By Chris Nichols
There’s a story about a group of students that goes a little something like this:
A Harvard professor was fielding questions from his class regarding the upcoming midterm exam. The questions were varied, but all seemed to carry a similar theme. Upon realizing this, the professor stopped the questioning and said, “Even though your questions sound different, they are essentially all the same; ‘What is the minimum I have to do to pass this test?’”
As of writing of this blog post, the London 2012 Olympics are just two weeks away. Athletes from around the world will be gathering to compete in various events. I can guarantee you, without a doubt, that none of these world-class athletes are asking themselves, “What is the minimum I have to do to get a gold medal?”
There is no question that the real estate business can be viewed as a “test” at times. But are you falling into the trap of finding ways to do the minimum necessary to just pass this test? If you are, I’d recommend you find a way to adjust your thinking and instead “GO FOR THE GOLD!”
By Chris Nichols
Approximately 60 REALTORS® from the state of Utah spent last Wednesday afternoon discussing issues vital to the housing market with their Congressional Delegation. The afternoon started with a state caucus meeting with Jamie Gregory, one of NAR’s chief lobbyists, walking us through the major talking points of the day. Then it was off to Capitol Hill to meet with Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, and Representatives Jason Chaffetz, Rob Bishop and Jim Matheson.
The meetings were a tremendous success and we are fortunate in Utah to have a congressional delegation that gets it when it comes to the importance of homeownership.
Following the close of the Senate session, we had the amazing opportunity of a private tour with Senator Lee’s chief of staff, Spencer Stokes. The Capitol was empty and we had the opportunity to enjoy the rotunda with no one else around. There is certainly something about standing in these hallowed halls and quietly soaking in the history and importance of this special place.
Spencer was such a gracious tour guide, showing us amazing places such as the President’s Room, the House Chapel, and a very special visit to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Room. The staff there was wonderful and shared many interesting and insight stories about what happens in that room.
My evening ended on a high note with a private dinner at the Capitol Hill Club with my Congressman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz. I had a great time discussing a variety of things ranging from the presidential election to everyday life with him. As always, it’s a great opportunity to come to Washington, D.C., and spend quality time with our elected officials.
*Originally published on NAR’s Midyear Live Blog.
By Chris Nichols
I love the game of golf! Many lessons can be learned from the sport; and one was learned poignantly on Sunday at the Master’s in Augusta, Ga. Phil Mickelson was within striking distance of the lead in the final round when he was faced with a difficult decision due to an errant tee shot.
The choice he faced was to go back to the tee box and take a penalty or attempt the impossible and play the ball as it lied, covered by plants. Inexplicably, Phil played the ball and got a triple bogey. Had he taken the penalty and gone back to the tee box, he most likely would have shot a bogey on the hole, saving two shots and possibly tying him for the lead at the end of the round.
As I watched Phil play the remaining holes, it was easy to see that the triple bogey weighed heavy on him. He missed a few key putts that might have even put him in the lead. It became increasingly obvious that he should have chosen to reset and start over on that hole.
How many times in our businesses do we find ourselves down an errant path, and instead of taking the opportunity to reset and start over, we continue down the same path hoping it will turn around? Spring is a wonderful time of year when the planet seems to reset and start over fresh. Take this time to do the same with your business and don’t make the same mistake Phil made.
By Chris Nichols
I just got back from some meetings in Orlando, Florida. There are many beautiful golf courses in the area, and I had the opportunity to drive by Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course and see this phenomenal golf hole.
Surrounded by water and sandwiched between two sand traps, this hole could easily be summed up as “challenging”! But is it really? Interestingly enough, the green is no different in size than a standard hole without the water and the the sand traps. In other words, it’s not any more difficult to get the ball on this green than on any other green at your local golf course.
Why then, when we look at this hole, do we automatically add the words challenging or difficult to its description? It lies with where our focus is centered. If we are focused on the goal or objective (aka the pin and hole), and not on the visual distractions (aka the sand traps and water waiting to gobble up your golf ball), it’s much easier to get the ball on this green. Golf course designers like to add these obstacles because they understand that the principle of target fixation will distract the golfer and increase the difficulty of the hole.
How often do we allow external challenges, Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
There’s an interesting story from the Middle East I want to share with you. A dying man leaves his 17 camels to his three sons. To the first son he leaves half, to the second son he leaves a third, and to the third son he leaves a ninth. Well as the three sons do the math they find that none of their portions divide very well into 17 camels. Arguments ensue and before blood is shed they decide to consult a wise old woman who tells them she’s not sure if she can solve their problem, but instead she offers them her one camel, thus giving the three sons 18 camels. This gives the first son 9 camels, the second son gets 6 camels, and the third son gets 2 camels. Well… 9+6+2 = 17 camels, so the three sons return the 18th camel to the wise old lady!
In real estate, life, and in leadership positions I often find myself searching for that 18th camel. It’s interesting how we as humans tend to focus our time, energy and thoughts on the problem versus the solution. Getting to yes shouldn’t be as hard as we tend to make it on ourselves.
I used to work at The Little Nell hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain in Colorado. This amazing resort hotel is owned by the Aspen Skiing Company and is rated a 5 star/5 diamond property. Guests pay top dollar for just a standard (insert luxurious) room. With that, they expect amazing service (insert treatment). One of the challenges posed to us as employees was to never, ever tell a guest ‘NO’. This gave us the unique opportunity of always finding ways to say yes, or offering different options/solutions that kept us away from the dreaded ‘NO’. Unfortunately, that experience was many moons ago and I have sadly fallen away from the practice of always finding the yes or solution and avoiding the ‘NO’. Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
Monday night on my flight home from the National Association of REALTORS® Midyear meetings in Washington, D.C., I noticed that the flight was offering free satellite TV and it just so happened one of my favorite shows was on – Survivor. I have been a fan of the show for all of its 22 seasons, and every season ends up practically the same, with the finalists sitting in front of the jury (aka: losers) enduring all sorts of attacks and personal jabs from those who wish they were sitting in the finalist’s position.
This led me to recall recent events in game 4 of the NBA Conference Semifinals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers were just 2 minutes away from being swept in the series when frustration took over and Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom committed two of the most flagrant and classless fouls in the history of the NBA, leaving an indelible mar on the coaching career of Phil Jackson, not to mention a bad taste in fan’s mouths across the country.
Both of these events then reminded me of the meeting I had just attended, where the Board of Directors for the National Association of REALTORS® had just passed a $40 dues increase to fund a Political Survival Initiative. The tweets and social media comments that sprung up as a result of this vote passing were much like the jury on Survivor and the frustrated Lakers, full of animosity, name calling and all around unprofessionalism.
So this raises the question – have we lost the art of losing? Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
About a week ago, I had a young couple looking to buy their very first home come interview me. I was quite impressed they were actually doing an in-depth interview to find the right agent to represent them in such an important transaction. It was a welcome surprise, and brought back memories of my experience with a consumer focus group that NAR had me observe. Those buyers had realized they hadn’t interviewed potential representation and had simply gone with the first agent they met.
I was really impressed with the preparation that this couple had put in to asking the right questions. We spent almost an hour together and I enjoyed every minute of it. One of their questions was of particular interest to me. They asked me if I was willing to give up some of my commission if they found the home they wanted to buy on their own and I just handled negotiations and contracts. I explained to them that I was not willing to do that. I told them that where I earn every penny of my commission is in the negotiations, the contracts and in protecting them throughout the process.
I continued by explaining that very rarely do I even get involved in the home searching process, that buyers know what they want better than I do and that using the various online tools allow the consumer to do that quickly and easily. I also made the point that someone who didn’t feel their services were worth every penny and would give up some of their commission for the most important aspects of the transaction, probably wouldn’t be the best negotiator on their behalf.
Fast forward a week… Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
I had the unique opportunity to attend a special event this last Friday. I didn’t realize how unique this event was until I got there and heard the speaker admit that he was a little nervous as he had never spoken to a stadium full of people before. That was kind of shocking to me since the speaker was none other than the founder of a little website many of you use daily… Facebook!
That’s right, Mark Zuckerberg came to visit a few thousand of us packed into the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. There was a lot of buzz surrounding this event and he was greeted by an awestruck audience as he entered the facility to answer various questions that were posed to him, on what else but a Facebook page! Mark discussed many interesting things as he answered the wide spectrum of questions, but two of the answers intrigued me most.
The first question was regarding what college classes have been most beneficial to him. Mark admitted that he wasn’t in school for that long and that he was a double major in computer science and psychology. Surprisingly his response wasn’t a computer science course, it was psychology! He said, “At the end of the day, all of the problems we face are about people. People care about people.”
The second question was asked about what advice and or character traits a budding entrepreneur needs to possess. Mark’s answer was spot-on, “You have to have passion for what you are doing. If you don’t completely love or believe in what you are doing, the natural thing will be to give up when you face the challenges that will inevitably come. More than anything you have to really have faith in what you are doing.” Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
I just got back from the 2011 NAR Issues Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico and wanted to share with the YPN Lounge some of the highlights of this wonderful event. This is, by far, one of my most favorite meetings of the year. It was exciting to see a good number of YPN members in attendance.
The meetings kicked off with a welcome by NAR President Ron Phipps, reminding us that “Home Ownership Matters,” with information and statistics relating to his recent testimony at the capitol. Real estate represents 15 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, and touches almost every aspect of our economy.
We then had a fascinating look at the recent election results and how the current polls are trending with Bill McInturff and Peter Hart. They pointed out that this era will be defined by a massive shift in power from the states and institutions to the people and communities. Confidence in Congress is at 9 percent, and it has been a decade since the majority of Americans have felt the country is heading in the right direction. I did find it amusing that one poll found that 29percent think the economy will get better, while 29 percent think it will get worse… anyone got a coin? Another poll found that 21 percent of Americans believe that their home value is increasing, while 18 percent believe it is decreasing.
Bethany McLean, author of “All The Devils Are Here,” spoke to us about the financial collapse and her inside look at the players involved. Her research into this subject matter was very intense and she had amazing things to share with us. I highly recommend you read her book. She did leave us with a glimmer of hope after she shared so much negative information, when she told us that bad business tends to get the spotlight and press, but that there is much more good business outweighing the bad. Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
We all remember the New York Times best seller, “Who Moved My Cheese.” Published in 1998, it’s a great book by Spencer Johnson about change in the workplace and in life. A couple days ago I popped into a Borders bookstore, I was drawn in by the 50 percent off signs, as this was one of many stores that was being shut down as part of their bankruptcy. The irony wasn’t lost on me when one of the first books I saw had a cartoon image of a rather large cat on a lazy boy with the title above it, “Who Moved My Mouse!”
We see it all around us, Borders is just one example of a company that didn’t see the change coming as more and more consumers have switched their purchasing habits from actual books to ebooks. We are seeing similar transitions in our very own industry, the cheese has definitely moved, and the cat is trying to find that mouse searching for the cheese!
I’m in San Diego right now at a real estate conference and had the opportunity to listen to Troy Hazard tell the interesting story of the Asian financial crisis that impacted his business in the 1990s. His message was simple, as he asked us only to remember three simple words – “Change or Die.” Troy hit us over the head when he said, “Stop buying in to the dream that things are never going to change. Things ALWAYS change!”
Some key suggestions I took away were:
1. Take responsibility, the first step with most things in life!
2. Stop thinking you don’t have the time. We choose where, when and how we invest our time.
3. Eliminate all the things you can’t change or influence. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Continue reading »