business

Looking for new podcasts? Check out these designed to help your business thrive!

Podcasts have been one of the fastest growing mediums for people to take in cutting edge content. Their ease of production and accessibility have made them a favorite among many including us! While we love jamming out to music as much as the next person, we also know that when time is valuable, utilizing time in the car or on a flight to educate ourselves can give us a huge competitive advantage. Check out this list compiled by Inc.com of 10 of the Best Podcasts to Help Your Company Thrive.

1. StartUp

StartUp focuses on the experience of starting a business and entrepreneurial life. The podcast launched in 2014 and is powered by a team of women, including Senior Producer Molly Messick, Co-Host Lisa Chow, and Reporter Amy Standen. Past episodes have tackled issues such as balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood, pitching a business to investors, and past mistakes entrepreneurs have made. 

StartUp is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. 

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2. Mixergy

Created by Andrew Warner, Mixergy features interviews with business founders. During each podcast, a founder tells their story and shares solutions to some of the challenging issues that founders face. Past guests have included Gabe Schillinger of Legion Beats, Max Makeev of Owl Labs, and Maria Paz Gillet of Jooycar. 

Listen to Mixergy on Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts. 

3. The Tim Ferriss Show 

Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, hosts the widely popular Tim Ferris Show. The show has amassed over 300 million downloads and has been included in Apple Podcasts' "Best of" ranking for three years. Ferris interviews guests such as LeBron James, Maria Sharapova, Jamie Foxx, and more, examining the routines, tactics, and tools that contribute to their success so that you can put those strategies to work in your life. 

Catch The Tim Ferriss Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Overcast. 

4. Business Wars

Business Wars pits competing businesses against each other, examining what drives a company's success or failure. Hosted by David Brown, this podcast focuses on massive companies such as Netflix, Blockbuster, Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and more. 

Business Wars is available on the App Store or on Google Play. 

5. Rise and Grind with Daymond John

Daymond John, founder and CEO of FUBU, interviews successful entrepreneurs, musicians, and athletes such as Barbara Corcoran, Ian Siegel, and more. Each interview subject shares their secrets to how they achieved success, and you can benefit from them, too. 

Listen to Rise and Grind with Daymond John on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. 

6. The Brand Builder Podcast

Looking to understand the current trends in branding? The Brand Builder Podcast examines what's working for some of the most successful brands and gives you actionable advice that you can use for your own business. 

Listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher. 

7. This Week in Startups

Longtime Silicon Valley investor Jason Calacanis hosts this series of conversations, usually with talented startup founders. If you want insight into the nuts and bolts of scaling a small business in competitive environments, this is a helpful podcast.

Listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Youtube and more.

8. The Hirsch Marketing Underground Podcast

This podcast digs into marketing strategy with detailed, precise advice for any business. The short episodes are easy to catch while on the go, giving you new concise marketing strategies in just 15 minutes. 

Enjoy the Hirsch Marketing Underground Podcast on Stitcher. 

9. The Brainy Business

Conversion expert Melina Palmer shares insight and tips about behavioral economics to help you better understand why people make purchases. Use the tips to increase your business' sales and customers. 

Listen to The Brainy Business on Stitcher. 

10. The School of Greatness

Hosted by New York Times bestselling author Lewis Howes, The School of Greatness examines just what it is that makes people great. Guests include business owners and entrepreneurs, celebrities, athletes, and more. 

You can catch The School of Greatness on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Stitcher, YouTube, Google Play, or Spotify. 

Many of these podcasts give you the opportunity to learn from hugely successful entrepreneurs and business owners. They all give you concrete tips and advice that you can apply to your company. And, whether you're looking to develop productivity habits or refine your marketing strategy, you're sure to find valuable information (and some entertainment, too) from these podcasts. 


Weekly Planning That Makes A Difference

One of the most requested topics we hear about from you all is time management. This is something that we almost universally struggle with because our brains are focused on survival (expelling the least amount of energy possible) while our ambition is focused on success. The two competing forces often lead to the frustrating feeling of not enough hours in a day.

When I first began my study of time management, I focused heavily on daily planning. Winning the day by waking up early and making the most of the morning hours and staying efficient through regimented habits. What really made the biggest difference is when I added an element of weekly planning. For me, I tackle weekly planning on Sunday afternoons/evenings. It serves to wind down my weekend and allow me to hit the ground running on Monday morning.

Just imagine how much more productive you could be if you kicked off Monday morning by getting straight to work on tasks you know you needed to accomplish instead of making a list of those tasks! But weekly planning is a bit different than daily planning because it takes the big picture into account.

Step One: Define Your Goals

Proper planning starts by defining what your goals are. Often times, we make ambiguous goals and struggle to make plans to accomplish them because the goals are so loosely defined that a plan is next to impossible. Instead, focus on your top 3 goals. Don’t limit yourself just to business either. What are your goals for your personal life too?

Step Two: What Impacts Your Goals

The next step requires you to complete a sort of objective analysis of what is happening in your life. You need to be really honest with yourself and define - what things have a big impact on these goals? These could be activities, habits, or even plans. Most importantly, they have to have an impact on your level of success. Take care to be honest about both positively and negatively impacting things. Remember, your success is in your hands but we understand that there are always outside influences at play.

Step Three: Time Block For Your Goals

The difference between planning and calendar management is a key distinction to understand. Planning is about strategically reviewing your actions and your schedule to see how you can give yourself the best chances of success. Calendar management is simply a supply/demand exercise. Yet, together - the two are one of the most beneficial ways to develop great habits. During both Step One & Two, you’re able to objectively review the actions you need to take. You have no excuse of time constraints and don’t even need to answer the question “when?” until now. The final piece of the planning puzzle gets you to not only say what you need to commit to do, but when you will commit to do it. It establishes personal accountability, which can be a powerful factor in getting things done.

Whether you’re just getting started with planning or this is a practice you have long held, these tips can help you quickly become a better planner. You’ll begin to see things objectively and really benefit from only a few minutes each week and each day seeing the impact almost immediately.

Happy planning!



How to Delegate Like a Champ

Delegating is one of the most important keys to scaling your success but time and time again - it is something that professionals share as a struggle. I get it. Really, I do. When I began scaling my business, delegating was difficult for me too. It helped to think of delegation as part of the process of eliminating things from my daily task list.

Letting control go of the things that have helped build your business can undoubtedly be uncomfortable and even stressful, but here are a few tips we have for easing the process.

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Establish firm priorities. During the delegation process, it is important to keep your eye on what is most important. What are the things that you must continue to do? What can someone do almost as well as you? Understand that when you delegate something, it may not be done exactly the way you have always done it - but it is freeing your time up to handle the more important things that only you can handle. At the end of the day, the result is more important than the process when it comes to delegation.

Play to your team’s strengths. Delegating is about winning back your time to focus on more pressing matters, which means that delegation is not just a professional undertaking, but a personal one too. If you have specific tasks you need to delegate, hire for those roles. But often where delegation goes off track is that we start with the task versus the person. Focus on what the people in your life do well, enjoy, and are capable of then see where you can leverage those strengths.

Take the time to train. Delegating is the first step in a larger process to remove these tasks from your daily agenda. The biggest mistake I see people make is skipping delegation and moving straight to elimination. They are not the same thing. Delegating is an active process that you as the delgater still must be involved in both through training and follow up. Elimination (the goal) is not concerning yourself with the task at all. It is not enough to take the time to train once and move on. Training may take a few times of you explaining the process, letting them attempt the process, and over time - letting go of the process. Don’t skip the training!

Trust, but verify. Many times, people become reluctant to delegate as a result of previous negative experiences. When delegating, you must be willing to trust the ability of the person taking on the new tasks. Without this trust, you defeat the purpose of delegation in the first place (which is how so many fail at delegating) because you actually spend double the time on the tasks as you originally did - first through trying to delegating then by handling the task yourself anyway. Resist this urge! One great way to build your trust for the person taking on these tasks is to trust their ability and their work while ensure you’re available for questions, yet verifying that the tasks were done to your satisfaction. A few times of verifying their stellar work will build your trust that they are not only capable, but exceeding expectations. Or, verifying that they aren’t capable will save you time of keeping someone tasked with work they cannot handle.

It’s a journey, not a destination. As I have said so many times, delegation is a process. It will require you to be involved in training, support, verification, and so much more. Be patient with yourself and with those you task with the work. They are learning and it can be helpful to remember how you felt when you were first learning these tasks. If you devote the proper level of attention to delegation, you will undoubtedly begin to see the success you were hoping for!


The Recipe For Great Leaders

In a rapidly evolving industry, leadership has never been more important. Leadership is one of the most discussed topic in today’s society, it is far more than a trendy term or practice. The right to be a leader is earned, not bought or won. We believe that the best leaders share certain qualities that set them apart.

They take full responsibility. Great leaders know that the performance of their team is 100% a result of their leadership. While they cannot force action or inaction - they can inspire it and great leaders know that when something goes awry - it is due to how they steered the ship. No one likes to be peppered with directives, but great leaders take responsibility for their team’s actions/inactions alike and knows that ultimately, the buck stops with them.

They motivate through fun. As I explained, great leaders don’t force action or inaction - they motivate it. And great leaders know exactly how to get their team’s motivated where much of the work doesn’t have to feel burdensome but enjoyable and some may even say, fun. Whether it is culturally feeling part of something bigger than themselves or simply not wanting to let others down - the teams of great leaders are always ready to show up for one another.

They connect with their teams emotionally. Fun is all well and good, but real connection happens on an emotional level. Great leaders work to connect with their teams emotionally. To make a difference in someone’s work, you often must make a difference in their lives. By taking the time to connect with their team on a personal level - to know their families, their hopes/dreams, and even their struggles. This characteristic of great leaders cannot be emphasized enough.

They train new leaders. Great leaders understand that their leadership undoubtedly will have an expiration date. They know the importance of leadership being in tune with the team’s they’re leading, the trends of the industry, and even the style they work in. This is one of the biggest differences between management and leadership. Leaders care more about how the team will be led for years to come than just managing the right now. As a result, they invest heavily in their teams now to ensure they are grooming the next generation of leaders too.

They are always learning. Above all else, great leaders know one thing - that they don’t know it all. This is one of the best qualities of great leaders because it also allows them to lead by example. To show the vulnerability of not having all the answers and doing the hard work of lifelong learning. Whether it is new ideas, new strategies, or even just a new way of saying something old - great leaders are invested in learning.

Being a leader requires a lot of skills and characteristics - but these, above all else, define great leaders to me. I hope as you have read through this, you have been able to have someone on your team or within your organization come to mind. If not, starting looking. Great leaders are the best indicator of an organization’s success.

The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up...Your Mind

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Like most of us, I recently got hooked on the new Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo with grand ambitions of sifting through what I soon realized was an embarrassing collection of meaningless items that I kept just for the sake of keeping. I wouldn’t have qualified as a hoarder, but I certainly found myself questioning why in the world did I hold onto this?

As I sifted through my closet determined to understand the KonMari method, I began to feel actual weight lifted off my shoulders. Not only was the clearing out of unnecessary belongings freeing up space around my house, but it was freeing up space in my heart, soul, and even mind. This has far less to do with a ratty t-shirt you’ve been holding onto since college that barely has enough fabric to qualify as a t-shirt and far more to do with the mental and emotional impact things can have on us when our surroundings are in disarray.

This got me thinking, if this is how much tangible stuff that I hold onto - what things am I holding onto that can’t be seen. In a different context, some may refer to this as emotional baggage, which it undoubtedly is - but this baggage extends into our professional lives as well. We hold onto professional accomplishments, failures, and events and assign weight to them as though they were objects vs. experiences. This isn’t always a negative thing, much like Kondo acknowledges that things are not inherently negative. Rather, we should hold onto only those items that spark joy and let go of the ones that no longer do, thanking them for the service in the process. Think about the impact it would have on your mindset if you did this. Can you imagine?

What if you made the conscious effort to only hold onto the thoughts that brought you joy and tossed away negative experiences, first thanking them for what you learned? What if you let go of the rejection, the hurt, the comparison? What if you embraced the positivity, the accomplishments, and the growth? What if instead of looking at how far you have left to go, you took a moment to acknowledge just how far you have come?Don’t you feel lighter just thinking about the impact that could have on your mental state?

Joy. Pure joy.

Are You Thinking Big?

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Last week I was talking to a good friend of mine. By almost any standard, she is one of the greats. She has achieved so much in her life, is considered a leader in her industry, and frankly - she is just an all-around awesome person. She always struck me as someone who is a big thinker, and better yet - a big executer, meaning she walks the walk just as much as she talks the talk. And just as she was preparing to get on stage at one of her industry's largest events, she said to me "Just because I think bigger than most people around me doesn't mean I'm thinking big."

In that one statement, I was entranced. Often we are prone to thinking we are thinking big when in reality, we are simply not challenging ourselves. Leadership expert, Jim Rohn says "you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Take a moment and look at who you surround yourself with. Are they achieving their goals? Are they growing their businesses and their lives? Are they living the way you want to live yours? The answers may surprise you.

If you choose to surround yourself with people who are happy with the status quo, you will never grow. Worse yet, if you choose to surround yourself with people who have habits that could be detrimental to achieving your goals, you risk even more. You need to consistently challenge yourself to change yourself and that starts with your surroundings.  

Set the Standard

One of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur is that I am able to decide who I want to work with. My clients make up a hard-working, committed group of individuals and teams who believe in doing the work. It makes my work so much more rewarding and satisfying. What if I told you that you have the same luxury? You can choose who you work with, too. And more importantly, you can decide how you are treated in this business. 

In real estate, this is admittedly easier said than done. It is difficult to resist the urge to "jump" when the client/prospect says so, or to be responsive at all hours because our livelihood is constantly at stake. The question looms in our minds of..."if we set the boundary for ourselves, will another agent be able to swoop in and capture my clients?" It is certainly a risk and I wholeheartedly acknowledge that; however, I don't believe that it is as big of a risk as we have convinced ourselves. 

Our businesses and our lives are a product of the expectations that we have set for ourselves and for others. You are responsible for teaching people how you want to be treated and they are responsible for how they choose to interact with you as a result. If you find yourself with no downtime or feeling frazzled, you have likely let people control your boundaries instead of controlling them yourself. In a business where time is at a premium, you have to have the willpower to control how you allocate it. Just remember, every time you say "no" it opens the opportunity for a whole lot of "yes."

What Guides You?

They say that character is defined by what you do when no one is looking. And when it comes to great service - I believe the same rule follows. It is easy to go above and beyond when you know the client/prospect is looking or to roll out the red carpet for the pat on the back, but real service is defined by the things we do when no one is looking.  

In real estate, it is easy to get attached to the outcome of a deal and align our service with the outcome. But what happens when you align your service with your values is something so much more impressive. You live each moment in the actions because you wholeheartedly believe in them. When we are constantly looking for ways to enhance the experience, we often miss out on ways that we can maintain the experience as well.

Certainly, I am not a fan of the status quo. It pretty much goes against everything I stand for, but the status quo also represents an expectation of a smooth process. Often when we're trying to go above and beyond, we unintentionally disrupt that. This is what happens when we're solely focused on outcomes. We do things with a result in mind and if we don't achieve that result, the entire process is in vain. However, when we focus on the individual actions. When we live in the moments of the transaction, we're able to surprise, delight, and deliver in a way that surpasses the client's wildest expectations. The only question is - are you in it for the outcome or are you in it for the action?

Controlling For X

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One of the most common questions I get is "what is the one thing I implement that will help me succeed?" Talk about a broad question, huh? It doesn't matter where I am or who I am talking to, it is almost a guarantee that someone will ask me the question. Some people may see it as agents looking for a quick fix or a magic solution, but I see it differently. I realize that the journey to success is long and winding and often we're just looking for signs that we're on the right path - even if that path differs from someone else's. 

You are probably wondering what my answer is, aren't you? And the funny thing about it is the answer applies universally regardless of the situation. Why? Because there is one looming reason that people fail...something I call The X Factor. This is that thing (or things) that fall outside your control, but impact your work. It is unpredictable and more likely than not, it has the ability to throw a wrench in your plans. When the X Factor rears it's ugly head, we tend to crumble and lose touch with all of the things that got us to where we are. So, what is the answer to my question? You have to control for X. 

I get it, it is much easier said than done. How do you even go about controlling for something you don't know anyway? Sometimes the X Factor is time while other times it is emotions. Still other times it is the other side of a negotiation. The thing that high achievers all share is this ability to control for X. Sure, you won't be able to predict everything, but much of what we do is highly predictable. By allowing the predictable to become regimented making it even more predictable you will generate time to deal with the unpredictable events. Controlling for X also requires that we overcome a looming fear of worst case scenario playing it out in our heads so that we can prepare for the possibilities. Chances are that this simple act of preparation very well may eliminate the worst case scenario all together allowing for a much smoother experience to begin with. 

You see, controlling for X doesn't mean eliminating X. There will always be unpredictable events that impact our success and our lives. But how you choose to respond to those actions and prepare for the possibilities is what will set you apart. 

Share The Love of Where You Live

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All month long we've been talking about love. Loving on others, loving yourself, but what about - loving where you live? I mean, doesn't the concept of "home" extend far beyond the walls and the structure? For me it always has. Home is woven into the fabric of the communities we become a part of, not just the physical place we lay our heads down at night. 

This week, I've had the good fortune of spending a decent amount of time in Downtown Raleigh where I have fallen in love with my city all over again. Maybe as real estate agents we are particularly attuned to the things around us, but this week, I simply seemed to notice things I loved about the city in a different way, from the number of bustling new restaurants to the way the bricks lay in the sidewalks - it all took on a different weight with me. Which got me thinking - are we doing enough to show off the places we love to live? 

As real estate agents, one of the best values you can offer clients is to help them get a feel for what it will be like to live in a community. After all, we spend most of our days out in the communities we live and serve rather than cooped up in a stuffy office. Almost every successful agent I speak to has an intimate knowledge of their community, too. Agents always know the best restaurants, local dive bars, boutiques, dry cleaners, even doggy daycare centers. Why? Because most of the time we love where we live and that is what motivated us to help others fall in love with where we live, too. 

Whether through blogging, video, or even cool technologies such as Relola, a website dedicated to real estate agents sharing their local expertise; agents everywhere are beginning to provide real value to consumers to help them get the one things that isn't so easy to find -  insight. Consumers have no shortage of data and listings, but what they don't have is the boots on the ground telling them what that data means, and what it will feel like to live somewhere. 

Sample Relola map of Downtown Raleigh

Sample Relola map of Downtown Raleigh

As agents, you have impeccable insight into what makes a community tick. You see, home is a feeling far more than it is a place. Home extends beyond the walls of where you live into the bricks of your sidewalks, the grass in the yards, or the shops along the street. As a good friend of mine once put it, "it is about how the house and the neighborhood come together so it is not totally clear where the living room begins and ends." Go ahead, share why you love where you live and I assure you - others will fall in love too.

Start Small, Think Big

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By now, most of us have heard the story of Apple, which started in a garage with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in 1976. A true bootstrapping effort of brains, wit, and ambition that built one of the most successful companies in the world. The remarkable thing about their story isn't just the amazing growth of their company though. It is the fact that they were willing to start small to build something they truly believed in. 

Apple isn't the only example of this type of story. Take ice cream moguls, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (better known as Ben & Jerry's) for example. They started their careers taking a $5 class on fine points of preparing ice cream. They opened their first location in an abandoned gas station eventually growing their business to developing creative flavors and selling ice cream to distributors - now a household name. 

Entrepreneurs are really more similar than they are different. Most of us don't work just for the money. Entrepreneurs could trade the unpredictable nature of their business for a stable job, reliable paycheck, and health insurance whenever they want. So why don't they? 

The truth is, we're in it for far more than the money. Sure, money pays the bills, but our motivation is found in customer satisfaction, great experiences, and a desire to make a difference. It can be a little daunting when you're in the garage starting small, but my advice is keep going. It doesn't matter if you start small, it just matters that you start something that matters. 

Swag That Sticks

don't know about you, but I love good swag. Not the junk that someone tosses in a gift bag, but something I like to call "sticky swag." Swag is really just a vehicle to tell your brand story or start a conversation. Isn't that the goal? To get your consumers/clients to tell their story that you were a part of? I think so. To me, there is nothing more frustrating than combing through the meaningless trinkets that are brought home that don't resonate with me. Why? Because they don't make sense. They seem wasteful and thoughtless. In a world where every dollar matters - why are you wasting money on swag that doesn't tell a story or that you need a manual to figure out? Like this pen that BMW sent me a few years ago that took me 15 minutes to figure out was a pen!

So who are some companies with great swag? A few of my favorite companies with "sticky swag" are Contactually, BoomTown, and Giveback Homes. Why? Because their swag is second to none and their story always resonates. They have "sticky swag" in that none of their swag feels like they just dug through a closet in the marketing department and gave you the random junk they found. Their swag has thought, has story, and most of all - has purpose. As a real estate agent, you should have the same intent when you give away swag. You should want your swag to be useful, interesting, and meaningful. 

Take for example, Contactually. As a Contactually Ambassador, they take the time to send me swag from time to time. What is fun about Contactually is that they find a way to give away swag that you will use on a regular basis. More than that, they have swag that can save you in a pinch, like when you need to give your phone a little juice or your 5-year old forgot sunglasses on your Bahamian vacation. But, more than the physical swag, Contactually has a way of showing you that they care. Like when they sent me this kaleidoscope after I shared a very personal story of the meaning of kaleidoscopes to me on stage at Inman Connect San Francisco last year. 

Contactually understands that the impact of swag isn't always in the item, it is in the story. When I share how they took the time to not just send me an item, but seek out and have a hand-crafted item created to show me how much they value me as a customer...I think, "wow, that has impact." Are you conveying how much you value your customer's business? 

Personal connection drives growth. Just as the meaning of swag is more than the item, the reach should be too. "Sticky swag" is swag that your client's want to share and show off. These don't always have to be high-dollar items, but showing to clients that you value when they share your story and your brand is a great way to maximize your reach. 

On a recent vacation, my fiance was wearing some swag sunglasses given to us by BoomTown. The sunglasses met the basic criteria of "sticky swag" in that they were slick looking, comfortable, and something that we wanted to use. This is something that BoomTown does extremely well! Their swag is always high-quality, which is so worth it, because it has a much longer shelf-life. They also have the BEST t-shirts of any company that I have come across. 

I digress...well, as we ventured out on our first day of vacation, we had arranged to swim with the dolphins. When the trainer asked my fiance to borrow her sunglasses so Astro could take them for a spin, we were excited to watch. Luckily for us (and for BoomTown) there was a professional photographer on-site. The remarkable part of this story, besides the dolphin's ability to balance the sunglasses as he swam, was that the first thought we all had was "make sure the photographer gets a shot so that we can share this with the BoomTown team!" How amazing is that? Not only were we utilizing the swag, we had the desire to share it because the company made us feel valued. The company made us feel like that would matter to them. 

So, if you think about your swag - what makes it "sticky?" Do consumers find it useful, engaging, and important? Swag is just like content in that what you put out is a true reflection of your brand. It has to make sense. Let your swag tell your brand's story, have a little fun with it, show your consumers that your value them, and you never know - maybe they'll send you a picture of your swag on a dolphin someday. Imagine the possibilities! 

*Disclaimer: I am a Contactually client and a past BoomTown client

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