I recently read a new book by Marcus Buckingham entitled Love + Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life. Buckingham is one of the creators of the renowned StrengthsFinder assessment and a leading researcher on strengths and human performance.
I’m a business coach who often works with people seeking career changes and with entrepreneurs wanting to transform their businesses to regain the joy and passion they once had. In reading Love + Work I was struck by the author’s concept of “red threads.” These are activities that we love and that we are either mastering or have mastered. When we are engaged in them we disappear. We totally lose track of time. Red threads are our superpowers, and because they come so easily to us we often downplay their significance. But when we are performing red thread activities, we are in the flow.
This concept is fascinating to me, because, as Buckingham has found, if you are engaged in 20% red thread activities during your day, “you are far less likely to experience burnout…(and) if you have a chance to do something you love each and every day (even if you aren’t good at it yet), you are 3.6 times more likely to be highly resilient.”
It seems that finding love in what you do is the key to happiness at work.
Here are a few questions from Love + Work (p. 78) to answer to help you discover your own red threads:
“When was the last time…
- you lost track of time?
- you were singled out for praise?
- you found yourself actively looking forward to work?
- you came up with a new way of doing things?
- you wanted the activity to never end?”
From Love and Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life (hbr.org) by Marcus Buckingham. Harvard Business Review Press, 2022.
Once you’ve uncovered your red threads, see if you can incorporate them at work and at home. If there are no red threads at work, maybe it’s time to reassess your career.
One of my red threads is helping clients get to the essence of a situation or problem quickly. Another is helping people generate new, creative solutions in areas in which they’ve been stuck.
If you are ready for coaching, contact me. I’d love to have a conversation.Happy Summer
Many years ago I read about a woman who made a list of 40 things that she wanted to do one summer. I have no idea what they were, but the fact that she came up with 40 was very impressive to me.
Now that opportunities for travel, gatherings and socializing have opened up, it’s the perfect time to design the perfect summer.
This can be anything from making a list of places to visit (vacations, day trips, museums, restaurants and the like), to choosing friends to reconnect with, to taking on a special project such as beginning a Tai Chi or yoga practice, purging your closets and cabinets, or learning Italian.
You might also choose one or more words to represent themes you want to embody over the summer. Examples are: “celebration,” “fun,” “novelty,” and “adventure.”
If you are so inclined, take a few minutes and answer the following questions. Your answers just might inspire you to take new steps towards creating a spectacular summer!
List a theme for the summer:
List three new places to visit:
List five new experiences you want to have:
List three friends you want to reconnect with:
List three things to say “no” to:
I’d love to know what you’ve discovered! If you’re stuck, or if you’d like some coaching to help get you started, please contact me.
I’ll be picking flowers and tomatoes in the garden, eating fresh raspberries and peaches, checking out some of the markets in Santa Fe, and maybe even traveling again. Please contact me and let me know what you’re up to! I’d love to connect.
If you haven’t read Beyond the Sale for Real Estate Agents: How to Create a Great Business and a Life You Love now’s the time to pick up a copy and do the exercises. It’s a great project to work on this summer. It can change your business and your life.Here’s What I’ve Learned About Chatbots and Coaching
There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the chatbot, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that is akin to Google on steroids. You can ask the bot questions, and voilà, get robust answers within a minute or so.
The three most well-known bots are OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft’s BING, and Google’s BARD. ChatGPT is available now for free, with a faster Plus version that costs $20 per month. BING chats are free and are limited to five questions per session and 50 questions per day. BARD was just recently offered to the general public.
Issues with Bots
Much has been written about both the accuracy of the bot’s responses and the ethical issues involved. For example, in a front page New York Times article, tech columnist Kevin Roose had a two hour conversation with the BING bot in which it “tried to convince me that I was unhappy in my marriage, and that I should leave my wife and be with it instead.”
As quoted in The Verge, a tech news website, “BING chats are now limited…after the search engine was seen insulting users, lying to them, and emotionally manipulating people.”
There are a host of other issues raised by bots: Users can unknowingly plagiarize; a lot of the answers are rife with inaccuracies, mistakes and misinformation; and there are built-in biases that people discover as they go down the AI rabbit hole.
AI bots mimic sentient beings that have human consciousness. However, they are really just machines that rapidly gather, process and spew out information.
The Usefulness of Bots
AI is great for generating ideas and images, researching topics, and improving one’s writing, including changing the tone, proof reading, and making the piece more concise.
Some of the best uses of AI for business are creating copy for social media posts and blogs (in various voices such as professional and casual), editing and captioning YouTube and other videos, creating attention-getting email subject lines, and writing top ten lists.
On the home front, people have used AI to solve common household problems, to plan parties, to create weekly menus and shopping lists, and to write songs and poems for special occasions.
AI tools are also being developed for coaching and for therapy. These are in their infancy and will require a lot more research and development before they can replace professionally-trained, certified coaches and licensed therapists. On the other hand, bots will be cost-effective and more accessible to large numbers of people who cannot afford to hire professionals.
As an experiment, I recently signed up for two coaching sessions with a chatbot. During the first session the bot ended the conversation midway after I accidentally chose the wrong response. (Do you want to continue on this path or do something else?) It took about five minutes to get back on track, and then most of the remaining session consisted of the bot repeating my answers as questions:
Bot: What is the next step you could take to move in the right direction after this exercise?
Me: I have no idea. I am stuck.
Bot: It sounds like you’re feeling stuck right now, and that’s ok.
During the second session I brought the same issue to the bot and this time it responded with Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats Technique. But again, all the bot did was ask a question and then mirror back my responses. There was no time for me to think about the question and arrive at an answer before the bot moved on to the next question! I did come up with one tiny action step, but all in all, the session was a waste of time and definitely not great coaching.
During my next foray into AI, I asked the bot,“What are ten reasons that a professionally trained coach is better than a chatbot coach?” Here I got some great answers:
Personalization: A professionally trained coach can personalize their approach and tailor their coaching to meet the unique needs and goals of each individual client.
Emotionally Intelligent: A professional coach has the ability to recognize and respond appropriately to emotions that a chat bot may not be equipped to handle.
Insightful: A professional coach has the ability to ask insightful questions that help clients gain deeper insights into themselves and their challenges.
Experience: A professionally trained coach has years of experience working with clients and helping them achieve their goals.
Customized Support: Professional coaches can offer individualized support to their clients to help them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
Accountability: A professional coach can hold their clients accountable for their actions and help keep them on track towards their goals. (Note: A chatbot can also do this.)
Goal-Oriented: Professional coaches help clients set specific and measurable goals, and work with them to achieve those goals.
Trust: Professional coaches build trust and rapport with their clients, which helps them establish a stronger connection and achieve better results.
Communication Skills: A professional coach has strong communication skills which they use to establish an open and supportive environment for their clients.
Flexibility: Professional coaches are flexible and adaptable, and can adjust their coaching strategy based on the client’s progress and feedback. Chat bots usually have pre-set responses that may not be effective for every individual.
These are all great reasons to hire a professional coach!
Chatbots are here to stay. They can automate a lot of routine tasks. They can foster the creative process. Bots, however, will never replace humans, especially in professions that require personal connection, empathy and intuition, deft listening skills, and an understanding of context – all important in management, law, coaching, therapy, and other professions. Still, it’s useful to learn as much as possible about what AI can and cannot do, so you can use it to streamline your work, save time and effort, and generate better and more creative solutions in both your business and your life.
Is it time for a change? Do you want to try something new, but aren’t exactly sure what that is? Or are you ready to move to a new level of success?
If you’d like to work with a real human – a professionally trained master coach – give me a call. Let’s have a conversation and see if we are a good fit.28 Things to Do When You are Are Not Busy
That Will Help You Grow Your Business and Build Momentum for the Future
Get More Organized – Financially
- Move all 2022 tax-related files, check registers and statements, paid bills and other financial information to one place (such as a file drawer) to make room for 2023 files.
- Start a 2022 tax file for the various 1099’s and other tax documents that are about to arrive.
- Summarize your 2022 income and expense information by category to give to your accountant for tax preparation.
- Prepare 1099-NEC forms for subcontractors to whom you paid $600. or more in 2022 or give the information to your accountant so he/she can prepare the forms (due at the end of January).
- Pay fourth quarter 2022 estimated taxes that were due January 17th.
- Set up new files for 2023. Examples: receipts for cash expenditures, paid bills, auto expenses, etc.
- Purge old business and tax files. Check with your accountant to see how long you need to keep the information. Usually six years are sufficient. You can also Google “record retention” and find the IRS regulations.
Organize Your Office Space
- Take everything off your desk. Clean the desk and only put back the items that you actually use. Do the same with your cabinets, drawers and bookshelves.
- Purge your files, both paper and computer. Throw out, shred and/or delete!
Update Your Systems and Learn New Technology
- Review your CRM. Add recent clients, as well as attorneys, loan officers, home inspectors and other professionals. Update addresses, emails, phone numbers, birthday and anniversary dates, and anniversary dates of property closings.
- Look into changing to a new, better CRM, if appropriate, as well as other real estate-specific systems.
- Learn to use all of the technology and marketing assistance available at your company.
Get in Touch with Past Clients
- Review the CMAs that you’ve done in the past 24 months to see if there are listing opportunities. Contact all buyers and provide them with the most recent market information for their properties as well as a general market update. An in-person meeting is a great way to stay in touch and continue to provide value.
Create a Client and Customer Contact Program
- Make time each day to call or meet with former clients, customers and referral sources to generate business. Make five calls a day; send three texts; mail three handwritten notes or cards.
- Send handwritten notes or cards to buyers on the anniversaries of their property closings.
- Create a holiday contact program for emailings and greeting card mailings. These could include Valentine’s Day, Happy Spring, Happy Fourth of July, etc. Choose small gifts to be sent to your top referral sources on these holidays.
- Create a plan to send seasonal email reminders of home maintenance tasks to be performed monthly or quarterly.
Expand Your Sphere of Influence
- Research and sign up for a lifelong learning class on a subject you are interested in, such as art appreciation, financial planning, cooking, photography or negotiation skills. This is a great way to meet new people and to expand your sphere.
- Research local community groups and nonprofits. Decide on one(s) you want to support and look into joining the board of directors, if possible.
Research Professional Continuing Education Courses
- Look into getting (another) real estate designation from your local or state association of Realtors or the National Association of Realtors.
Update Your Marketing Materials
- Review and update all of your marketing materials, including your website, your postcard templates and your listing presentations. Rewrite your bio, if necessary, and get a new headshot if yours is more than a few years old. Update your bio and photo on your agency’s website as well as on LinkedIn, Instagram and elsewhere.
Expand Your Social Media Presence
- Create a 2023 social media content calendar for Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. Make sure to post community-related events and personal pieces in addition to postings about your listings, general market conditions and your rankings.
- Take an online course on social media marketing.
- Learn to create your own videos. Practice! Practice! Practice!
- Begin an exercise program.
- Learn to cook healthy meals.
- Book monthly massages.
- Get more sleep!
I hope you will choose a number of these things to do to grow your business during this slow (for some!) time in the market.
I have created a business plan template for 2023, based on the exercises in Beyond the Sale—for Real Estate Agents. Contact me if you would like a copy. The feedback has been great. It’s fun and easy to complete.
If it’s time for a change; if you want to try something new but aren’t exactly sure what that is; if you want a new perspective and support to make 2023 a big success, contact me. Together we can make 2023 your best year—ever! By the way, I’m not a “cookie cutter” coach. I’m a master coach, and I offer personalized coaching. Call or email me to see if we are a perfect fit.How to Create Business During the Holidays
Even Though You’d Rather Be Shopping, Eating, Drinking, or Relaxing.
Actually, You Can Do It All!
The holidays are fast approaching. For most real estate agents and other self-employed individuals, business slows down as people focus on preparing for the holidays or going on vacation.
This is a great time to create business for 2023. While most agents are in holiday mode, taking time off to go shopping and socialize, now is the perfect time to:
- Call/text/email or DM all of the people in your sphere of influence. Set aside an hour or two every morning, sit down with a cup of coffee, and contact everyone with whom you’ve done business, everyone who has referred you business, and everyone with whom you would like to do business.
The number of contacts can range from hundreds to thousands.
Leave a message saying, “Hello. This is ________ from _______. I’m calling to let you know I’m thinking of you and to wish you and your family Happy Holidays.”
Or, “Hello. This is ________ from _______. I’m calling to thank you for your business and to wish you and your family Happy Holidays.”
Make each call short and upbeat. It’s a reminder of your relationship with the people in your business life—not an opportunity to prospect.
- Send holiday cards (and perhaps small gifts such as chocolates, cookies, candles, or paperwhite or amaryllis growing kits) with personal, handwritten notes to people with whom you are working as well as past clients and customers.
- Send holiday gifts to your top clients and customers and to those who have referred business to you this year. Bottles of wine, flowers, custom gift baskets, and gift certificates/cards to fine dining restaurants are always appreciated. Stay away from branded gifts like pens, datebooks and calendars.
- Schedule holiday lunches or drinks with people in your sphere to thank them for their business.
- Plan a client appreciation party for top-referring clients.
- Stay in business mode while others in your office are in holiday mode. You may get clients whose agents are on vacation and receive calls from buyers who have more time to look at properties.
While there is less inventory this year, sellers who have listed their properties are more motivated, as are buyers. And listings look great when decorated for the holidays.
- Finally, schedule time off to enjoy the season. Have a midweek massage, go shopping first thing one morning (after you’ve made your holiday calls), have a special night out with your partner. You deserve to take care of yourself.
Yes, you can do it all! Just don’t neglect your business during the holiday season. It’s the best time to reconnect with and thank the people who have contributed to your success. And it’s the perfect time to set yourself up for a terrific 2023!
Make 2023 Your Best Year Yet. I have a limited number of coaching spots left for my program, “Make 2023 Your Best Year Yet.” It’s a series of two private one-hour coaching sessions over the next two months. Together we will create a detailed business plan based on what you actually love to do and what you are willing to do to grow your business and create a life you love in 2023.
This is not a “get up at 5 am and ‘crush it,’ one-size-fits-all” program. It’s personalized coaching with a master coach who has coached top-producing agents for over two decades.
Call or email me and we can discuss the details and see if this program is perfect for you.
JerriU@gmail.com (505) 988-5533
Get Ready for a Great 2023!
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!
Now that autumn is here, it’s back to business. The final quarter of the year is a great time for reflection and year-end planning. It’s the perfect time to review your business goals, to see how far you are from where you want to be, and to create a business and marketing plan for the rest of the year and into 2023.
Here are some questions to get you thinking and moving ahead:
- Looking back over the first nine months of the year, what have you done successfully to increase your business? (For example, cultivating new referral sources, partnering with someone else on listing presentations, working with more highly qualified and serious buyers, creating new marketing strategies, etc.)
- Which of these activities do you want to continue and/or expand upon?
- What have you thought of doing, but haven’t actually gotten around to doing yet? (For example, expanding your social media presence, updating your database, producing a monthly or quarterly newsletter, contacting past clients and customers, holding a client appreciation event, etc.)
- Which of these activities do you want to undertake in the next few months?
- When will you do them?
- Thinking about the rest of the year and into 2023, what are three ways you can expand your sphere of influence? (E.g., by taking a cooking course or language lessons; by joining the board of a non-profit; by calling past clients and customers and asking for referrals, etc.)
- What are three ways you can stay in touch with your past clients and customers? (For example, leaving voice mails or sending texts saying “Hi. I was just thinking about you and wanted to say hello…” Or “I was just walking by your condo and noticed your beautiful garden.” Other ideas for staying in touch: Getting caught up on client gifts, sending note cards on the anniversary of their closing, or stopping by with a bottle of wine.)
- How will you build time into your schedule so this actually happens?
Something as simple as making calls to five past clients once a week, or taking a client or referral partner to lunch every other Thursday can produce powerful results.
My coaching tip: Take action now—in October—to get ready for a great 2023.
I’d love feedback with any insights and results you’d like to share. Feel free to give me a call at (505) 988-5533 if you’d like more personalized support and coaching.So, we didn’t win Mega Millions
If you’re like me, you probably don’t play the lottery regularly. But when the Mega Millions jackpot reached over 1.34 BILLION dollars last week, you might have jumped in with about 14,391,740 others and bought a few tickets. I certainly did!
It was so much fun fantasizing about winning…..The trips I would take, the friends I would surprise with money, the charities I would support in a huge way, and so on. And I promised a trip to Paris for the clerk who sold me the tickets.
I’m guessing you did something similar. Did you dream about quitting your job and moving to Portugal or Bali? Did you fantasize about starting a non-profit to combat a social issue or a rare medical condition? Did you dream about paying off your debts and those of your college classmates?
Needless to say, I didn’t win. Nor, most likely, did you.
But I think our fantasies are valuable. They point us in the direction of what needs to change in our lives — of what we need to quit, of what we need to add — and of who and what are most important to us — the people and the projects that we hold most dearly.
That said, take a moment and think about what you would have done had you won even a few million dollars. And see if you can make those changes now, without the lottery winnings. That might mean reevaluating how you spend your time or your money, adding more fun and adventure to your life, or even changing your career.
You may not have won a billion dollars, but these new insights can be priceless.