My cousin, Lindsey O’Brien Kesling, was just 22 years old when she died due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in her Scottsdale, Arizona apartment in November 2010. My little bro, Timmy Baron (26), stars in this informative video produced/edited by Lindsey’s brother, William Kesling (19), www.williamkesling.com, and filmed by Dane Kissel.

LOK Wishing Tree Foundation is a youth arts organization founded in Lindsey’s memory. Besides their focus on creating performing and creative arts opportunities for youth in underserved areas, LOK Wishing Tree Foundation also feels a strong commitment to carbon monoxide awareness and safety to help prevent other tragic deaths.

I ask you to sign the petition mentioned in the video to make CO testing mandatory in all states.  The next 30 seconds of your life could save the lives of many others.  Please act now by going here to sign the petition – Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation.

To get more information about the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation – click here!

Are You Ready for Some Football? 5 Reasons CRE is Better than Football

In much of the country, kids are back in school.  That is certainly the case here.  This means that although it is 95 degrees here, my summer break from blogging is over.  It is time to start writing again.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

The other great thing about this time of year is the start of football!  Tomorrow I’m taking my boys and heading to Nashville to watch the University of Kentucky kick off their season against Bobby Petrino and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.  Feel free to post your snide remarks about UK football in the comments.

Earlier today, I received an email from one of my former coaching clients, Chad Grout.  Chad is a master Commercial Real Estate Broker in Nashville, TN and is the owner of Urban Grout.  His email was so good I want to share it with you.

Five Reasons Commercial Real Estate is Better than Football

  1. You will get to play every position at some point in your career.
  2. You can make more money playing for both sides at the same time.
  3. If you don’t do your job you don’t get paid anything at all.
  4. You can play as many games as you want and only your wins are counted.
  5. You can play hard until you’re 90 years old.

Five Reasons Football is Better than Brokerage

  1. There is an off-season.
  2. You don’t get yelled at when the other guy drops the ball.
  3. Regular paychecks!
  4. No matter how bad you screw up, you always get another chance.
  5. When you get blind-sided, at least you have pads.

So let me hear from you.  What is your favorite thing about this time of the year?  What other parallels or contrasts to do you see between CRE and football?  Post your comments below!

Ask Me Your Questions

Take a look at the right column of this site.  I encourage you to sign up for the email list of this blog.  Not only will you receive every new post directly to your email inbox, but you will be the first to know of any new announcements.  There are some exciting ones coming up.  And I will never give your info to anyone…ever.

iStockPhoto from myrrha

iStockPhoto from myrrha

2013 is a year of new beginnings for me.  This blog has a new look and an expanded scope.  I have a new job.  I have a new vision for the future and new goals.  I couldn’t be more excited.

Another shift that starts now is I am purposing to focus more upon the highest interests of my readers.  Practically, that means I am trying to write for my readers.  Until this point, I’ve been writing whatever I hoped would be interesting or useful for someone.

In one of last week’s posts, The One Secret to Winning the Business Every Time, I make the case that the most important thing that you can do with your clients and prospects is understand their needs.  You do that by asking questions.

So today, I’m asking for your questions.  Here is how this will work.  You can ask me anything.  As this blog is focused on Next Practices in Life, Business, and Commercial Real Estate, your questions simply need to fall into one of those categories.  Feel free to ask about my experiences, background, job, or my thoughts on any subject.  I’m certainly no expert in most subjects, but I have thoughts on most.  I will respond in one of 3 ways:

  1. Your question will turn into a post – Some of you already been firing questions at me – and they are great questions. Those that warrant a full post will get it.
  2. I will respond that I don’t have a clue – This may happen more than I’d like.  However, if I don’t know, then I will tell you.
  3. I will find out – I expect some questions will pique my curiosity and will send me searching.  In that case, I will report back what I find.

To give you a feel for what I am working on, here are some post titles coming up in the future.

Life

  • A Review of the App ‘Book on Her’
  • How to Pursue the Hearts of Your Children
  • How to Create a Healthy Family Culture

Business

  • The 7 Steps to Cast a Vision that People will Follow
  • The Art of Delegation Results vs Tasks
  • Book Reviews

Commercial Real Estate

  • CRE App Reviews
  • Why You Should Consider Syndications as Part of Your Business
  • More Posts Unpacking the Steps in a Prospecting System
  • An Introductory Post on Creating Presence

Those are my plans, but I want to hear from you.  Here is how you ask a question:

  1. Use the comments section below
  2. Include your name and website – I will link to them if I use your question as a post.
  3. Ask your question!

So ask away!  I look forward to increasing the interaction with you on my blog and ensuring that I am listening to my readers.  Use the comments below.

A New Year and a New Look!

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

2013 is here and I couldn’t be more excited.  One of the most exciting things is the redesign of my blog.  I will tell you up front that it is a work in progress.  However, let me take you through some of the differences:

  • WordPress.org – If you don’t blog, you may have no idea what the difference is between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  Wordpress.com is the free version where WordPress hosts your blog for you on their servers.  Wordpress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress.  The big difference is that on a self-hosted site, I have much more control over the look and capability of my blog.  I’ve been putting off the switch for a while.  The new year was the time to jump in!
  • New Theme – I have left my first theme behind – Standard.  I am now using the Genesis framework with the Focus theme.  I’d love to hear what you think about it!
  • New Products – This is a soft announcement for some products that will be available in the coming months.  I am working on 3 ebooks.  One will be offered free of charge in exchange for you signing up for the email list (all those who have already signed up will receive this ebook as well!).  The other two will be sold at a great value.  The topics of the ebooks are achieving a virtual office, how to increase your income with a killer prospecting system, and how to becoming top of mind by developing your presence.

So this is simply a short post to give you an idea of what is to come.  Please give me your feedback on the look and feel of the site.  I want to hear the good and the bad.  This information will be very valuable as we continue to tweak the site.  I would also love to hear your thoughts on the ebook topics?  Would you be interested?  Would you like different topics instead?  Comment below!

Not Your Standard Goal-Setting Post

I learned to set goals from my dad.  He’s set annual goals every year that I can remember.  As a result, I’ve been a goal setter most of my life, and I believe that it has benefited me.

2013

However, I was on a coaching call with one of my clients last month that caused me to rethink goals.  This guy has absolutely crushed his goals for the year – killed it.  Do you know how he feels about it?  He feels like he has stolen from next year’s income.  His goals actually have prevented him from enjoying his success.

What he should feel is something short of elation.  His growth this year has been incredible, and I had a front row seat to it.  This guy started his own firm and became a first-time dad.  He had realistic goals.  They were measurable.  They were stretching yet attainable.  In some way, hitting his goals left him wanting.

This is the time of year when top producers and high achievers set goals for the upcoming year.  It is the perfect time to pause (nearly impossible in December) and reflect on the year.  And while my thinking is changing on the best way to set goals, I will set them nonetheless.

None of the following is rocket science or original thought.  It is simply how I’ve learned to do this.  As you work through your goals for next year, remember the word ‘balance.‘  You really gain nothing if you work 80 hours a week and lose your family.  What benefit is ten million dollars if you  don’t have your health.

I do have a thought and a challenge at the end of this post so be sure to read until the end.

Steps For Setting Life-Changing Goals

  1. Set goals for your entire life.  You may have just said, “Duh!”, but many people don’t.  My areas are spiritual, family, work/career, personal health, personal development, and social.
  2. Write them down – Again, “Duh!”  But this is so important.  I think Dave Ramsey said something like “goals that aren’t written down are just dreams.”  Something happens when you write something down.  More specifically, I encourage you to hand write them.  I gain so much clarity when I write by hand versus typing.
  3. Use the 3 P’s – I’ve read numbers of blogs that espouse this method, but I think that Brian Tracy is the guy who codified it.  If Tracy didn’t come up with this, he wrote about it in one of his books.
      1. Present – don’t write down that you want to lose 20 lbs.  Write that you are the weight that you want to be.  For example:  “I weigh 170 lbs by the end of 2013.”  It is in the present tense.
      2. Positive – you are much more apt to accomplish the goal if you think of it in the positive.  The best example is the quitting smoking goal.  Instead of saying that you are going to quit smoking this year, write “I am a non-smoker.”  See the difference?
      3. Personal – this simply means that you start each goal with “I” and an action verb.  “I sell 10 Single Tenant Net Lease properties by September 2013.”  “I am a student of my wife and seek to understand and know her.”  “I take my daughter on a date once a month so that she doesn’t have to date biker-guy to get my attention.”  You get the point.
  4. Write your goals daily – I’m not good at this one.  This is the idea that writing your goals and placing that sheet of paper in a drawer for a year is not optimal.  I’ve heard of studies that say that even this annual fire and forget method is way better than not setting goals.  However, there is some real power in re-writing them daily.  I did this for a couple-week stretch earlier this year.  Those were some of the most productive and focused days of my life.

I keep thinking of my goal-shattering client, though.  This process failed him in some way.  What he needed was a growth plan.  Goals can be a part of it.  I’m reading John Maxwell’s new book the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.  He said that happiness has more to do with growth than anything.  And growth is a life-long process.

I want to grow as a writer which will involve writing a book.  I want to grow as a speaker.  I want to grow as a husband and father.  I want to grow as a leader.  My goal is not to arrive, though.  My goal is to try to approach my potential.

How would you quantify that kind of thinking in a goal that is measurable, challenging, and attainable?  I need goals that I never actually hit.  Goals that are always beyond my grasp – causing me to stretch and grow.

Help me out here.  How do you think you can set goals that are just barely unattainable and then be satisfied with the growth?

The 17 Rules of Email Etiquette

I recently wrote a post on how to manage your email inbox – you can read it here.  I’d like to approach it from the other side.  What kind of effect to do you have on everyone else’s inbox?  Are you a spammer?  Do you reply-all constantly?

Many of us work with or for large companies.  We have access to large email lists.  Understanding email etiquette is so important to protecting the culture of an organization as well as guarding productivity.

My biggest beef with email is its ability to interrupt me.  The nature of my business requires me to be doing multiple things.  I am not a natural multi-tasker.  I much prefer to hone in on a task and focus all my energy on it.  I rarely get to do this.  I am also easily distracted.  The ding and notification that announces every email can cost me 5 – 60 minutes if I let it.  I routinely get 200+ emails a day.  That equates to 200+ opportunities to be distracted from what is important to what is less important but potentially urgent.

Before I get into the rules of etiquette, here are a couple of suggestions to prevent email from derailing your day.

  • Turn the notifications off – I really appreciate you taking the time to read this.  But stop reading right now and turn the notifications off.  You really don’t need to see an email the instant it arrives.  If something is a true emergency, you won’t be contacted by email in the first place.  Turn off the pop-up notification and the audible ping.  Watch your productivity go up.
  • Schedule specific times to check your inbox – The nature of your business will dictate this, but I suggest checking your email once or twice in the morning and then again in the afternoon.
  • Set your phone, iPad, etc. to silent or vibrate – I can get email on my iPhone, iPad, and computer.  Turning of the notification on your computer does you no good if you still get “beeped” by your other devises.  Be consistent.

Before I starting listing “rules,” understand that I’m simply codifying manners and common sense.  If we all were to implement these into our use of email, our collective email experience would vastly improve.

  1. DON’T USE ALL CAPS – It reads like you are shouting.  I don’t like it when people shout at me.
  2. Sarcasm doesn’t translate – I am fairly sarcastic.  However, it is nearly impossible to pick it up from an email.  You need context and the ability to hear voice inflection.  Just the facts, ma’am.
  3. Email is a poor medium for bad news – I’ve heard this many times.  If you are just delivering sterile facts, a document, or good news, email away.  To simply inform quickly at no-cost, email works perfectly.  For bad news, however, make a phone call.
  4. Don’t reply all! – Remember how I was talking about being distracted?  Ask yourself before you send, do I really need to potentially interrupt all of these people?  99% of the time, the answer should be no.  Let me repeat – NO!
  5. Use proper grammar – UR not txting.  Use proper punctuation and grammar.  You represent yourself and your brand.  This is a no-brainer.
  6. Use the spell check – This is a no-brainer.  It is just too easy to do.
  7. Re-read before you send – I should probably put this last as it is the last thing that you should do before you press send.  Spell check won’t catch words that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly.  I often drop out words and you probably do as well.  Make sure what you send out reflects well on you and your company.
  8. Understand the permanence of email – Never send an email that you wouldn’t want on the front page of the paper.  Emails are so easy to forward.  They are easy to save and search.  I can go find an email I received years ago.  Think about how potentially damning an email could be.  Be especially careful when reply to a group email chain.  You can really get in trouble if you have negative content and ‘Reply All’ on accident.  Ask yourself, “If this ever gets out, can I live with the implications?”  If not, revise your email or just don’t send.
  9. Don’t be a jerk – If you are a jerk in an email, you are memorializing this fact.  You greatly compound this fact if you act like a knucklehead by replying all to 850 people.
  10. Proofread your emails – I don’t do this enough. This is right up there with leaving your zipper down in a client meeting – just not a good idea.
  11. Keep your emails brief.
  12. Don’t email angry – A number of times, I have written brilliant emails in response to circumstances that have made me angry.  Most of the time, I have hit delete.  I strongly suggest that you give yourself time to cool down before you respond.  You will always be glad that you did.  And there won’t be a record of your momentary rage-induced dumb-attack.
  13. Please don’t forward chain emails – At least don’t send them to me, please.  They add more clutter to my inbox, and they aren’t true anyway.  Microsoft is not sending you a check.
  14. Refrain from using “high priority” – There used to be a local broker that always marked his emails high priority.  They never were.  In fact, it was like he was saying that he demanded my attention because he was so important.  That probably was not his attitude, but it came off that way.  He used CAPS a lot, too.  Not a good combination.
  15. Craft an appropriate and descriptive subject – I must confess – I don’t read every email I get.  There are just too many.  I triage on the fly based on two factors:  who is the sender and what is the subject.  Be specific in the subject and your messages will be read more.
  16. Complete your signature – This is a common sense courtesy.  If you are connected via email, chances are that you will need to speak at some point.  Make it easy for people to contact you.
  17. Be pithy – Pithy means brief and to the point.  Don’t waste your recipient’s time.  If you are including a bunch of information, give them the headline first.  Don’t make them read 500 words just to get to the point.  People are busy and time is our most valuable resource.

What email etiquette rules did I forget?  Which one’s do you violate the most?  I invite you to share you comments below!

My Salute to Our Fighting Men and Women this Veteran’s Day

I was the student that you hated in high school.  I can take no credit for it, but God gave me a mind that learns quickly and remembers.  I would do my homework the period before it was due.  I would pay attention in class, review my notes the night before a test – and make A’s.

I’m giving my little brother his first salute during his commissioning ceremony.

Then I got to college.  Because of my cognitive advantages, I never developed study habits.  I was lazy.  I relied on my natural ability and did not work to develop those strengths.  In 4 years at Murray State University, I dropped 14 classes, had a 2.3 GPA, and lacked a full year to graduate.  I had no clue of what I wanted to do or be.  My parents were disappointed in me.  I was actually a disappointment to myself in every aspect of my life.

I remember waking up one morning having fallen asleep on my couch.  The TV was on.  I started to reflect on who I had become.  I had no direction.  The only thing that I had clarity about was that I was a shell of who I knew that I should be.  Then an Army Reserve commercial came on TV.  I began thinking of all of the men in my life that I held the utmost respect for.

I thought about my dad.  My dad is a man on impeccable integrity.  He has rock-solid character oozing out of his pores.  He lives his life based on principles.  He is a business owner.  I provider for his family.  I lover of his wife.  An A+ father for his six children.  He was in the Army for 7 years.  I could see the discipline in his life and began to make a connection.

My dad, brothers, and I giving the “eyebrow.”

I thought of my grandfathers.  Both served in the Army in World War II.  My Granddad Barron was one of the first people to work in the Pentagon when it was just a Line (only one wing had been built.)  My other grandfather was responsible for diverting many of the German forces away from the D-Day invasion.  He then rushed on Omaha Beach.  These are men of courage, character, discipline, and integrity.

My grandfather

As I thought through all these men who I wished I was like, their military background was a common theme.  I need a kick in the rear end. I went to visit the recruiters looking for the biggest boot.

Note:  My story takes a serious USMC turn here.  My apologies for my ingrained biases.

In my town, all the recruiting offices were in the same strip mall.  I started with the Air Force.  After speaking with the recruiter for 30 minutes, it was clear that they were not what I was looking for.  I skipped the Navy because I was not going to wear those uniforms.  When I got to the Army office, they shared with me all the benefits of being a soldier:  become a man, learn discipline, serve your country.  They promised me a sizable signing bonus, to repay college loans (that I didn’t have), etc.  I was impressed and interested.

Lastly, I walked into the Marine office.  I recapped for Sgt. Tate my previous 3 hours.  I shared with him how I was not interested in the Air Force.  I relayed to him all the things the Army would give me.  I asked him, “What does the Marine Corps have to offer me?”  He then said the words that would change my life.  He answered, “I don’t have anything for you, son.  I wonder if you have the metal to be in my Marine Corps.”  I had found my boot, and I have never been the same.

Today is Veteran’s Day.  Today is the day that we remember and honor all the men and women who sacrificed.  They sacrificed years. Some sacrifices limbs.  Many sacrificed their lives – for you and me.  We understand freedoms not known by most throughout history.  My brother, who is a Marine Aviator, is this day protecting the freedoms of Americans to burn the flag or hate our country.  That is sacrifice.

Capt. “Little Bro”

So on this Veterans’s Day, I honor all the men and women who made my life possible.  I have the privilege of loving my wife and family in freedom.  I have the right to worship my God.  I have the liberty to work hard and find success.  On this day, I honor my dad, grandfathers, and my little brother.

Sleep well America.  Your best men and women are keeping you safe!

Chris Brogan’s 3 Book Diet

Today I read a post from Chris Brogan that has consumed my thinking ever since.  If you don’t know Chris Brogan, he is a thought leader in the space where business, technology, and social media intersect.  You can find him here.

IStock 000021157713XSmall

So today I was reading his post where he introduces the idea of the 3 Book Diet.  What is the 3 Book Diet?  Simply put, this is a commitment to read only 3 books for an entire year.  Just 3.  Read them twice or three times each, but you are limited to 3 books for a year.

My wife read three books last week!

I already have goals for 2013 that are shaping up.  Once of them is to read 30 books next year.  30.  Not 3 – 30.  But what would I retain out of those 30 books?  What could I apply before moving on to the next one?  Wisdom is knowledge…applied.  My goal of 30 books…is it to actually change my life?  Or to be able to say that I read 30 books in a year?  Maybe reading just 3 books, and reading them again, would have a more profound impact on my life.  Reading with time to digest the ideas could be pretty fantastic.  Slow.  Chill.  Life-changing?

So I’m going to take his challenge to read just 3 books from Nov. 1, 2012 through Halloween of 2013.  Note:  I will be reading the Bible outside of these 3 books.

So the question is, what 3 books?!  This is the question that has preoccupied my mind all day.  When I’m preoccupied, my wife always thinks there is something wrong.  She has asked me a couple of times tonight if I’m okay.  I am okay.  I am intrigued!  I want to choose the right books.

Chris makes a good suggestion that the books should be spread over the different aspects of your life.  You can read all the rules of the 3 Book Diet here.

So here are the books that I am considering right now.  I would love to hear which 3 you would choose.

  1. Thou Shalt Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin – Dave Ramsey not only wrote the foreword to this book, but he gave it to me.  I have been putting it off because it is not a quick read.  Now that I’m just reading 3 books this year, I can’t wait to dig in.
  2. Platform:  Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt – I just finished reading this book and have let a friend borrow it.  I will be getting it back now.  This is the book responsible for this blog.  He taught me how.  If you want a platform, and you should, this is a must read.  It has 60 2-5 page chapters and is both deep and wide.  Worth a second and third read.
  3. Wheat Belly:  Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, MD – I’ve been hearing about this book from both Michael Hyatt (see above) and my career coach Dan Miller of 48 Days to the Work You Love fame.  They say it is life-changing in the health arena.  In the 8 years that I have been out of the Marine Corps, I haven’t paid a ton of attention to my health.  It is time to change that.

So, I am absolutely dying to hear what your 3 books would be.  Join the conversation and let me know what yours would be below!