I’m not going to say that I’ve “learned” them… but I have heard them and I try to apply them.

 

4 Levels of Competence

Skip Barber Racing School Hosts 'The Young Lea...
Skip Barber Racing School Hosts 'The Young Leaders Society' (Photo credit: Skip Barber Racing School)

Here is a lesson straight from Racing School that applies to EVERYTHING. We all operate in one of 4 levels of competence in just about everything we do.  See where you are…

Unconscious Incompetent“You don’t know what you don’t know.”  Most of us have progressed past this level in most of our pursuits.  At this level, we don’t know that we aren’t doing it right.  We can’t move past this until we figure out that we are wrong…

Conscious Incompetent“Trying to figure it out.”  Here, we know that we aren’t doing it right, but we don’t know the right way yet.  This is the stage where we are open to learning and/or getting a coach.

Conscious Competent“Head down, eye on the ball, follow through.”  I know a lot of golf folks that are here.  This is where we know the right way, and we can do it, but it requires thought and practice.  It is good… but not automatic.  Most good athletes are here… good, but not great.

Unconscious CompetentMuscle Memory takes over.”  Reflex.  Automatic.  This is the aspiration.  Fluid reaction with the right response.  Steering into the skid, almost before noticing the skid.  Threshold braking into a turn.  There are so many ways to describe this… but the bottom line is that it is the level of performance that we all aspire to reach.  The great athletes and performers are at this level.

 

Photo of 500 metres short track heat at the 20...
Photo of 500 metres short track heat at the 2004 World Cup in Saguenay. Apolo Ohno (USA) leads Thibaut Fauconnet (FRA), Mark McNee (AUS) and Sergei Prankevitch (RUS) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not a big sports guy… I like octane sports, but the traditional stick and ball games have never been that interesting to me.  But, as a kid I played baseball, basketball and ice hockey.  I also was a short track speed (roller) skater, sprinter and high jumper.  It is fair to say that I wasn’t really good… in fact, about the only one I was really any good at was speed skating.  I was pretty fast for 500M.  I did the rest… and learned a lot.  In fact, in short races (500M is a very short race on speed skates), I was WAY faster than my coach.  But I learned how to be faster from him all of the time.

Sports are a GREAT training ground for kids.  But it isn’t so much the “character building” that we all hear about from our parents as we struggle to get better at a given sport.  The reason it is such a great training ground is that it is an opportunity to learn how to be coached.

Back in the days when professional athletes didn’t make boatloads of money very quickly in their careers (or looking at sports where the money isn’t cubic, like many Olympic sports), it was quite common to see great athletes have great careers in business after leaving the sports arena.

I think that the reason for this is that they became great athletes because they learned how to be coached.  They also learned how to learn and practice when they didn’t know what to do.

 

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We have those times… it seems like even though we know there are a thousand things we can write about, NOTHING comes to mind.  We stare at the computer like the whole concept of writing something is completely foreign.  I know that I have been there.

Brain
Brain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But there are a few things you can do to get you through…

  • Keep a “Post Idea Notebook” at hand.  Write down those cool ideas as you get them.  They will be gone in a few minutes…
  • Along the same lines, leave yourself a voice mail with your idea.  This is a MUCH better solution while driving, and I get a lot of ideas while driving.
  • Subscribe to a variety of RSS feeds, both inside your industry and in general news.  Often, the items in the news will be of interest to your readers, but they might want it brought to their level, or translated to how it affects them.

We’ve all seen the list above.  I think that every post on blog ideas came from the same source.  But there are more things that you can do to fill that bank…

  1. Brainstorm.  Sit down with a piece of paper, a tablet, your phone… whatever… and write as many ideas as you can.  Don’t worry about the quality… just write them down.
  2. Build an “Idea Council”.  Put together, or join, a group of bloggers with different niches.  If you blog about real estate, find people that blog about ANYTHING else.  What they blog about is not important, and what you blog about shouldn’t be important to them.  In fact, it isn’t even important that they blog…  What is important is that they are creative and willing to speak up.  What you are going to do is listen to THEIR ideas about what they want to know about your blogging niche.

About an hour after this post goes live, I will be taking part in exactly that kind of group as part of Social Media Breakfast – Atlanta.  The topic for this month’s breakfast will be “Crowd-Sourcing Blog Topics” and we will be using a round-table format to help each person come up with topics for their own blogs.  We’ll see if we can kick out at least 5 actionable post ideas for each person…

BTW, Social Media Breakfast – Atlanta meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month in Cobb/Marietta and on the 4th Thursday in Gwinnett/Suwanee.  Check out our FaceBook page for details.

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We just got back from a week at Walt Disney World.  As a family, Disney is one of our favorite vacation destinations, each time delivering more than we expected.  And that isn’t easy…

Walt Disney World Resort
Image via Wikipedia

The tough part of exceeding a customer or client’s expectations is that the next time their expectations will be higher… and they will be looking for you to exceed those higher expectations.  In effect, you raise your own bar higher and higher until it becomes VERY difficult to jump over your newly raised bar.

One might think that after more than 10 years for my wife and I, 2 cruises and at least half a dozen trips to WDW, they would have a hard time going above and beyond what we expect.

But they seem to be continually looking for new ways to surprise us.

Do you do that for your clients?  Do you look for new technologies and new presentations to wow your clients?  What about new ways to showcase your listings?

One this most recent trip, we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Officially, since we were renting points from a Disney Vacation Club member, and so we were staying in the Villas.  As we drove up to the gate, they asked for ID (as they always do) and pulled out a pre-printed parking pass.  When my wife went into the lobby to finish the check-in process (which had been started online before we left on the trip… meaning most of the paperwork was already done), she was greeted at the door by name, and welcomed.  She was ushered to a comfortable chair and everything was ready for review.  In just a few minutes, we were unloading the van onto a cart to give to Bell Services.  Our room wasn’t ready yet (it was still only 10:30 in the morning), so Bell Services was going to store our luggage.  We hopped on a bus to the Magic Kingdom and began our day.

Wishes fireworks shows in the Magic Kingdom Wa...
Image via Wikipedia

At the end of the day, with two tired little boys in tow, we arrived back at the resort.  We told Bell Services we were ready to have our luggage sent up.  The Bellman said he was right behind us… and he almost beat us to the room.  My wife’s fear that we would have to wait for the luggage before being able to put the boys in bed were gone.

That isn’t the most magical portion of the stay there… but it shows the attention to detail that Disney gives their guests.  There were “towel creatures” in the room, super-fun activities for the kids and immaculate appointments all around, as well.

Disney actually has classes that they offer to businesses about how to do business the “Disney Way”.  Many large companies pay HUGE amounts of money to learn how Disney treats people.

As a contrast, there is a retail store nearby that is closing soon.  The chain isn’t going away, but the location is.  It is LONG overdue.  Walking through the store, it is evident that the staff and management gave up long ago.  The merchandise isn’t orderly.  The floors are dirty.  The aisles are blocked with poorly placed display.

English: Lobby of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodg...
Image via Wikipedia

When I go to that store (rarely), I have VERY low expectations, and I am still always disappointed.  At Disney, I have very HIGH expectations, and they always find a way to surpass them.

That doesn’t mean they are perfect… I think they need to hire me as a consultant to teach their PhotoPass Photographers some basic composition… but if they WERE perfect, there would be no room for growth.

Whether it is looking for better ways to showcase a client’s property, or looking for better solutions to help clients search for a new home, maybe WE need to grab a little Disney Magic to exceed our client’s expectations… every time.

 

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Kindle Fire: Out of the Box
Image by Brian Sawyer via Flickr

Did you get any cool new tech for Christmas?  I didn’t…  But, one family member got a new Kindle Fire.  I had the opportunity to play with it a bit and do the set-up.  But this isn’t a review.

 

It is a two part post.

Part I… I’d love to hear what sort of cool tech you got, and what you think of it so far. 

Part II… Let’s talk about getting to know that new tech so that it does more for you than just provide entertainment or hold down piles of paper on the desk.

Part I is easy…  Post up here or over on our FaceBook Page and we can talk about your cool toys productivity enhancement tools.

Part II is a little more complicated.  But, if we break it down a little more, we can make it manageable.

First, don’t go nuts.  I know a lot of folks that want to get every new device that comes down the pike.  It just isn’t feasible.  Aside from the fact that it is terribly expensive, you’d end up being too scattered.  By the time you approach comfort with a device, there are three more to get.  In the end, you have only succeeded in making the store in which you buy your technology quite happy. Don’t be too reluctant to get new technology, but don’t be too eager, either.  Instead, see if you have a valid business use, and then don’t move on to the next thing until the current thing is getting the attention it deserves.

 

English: A variety of laptops, smartphones, ta...
Image via Wikipedia

Next, spend a little time with the User’s Guide.  Most of the devices out there are easy enough for us to power up and start playing with in just a few minutes.  It’s entirely too easy to just dive in and forget that there is probably a LOT of hidden potential waiting to be unlocked.  A great example is that my 7 year old figured out that he could zoom on my tablet by double tapping.  I missed that while speeding through the User Guide.  If I took my own advice, I would have known that…

 

Third, Google is your friend.  It is hard to find an even semi-popular piece of technology that doesn’t have a bunch of user generated tips and tricks published somewhere.  Some of the tutorials and videos out there are almost as good as taking a class.  There are some serious nerds (using that term with loads of respect) that are VERY good at figuring out how to squeak the last bit of utility from a device.  And they love to share.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Maybe it is your tech-savvy friend, maybe your teenager or even a class.  Reaching out for help can be a really good option.  Instead of wasting 40 unpaid hours trying to figure out a piece of technology or letting a $500 device sit unused, spending $50 on a class might be WAY more efficient.

 

So… whad’ja get?

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I actually like writing this blog, but there are times when it is REALLY tough to come up with topics.  Not that there is a shortage of topics… new ones make themselves known every day.  No, the problem is time and having a topic at the top og my mind when I need to write one.

Posterous Logo
Image via Wikipedia

There are a couple of ways to deal with those issues… to begin with, using a tool like WP Editorial Calendar (If it weren’t free, I’d have an affiliate link… but you can find it through your Add New Plug-in Menu on your WordPress Control Panel.  Using the editorial calendar makes scheduling future posts a snap.  When I’m on top of my game, I have a few weeks of posts scheduled.  That also means that as I run across an idea for a post, I can write it and schedule it for the future… on MY schedule, instead of on the blog’s schedule.

Another way I have thought of to do this is a little more radical…

Posterous makes it REALLY easy to be an editor rather than a writer.  Instead of writing and researching to create blog posts, Posterous (through browser plug-ins) makes it a snap to share articles from the web.  After running across an appropriate article, just click the share button in the browser and write a few notes. Of course, you still have the ability to knock out a more traditional post, as well.

The logo of the blogging software WordPress.
Image via Wikipedia

While it is REALLY easy to do, maintaining a schedule like I do on all of my blogs is pretty tough.  This blog, for example, should be updated every 4 days… at 8:00am (when I am keeping up).  Posterous doesn’t have an editorial calendar built in, nor the ability (yet) to plug one in.

If you are wondering what that looks like, here is my CoolCaroftheDay.mobi site.  It is a companion site to CoolCaroftheDay.com (which is a WordPress based site).

The bottom line is that there are a few ways to keep the blog flowing…  And honestly, I’m seriously considering porting this blog over to Posterous and becoming more of an editor rather than an author.

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