business development

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?

Stay In Your Lane

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the effect competition, or more accurately - perceived competition. As any good business owner knows, you have to be aware of your competition, but there is a fine line between awareness and obsession. When I work with clients, we focus heavily on the things we can control and really there is only one thing in our lives that we have complete control over and that is ourselves. Not only can we not control the actions of our competition but it has an extremely negative impact on our performance when it pushes us to be reactive instead of proactive. It can shift our plans even causing our actions to misalign with our vision. And what if you're being reactive to something you merely perceive as competition and it isn't actually a blip on the radar? An obsession with your perceived competition is not only completely counterproductive, it is downright harmful to your business. When we're constantly looking at others, how can we impact ourselves?

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Going down the rabbit hole of comparing ourselves to the accomplishments of others is a losing battle. Not because we are not accomplished, but because eventually - the likelihood of you finding someone, somewhere that is more accomplished than you is pretty high. And here's the thing...there is nothing wrong with that. Further, where do you stop comparing yourself to others? Do you only compare career success or do you also begin to look at personal achievements? See? Rabbit hole. The problem with focusing on others isn't only that it is a losing battle, it is that it causes you to focus less on yourself and what differentiates you. That is your competitive superpower - focus on what differentiates you from the competition.

It is proven that high performers outpace their competition by focusing inward on refining their own skill set, developing their value, and implementing their plans to deliver that value to consumers. In a world of a lot of the same, I think we'd all be better served to spend a lot less time worrying about what we perceive as competition and more about our own goals. 

Deliver With Care

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Last night, I came home to a package on my front porch. The box was beaten up and half opened. My immediate thought was - "I wonder what happened to that thing!" My second thought, however, was, "I can't believe this was how they handled someone's package." Sure, it was a box of paper towels and nothing inside was damaged, but the nature of the delivery changed my entire feelings about what I was receiving. I went from feeling excitement and curiosity of seeing what might be inside a box to questioning everything about the box and the person that delivered it. 

Okay, I'm probably overthinking the situation, I mean, it was paper towels. But, this got me wondering - the way we deliver our thoughts and feelings matters just as much. And in real estate, we have no shortage of things we deliver - messages of excitement, tough news, hopes, dreams, and just about everything in between. What happens if we ignore our delivery and don't handle these things with the care they deserve? Someone might miss the intended message all together if delivery isn't handled properly.  This makes you think twice about how you say things, doesn't it? It did for me. I know, it is still just a box of paper towels, but follow me for a second. 

In his popular TED Talk, Julian Treasure suggests that when you approach someone with honesty, authenticity, integrity, and love - they are absolutely more likely to listen to your input. Interestingly, none of these work alone, but rather, they must work together to effectively deliver our thoughts, opinions, or even expertise. For instance, honesty alone can be rather brutal. "Mr. & Mrs. Jones, that price just doesn't make sense. Your home isn't all that nice" might very well be true, but it certainly isn't a sentiment being delivered with love or care. A simple adjustment to say "Mr. & Mrs. Jones, I would love to sell your home for that price! But, based on the comparable properties we simply cannot justify that. The upgrades you have done are beautiful and have certainly added value, but I also know that it is important to be moved in your new home before Joey starts school in August. If we price your home competitively now and market it effectively; we don't have to worry about adjusting the price later, how that may look to buyers, and we can focus on your next chapter. So, what do you say?" 

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Do you see how the tone and delivery of the second version far outweigh the first? The difference was love and care. When we take the time to deliver things with love and care, the entire message can be received differently. Take for example the company Zappos, who's entire branding is "Delivering Happiness." They are so committed to delighting their customer that they want everything about the experience of dealing with Zappos to bring happiness. And frankly, as a frequent Zappos shopper...it does. You see, delivery makes a big difference in how someone feels about whatever they are receiving whether it is words or an Amazon Prime order of paper towels. So, as you kick off this new month, think about how you will deliver happiness. How will you delight your customers?

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.

Why Can't All Year Be Like A Holiday Card?

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My favorite part of the holidays is the holiday cards that we receive in the mail. I scramble to the mailbox in the afternoon, ensuring I am who opens them. I "ooh and ahh" over how much kids have grown, how happy my loved ones look, and what has transpired over the past year.  At the holidays, mailboxes are overflowing with staged pictures of kids in adorable clothing that they probably argued about having to wear; holiday letters filled with the happenings of the wins and losses of the year; even the occasional sweet treat that a loving neighbor wanted to spoil you with. 

But, I'm left wondering - why do we only do this at the holidays? As a coach, I preach that consistency breeds results in all things - our relationships, our work, our skills. All of these are made better with consistent performance, but in practice, we struggle. I'm not saying that it is easy  to find the time throughout the year to consistently write handwritten notes, send emails, make phone calls, or simply stay in touch; but I also question - is it any easier to do so at the holidays? I would argue it is actually more difficult than in say, April. 

When I think about how holiday cards make me feel, I smile. I feel loved, valued, cared for, and important. And when we think about it, we don't not feel that way throughout the year - we just don't always take the time to acknowledge it. When we pause for a moment to be present in our own lives, reflect on our blessings, and show our gratitude - we are truly able to feel the impact the people we care for have on our lives and our businesses. Doesn't that warrant acknowledgement all year long?

It is the holidays, so I won't pick on you, but I will challenge you. As you wrap up 2017, think about how you can incorporate more consistent communication into your business and your life. How can you show people they matter to you beyond closing gifts and the annual picture of your family in matching outfits? Find more opportunities to say thank you, to show others they matter, and even to surprise someone with something unexpected. I promise you won't regret it. After all, magic is wherever you choose to create it. 

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. 

Creating Your Community

More and more, I find myself looking outside of the real estate industry for inspiration. So, this week, as we tackled the concept of branding on one of our training "B-Line" calls here at Bamboo Realty, I couldn't help but reference my latest obsession - my new Peloton bike. Those of you that follow me on social media may have noticed this new obsession; however, what you likely haven't seen, unless you're a Peloton rider yourself, is the power of the Peloton community. After just a week with my bike, the power of their community has vastly changed how I ride and my drive to keep going. 

Of course, it's all in the name though! "Peloton" is a word used to describe the main group of riders in a race. Riders group together to enhance their performance - so riders in a peloton work together, conserve energy and perform better because of one another. Hm, sounds a lot like a community to me. One might begin to wonder how a spin bike with technology for at-home on-demand rides actually enhances performance or creates community, but I tell you - this company has mastered it.

Founded in 2012 as a kickstarter, Peloton was created by people who "loved cycling but had a hard time finding a workout that consistently fit their schedules." The mere idea of this had me hooked long before I was a rider. You see, I was sold on the problem they were facing and their way of solving it. I too loved working out, but for me - life had gotten in the way. Peloton works to utilize technology to deliver an engaging experience that truly can act as a replacement for an in-person class, because it delivers the same level of experience. By bringing classes on-demand to your home, they're able to solve one of the big reasons why many of us stop working out - because we simply can't find the time. 

But, without community, motivation is easily lost. Communities not only keep us engaged, they keep us accountable. Many adults who continue to work out regularly have gym memberships merely because they need to go somewhere to actually work out. Personal trainers have made a career out of not just expert advice, but providing accountability. (Yes, real estate coaches have too). This isn't a bad thing. It's just honest. Wherever there is a void in the market, there is a business opportunity. Peloton nailed that opportunity. 

When you create a community, your brand becomes powered by it. You aren't constantly looking for new ways to tell your story - your community begins to tell your story. Communities are created through satisfied consumers who believe that your work matters. This isn't just a past client that thinks you did a good job for them. That's great, but that is a singular story. Communities are a collection of stories - a collection of paths crossing in a way that ties the individuals together through a common bond. Community is created by people who know you would care just as much about anyone you worked for, because you care just as deeply about each of your consumers. Community is created by people who care deeply about one another. By people who believe in one another. By people who want others to succeed just as much as they want themselves to succeed. Community is created by people. So, regardless of busy schedules or any other distractions, don't look past the people who you are building your community with. Each one of them has a story that is now part of your brand. Each one of them will now tell their version of your brand story. Becoming part of one another's stories is magical. It is deeply personal. Relish that opportunity. Don't waste it. 

Just last week, the Official Peloton Rider Page on Facebook hit 25,000 members and to commemorate the moment, they put out this great video from folks throughout the company to say thank you. Want to see how companies nail creating community? Click the image below to see the video

I realize that there is a big difference between Peloton and real estate, but then I wonder - is there really? Don't we all have the opportunity to create a community around a common bond? I think so. 

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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