Success equals Generosity

I’ve come to realize something cool lately.

I can afford to be a little generous here and there.

It’s interesting. I’ve always felt generous and had a real giving heart. But, in years past, I have never had anywhere near the means to actually be able to give freely. Every time I gave someone something I questioned why I was selling myself short. I shouldn’t give my expensive clothes to charity, I should sell them. I shouldn’t make a big donation when I’m struggling to buy groceries. You know the feeling. You want to give, but just can’t. What I’ve always ended up doing was giving my time instead of money. It worked great for years. Now that I’ve enjoyed some mediocre success, I’ve switched to simply being as generous as I’d like to be. Nothing crazy, but wow, it’s a great feeling to go  ahead and buy that dinner for everyone, pay for drinks, toss some money to the kids when they need it etc.

It’s become such a huge, enjoyable part of my life now I actually look for ways I can make a small impact. AND, when I’m putting in long hours of work or struggling with something, I not only have an excellent WHY, I have fun memories of times I’ve been able to put a smile on someone’s face.

For years, my agents, my family and my husband’s family have set examples of generosity in my life. I was shown how rewarding it can be. The more success everyone enjoyed, the more they gave away freely….and randomly. I got really good at receiving, for sure!!! I wasn’t so keen on it in the beginning because I struggled with my “pay it back” mindset. Now that the tables have turned every once in a while, I finally get it. I understand the reward is two-fold.

The giver gets just as much enjoyment out of giving as people get out of receiving.

How cool is that?

It’s definitely my hope that I can continue to enjoy a little success because it rewards me with the ability to share. If it’s short-lived, so be it. But my goodness, I sure am having fun.

GO. Give generously and randomly, I challenge YOU. Notice how awesome it feels? Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.


Serving the Newbies

As you know, real estate is a service industry, but who serves the servers?

I’ve been helping new and experienced agents in this business for 18 years as of last weekend. Yes, minor milestone there, yay me. My yearly work anniversary always falls right near Bosses Day.

It’s hilarious when my agents come into the office and wish me a happy bosses day. We both have a giggle because I see myself as more of a partner to them than an actual ‘you must do things this way’ boss. Sure, they recognize the leadership and sacrifice that also comes with that term, but it’s rare for any of us to feel I exert my power over them. This is what I’ve really come to appreciate about what I actually do.

I serve.

What do new agents need most when they launch their solopreneur real estate career? Training? Of course. Money? That, too. Patience? Absolutely. What I’ve really found is all of this takes care of itself with a bit of confidence. As someone that lives and breathes this business, it’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of onboarding a new agent. Get their business cards. Teach them how to market themselves. Show them how to roll through showings, listing appointments, contracts and on, and on, and on. But, when that is done, where do you go? How does one continue to prepare real estate

agents for successful careers? I feel it’s such a delicate balance between education, expectation and heavy inspiration. You see, you have to COMMIT to serving the newbies. Experienced agents will experience the level of success they decide to each year. They already know the ropes and your role becomes more of a friend, confidante and adviser. But until the new agents realize success, they need you. I’m not going to lie. It’s work. It’s witnessing the ugly cry, throw everything, headaches, eye rolls, anger, frustration, desperation, depression—24/7 work. They need your full time dedication to them.

It’s work I’ve committed to year after year after beautiful year.

The real estate market has been super hot for a couple of years now and I’ve heard from countless agents about how they want to run their own brokerage and take a position like mine. It all seems so glamorous, right? Glad you see me that way! What they don’t take into account is the level of commitment a broker makes to their agents. MUST make to their agents. If you want to enjoy a steady career as a managing broker or a broker owner, there has to be an overarching commitment to SERVICE.

If you’re new or new-ish and you’ve found yourself grasping to take hold of this career, please get a hold of me. There’s no need for your dreams to wash away because nobody had the dedication to help you achieve them.

Obligatory Back Scratching

I scratch your back and then you…wait…I should scratch yours again?

Okay, now. Time to…what, you want something else?

Grrr. green-monkeys-monkey-old-world-monkey-monkey-family-66865.jpeg

Listen up. I’m not under any obligation to give anyone, or promote anyone’s, business. If you’re amazing at what you do and you consistently deliver stellar service, you will be in my circle. Being in my circle means that I’m going to be your cheerleader. Whether you need a pick-me-up, someone to vouch for you or just an extra recommendation, I’ll be there. As a matter of fact, I will sing your praises whether you’ve asked me to or not. I recognize great service and I definitely know that it can make or break a business, so I’m always trying to give a shout-out to those that deserve it. I enjoy it so much, I’ll take the time to consider where to put my reviews so they’ll have the most impact and also take time to word it properly so everyone will know just how incredible the experience was.

Let’s deal with the ‘rest’ now. You know who you are. Because of some invisible obligation you’ve assumed, you expect to receive recommendations or my business basically for nothing. Lately, there’s even been several who have either been non-responsive to my questions, flat out rude, or just plain condescending. Guess what, see that first sentence in the paragraph above? I’m more than done.

Right now my mom would be saying, “Joanna, turn the other cheek.” Well, I’m all out of cheeks to turn.

Please remember, there’s lots of places I can choose to take my business and your bad behavior has removed you from my ‘circle’.

Hopefully, we’ll see everyone go back to a higher level of service soon. However, I’m afraid I’m currently seeing this disgusting trend get worse. Why? Why would anyone expect people to continue to do business with them after being a jerk? Entitled much? There’s a HIGH level of competition right now and many would be best served to take a look at that competition and learn to do better.

Let’s work together and build our businesses up

Where are your Manners?

Good gravy, have our manners all but disappeared under the force of the almighty dollar?2017-11-08_1439

There is so much greed in this world and I can’t help but notice it more and more these days. Friends, I use the term loosely, will easily turn on you just to make another buck. Some companies are making more than ever, but they’re squirreling it away instead of using it to better their service to the consumer. Regular, everyday people don’t respond to anything or anyone unless it’s going to make them money. There’s no more true conversations about making the world better or bettering ourselves, they’re more about what someone can get from you. I’ll have coffee with you, but only if it doesn’t cost me anything and I’m going to make money from it in the long run. It’s really disappointing.

Let’s use a cell phone provider as an example. Remember the good old days when your loyalty meant that you’d get a ‘deal’ on a new phone every couple of years? Not anymore. The only time you get to win with them is when you leave one company to sign up with another one. Cell phone providers aren’t the exception, they’re the NORM. The longer the loyalty, the more we know we can gauge them for more because we’ve now grown into addiction.

It’s hard to believe the greed has gone this far. It’s always been there, but for everyone to suddenly start skirting their morals and values just to add to their piles of cash, takes this trend to another level.

Well, in the words of the incredibly hilarious Heather Land, “I ain’t doin it.” You can count me out. I’m going to stick to my values, with being a true friend and trying to make the world a better place. If that doesn’t make me rich, so be it.

Compliment Much?

I’ve been on the receiving end of an overly noticeable amount of compliments this week. Several people have expressed their gratitude for my attention and overall work ethic and I’m left feeling amazed.

It’s always bit embarrassing to sit and receive compliments and it’s also incredibly difficult to keep from saying things like “I’m really not that great.” It’s so important to the compliment-giver for you to receive and be grateful. I always liken it to gift giving. I love, love, love giving gifts and having people be pleased. So, when someone compliments you, be pleased and visibly enjoy it.

Having a week like this is always a good reminder to me to hand out real compliments where they are due. Don’t just sit and bask in the glory. (Well, you CAN go ahead and enjoy it for a little bit.) Then, turn the tables and look for reasons to compliment others. Reach down, lift them up. It will give you more joy than the glory you just finished basking in.

Compliments are free, give generously.

Goals and Accountability


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In meeting with my agents, many of them set goals with me for the coming year. We always discuss the goal, the why and the how. Then, it’s up to me and them to follow up to create accountability.

There’s something that has to be crystal clear before you enter into a situation like this with someone you’re coaching…Whose Goal Is It?

If it’s my goal for them, it just doesn’t hold as much weight. They have to set it themselves. Over the years, as I’ve held some accountable, there’s been grouchiness associated with my expectation of them. These are the times where they need to be reminded of their why and their how. If you’re a coach and you have their goals in their handwriting, it’s even more powerful.

Not everyone likes to be coached or even likes a particular, painful coaching method. Some enjoy many successful years without ever setting a goal. In real estate, leaders have to know when to push and when to let it go. However, if a leader has been asked to be an accountability partner and has agreed to it, the number one priority is to keep their word. Even when you’re struck with hurtful things like them thinking you don’t care about their personal success. Be consistent and be authentic. If you can’t enhance the goal, send them to another coach. You’re not going to do anyone any favors, or do any good for your culture if you promise to hold someone accountable and then slack off yourself.

No, it’s not YOUR goal, but it’s YOUR culture and YOUR future.

Real Estate Isn’t Uber


I’ve said this line more than I should have needed to over the last few weeks.

Yes, the real estate market has been great for the last couple of years. Lots of agents hitting goals, humble bragging on social media, taking luxurious (well-deserved) vacations and enjoying the fruits of their labor. It’s easy to see this and think, ‘hey, I’m going to jump into real estate and make a few quick bucks on the side’.

Unfortunately, I keep hearing this over and over again, but, I’m sorry, you’re not going to work for me. We’ll talk, I’ll tell you what it takes. I won’t sugar coat it. And, when you tell me you aren’t planning to make it a full-time career soon or in the future, I’ll wish you well and we will part ways after I make myself crystal clear.

You see, real estate IS the career. It’s not the side gig. It’s not Uber. It’s handling the largest transaction in people’s lives. It’s emotional, it’s deep, it requires professional knowledge of the market and the process.

Let’s take real estate out of the picture for a second. It’s your anniversary and you’d love to take your spouse to the best restaurant in town. It’s the best restaurant, so you’re making reservations and counting on them to deliver an amazing experience. From the greeting at the door, to the meal and dessert, you’re sure that your money will be well-spent at this place. Your spouse will be totally impressed and you’ll have an enjoyable evening. Get the picture? So, you walk in and you’re greeted by a frazzled host that seems to have lost your reservation. They say, ‘sorry, the entire regular staff is out sick and they called in some temps to help out. I only use this computer system once a year, I’m sure your reservation is there and I’ll seat you as soon as I find it.’ Suddenly, that awesome night you were counting on turns into a nightmare. <—All this stress was just over a meal. Can you imagine that type of experience with an agent? Would you want someone who’s only dipped their toe into real estate assisting you with the largest transaction of your life?

The behind the scenes of those beautiful vacations and surpassed goals is much more than what everyone sees on the surface. Real estate is an all-consuming career that requires dedication and focus. You certainly cannot be working that 40 hour per week job and provide the level of customer service consumers have come to expect from their real estate professional. During those 40 hours, you’ll be missing calls, saying you can’t show at that time, hiring someone else to handle the inspections and so much more. You’ll have to lean on your co-workers and probably stress out the agent on the other end of the deal.

Are there agents that do this and get away with it? Sure, they’re everywhere. Now, I’m not saying an agent can’t have a couple of side gigs beyond their real estate career; a few hours here and there is totally manageable and sometimes even enhances your career. If that side gig is a position where you come in contact with lots of people and also get to talk about real estate, it’s a definite networking bonus. Many agents volunteer, or are on boards, are involved with the city or other groups, etc, etc. You see, these are side gigs. Uber is the side gig, real estate is the career, and I simply don’t have the time or the need to hire anyone that doesn’t understand or respect this.

I don’t have the need. You see, my company is different. We hire for professionalism. We hire for reputation. We hire to give the consumer the best experience. There is no number on my head that says I’ll be fired if I don’t hire xxx number of people. We simply don’t operate that way. It’s why I’ve stayed in my position with my company. We believe in the industry and we believe in the professionalism of it. I know the weight of a transaction and I respect it. I see first-hand how hard it is not only to earn the money for that beautiful vacation, but to actually let someone handle things while you take it.

There are companies that will accept and/or encourage those that want real estate as a part-time job. It’s simply not me.


My 16th Year in Real Estate

As my anniversary of the beginning of my career in real estate passes by quietly this month, I reflect on how I’ve grown in the past year. Sweet #16

There’s a lot to be said for stopping to assess yourself and take a look at what’s gone right and what hasn’t. This year, I’m happy to have learned more about my strengths as well as my weaknesses. I used to fear my weaknesses, but for some reason, I’ve been able to look at them this year and challenge them. Questions I’ve asked myself have been:

  1. What do you really love about your work?
  2. If you were an employer, why would you hire you?
  3. If you could overcome that one thing, what would happen?
  4. What kind of income are you looking for? Why?
  5. What habits make you have your best day?
  6. Is there something in your personality/mindset that needs adjustment?
  7. What do you love about yourself?
  8. Is there something you feel like you’re the BEST at doing?

After really digging deep and answering these, it was easy to find out several things that could really help me become a better version of myself. Now, I’ll admit, there’s still a long way to go and always will be. Continued assessment and improvement are necessary for anyone looking to grow.

I’ve happily decided there’s a lot of things I can let go of and really just forget about. For instance, being the most proper person in the room. This is a tough one for me. I’ve always tried to keep Miss Manners top of mind in every social situation. What I’ve found as I have allowed myself to slip a little bit, is that nobody cares. Hear me? Nobody Cares. If you decline the dessert or leave early. It just doesn’t matter as much as one would think. There is no longer a need for me to feel like I have to be absolutely perfect 100% of the time. And, if someone does take issue with that, are they a friend or foe? Do I really need to impress that person?

One of my newest, favorite discoveries is Audible. In my opinion, it’s worth every penny to be able to listen to books in the car. Now that I’m running two offices (Liberty and Lee’s Summit), I have a ton of time to listen to books in the car. It’s a great way to get through that stack of business books I’ve been wanting to read for inspiration, but haven’t gotten around to.

Another great thing is realizing that being authentic or genuine is now more widely accepted and appreciated than “fake” ever was. I truly love being a broker to some of the most professional, knowledgeable agents in the area. It’s okay for me to love my people and tell them regularly. It’s what makes me…me.


Toe deep in the lawn seed biz

Ahh, Oregon. The land where the mountains meet the sea, hazelnuts can be seen for miles, and everything grows abundantly, including grass seed.

How could I possibly learn more after last year? Wasn’t it all just a repeat of the same facts? I can tell you, I was worried about being bored with the information this trip. I was so glad I jumped at the opportunity to help Josh represent Williams Lawn Seed, because, once again, I was blown away.

After a slight error in judgement at the rental car counter (who knew a Mazda 5 would be a minivan?), Josh and I were on our way to Corvallis, Oregon. We spent a few days there and got in a trip to the coast (Yaquina Head, Newport, Foulweather, South Beach), a visit with our son, and an incredible field day with Dr. Leah Brilman, a leader in seed research, and the team at PickSeed.

Dr. Leah showed us around her research farm. This was the first of many times on the trip where the phrase “genetic purity” came up. All the researchers in Oregon have chosen to strategically locate in areas where there’s less chance of pollination from other types of grasses. This helps ensure the data is true and helps the researchers guarantee genetic purity throughout.

Dr. Leah also showed us a plot of tall fescue where the endophytes actually repel geese at a certain height. This tall fescue is part of a worldwide initiative called Clear Sky, to be planted near airports. 20160621_130408Another research plot contained Bracco, which is a high nitrogen green manure that helps with nematode and weed suppression. What? Basically, it looks like a big weed with yellow flowers. It can grow in about 3 weeks then be tilled into the soil, where it will ‘clean’ the field. So, let’s take a sod farmer for example. He has a field where he’s been having trouble with weeds for a while. No matter how many chemicals he treats it with, the weeds just won’t clear away. Enter the new Bracco tilling. Plant the seeds, let them grow to the right height, till into the soil, cover with water and, presto, the field can be replanted and will/should be weed free.20160621_113110 It’s only a five week commitment altogether for the farmer, which makes this a very desirable new treatment. Plus, it’s totally green. Who doesn’t love that?

Last year, we took a look at the DIA (digital imaging analysis) machine used to study turf plots. This year, drones are being studied as a more efficient way to collect those digital images to be studied. The images are being examined against the current DIA, so it can be perfected for regular use at the farms and facilities. Researchers study 811,000 data points to compare turf. So, when the bag says “low maintenance or draught tolerant” you can rest assured that wasn’t haphazardly stamped on the bag.

Bioprime is also a new vitamin pack that’s being tested for turf. It’s a fine dust/mist that’s hydrostatically applied to seeds to help overall performance. I’m sure everyone has seen the coated seeds that have been out for a number of years. The difference between the two is basically size and weight. If you coat something, it becomes twice or three times the original size, which means you’re getting less actual seed in the bag for your money. Sure, it’s supposed to guarantee better performance, but at the end of the day, you’ll likely need two bags of seed to cover the area. Bioprime is able to offer much of the same benefit while giving the consumer more seed in the bag, since it only takes up .0016% of the space. Incredible!

As a side note, Corvallis is a beautiful city, home to the stately University of Oregon campus, a restaurant and entertainment area along the river and a magnificent park with a colorful rose garden and hiking/biking trails. I’m so glad we got to see it and I’m happy that Mary’s Peak beckoned us to come visit on Friday. What a view!

Wednesday took us to the TWCA (turfgrass water conservation alliance) conference at NexGen. Much like last year, so much important work is going into making turf more draught tolerant and resistant. Water, or the lack of it, is a huge topic on the west coast, especially in California. Most Californians have resorted to hardscaping their yards with rock instead of turf. What’s the big deal? Well, let’s consider how much cool air and oxygen is created from one city lawn. Rock hardscapes actually make the air hotter by 20+ degrees. If everyone in the world stopped having lawns and went to rock, we’d really be talking about global warming. So, the researchers at NexGen are putting their cultivars under a lot of draught stress and heat stress to test them. I know I wasn’t going to survive learning about it in that hot greenhouse for another minute, let alone weeks. Hopefully, the future will bring more green lawns to areas of north America under stress.

How do you limit how much water the plots of grass are getting out in the field? Check out this watering box. 20160622_125523Measure, box and pour. So simple, but genius at the same time. I always love being barefoot on NexGen’s lawn. So soft!20160622_122141

By this point, we were tired and hot, but worked in a visit with one of the smartest, most down to earth farmers in the valley. Not only did he take the time to show us around his research area, he insisted we visit his favorite spot to take a break by the river. Oh my. I’d never get any work done. This was so relaxing and enjoyable after a long day of learning, we could’ve stayed much, much longer, but it was time to move forward with more plans. 20160622_171002

Thursday morning was freezing cold and rainy, but I did manage to gather a few bits of info while my teeth were chattering. Finally, I experienced the weird Oregon weather everyone always talks about. One day we’re sweating in a field and the next we’re freezing in long sleeves like a Midwest October. I’m ever grateful to the gentleman that passed me his hooded sweatshirt.

Today’s research facility was Peak Plant Genetics. I found fascinating the differences in the way the researchers mark their plots and study them. For instance, look at the ‘yellow’ lines between these plots. It made them so easy to see and compare. Here the cultivars are in the ground instead of tubes in the greenhouse. They sort of looked like green spaceships all over the field to me. And, do you see those guys around the table? They’re testing a piece of sod for strength. How many psi does it take before it rips apart? Strength is of utmost importance for sod farmers, as you can imagine.

We talked again about genetic purity. These cultivars are being tested and studied in a makeshift room of cereal rye. Do you see the walls around the outer perimeter? That keeps the pollen from other grasses from contaminating the cultivars.20160623_105719 I laughed out loud at this quote from Peak’s Director of Research, Steve Johnson, about finding the best, strongest cultivars and breeding them, “We discriminate for a living out here.”

While at Peak, we got to hear about the Rose Bowl field from Will Schnell, the head groundskeeper. What an honor to be able to learn more about what it takes to manage a professional field where a few events take place each week. From commercials, to corporate events, to games, to concerts, this man’s job keeps him on his toes. The grass on the field now is provided by Mountain View Seed, one of our many friends in the biz.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Pure Seed where Crystal, Lucas and their crew are testing shade tolerance and salt tolerance, among many other things. They’re really making great strides with both and it was cool to compare some of last year’s subjects to this year. We also heard from one of their researchers that’s been working on growing grass in Dubai, a monumental task.

Friday, we made a stop to check on some wildflowers and then we were off to knock some bucket list items. First, we just had to hike/walk to the top of Mary’s Peak. We were totally unprepared for the 45 degree temp at 4000 feet, but we powered through anyway. We were so glad we took the time.

From there, we took the most winding and scenic mountain drive to the coast. Check out the covered bridge and river we discovered along the way.

Once we hit the coast, it was up a ways to see Seal Rock. Guess what? It was sunny and 80 degrees there. No jackets needed! Just beautiful! We continued to follow Hwy 101 south and stop at points of interest. We found some great beaches and lookouts and eventually found Cape Perpetua, home to Thor’s Well. (Actually it’s called several other things, but I read about it as Thor’s Well, so we’re going with it.)

Our exploring came to an end in Eugene, Oregon, where we got to visit with our son again and check out this interesting city. If you ever are in the area, you MUST spend some time at their Saturday market. The produce was unbelievable and the entertainment was varied and fun with lots of street performers doing what they do best.

Our brains were totally full and we were exhausted after about 70,000 steps for the week. Whew! Thanks for another enjoyable time, Oregon. I still heart you.



Millennials–Have We Been Wrong All Along?

I’ve done it. I’ve read every single article I could get my hands on about millennials. Frankly, I’m really tired of calling them millennials and putting them under a microscope. But, the truth is, we have to. They are a huge generation of young consumers that’s hit the world by storm. I’ve had the privilege to raise 2 of them and have hired a few of them as real estate agents in my office.

Today, I’d love to bend your ear and debunk some of the myths.

The first one, every millennial loves and embraces social media, is so false and it really was a major surprise to me. For the most part, the millennials I’ve encountered pay little, if any, attention to social media. Sure, they’ll flip through Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat every now and then, but they aren’t anywhere near as addicted as GenXers. They grew up with it and it may have been something fun they did as kids, but it seems to be like they’ve left it behind and are a bit bored with it now. They seem to value the connection, but it isn’t their whole world.

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