-flow.  Yet, it is the activity that is the most dreaded and overlooked. Block out time every day to make prospecting calls.  A top producer I know, who owns his company, schedules two hours a day on his calendar.  He gives his team the green light to ask him to get busy calling when he gets distracted by another task.  He knows that making calls is the absolute best use of his time.

2.  Keep the calls short.  The first call I made on Friday lasted 20 minutes.  I know better.  This should never happen.  The purpose of a prospecting call is to get a meeting.  If you get a talker, politely transition the conversation after 4 minutes to scheduling a meeting.  If they want to talk, do it face to face at a later date.  Remember that prospecting calls are a numbers game.  The more calls you can make, the more meetings you can get.  Challenge yourself to a certain amount of calls in your scheduled time.  Don’t let one talker derail you.

3.  Schedule an office wide calling blitz.  Most agents do not like cold calling.  Some of the weird ones, like me, do.  But most salespeople are ultra-competitive so make it a game.  Schedule a block of time once or twice a month when everyone in the office is making calls at the same time.  Make it a competition.  Have a prize for the winner.

So what other ways do you encourage more calls?  What ideas have I missed?  Let’s see how many great ideas we can come up with!