Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy Ice Day!

I wanted to go to the Active Rain gathering in DC yesterday. I wanted to meet Jonathan and see Pat Kennedy again. Peg and I were really looking forward to the trip - I was going to drive to Columbia, pick her up, and then drive to Pat's home.

Berries in the SnowWe watched the weather most of the day. A couple inches of snow fell early in the day, and I kept the steps swept every hour since it's much easier than trying to shovel at the end. But the weather man/person/people were right on with the freezing rain they forecast for later in the day. Finally I called Pat in the afternoon to tell her I was definitely too chicken, too wimpy to drive over. We don't like to drive in "iffy" weather in daylight, so treacherous weather at night, well, forget it!

About 8:30 pm I couldn't wait and had to call Pat to see who showed up. Six people had made it through the weather. I heard lots of laughing in the background and was able to have a short chat with Jonathan. Much as I wanted to be there, I know we certainly made the right decision NOT going to DC last night.

And the fun didn't stop then. Around 9:30 this morning I went out to get the paper, slowly walked, slipped and skated down the driveway…and then got stuck. My neighbors across the street were calling, "Go back, not worth it," but I was so close, just another four or five feet to go. And then I got to the paper but – whoa! - I could not move forward to go back to house. One tiny step and I slid back, another tiny step and I slid even further. I called Lee, not sure why but maybe to throw me his cane, or throw me an extension cord, or at least someone would know when I fell. But then I started making progress. Got to the side of the driveway where there was ice on top of leaves and snow where I could dig one tennis shoe heel in. One slow, tiny step at a time, and was able to work my way up the driveway. Whew! Back safe and sound.

Iced Red Berries The moral: stay in the warm house, read the paper on line.

How icy was it? A few days ago in the snow the red berries were beautiful and perky. This morning, the branches touched the ground from the weight of the ice. Oh heck, Happy Ice Day...enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Try Seeing With 12-Year Old Eyes

Jimmy, Jerry, Lee, SonnyWe list and sell house all the time. For buyers and sellers it is a whole new experience. Just like today when we took 12 year old Sonny and his dad Jimmy for a new experience...a ride in the airplane. We have flown to Cambridge many times for breakfast and had wonderful meals at Kay's Restaurant. We have even made a Pitts stop. So what was different this time?

Cambridge Bridges

That's Ice Not SandWell, there was ice on the Chesapeake, and it looks pretty cool, pun intended, from the air. What looks like sandy beach is actually ice. And the Cambridge Bridge looks so different from the air. Hey, look at the second bridge. What gives? It does not meet! Then I found out that the one with the gap in the middle is the old bridge and they left it just for fishing. A much better choice than dumping tons of steel and concrete into the Bay or a landfill somewhere.

Sonny Helping ParkSonny's excitement was refreshing and exuberating. I looked at this trip through his eyes and through his exclamations. "Awesome!" "Cool!" "This is so much fun!" He had his camera and was snapping away. Have you ever seen a happier face? Sonny was excited and asked to sit in the back seat on the way back so he could get better photos with the wing out of the way. Back at the airport he was a big help pushing the plane backwards to park.Flying Happy

It's easy to forget that what is familiar to us is all new to others. When you are working with clients, try looking at their experience from their perspective, through their eyes.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Art, Friendships, Blogging - These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Marti GaraughtyIt has taken me two years to give my friend a gift, but finally Tatiana has joined Active Rain. And now our community has gained another talented artist. When you look at her work along with mARTi's, you'll see why I saw a connection between them and wanted this very talented and accomplished marketer to join.

Tatiana home with potteryA couple a years ago, I was drawn to mARTi's work, especially his violin. Besides being a talented ceramic artist, Tatiana is also a musician. She played the cello for many years and held chamber music concerts in her historic church/gallery/studio in Maryland. When she moved to New Mexico, she re-established her studio and has built her business with high-profile clients like Gump's. Isn't this one sexy website?

Book CoverWhat I love best about this is the connections. They grow like a tapestry, weaving lines between people who might otherwise never have met. I found Marti Garaughty because he was on Active Rain, and immediately liked his work. A couple of years later when I was ready for a book cover, I knew he was the one to create an extraordinary image. Marti worked with me and my publisher, Peg Silloway, to make the book everything I wanted.

Eloise GiftI met Tatiana through a friend in Baltimore who thought we would work well together, and thus began first a business relationship and then a personal friendship. We sold her church at auction but we've stayed close after her move to New Mexico. And then Eloise Gift's thread became part of our tapestry when she went into Tatiana's gallery and found a connection through Active Rain back to Baltimore.

Look at all this wonderful talent coming together in one virtual place. Connections like these are why being part of Active Rain is one of my favorite things!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

It Has to be Done 1-2-3!

I can hear it now…there she goes with the numbers again. I woke up this morning at 5:30 a.m. and I realized it was 1-2-3. Could not get it out of my head – who knows what sparks my Type E brain sometimes? But there it was: 1-2-3, and there won't be another one until December.

Lee and MargaretNumbers mean more than just a way to count or tell time. Remember 944? That's one of my special numbers. Even more special is 14,848, the number of days I've been married and living my own love story. What does 1-2-3 mean? Today's date, of course, but also do it now, get on with it, keep moving ahead.944

How many times today will you write 1-2-3? On a check, perhaps, or a sales contract, various addenda, or even at the top of an Active Rain blog. You can count on it (bad pun) – so use it as a reminder.

Now excuse me, I've got to get going – so make it a great 1-2-3!

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

30 Days Free, MP3, and Me

Fair warning – I'm bragging a bit here. Not long ago Kelly Kelley at iSucceed arranged for Bill Shue to interview me about the book, and today the session was broadcast live on the iSucceed site, under the "Hot Stuff in Real Estate" (woo hoo!) heading.

MP3 PlayerOn Monday the 19th, the program will be available as an MP3 file – look for it under the "Mentoring 2 Go" link. I've listened to tapes in the car for years, and I'm glad to know that iSucceed has this option now. The session will also be on the home page again Monday if you missed today's broadcast.

iSucceed has a good deal – a 30 day free trial so you can learn about all the great information available through this training and self-help coaching site. If you're not a member yet, sign up and try it for free (one of my favorite four-letter words!) If you are a member, I'd love to hear your feedback on the interview.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Don't You Dare Mess With My Chocolate!

Sad KidI'm not the only one who was shocked and dismayed at the recent news that top chocolate companies are taking the cocoa butter out of chocolate, and replacing it with…yuck....vegetable oil!

It's being driven by cost, of course, and Hershey is one of the candy makers that thought changing ingredients to reduce cost would be better than reducing the size or increasing the price of candy. Problem is, it's the cocoa butter that gives chocolate that smooth, melts-in-your-mouth taste and texture. Unless you are aware of the switch and read the ingredients, you might find yourself eating not chocolate but something that is "made with chocolate" or is "chocolate candy" or "chocolatey." And wondering why it doesn't taste as good as it used to.

Chocolate CandyFor now, at least, Hershey Kisses, peanut butter cups, and some other chocolate products have cocoa butter. But other candy now has palm, shea, sunflower, or safflower oil instead, and many people feel the taste has suffered. Of course, the candy makers are not advertising the change or labeling the candy to draw attention; you have to read the ingredients. (There's little difference in calories or fat content, but cocoa butter is actually healthier than the oils replacing it. Cocoa butter doesn't raise cholesterol levels, and it protects chocolate's antioxidant properties.) If the list doesn't include cocoa butter, it's not chocolate.

Tin of ChocolatesIn 2007 some industry groups tried lobbying the FDA to change the definition of chocolate to allow replacing cocoa butter. They ran into a firestorm of chocolate lovers who swamped the FDA with letters and effectively put an end to the industry end-run. Hooray for the power of the people!

What does this have to do with real estate? Whatever you are selling – whether chocolate or condos – people want the genuine article. They want to know that you are who you say you are, that you are being completely honest with them, and that they can rely on you to deliver what you promise. It can be tempting to cut corners when things get tight, but that's exactly when people need us to be open and professional. It never pays to try to fool someone into buying a sub-standard product. So I won't mess with my sellers and buyers, and I won't let anyone mess with my chocolate!