Why Intentionality Could Be the Most Important Factor in What Matters

I’ve missed you all.  Last year, when I left commercial real estate for the excitement of food safety, I knew my blog would change.  I wasn’t sure what I had to write about.  My posts have always flowed from my life.

Photo Credit - iStock.com

Photo Credit – iStock.com

Additionally, I wasn’t sure how my new role at a new company would play out.  I can tell you that it has been awesome.  We are disrupting a $3 billion dollar food safety industry and having a blast doing it.

But I have missed blogging.  I’ve missed having a place to clarify my thoughts.  I’ve missed engaging with you.  So this year is going to be different.

I heard Michael Hyatt say something this week that has stuck in my mind.  I can’t shake it.  It is the perfect thought to channel through your mind as we start a new year.  He said:

You never drift anywhere that is worthwhile.

Think about that.  The idea of being at sea with no force of direction.  You are just at the behest of the current.  The opposite of drifting is being intentional.

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The 30 Tools I Use For Productivity, Blogging, Social Media, & Travel (18 are free!)

I don’t know how many times I’ve said – “I wish I had more hours in the day!”

I’m sure you’ve had that sentiment as well.  Alas, 24 hours a day is all we get.  That isn’t going to change.  What can change is how much you can squeeze out of each hour.

30tools 3d cover

Before I go on, I want to make this point.  I’m not advocating becoming a workaholic – or even feeding that addiction.  I’m talking about getting more work done faster.  I’m talking about being able to have more time for what really matter.  Time for your family.  Time to take care of your health.  Time for self-development.  Time for care for your spiritual health.

Some of the most valuable posts I’ve ever read have been on the subject of productivity.  I consume that kind of information.  Everything I’ve learned about productivity apps has come from others or just tinkering with them.  All I’ve learned about traveling efficiently comes from experience and what others have shared with me.

So here is my resource list of the 30 tools I use on a regular basis to squeeze more out of every day.  I’m going to give you the highlights here, and you will be able to download it at the end of the post.


When I did my reader survey last month, the subject of productivity was the number one topic of choice.  In this section, I give you my favorite free and paid tools for increasing your productivity.  And here’s a little hint – 1password and Tripit are completely awesome.  Awesome!


Blogging has revolutionized my online presence.  It is not easy to do.  But it is so worth it.  The key to blogging well over time is to systematize it.  I have a few templates that I use for most posts.  It saves me a ton of time.  These are the tools I use to build my email list, optimize for SEO, etc.  These tools will save you a ton of time and allow you to maximize your ROI.

Social Media

I’m almost sick of social media.  I believe most people have accepted that social media provides value – sometimes a ton of it.  Though I’m sick of talking about, I use it everyday.  And if you’ve never heard or used BufferApp, you need to check this section out.


I traveled a ton for work last year.  I think I was on 65 airplanes.  If there is one thing I’m good at, it is navigating airports.  Traveling is a drain on your energy no matter who you are.  Being able to minimize the frustrations of travel while remaining productive saved me a tremendous amount of stress.  These are the tools I used to do it.

Bonus Section:  Recommended Books

As a bonus, I’ve included some of my favorite books in the following categories:

  • Platform building
  • Productivity
  • Business
  • Leadership
  • Stewardship
  • Parenting
  • Marriage
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • And others…

These are books that I’ve read and personally recommend.  I’m no expert in any of these subjects.  However, these are books that have helped me grow in these areas.

To download your copy of this free resource list, simply click the button below!

Download Your Free Resource List

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Why You – Yes You – Should Blog: These 8 Reasons

I’ve had this conversation with many of the groups that I’ve spoken to.  I have encouraged those I coach to blog.  If you have ever wondered if you should blog, this post is for you.  Note:  A free PDF version of this post is available to download at the end of this post.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Some of you have probably heard of Jeffrey Gitomer.  He’s an author and speaker regarding sales.  Almost all of you have heard of Roger Staubach.  He is a Heisman Trophy winner for the Naval Academy. He was a Super Bowl MVP for the Dallas Cowboys.  He also started a multi-billion dollar commercial real estate company – the Staubach Company – which sold to Jones Lang LaSalle for $612 million in 2011.

One day, Jeffrey Gitomer walked into Roger Staubach’s office in Dallas without an appointment.  He just walked in and asked to see Roger.  As you might expect, the gatekeeper was not giving him access.

Then something remarkable happened.  Roger heard Gitomer’s name from his office.  He came racing down the hall and escorted Gitomer back to his office.  Why on earth was Roger Staubach that interested in meeting with Jeffrey Gitomer?  How could Gitomer succeed in just walking in and getting a meeting?

Jeffrey Gitomer wrote (maybe he still does) a syndicated column on sales that appeared in many newspapers at the time.  Staubach was a fan.  When Rodger the Dodger heard Gitomer’s name – he had to meet him.

Blogging can produce the same results for you.  Specifically, you should blog for the following 8 reasons.

8 Reasons Why You Should Blog

  1. Visibility
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How to Give a Real Apology in 6 Steps

If you are breathing, then you are going to blow it sometime soon.  I did this big time last week.  At the risk of writing my most transparent post to date, here is the story.


I was on a video conference call with 2 of my co-workers and two IT guys from a vendor my company loves.  They do incredible work for us.  They constantly exceed our expectations.  (If you guys are reading this, we love you!)

I threw them a curve ball at the beginning of the meeting.  I let them know that one of our key team members would be late to the call, and I changed the agenda.  From that point, the call did not follow my expectations.

I had entered the call in a state of frustration already.  As the flow of the call was not following my mental agenda, I became more frustrated.  I pulled up a chat box with one of my co-workers.  I typed, “These guys are ticking me off.”

I was sharing my screen with the entire call!

Our vendors gave an audible reaction to what I typed.  I was mortified and embarrassed.  As is often the case with me, they paid for my inability to effectively deal with my frustration – that was caused by something else.  It had nothing to do with them.

I knew I would be apologizing to them and trying to make it right.  I attempted to do so immediately after the call.

The Apology

An apology has two purposes.  The first is to show remorse and contrition.  The second is to rebuild trust where you have caused hurt and pain.  To reconcile a relationship.

America is terrible at apologizing.  Think about Jason Giambi apologizing in 2005 for PED use.  Except he didn’t.  Ryan Braun did an OK job of it 18 months after he emphatically lied to the world.  Too little too late.  Anthony Weiner did a really nice job on his first apology.  However, it was insincere and his behavior continued.

So here is how my dad taught me how to apologize.

6 Steps To Giving a Real Apology

  1. Say You are Sorry – This is where you need to start.  Demonstrate your remorse first thing.
  2. Take responsibility – Pride is your enemy here.  It is impossible to give a real and genuine apology without humbling yourself.  You cannot make excuses.  You cannot blame shift.  These invalidate the apology.  There is no other posture that works than that of humility.
  3. Name it – Actually say what you did.  This is so difficult.  Naming your behavior makes it very real.  If you are going to skip a step, this is the one you will do.  To name what you did shows that you are empathizing with the other person.
  4. Ask for Forgiveness – Most people stop before this.  You say you are sorry and then assume that you are forgiven.  Explicitly ask for their forgiveness.  This demonstrates that you realize that they have a choice in forgiving you.  Sometimes, they will.  Sometimes, they won’t.
  5. Make Restitution – This won’t always apply, but there may be something you need to do to make right the situation.  Ask them what you can do.  Then do it.
  6. Commit to do better – Your apology must be validated, over time, by your changed behavior.  An apology should end with a commitment to not do that again.  However, if you behavior doesn’t change, your apology will be shown to be a bunch of hollow words.

Question: What do you think you should do when someone does not accept your apology? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Download PDF of The 6 Steps

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How to Deliver Bad News – The Post I Wish I Had Read a Year Ago

If you have never had to deliver bad news, you will.  There are good ways and bad ways to deliver this news.  I have proven over time that I am good at the bad ways.  More than anything, I’m writing this post to myself.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

I fired my first team member.  I asked a friend if he was having an affair.  I told a friend that a decision didn’t go his way.  All of this in the last 18 months.  My default style – and I blame the Marine Corps for this – is very direct.  It is blunt.  I like to tell them the headline right up front.  Then I explain.

This does not tend to go well.  They hear the bad news, and then don’t hear anything else I say.  Looking back, I’m better at blind-siding people than giving them the best opportunity to receive the news well and with grace.

In the most recent case, my pastor was with me.  His comment to me when we were done – “You weren’t awesome.”  Frankly, I want to be awesome at this.  I want the words gentle, sensitive, and empathetic to apply as much as firm, decisive, and fair.  So that got me hunting.  I have researched some best practices and distilled them for you in the list that follows.

9 Next Practices in Delivering Bad News

  • In person – This should be a no-brainer, but if you are conflict-averse, it will be very difficult.  Delivering bad news is very emotional and your non-verbal communication has a huge impact.  Not over the phone.  Definitely not by email.  Do it in person.
  • ASAP – Bad news is not like wine.  It does not get better with age.  We too often stall, delay, or hesitate because it is hard.  Deliver bad news as soon as appropriate.
  • Sandwich – You may have heard of the sandwich method.  I’ve heard this taught numerous different times.  I’ve even coached my wife on how to use it.  But I have failed to use it.  The sandwich method is Positive – Negative – Positive.  In other words, you sandwich the bad news between positive statements or good news.  This is what I should have done in the case where my pastor remarked “not awesome.”
  • Decisive – Being decisive is hugely important when delivering bad news.  The one receiving the news needs to know that the decision has been made – period.  That may sound harsh, but it is not.  The alternative is to allow for wiggle room.  Wiggle room gives false hope, and that is truly harsh.  When it is time to deliver the news, look the person in the eye and give a straight-forward and decisive delivery.
  • Empathy – Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and feel what they are feeling.  I almost completely lack this skill.  Would that CVS had a pill for this.  I would buy it.  This was the advice given me by one of my confidants.  Try to anticipate how the other person will feel.
  • Surprise – Rather, don’t surprise.  I do this to people too often.  I don’t want them to know ahead of time that there could be bad news, so I surprise them.  This is mean.  Give people a head’s up about what’s coming.  It allows them to prepare themselves emotionally.  It can take shock out of their reaction.  Warning them is compassionate.
  • Truthful and Concrete – This is the part that I’m good at.  Don’t beat around the bush.  Tell them why.  Give them the truth.  But give it to them with as much love as possible.  I’ve heard the quote:  “Truth without Love is brutality.  Love without Truth is sentimentality.”  I think it applies here.  Speak the truth in love.
  • Silver Lining – I hesitated putting this one on the list because it could sound like spin.  However, there is almost always a silver lining.  I think it can be positive to point it out.  If not for them to consider when their emotions come back down to earth.
  • Dignity and Respect – Should you do the first 8 on the list, the result should be that the person hearing the bad news will feel treated with dignity and respect.  That is your goal.  A goal that I have repeatedly failed at.

Question: What have you found to be the best way to deliver bad news? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Do the 3 P’s of CRE Apply to You?

Last week, I  had the privilege of being in Portland, OR for a commercial real estate conferencence.  I had never been before and discovered it to be a beautiful and unbelievably clean city.  I was blown away.

Courtesy of iStockPhoto

Courtesy of iStockPhoto

Our Pacific Northwest franchisees put on a great training conference.  I got to speak on how to improve efficiencies with technology.  I also got to lead a couple of break out sessions on measuring outcomes and accountability.  It was a blast.

Curt Arthur, our managing director and franchise owner in Salem, OR said something there that I had to write about.

He mentioned in his opening remarks the 3 P’s.  These are the three things that typical commercial real estate brokerages do with a new listing.  He was not complimenting our industry of commercial real estate.

3 P’s of Typical Commercial Real Estate

  1. Put up a sign.
  2. Put it online.
  3. Pray that someone will bring an offer.

These are not bad things.  A sign is a great way to broadcast to locals that property is available.  Most property searches start online, so you have to make sure your listings are there.  And I am a huge believer in prayer so don’t get the wrong idea here.  For those of you who would substitute the word ‘hope’ for ‘prayer’ – hope is not a strategy.

This is called Passive Marketing.  The definition of passive marketing is to flood the market with information on all fronts, and then wait for the phone to ring.  That is simply not good enough.

But this is the norm.  Too often, a seller signs a listing contract and doesn’t hear from the broker for 6 months when it’s time to extend the contract.

The other side of the coin from Passive Marketing is Proactive Marketing.  Proactive Marketing is taking the initiative to ensure everyone who could be a buyer knows the property is available.  That takes work.  That takes a system.

So here are some questions for you to consider as you start your week.  I encourage you to ponder and share your answers in the comments section below.

  1. Is hope your strategy?
  2. Will you be described this week as proactive?
  3. In what ways will you proactively market your listings, products, or services?
  4. What are the most effective ways you proactively ensure that every qualified buyer knows about your listing, product, or service?

Question: Will the 3 P’s describe you this week? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Hug a Neck this Memorial Day

I come from a legacy of men who have served.  I don’t take that lightly this Memorial Day.  My grandfathers were both in World War II.  My father was in the Army towards the end of the Vietnam Conflict.  One of my brother’s is currently a Marine Corps pilot of a CH-53 deployed in Afghanistan.  His wife, along with the rest of us, eagerly await his return.

My dad and my granddad pinning my brother during his commissioning.

My dad and my granddad pinning my brother during his commissioning.

I want to share a little about my grandfathers.

My dad’s dad was a metallurgical engineer and served in the Army.  During the war, he got to do two really incredible things, in my humble opinion.  The first was to travel to Russia to study their tanks.  The second was to be one of the first men to work in the Pentagon – when it was just a line!  Only the first wing had been built at that point.  He retired a Lt. Col.

My granddad with my son and my siblings.

My granddad with my son and my siblings.

My mom’s dad was a Morse Code operator for the Army.  When I was in high school, his unit’s exploits were declassified.  What he did was amazing.  His unit was responsible for diverting Nazi attention from the D-Day invasion.

They used cardboard tanks and mis-information to cause Germany to believe the invasion would be at another location.  I remember my granddad, in one of the few times he shared with me about the war, telling me how his unit would sew different patches on their uniforms every night.  The hope was that Nazi Germany would believe they were a force much bigger than they were.

Their efforts worked.  As D-Day dawned, a significant portion of the German force was diverted away from Normandy.  My granddad, however, was transferred at the last-minute to Omaha Beach.  He was one of the heroes that broke the German hold that day and turned the tide of the war.

More recently, a fellow Kentucky Marine distinguished himself in Afghanistan and won the Congressional Medal of Honor.  His acts of bravery have characterized our fighting men and women for generations.  Here is the Medal of Honor citation of Sergeant Dakota Meyer.

Citation: Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner’s position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point-blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area. During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members. Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer’s daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy’s attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Fortunately, my grandfathers and Sergeant Meyer lived.  Many others throughout the years have not.  These fearless men and women laid down their lives for our way of life.  Their sacrifices allow me to live a life of safety and freedom.  They allow me to worship without fear.  They allow me to work hard and provide for my family.  They allow me to spend a Sunday afternoon, as I did yesterday, playing basketball with my boys in the driveway.

My brother and I shaking the hand of my grandfather.

My brother and I shaking the hand of my grandfather.

I am indebted to all those who have served, and so are you.  So on this memorial day, spend some time counting your blessings.  Then go find someone who has or is serving and hug their neck.  We act like the honor of serving is thanks enough, but we really appreciate it.

I also challenge you to share in the comments section below who you are remembering this day.  Let’s not take for granted all that was given for us to live the lives we now enjoy.

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The Secret to Great Communication Every Time

How many times have you communicated a message to someone and followed up with “Do you understand?”  In response you get a head nod and an “Uh huh.”

USMC Drill Instructor barking orders

USMC Drill Instructor barking orders

When I was in boot camp, drill instructors barked orders at us all the time.  When they would give instructions, they would follow-up with this question – “Do you understand that?”  When said correctly, it sounds just like, “Undastanddat!?”  Now jack up the volume and say it again.

Our response was always the same, “Sir, yes sir!” Regardless of how loud I screamed, I often did not understand.  Bad things tended to happen at that point.

I remember the first time we were taught how to drill as a platoon.  Not pretty!  Drilling at its finest is choreography.  It is also beautiful when it is down correctly.  Check out this video of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team.  This is incredible.

My first day learning drill was the opposite of what you just saw.  I distinctly recall that day.  During a certain command, the entire platoon took a 45 degree turn to the right.  Barron here took a 90 degree turn.  I should have been wearing a sign that read “Please make me do push-ups until I create a pool of sweat from my brow.”  Not pretty.

The Drill Instructor communicated the instructions correctly.  Yet I didn’t get it.  What happened?  Where was the breakdown?

Leaders make this mistake all the time.  They assume that because they have clarity in their minds, you should get it.  Right?  Not so fast.  Let’s look at the communication process.

Communication Process

  1. Sender – The sender of the message has a thought.
  2. Encoding – This step involves the sender choosing words to communicate the thought.
  3. Message – Here, the sender chooses which medium to send the message.  It could be spoken, written, communicated through sign language, or even nonverbals.
  4. Decoding – Now the receiver of the message receives the message and interprets the meaning.
  5. Receiver – The receiver of the message now understands the original thought in the mind of the sender, right??

The break down occurs because words have meanings that could be different depending on where you are from.  All the experiences of your past impact how you interpret the words you hear.  Think of the word ‘father.’  Some of you are replaying great childhood memories.  Some of you are reliving painful memories.  To some of you, the word father means hero.  To others it means absent.  Your life experience gives meaning to words.

Because of this, every great leader and communicator adds a step to the communication process.  That step is feedback.  I was in a great workshop last week in Orange County, CA put on by MAP Consulting.  I loved how they framed this concept.  They call this the playback.  Once you communicate the message, have the receiver play the message back for you.

Here is the phrase you want to learn.  “So that I know I was clear, please play back for me…”  Here are _ reasons why this phrase is so important.

5 Reasons to Playback

  1. Ownership – As the sender of the message, you are taking responsibility that it was understood.  You are making sure that you were clear, not that the sender comprehended correctly.  This is a big distinction.
  2. Feedback – Without this step, you have no way to know that your words were interpreted correctly.
  3. Adjustment – Once you hear your message played back, you have the opportunity to adjust your message.  You may not need to, but you can add clarity before time is wasted going down the wrong path.  Have you ever misunderstood a message and cost your company thousands of dollars?  Millions?
  4. Accountability – Once clarified, there are no excuses.  The message was understood.  The entire team is on the same page moving towards the same goal.  And everyone knows it.
  5. Repeatability – This process is repeatable in at least two ways.  The first is playback can be used in every communication situation.  The second, though,It is also repeatable in that it allows you to repeat the playback step multiple times until the message is clearly understood.

Question:  How can you improve your leadership and communication by adding this playback step?  You can leave a comment below.

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Clarity Series: Prospecting – 5 Steps to Build a Database

The Clarity Series is a series of posts all on one subject.  This particular subject is prospecting.  While the context is commercial real estate, these steps and principles can be applied to any sales.  To read the introduction of this series, click here.  To read an overview of the entire prospecting system, click here.  Thank you for reading!

So far in this series, we have discussed what it means to choose a farm area or geography.  We also discussed the value of specializing.  The next step in implementing a killer prospecting system is to build your database.



In 2004, I got out of the Marine Corps and moved home with my family.  The next day, I started working with my dad in his CRE brokerage business.  As we would be driving around town, he would share with me the histories of the properties we drove by.  He knew everything.  He knew who owned the property.  He could tell me what they paid for it.  He could tell me how big they were.  We would pass some properties he had sold multiple times.  He defined encyclopedic knowledge of a market.  I remember thinking that I would never get there.

Building a world-class database is how you get there.  And you can do it in months.

Your purpose in building a killer database is two-fold.  First, you want to personify the kind of encyclopedic market knowledge like my dad has.  Second, your database is your road map – your foundation – to consistently finding and winning business through prospecting.

Here is how you do it!

5 Steps to Building Your Database

  1. Be crystal clear about your geography and your specialty – This guides you in finding the properties and owners that you will be prospecting on.  My database was built on dollar stores in Kentucky.  You are shooting for 400 – 600 properties.  Does your market have 1,300 multifamily properties?  How many does it have with 100 – 250 units?  Get it down to 400 – 600.
  2. Choose a CRM to hold and manage your database – There are many to choose from.  You can go the traditional desktop based direction with ACT!, REA9, RealHound, or others.  I chose to go the cloud-based route and used ClientLook.  If you’d like to read more about why, click here.  If you are using Outlook to manage your contacts and prospecting, stop immediately.  It is not a CRM.
  3. Find the properties – Your goal is to know everything about every property in your specialty and in your market.  Depending on where you live, this could be easy.  It could also be fairly tedious.  I used the Site To Do Business (STDB).  This is a super-powerful platform that provides site analysis and demographic tools.  You can also define a geography and then search for businesses within that geography.  It then spits you out a list.  It takes maybe 5 minutes.  STDB is available to CCIM designees and candidates.  If you are in the CRE industry and aren’t involved with the CCIM Institute, you should remedy that right away.  There are other tools that you can use in larger markets to include CoStar, Xcelligent, ProspectNow.  There are many other options. Your local PVA office can also be helpful.
  4. Find the owners – In my experience doing this, finding the properties is easy.  Finding the owners is difficult.  Kentucky is a freedom of information state.  Once we built our database of dollar store locations, my assistant went county-by-county (there are 120 in KY) getting the owners of record for each property.  This took about a month.  Where you live will determine how difficult this may be.  If a company like ProspectNow, LexisNexis, or REIS covers your market, pay the fee.  You could get what you need in days instead of weeks or months.  If you live in a freedom of information state, check your Secretary of State website.  It should tell you the members of LLCs.
  5. Maintain your database – Once you have it built, maintain it.  Pay attention and track all the transactions of the properties in your database.  Keep it up to date.  This will allow you to remain the market expert in your specialty.

John McDermott is one of my favorite guys in the CRE industry.  Here is his list on what should be in your database for each property.

  • Property Name
  • Property Address
  • Property Photo – you should take this yourself.  STP!  See the property.  See the people.
  • Property Condition/Class – A,B,C
  • Property Tenants
  • Property Rents (current & market)
  • Property Features including deferred maintenance
  • Owner Name(s)
  • Owner Address
  • Owner Phone Number(s)
  • Owner Email – if possible

Final thought – I believe and preach that anything that can be delegated should be.  You need to focus your time on the tasks that only you can do.  Building a database is an exception, however.  You should do most of this yourself.  To become a market expert, you actually need to learn the properties and the people.  There is no better way than getting on the property.

So we have now covered geography, specialty, and building a database.  The remainder of this series will deal with how to use the data to find and win business.

What are your favorite tools to finding properties and owners?  Please share with us in the comments section.

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Clarity Series: Prospecting – Geography and Specialty

The Clarity Series is a series of posts all on one subject.  This particular subject is prospecting.  While the context is commercial real estate, these steps and principles can be applied to any sales.  To read the introduction of this series, click here.  To read an overview of the entire prospecting system, click here.  Thank you for reading!

photo from iStockPhoto

photo from iStockPhoto

In 2010, I bought the family commercial real estate brokerage business from my dad.  That week, I had 3 closings.  It was great timing.  All of them were Single Tenant Net Lease (STNL) deals.  I experienced in a new way broker’s remorse.

Broker’s remorse is that feeling of exuberance a broker feels once a good size deal closes.  It is followed 5 minutes later by the feeling of, “Oh crap!  What next?”  In commission sales, it is like you are unemployed between closings.  After those deals closed, I looked at my pipeline and panicked.

I had nothing else happening.  I had zero clue when my deal would hit.  I had not been prospecting and I was paying for it.  I also had an epiphany.

The only deals that were getting done were STNL deals.  Until that day, I was a generalist.  On that day, I chose my specialty.  I prospected on 405 Dollar stores in the commonwealth of Kentucky.

Question:  What is your specialty?  (If you paused or couldn’t articulate it in 20 words or less, then you don’t have a specialty.)

Top producers in commercial real estate are specialists.  This is known and proven.  So, when you are crafting a prospecting system, you must start with these two steps:  geography and specialty.


Now remember – when you are prospecting, you are asking for the business.  Your geography is simply the physical area where you will be doing so.  Let me give you some examples:

  • A STNL specialist who prospects nationwide.
  • A multifamily specialist who prospects within a 20 mile radius of a certain city.
  • An industrial specialist who works a specific industrial area within a city.
  • A tenant rep who serves her client wherever they go
  • An advisor who specializes in a certain, defined neighborhood.

In my case, my geography was the commonwealth of Kentucky.  I had to go that wide to have enough inventory of Dollar Stores.  Ideally, you want a minimum of 400 properties to call upon in your chosen geography.


You can be a geographical specialist.  The number one broker of the number one CRE firm (by number of transactions) in New York City is Bob Knakal.  Bob is a geographical specialist.  He can show you on a map which blocks in the city he works.  In fact, his entire office is set up this way.  Each broker has their own territory.  They know everything about every property within that territory.  Or they get to go work somewhere else.

I was in Chicago last week training some brokers in our office there.  It is a top 3 office in our company.  One of their top 3 guys was explaining to me all the success he has had since he specialized.  And his specialty is a specific neighborhood.  He owns property in that neighborhood.  He is a peer with the owners he is calling on.  You can’t go 2 blocks without seeing one of his signs.

More common, however, is a product type specialist.  You can go with the major food groups – multifamily, retail, office, and industrial.  Or, you can go more of the niche route and focus on STNL, medical office, sale-leasebacks, self-storage, and on and on.  I know a great broker who specializes in marines.  Another who does charter schools.

The key to remember is that you know what you are, and you know where you pursue deals.

To make this decision, ask yourself the following 3 questions:

  1. What kind of deals do I like?  Or what kind of properties do I like? – Different product types have certain characteristics that you may or may not like.  For instance, I don’t like industrial properties.  They don’t fit my eye.  I don’t like being in industrial parks.  It would not be a good idea for me to pick this as a specialty.
  2. What are you good at?  Do you have more experience in one product type or another?  You may love multifamily.  You may also hate numbers and underwriting.  If that is the case, you may be more suited for something simple like STNL.  Know what you are good at!
  3. Where is the transactional velocity?  You may love marinas.  You may be great at those kinds of deals.  But if you are intent on working Nebraska…see my point?

If you can find a specialty where the answers to these three questions intersect, then you may have found your sweet spot.  Once you have this, the next step is to gain encyclopedic knowledge of your specialty.  That will be the focus of the next post.

Until then, I challenge you to state your specialty publicly in the comments section.  I will ask you again.  What is your specialty?

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