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For our opinions on the local real estate market and lots of helpful tips for real estate professionals, home buyers and sellers, please enjoy our blog.

5 Important Website Tips for REALTORS®

October 18, 2017

Picture this: You're browsing the internet, looking for information about dog kennels in your area. You click on a site and after 10 seconds of loading, loud music starts playing, a sign-up window pops up the size of your screen and a video of dogs barking begins in the background. You close the pop-up ad, turn your volume off and stop the video...only to have to navigate through three pages to find a contact number...

 

Sounds like a disaster, right? Although this is an extreme example, many of us are guilty of one or more of these website no-no's. Here are a few tips to ensure that your website is user-friendly and keeps visitors coming back:


1. Use pop-ups with caution. Avoid turning potential clients off by bombarding them with ads or audio and video within seconds of them opening your site. Let your website sell itself. If people like what they see, they will contact you or sign up for email alerts themselves. They should know exactly where to go – make it as easy as possible. After a few minutes, a little nudge might be helpful. Something like a sign up window that pops up in the corner is okay once someone has been on your site for a couple of minutes. Remember, it takes time for people to decide if they like what they see. Give visitors a few minutes before asking them to sign up for anything.

 

2. Make sure it's fast. The more information you have on your website, the greater the risk for slow-loading pages. According to one report, if your page takes more than 5 seconds to load, visitors are likely to leave it. Remember that high resolution images and videos will take longer to load – ensure that your website can handle it. We generally have short attention spans when it comes to browsing the internet – make sure your site is fast and easy to navigate. If you have videos on your home page, make them short and sweet, allowing visitors to click through to watch more.

 

3. Have quality content. Your website should have a regularly-updated blog. A blog not only offers visitors valuable information - it positions you as a knowledgeable leader in your field. Think about who your target audience is – your content should be relevant and timely, catering to their interests. If you're able to create a dialogue through your articles – you're doing it right. Posting unique content also ranks your site higher in Google searches and when people share your content, you increase your reach and increase traffic to your site. Other types of useful content: white papers, step-by-step guides, how-to videos and links to helpful resources.

 

4. Provide lots of information. People are visiting your site because they are looking for something. There will be first-time homebuyers and sellers looking to educate themselves. The more information you provide, the more valuable your website becomes. Apart from your blog, a FAQ page or a page specifically for newbies might be helpful. As a REALTOR®, you might take for granted that many of your clients know what industry terms mean, but it's important to remember that many do not. Having an encyclopedia of terms as well as a 'Real Estate 101' type page can help your visitors feel more confident about contacting you. The more they know, the more comfortable they will feel about moving forward.
 

5. Make it attractive. Your website should be sleek and easy to navigate. Use an appropriate colour scheme and keep things simple – avoiding ads at all costs. Content should be easy to find and the most important information should be found right on your home page. Remember that many people will be visiting on their phones or tablets – so being mobile-friendly is a must! Over 90 per cent of people search for their real estate needs online, make sure they like what they see.

 

Your website is a representation of you. Take the time to make it as beautiful and functional as possible -without overwhelming your visitors!

 

How to Meditate at Work

October 10, 2017

It’s easy to discount meditation full stop, let alone in an office. You can complain that you haven’t any time to go to the bathroom, let alone find time to meditate. You can argue that you couldn’t possibly pause all the chaotically running thoughts in your mind for that long. But meditation isn’t always the stereotypical pose most people have in their heads with someone sitting cross-legged, humming “omm” out loud. Meditation is about thinking quietly, not clearing your mind altogether. And with this article you’ll see you can do it anywhere in the office

 

Focus on the little things you do every day between tasks: walking to your next meeting, going to the bathroom, copying or faxing documents. These are all places where you can spend time thinking quietly and meditate, which can easily improve your productivity levels at work.

 

Meditation can be as easy as drinking water. First off, you need to be drinking a lot of water every day anyways. It’s not just enough that you need it to live, but the correct amount lets you live optimally. But as a form of meditation, water, as an Earth element, can help you feel calmer as it replenishes and cleanses you. As you take a sip of your water, recognise that you are so fortunate to have clean drinking water at your disposal that is helping to nourish and care for your body. Stopping for a moment to show gratitude for the gift of health is a great form of meditation.

 

Bathrooms are the perfect meditation oasis. Imagine yourself in a very tense or very boring meeting (perhaps even both). All you want to do is get away. Chances are, you’ve thought about going to the bathroom, perhaps you might have even faked needing to go to the bathroom just to go away for a couple of minutes. That in and of itself is meditation. Taking 5 minutes to disappear to a different environment to cleanse your mind, to think only about washing your hands, is a great way to restart your brain and give you the strength to get back in that meeting and succeed.

 

Adding nature to your office can help ground you. Plants, another Earth element, let us immerse ourselves entirely when in its presence. Bring in a potted plant, a beta fish or even a rock garden if you really want low maintenance at work. Your day can be lightened so much just by picking up a rock every day or watering your plants and taking 30 seconds to just feel gratitude toward the beautiful things you have in your life.

 

Slowly, but surely, all the hogwash you might have thought about meditation will come to make sense. When you allow yourself to feel happy even in the most frustrating of moments, you keep the window of success open for your future. So enjoy that minute you give yourself every day to think about your talents and your gratitude, and kick butt!

Taking a Course? Remember these Study Tips

October 4, 2017

 

In the world of real estate, there’s always opportunities to develop skills, gain experience, and get new certifications. Learning is a big part of the job. This means classes, reading material, and often times, exams. If the idea of taking a test stresses you out, here are some study tips to help you succeed:

 

Spaced Repetition
We all know cramming doesn’t work. What especially doesn’t work is trying to learn a large amount of information in one sitting. Break up your study material into small chunks (half an hour, for example) and review them consistently over a long period of time. The more you review, the more it will stay inside your brain. This can also mean that you don’t have to study one topic all day long. If something gets too hard or confusing, just switch it up with another small chunk so that you can better process it.

 

Stories and Mnemonic Devices
Creating a narrative or a story of the information you collect is one of the best ways to remember the information. You’re creating connections that help your brain remember the information better, even if the story doesn’t make sense. That’s also why mnemonic devices work, for example MVEMJSNP – My (Mercury) Very (Venus) Energetic (Earth) Mother (Mars) Just (Jupiter) Served (Saturn) Us (Uranus) Nine (Neptune) Pizzas (Pluto) can help you remember the order of the planets in our solar system.

 

Change Your Environment

Have you ever found a good study space, only to realise that after a while you’re not obtaining as much information as possible? It’s not you, it’s the space! Your brain can get complacent with too much studying in one space so make sure that on a semi-regular basis you switch it up from coffee shops to libraries, to home, to other places you find that work for you. New places force us to create new associations in our brain which means there’s a higher chance of you creating stronger memories of the stuff you’re learning.

 

Exercise

Exercise helps you get stronger physically and mentally. The endorphins you get and the energy you put into your workouts will help you focus and concentrate better (sometimes better than a coffee).

 

Study Music

Some people prefer to study in silence – not everyone can improve their concentration listening to voices or songs while studying. But if you find that you’ve tried the above tips and they don’t work, try listening to some music. Some people

like top 40s, but most people show improved concentration when they listen to classical. So, you may not be a fan, but Mozart might help you study!

 

Get Off The Internet

It’s a plain truth that in today’s society we are constantly surrounded by distractions and most of them are internet-related. We think to ourselves, “it’s just one Facebook notification, that won’t take up more than a minute” and half an hour later you’ve gone through your entire Instagram and are somehow on YouTube. Do yourself a favour and get a self-control app or study where there is no internet connection.

 

Scents Make Sense

A lot of students get very stressed when studying and struggle to study because of the stress. Lighting a candle, having a diffuser in the room, or even having a bottle of essential oils handy can help you calm down and focus a lot more on studying. Lavender is a calming smell and will help clear your mind so only the important stuff goes in, and none of the stress.

 

Exams and new learning material can be daunting no matter how you spin it. Get yourself in the right mind frame and establish a productive work environment that works for you. It might not always be easy, but learning is always worth it!

6 Creative Ways to Network and Market Yourself as a REALTOR®

September 27, 2017

As a REALTOR®, it's important for you to get your name out there and talk to people. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out a way to do just that. Here are 6 simple, yet effective, ways to be active in your community and let people know who you are:

 

1. Plan a community event. If done properly, even a small-scale event can generate dozens of leads, position you as an active member (even leader) in the community, and get your name seen and heard far and wide. Planning a successful event takes time and resources – it's not for the faint of heart. Take a look at a current event calendar in your community – is there something you think is missing? Team up with your brokerage, or get together with family and friends to coordinate an event that your community will remember.

 

2. Sponsor a local team or event. It's easy to find sports teams, dance groups, charities, etc., that are looking for sponsorship. If there is a cause close to your heart, or a local sports team you are particularly fond of – consider becoming a sponsor. Before deciding on being involved, ensure you know what your sponsor package includes and what kind of exposure you can stand to gain. Sponsorship can help you get your name out there and support people in your community.

 

3. Join online discussions and groups. Join Facebook groups centered around your community or town. Even if these groups are not real estate related, stay active and join discussions. One second you may be talking about vintage cameras, football or local cafes – the next, the conversation can turn to real estate. Before you know it, you may get the opportunity to offer advice or share a story and let people know a little bit more about you. Be genuine, helpful and actively involved – you might be surprised who will private message you for help. Keep an eye out for new home buying/rental groups and ask around to see what groups your friends are members of.

 

4. Leave your business card everywhere. You already know that you should never leave home without a few business cards, but why not make it a goal to come back home with none? Do you have a cafe you frequent everyday? Ask to leave your business cards by the cash. Leave a card at the bank, at the gym, at the library – wherever! Many restaurants, bars and coffee shops have community boards that you can pin your card to. Better yet, create an attractive poster and hang it up at these places.

 

5. Host an information session. Host a free informational meetup at a local cafe or community center. You can keep it general and offer people the opportunity to ask questions – no strings attached, or have a specific theme. For example, host a 45 session for first time homebuyers or a Q & A for those interested in investment properties. Give advice, network, and have a good discussion over coffee. Give valuable advice without the hard sell – your generosity and expertise won't go unnoticed.

 

6. Publish an article. Write an interesting and informative article about your neighbourhood, local housing market, home renovations, whatever! Contact local newspapers and magazines to see what kind of pieces they are looking for. Is there a local blog that is respected in your community? Ask to be a guest writer. Writing is great for exposure and it positions you as a knowledgeable leader in the industry.

Last but not least - network, network, network. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing - ensure that people know who you are and what you do! Show people that you care and genuinely love your job.

Marketing to Millennials

September 20th, 2017

Marketing properties to millennials may appear daunting to those who have strong experience catering to other generations. Yet, at the end of the day, millennials are generally first-time homebuyers and should be treated as such. Here are some tips to better market yourself to millennials and first time homebuyers in general:

 

Set The Communication Tone – Right at the beginning of communicating with your new potential clients, ask them how they prefer to be contacted. Some millennials may still prefer phone calls, but others would prefer to exclusively text. Also mention which hours you will be checking your phone – you may say they can text you anytime, but you might not be ready to respond to a dozen texts at 2 am about a house they just found. Set the tone from the beginning and everything should be smooth sailing.

 

Millennials Are Smarter Than You Think – We’ve all heard the shtick that millennials spend absurd amounts of money on avocado toast and that they’re poor at money management. On the contrary, millennials are very careful with their money and as a result, are arguably the most informed consumer generation to face marketing professionals. If you want to grab their attention you will need to have a very well-designed website. Cater it to first-time homebuyers (which millennials will most likely be), include a list of frequently asked questions or use your website to host webinars that allow you to stream or even directly interact with your potential clients.

 

Be As Accessible As Possible – You’re well on your way if you have an established online presence using the tips above, but you want to make sure you provide all the necessary tools to clients who enjoy doing massive amounts of research before going ahead with the largest purchase they’ll make next to their education. Provide them links to apps that will help them house hunt such as Realtor.com (unless you have your own branded app), a mortgage calculator, a staging app, etc. To go the extra mile for your clients, buy the app for them if it comes with a cost – small gestures will go a long way. In addition, any documents that can be scanned and provided online in one forum such as Google Drive should be placed there. This can make interactions with millennials a lot faster, but also more comfortable for them as they have all the information they need in one place. If you want to create your own checklists or spreadsheets for them that create a personal touch to the home-buying process this will make you all the more appealing to millennial homebuyers.

 

Tailor Your Social Media Presence – Millennials will appreciate that you post your listings on your Facebook or Twitter, but chances are they already know that you are selling those properties. Rather, try to create a conversation with your clients through your social media by telling them about a couple that looked for the perfect house for a year and finally found the one they wanted. Show millennials information about the city and neighbourhoods that you are selling – where you would like to go running, cool coffee shops, or where the worst traffic is. Be as personal as you can to foster relationships with your target audience.

 

Stand Out – When millennials spend all their time researching, they will pick up on patterns very easily. They will see the same few shots of a house with certain descriptions. Get creative and take drone shots (or videos!) of the house and the surrounding neighbourhood. Make a virtual reality video or allow your clients to “test drive” a house using Airbnb or a similar app. Your attention to detail will make a lasting impact.

 

When it comes down to brass tacks, all first-time homebuyers want the same things: stability, safety and a solid financial investment. They need and will benefit greatly from your help, and hopefully this list will help adjust your toolkit to better cater to them.

 

8 Tips to Improve your Focus Today

September 13, 2017

With so many things vying for our attention at all hours of the day, it's easy to get a little...distracted.

 

Studies show that people have about an 8 second attention span (less than that of a goldfish!). This has shrunk due to digital connectedness; our brains are always seeking what's new, what's next. Focus (or lack thereof) is linked to our survival as a species; we need to be able to focus on what's important, generally, that means focusing on what's moving. This skill hasn't changed – it's just moved online now. Unfortunately for us, there is always something 'moving' so here are a few tips to get focused and stay focused:

 

1. Prepare your mind and body. About to do something that requires your undivided attention? Relax your mind and body; do a few stretches, clear your head, listen to enjoyable music or go for a brisk walk. This will help prepare your body for the focus you require.

 

2. Plan ahead. Consider what needs to get accomplished and ensure you can dedicate enough time and energy to each task. Developing a routine and assigning blocks of time for different work will help you understand where your attention needs to go.

 

3. Log out. Disconnect - get rid of the distractions you can control. Limit your distractions by logging out of email and social media and putting notifications on silent. When we're listening/looking out for new notifications or messages it interrupts our thought process and gives us an excuse to switch focus.

 

4. Break it up. We lose focus over time - taking a short break in the middle of a long task helps to re-engage your brain. Brief mental breaks are important to keep us focused, they allow us to detach and return with fresh eyes.

 

5. Do one thing at a time. Don't fall into the 'multi-tasking' trap. Your brain's reward circuit lights up when you multi-task (it feels good), but your IQ actually drops when you do multiple things at once. If you want to do something right, give it your full attention. Distraction becomes a habit, slow down and give yourself more than enough time to accomplish your tasks.

 

6. Do important tasks right away. People tend to focus better in the early morning. Start your day with the hardest or most creative tasks. It might be tempting to get the easy stuff out of the way first, but our energy drains and focus diminishes as the day goes on. Put the time in while you are energetic and sharp.

 

7. Grab that coffee. Caffeine is connected to cognition. It can't improve memory or learning but it does increase physiological arousal and makes you less likely to get distracted. So if you catch yourself daydreaming mid-day – consider grabbing a cup of joe.

 

8. Adjust your environment. Our environment plays a big role in how well we're able to focus. Think about the sounds, light, temperature, and visual distractions in your current environment – can you focus well here? Background music and ambient noise can be helpful but intrusive sounds can distract you.
 

Ensure your workspace is comfortable too, proper lighting and temperature is important. Researchers found that people are most productive when their workspace is between 20 – 25 degrees Celsius, with the 'magic' temperature being 21.6 degrees Celsius.

Use techniques and measures that help limit your distractions and keep you on track. Take breaks, reward yourself, and establish a productive environment. Remember that with practice, you can improve your focus – it's like a muscle, it can be trained!

9 Success Tips for New or Aspiring REALTORS®

September 6, 2017
 

Are you a new REALTOR®, or aspiring to be one? Entering the world of real estate can be equally exciting and intimidating. There is so much to consider! Success is not achieved by one single thing alone, it's a culmination of preparation, education, personal skills and a solid attitude. Think you have what it takes? Here are 9 tips to start you on your path to success:

 

1. Be financially prepared. A career in real estate has the potential to be very lucrative, but don't expect to be hitting the jackpot right away. Like with anything, success takes time and work. Leave financial stress out of the equation by starting your new career with savings or part-time work that you can depend on. Understand the costs of starting your new career path (signage, office fees, marketing expenses, etc.) and take into account that it could be a few months before the first glorious commission comes through.

 

2. Have realistic expectations. Don't let yourself get discouraged! Remember that it will take time for you to learn the ins and outs and gain experience. Be prepared for your only clients to be friends and family in the first little while. Treat them professionally - this is your time to gain experience and credibility.

 

3. Join a top-notch brokerage. Finding capable mentors and connecting with established REALTORS® will help you get the support and exposure you need. When choosing a brokerage, find out what training is offered, what their expenses are, and how accessible management is. There's a lot you'll learn on your own before joining a brokerage but the assistance and education you'll receive afterwards is priceless.

 

4. Develop a web presence. If you aren't online, where are you? Over 90 per cent of home buyers begin their search for a home online. Create a professional website and be active on your social media accounts. Put yourself out there - make sure you are easy to find and that you and your branding are recognizable.

 

5. Do the dirty work. It might be tempting to pick and choose what jobs you want right away, but it's more important to put the work in and gain experience. Turning down less desirable commissions is a luxury that will be earned with time.

 

6. Remember that everyone is a potential client. The average homeowner moves every 5 years. You'll meet people that don't need a REALTOR® right now, but they may need one soon. Remember people and ensure they remember you. Make the effort to check in with people, send holiday cards, attend events - do what you can to be present in your community and social groups. Networking is one of the most important jobs you'll have. Take every single opportunity to let people know who you are and what you do.

 

7. Treat past clients like current clients. Just because your clients signed on the dotted line - it doesn't mean your relationship with them is over. Maintaining a connection will ensure you're in their minds for their next move or when they have family and friends ready to make a change.
 

8. Be a 'one stop shop'. Have contacts for your clients on hand. Make connections with real estate lawyers, home inspectors, mortgage brokers, etc. Send your clients to the people you know and trust. This is an easy way to add value for your clients and ensure that these professionals keep you in mind, as well.

 

9. Educate yourself. Learn. Learn. Learn. The more you know, the more confident people will be in your abilities. Go above and beyond the basics. Study mortgage rates, mortgage qualifying tactics, learn about home renos, know the basics of how utilities work or have minor plumbing and electrical know-how. The more you know, the more valuable your services become.

 

Last but not least, be confident. Be confident in your abilities and take pride in yourself. Show people that you appreciate their business and that you love what you do! Real estate might not always be easy, but with the right attitude and work ethic, it can be an extremely satisfying and profitable career.

 

Why your Attitude is Important for Success

August 30, 2017
What do you think is more important for success – a positive attitude, or a high IQ? Are naturally gifted people more likely to find success than their less talented counterparts?

 

According to new research, your attitude is actually a better predictor of success than your IQ. If you don't have an aptitude for something, get the right attitude:

 

There are two types of core attitudes, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

 

The fixed mindset: The belief that you are who you are – you can not change. Problems arise when you're challenged; anything that feels like more than you can handle makes you feel overwhelmed.

 

The growth mindset: The belief that you can improve with effort - you embrace challenges and treat them as opportunities. Those with a growth mindset outperform those with a fixed one, even if they have a lower IQ.

 

With a fixed mindset you avoid challenges, give up easily, and see your efforts as fruitless; you have a hard time accepting negative feedback, even if it's constructive. With a growth mindset you have a desire to learn, you tend to embrace challenges, persist during setbacks and feel that effort leads to mastery.

 

Although ability inspires confidence, it only seems to last while the going is easy. The deciding factor for success is how you handle setbacks and challenges. Success in life is all about how you deal with failure. Failure is information – if something doesn't work, problem solve and try something different.

 

Regardless of which mindset you identify with most, you can make changes and develop. Fine-tune your mindset and help make it as growth oriented as possible with these tips:

 

Be passionate. Pursue your passions relentlessly. There will always be people more naturally talented than you, but you can make up for it with passion. Decide on what you are most passionate about and pursue it with conviction.

 

Don't succumb to helplessness. We will all have moments where we feel helpless, what matters is how we react to this feeling. Some of the most successful people on the planet would have never made it if they had succumbed to the feeling of helplessness. People like Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, and Steven Spielberg wouldn't have found success if they hadn't overcome huge obstacles in the beginning of their careers. They didn't succumb to rejection and were able to maintain hope. It was their growth mindset that allowed them to see their failures as opportunities.

 

Start doing. The only way to overcome fears is to take action. There's never a truly perfect moment to move forward, so why wait? Turn your worry and concern about failure into positive focused energy by going for it.

Go the extra mile. Give it your all, even on the bad days. Strive for growth and improvement and push yourself a little more every day. Make it a point to be challenged on a regular basis, don't let things get too easy. Do better, be better.

 

Feel like you are stuck with a fixed mindset? Challenge yourself to see things differently, you may surprise yourself!

8 Tips for Writing Effective Workplace Emails

August 23, 2017

Writing effective work emails seems like a no-brainer, right? It's something we do every day – we could probably do it with our eyes closed.

 

The problem is, though, that when we're used to doing a task all the time - it can be easy for us to develop bad habits. Communicating effectively is crucial for productivity and it's usually a skill that we never stop improving on. Fine tune your email writing skills with these reminders:

 

1. Have a good subject line. Your subject line should grab attention, be specific, and summarize the main idea of your email. Avoid capitalizing entire words or using exclamation marks – these can come off as aggressive or 'spam-like'.

 

2. Be clear. Collect and organize your thoughts before drafting an email – keep your message clear and brief. Avoid ambiguity -use language that is easy to understand with proper sentence structure, spelling and grammar. Reading and writing unclear, misleading, or ineffective emails wastes time and hinders productivity.

 

3. Keep it structured. Make it easy on your recipients – always use formal salutations, state the purpose of your email, and provide context. Use paragraphs to group related points and separate differing ones. It's much easier to understand an email when the message is logically presented.

 

4. Keep it to the point. The length of your email is important, too. Keep things short and sweet – most people aren't overly interested in reading lengthy and tedious emails. If you want your reader to retain what you send, don't overwhelm them with unnecessary details or irrelevant information.

 

5. Be mindful of your tone. Emails should be fairly formal – be polite, choose your words carefully and use proper punctuation. Your emails are a reflection of your professionalism. Whether it's a client, or a coworker - keep things as professional as possible. Remember that writing has it's downfalls, too. It's not always easy for someone to interpret your tone. Without gestures, body language, and facial expressions– readers may easily misconstrue your words.

 

6. Don't hit 'Reply All'. Consider email etiquette – don't over-email and don't CC people who aren't pertinent to the discussion; you don't want to be bombarding people with irrelevant emails. Be respectful of people's time – if you want people to prioritize reading/responding to your messages, make your emails count.

 

7. Respond as quickly as you can. Acknowledging that you've read an email shows professionalism. Even if you aren't able to respond in full right away, send a quick reply letting the sender know you'll get back to them shortly.

 

8. Use it sparingly. Email is convenient, but it's not necessarily the best means of communication for every situation. Before you draft an email, ask yourself it it's necessary, or if a phone call, text, or face-to-

face discussion would do. A face-to-face conversation, or private phone call, is recommended in instances where you need to share private or sensitive information. Never assume privacy – be mindful of what information you share in your correspondences.

 

Last but not least, write your work emails as if you were sharing them on a public forum. Present yourself in the best light possible – always be respectful, professional, and tactful.

Discovering your Strengths: Questions to ask yourself

August 16,2017
What are you really, really good at? Often, it is much easier for us to point out our weaknesses than it is to identify our strengths. As a REALTOR®, you have a great deal of skills that you utilize on a daily basis, but what sets you apart from the rest? Ask yourself the following questions to better identify the unique strengths and skills that make you amazing at what you do:

 

What skills have helped you thrive? Think about the obstacles you’ve faced throughout your life – how did you get over them? With all the situations that have challenged you in the past, is there a common thread amongst them? It’s the tough moments that help us to identify the source of our strengths.

What makes you feel strong? When you feel overwhelmed, what makes you feel in control? Think about the moments when you feel strong, invigorated, and successful. These moments will give you clues about your strengths. As you identify and focus on what makes you feel strong, you can expect to be happier and become a better problem-solver in many circumstances.

 

What were you like as a child? When we’re kids we do what we love – and we’re not ashamed of it. Thinking about your childhood can give you insights into your passions and talents. What did you spend your time on? What was your favorite subject in school? Many people know from the get-go what their passions are, while for some it can take a while to recognize. Think about what interested you as a child; were you always building with Legos or writing stories, maybe you were constantly dreaming up inventions? Your childhood-interests, (especially if they’re still your interests) can give you clues about where your skills and passions lie. There’s a big part of us that never really changes, be honest about your interests – they hold the key to your skills and passions.

 

What compliments do you receive most often? Is there something that you get complimented on regularly? Pay attention to compliments, especially the ones that you dismiss because it’s for something that you do so naturally. Don’t assume that just because something comes easily to you or seems obvious, that it’s not rare and valuable to others. The skills that come naturally are often the most valuable.

 

It can be hard for us to truly see ourselves. We often focus on our weaknesses and don’t take full advantage of our strengths. To recognize our strengths, we often need others to hold up a mirror. If you can, email a few close colleagues/friends and ask them to write a story about a time where they felt you were ‘at your best’. Through reading their responses, you will hopefully be able to identify a pattern and paint a better portrait of your strengths. Odds are that the stories will all be fairly similar in nature - you may be surprised about you read. Seeing your strengths through others’ eyes can be a game changer.

9 Expert Qualities that a Good REALTOR® Possesses

August 9, 2017

In the competitive and fast-paced world of real estate, it's important for REALTORS® to set themselves apart. It's not just a job that's centered around people; it's a job centered around life changing decisions and big purchases. Not everyone can do it – and the people that do do it, (and do it well) possess some key qualities. Here are 9 expert qualities that make for an amazing REALTOR®:

 

1. They're excellent communicators. Being a good communicator means being available, being responsive, and ensuring that everyone involved understands what is happening. A good REALTOR® updates clients on their situation and shares information that is relevant to them.

 

2. They're proactive. A good REALTOR® thinks ahead. They're calling potential buyers, searching for new leads and anticipating challenges before they become issues.

 

3. They listen. If a client is having trouble getting a word in edgewise – there's a problem. A good REALTOR® asks the right questions and ensures that their client's needs are understood and met.

 

4. They're client-motivated. If a client is happy, they are happy. A good REALTOR® puts their clients first and ensures they feel respected and appreciated. Every client should feel like it's all about them.

 

5. They adapt to their client's needs. Every client has a different time frame, different motivations and different communication preferences. A good REALTOR® recognizes that every client is unique and adapts to their specific needs.

 

6. They've got a sense of urgency. A good REALTOR® recognizes that timing is important. They're on the ball and ready to go when necessary. They ensure that clients know their time is valued.

 

7. They've got the right tools. A good REALTOR® is equipped with knowledge and has all the necessary tools to get the job done. They combine their local knowledge, vast experience, and personal networks to ensure clients get the most value from their partnership.

 

8. They're honest. A good REALTOR® is direct and understands the importance of being clear and straightforward. They realize that honesty and 'telling it like it is' gets them further than painting a pretty picture.

 

9. They're assertive. A good REALTOR® treats people with the utmost respect but is not afraid to speak up. They show confidence in their abilities and take pride in their work.
 

What qualities do you think a REALTOR® should possess? What is the number one thing you would look for in a REALTOR®?

6 Steps to Prioritize for Success

 

August 2, 2017
 

How do we prioritize when everything feels like a priority? Our work is important, and often times it can be hard to decide which tasks deserve our attention more than others. Here are a few steps to help you objectively look at your projects and decide on where to start:

 

Collect a list of all your tasks. Everything should be in one spot. It’s easier for us to wrap our minds around what we have to do when everything is right in front of us.
 

Decide which tasks are urgent. Does something need to be done today, or right now? What are the consequences if the task doesn’t get accomplished?
 

Assess the value of the tasks. What carries the highest value to you? What types of tasks will have priority? Are client projects more important than internal work? Value can be assessed in different ways. Think about how many people are involved and impacted by each of your projects. Who would be negatively affected if you don’t finish the project? What can you stand to do another time?
 

Decide how much effort the tasks will take, and what to take on first. Figure out how much time and energy each task will take. Productivity experts suggest taking on meatier projects first and getting them out of the way. Sometimes, though, we just aren’t in the headspace to take on the big stuff . Knocking a smaller task off our lists can be just the motivation we need to get to the complicated tasks. Decide what works best for you.
 

Be flexible, but don’t lose sight of what’s important. Things will come up throughout the day and our priorities may change. Keep your eye on the prize while checking in every once in a while to see if you need to switch focus. Just don’t get too caught up in checking emails and getting distracted by new tasks if they’re not urgent. The best way to get things accomplished is to exclusively focus on one task until it’s completed. Distractions will always arise but do your best to spend as much focused energy as you can, for as long as you can.
 

Know where to cut things off. You most likely can’t accomplish everything on your list right now. Focus on what you can and must do and ditch the rest. Keep a manageable to-do list in order to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and distracted.

 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we feel like there are countless tasks vying for our immediate attention. Follow these steps to analyze your work and decide what deserves your attention now.

6 Tips for Effective Communication

July 26th, 2017

It's a no-brainer that effective communication is important. Often times things get 'lost in translation' and what we think we're putting out there isn't always how things get picked up.
Ensure you are being a good communicator with these tips:

 

1. Know what you are talking about. When someone is looking to write a book, people will tell them 'Write what you know'. The same goes when we're speaking, especially in front of a group or during important meetings. Before you set out to speak, make sure you are knowledgeable. Show people why your communication is valuable and what they stand to gain from listening to you. Place high value in providing authentic and effective communication.

 

2. Be an amazing listener. Communication is a two-way street. If you want to know how to speak, you need to learn how to effectively listen. When you listen more than you speak you are able to engage, ask questions and understand what people are thinking. It's all about balance – make people feel like what they say matters.

 

3. Check your understanding. Don't fall into the habit of forming responses while people are talking. Ask questions to clarify things and make sure that people understand what the other person is saying. When you don't take the time to understand what people are saying, you will end up arguing and losing focus. Avoid miscommunications, misunderstandings, and assumptions. There's no harm in asking for clarification.

 

4. Pay attention to nonverbal cues. What people say is often not the most important form of communication. Keep an eye out for tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions. Nonverbal communication can speak louder than words. Things to look out for are: posture, hand movements, and eye contact. Watch out for your own nonverbal cues - it is easy for us to choose our words carefully, ensure that body language conveys the same message.

 

5. Don't overestimate your understanding. Do you think you can communicate more efficiently with the people you know, versus strangers? Yes, most of us feel that we can, too. Did you know, though, that whether we know someone or not, we communicate and understand at the same level? It's true. Studies show that strangers and people that know each other well communicate and understand in the same way. One study found that people actually failed to communicate properly with the ones they knew well; they overestimated their ability to communicate. With people we know well, we tend to presume things that we don't with strangers. We get lazy. Psychologists have a name for it: closeness-communication bias. To make sure we communicate properly, we need to remind ourselves that what we know is different from what others know. We need to be actively taking the perspective of the other person.

 

6. Speak to groups as individuals. Develop a level of intimacy in your approach that makes every person feel as if you're speaking directly to him or her. Be emotionally genuine and exude the same feelings, energy, and attention you would one-on-one.

Great communication is the cornerstone of great leadership. Creating a connection that is real, emotional, and personal. It requires an understanding of people and an ability to speak directly to their needs. Do you believe that you're a good communicator? How do you think you could improve?

 

5 Ways to become a Better Motivator

July 19th, 2017

Working in real estate often means we take on the role of mentor, leader, partner or teacher. These roles often require us to not only keep ourselves motivated, but to be a positive force and pass on the motivation to others.  Here are five simple things you can change in your behaviour that will help you lead and inspire with ease:

 

1.    Have a Role Model
Sometimes it’s best to draw inspiration from your own mentors. Look to whom or what motivates you and think, what is it specifically that motivates me? Is it their successes? Is it how they go about their plans? The more we engage with role models or people who motivate us, the more likely their behaviour rubs off on us. 

2.    Set Clear Goals
Once you’ve found a role model, the next thing to do is to create achievable goals that always satisfy the “why”. If you can explain why this task is important and communicate that to others, you will easily bring together a cohesive team.

3.    Listen More, Speak Less
It’s a common misunderstanding that to be a good motivator you have to do all the talking and leading. But in order to make sure your team understands the goals and the whys behind the goals you need to listen to how they think. This way, your team feels like they have the opportunity to contribute as a direct result of your motivations!

4.    Recognize Accomplishments
It’s very easy to catch someone doing something wrong – but it’s far more important to catch someone on your team doing something right. Praising them will encourage them and motivate them to do more work. And while you don’t need to baby people and say, “everyone is a winner” – regular checking and mentioning the good with the bad will keep everyone on your team (including yourself) motivated to stay on task.

5.    Demonstrate You Are Reliable
You’ve listened to your team, you’ve praised them, but life can still become incredibly stressful. As the motivator you need to show your team that they can count on you to step up and go above and beyond to get things done. You are the glue to your team – remind them why they’re sticking together.

Figure out what motivates you and pass on the enthusiasm! Each of these steps is meant to be tailored to your own personality – some people like to demonstrate these skills very loudly, others prefer a quieter approach. Find what works for you and in time you will see how easy and empowering it is to be a great motivator!

The Importance of Breaks

July 12th, 2017

We’ve all been too busy or too stressed to take a break. “If I just push through, I’ll be done faster”, you think. But did you know that taking regular short breaks improves your health and productivity? Here are a few reasons why breaks are so important during your workday, and what you can do to make the most of them.

1.    A Break Works like a Refresh Button
If you push yourself too hard you run the risk of running on empty. Taking as little as a 5-10 minute break to flip through a magazine or talk to a friend will help your mind collect and reassemble all the information you were holding in your head before, so that when you return to your task, it will seem clearer. Think of a quick break like creative fuel – make sure you’ve always got gas in your tank!

2.    Physical Activity on a Break Soothes the Body and Soul
Getting up and going for a quick walk - even if it’s to get the mail - will help you both physically and mentally. We, as humans, aren’t meant to be sitting around all day.  Physical movement keeps us from getting restless and helps us burn a few extra calories throughout the day. And with the fresh blood pumping through your body you’ll be less likely to be mentally stagnant throughout as you work on your important tasks.

3.    Make Time for Tea!
The Brits may be up to something when they go on their tea rounds throughout the day. Taking time to brew a cup of tea forces you to slow down and relax. If your brew of choice is an herbal one, you’ll also be reaping the benefits of ingesting a bunch of antioxidants that will help improve your overall health. But if your tea is as strong as you are and needs to be caffeinated, you can rest assured that your diminished pace on your break won’t transfer into your work.

“But how long should we be taking breaks for?”, you may ask. There is no universally agreed upon interval or period for breaks. However, an increasingly popular method is the Pomodoro Method which allows you to work for 40 minutes followed by a 5 minute break for three rounds, upon which your fourth break is 15 minutes. You can set up a timer by yourself or download the app on your phone to make sure that you’re staying on track. 

Test out which ratio of work to break works best for you and try some of these tips so that you can be clearer of mind and healthier when you return to your busy schedule.

Productivity Techniques to help you do your best work

We all want to be more productive and do great work in a short period of time. We also know it's a lot easier said than done. Here are a few productivity techniques to help you out:


Organize, prioritize and delegate

  • Collect all your tasks on a to-do list. Simply use a piece of paper or download a organizational app on your phone. Apps are great because you can set up notifications and reminders.
  • Decide if every task is actionable and delegate any problems you can; put tasks in a hierarchical order.
  • Organize your list and add priorities and deadlines.
  • Decide which tasks are not currently actionable and put these on a separate list.
  • Review the whole list and decide what to do first.


Start with the hardest work
If you're a procrastinator, or like to set certain tasks aside, start with the big stuff. Get into the habit of doing the hardest, most unpleasant, or most daunting task as soon as you get to the office. Why? This way it is out of the way and since you've already done the hardest part, everything else in your day will seem that much easier.

Find consistency
Find one task that you'd like to get into the habit of doing and do it every single day without interruption for one month. Repetition will helps to create habits; make the task an unmissable part of your day. Associate the task with a particular part of the day and make a special calendar where you mark off every time you've completed the task. Make yourself accountable and before you know it, the task will become an automatic part of your day.

Try the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique helps you power through distractions and have hyper-focus on the task at hand – you get things done in short bursts while taking frequent breaks. The way it works is you do focused work in 25 minute chunks while taking 5-10 minute breaks in between. The breaks help you to relax and regain focus and the short work periods allow you to stay 100% focused. If you're trying to produce it's a great way to get through your tasks.

Quick Productivity Tips
Want to be more productive? Focus on keeping your work organized and having your mind rested.

  • Get enough sleep – If you aren't getting enough sleep, how can you expect your brain to work well? Having a good sleep works wonders on your ability to produce.
  • Detach yourself from work – We hear about work/life balance all the time...it's an important factor that affects productivity. You should be able to forget about work during the weekends and just relax. This allows you to have fresh eyes on your tasks and improves creativity.
  • Minimize (unwanted) interruptions – it's okay to grab a cup of coffee once you've completed a task, but if you're in the middle of something, make sure there are no people (or phone notifications) disturbing you at work.
  • Avoid multi-tasking – Attempting to work on a few things at once might give you the impression that you are doing less work in more time - but realistically, the cost of switching between tasks is so big that you end up losing time and energy. If you're working on something, just finish it before moving on.

What do you do to get yourself motivated and increase productivity?

Conflict Resolution Techniques for Realtors

Real estate is a people business -we nurture and develop dozens of relationships on a daily basis. Knowing how to handle conflicts is just a part of the job. Here are 5 tips to remember when conflicts arise and tensions run high. Empower yourself and remember these steps:

 

1. Take a Moment

 

It can be tempting to make a split-second decision and act rashly in the middle of a heated argument. Usually our initial thoughts come from a place of defensiveness and our reactions can be disproportionate to the issue. Take a deep breath and calm yourself – think about what could be adding to your heightened emotions. Are you hungry, or tired? Is there something in your personal life that is stressing you out? Address your needs (if you can), then address the problem. Tip: quick stretches can help you relax and make you feel more comfortable.

 

2. Gain some Perspective

 

As difficult as it may be, try to view the conflict from a neutral place. Putting your own opinions aside, detach and objectively see the problem. Are you actually upset at the person? Maybe there is something else going on and they simply struck a nerve? Address the person you are actually having a conflict with. Identify the issue, ignoring petty things and delving straight for the deeper core issues. Choose your battles wisely and take responsibility for your own mistakes. If you've done something wrong, apologize. It won't be seen as a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength and integrity.

 

3. Show Empathy

 

The ability to show empathy is one of the most important conflict resolution (and overall communication) skills to have. When someone knows that you understand how they feel, they don't need to defend themselves and there are less heightened emotions involved. You do not have to agree with them, but you can show you understand their feelings. Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements reduces defensiveness. For example, “I felt uncomfortable with our phone call the other day,” rather than “You made me upset.”

 

4. Pay attention to your Behaviours

 

Be aware of your facial expressions, hand gestures and body language – you are sending a strong message whether you realize it or not - make sure it's the right one. Avoid behaviours that can escalate a situation, such as: criticism, showing contempt, defensiveness and stone-walling.

 

5. Work on Actual Resolution

 

Ask questions and gather information that will give you a clear understanding of the issues at hand. Look for a 'win-win' scenario and remember that a little bit of compromise can go a long way. Focus on what you are able to control. We have no control over the things that other people say or do, we can only control how we react to them. Empower yourself to resolve the conflict and if a resolution can't be achieved, empower yourself to change the boundaries or perhaps disassociate yourself from the person altogether.

 

Conflicts are a part of life, being able to handle situations with a level-head is necessary for success. Keep these tips in mind to further facilitate healthy relationships with clients and coworkers, we all have the power to turn a negative situation into a positive one!

Boost your Confidence for Success

Would you consider yourself to be confident? Having self- confidence is important for any career but it is crucial for those that are asserting themselves as leaders in their field. Confidence is not a static quality – it’s a mindset and sometimes, it takes work. Here are a few tips to become (and remain) confident!

Never give up, never accept failure.

Low confidence levels are often caused by the negative thoughts running through our minds. The negative things you tell yourself often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The next time you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, switch to a positive affirmation and keep repeating this. If you don’t believe in yourself, it is hard to expect anyone else to.

Watch your body language

Think about a person walking with their head high, shoulders back, smiling and making eye contact. Would you perceive this person to be confident?

Posture, smiling, eye contact, and speech are important. Simply pulling your shoulders back gives others the impression that you are a confident person. Smiling makes you feel better and it makes others feel more comfortable around you. Remember to look people in the eyes when you speak to them and speak slowly. When you put in a little added effort and style your hair or give yourself a clean shave – you will feel better about yourself and others will perceive you as successful and self-confident. Body language will tell people a lot about you even before you say a single word.

Make preparations

One of the best ways to ensure you are confident is to know what you are doing. To be confident in the work place or during a presentation, equip yourself with as much knowledge and practice as much as you can. The easiest way to believe in your abilities is to prove them to yourself. Learn, prepare, practice, and repeat.

Take Action

Confidence is the way you feel, but it is also the way you act. Start conversations with strangers at networking events or take on a project that you normally would reject. Inaction breeds doubt, while action breeds courage. Capitalize on your strengths and let your actions show your confidence.

Confident people are often admired and tend to inspire confidence in others. They know that they can overcome obstacles and they tend to see their lives in a positive light - even when all is not going well. Confidence can boost your business, but it can also help you to live positively and be the best version of yourself. What boosts your confidence?

How to Create Listing Presentations that Convert

Creating a listing presentation can become second nature to some agents, who just go through the motions, updating and tweaking a template they created long ago.

 

But that doesn’t mean it converts your prospects into leads, and lack-luster presentation can be damaging.

 

So what should you have in your listing presentation so that it not only wows your prospects, but makes them sign on the dotted line right then and there? We’ve compiled a few of the key elements that need to be a part of your presentation, so that it converts leads into clients, time and time again.

 

Stand Out with your Message

Most realtors hide behind the corporate brand image, afraid to really make a stand on their personality and brand. But you have to, otherwise you become the “vanilla agent” that everyone sees, but no one remembers.

 

Use your own voice throughout the presentation (and no, we’re not talking about how you speak – we’re referring to the printed words on the page that will be left behind with your prospects). You’ll want this to carry through to every facet of your marketing, whether it’s your feature sheets, postcards, Facebook posts or emails.

 

Write as you sound when you speak so that as people are reading your materials, they’re literally hearing your voice in their heads. This is a good thing, but it can take some getting used to. Practice makes perfect though!

 

Photography in the Online World

Having professionally done photographs, and particularly drone photography for larger properties, will make or break a listing online. More than 90% of people will view a home online before they contact a realtor to walk through it, and if you took all your pictures with your phone, it will show. Make the investment and get someone to photograph the home in the best light possible so that what people see when they view it online is exactly how it looks when they see it in person.

 

Your listing presentation should show clients examples of your best listings, and all of the photographs you took so they can see how THEIR home will be presented to potential buyers. If they love the photos, you’re that much closer to getting the listing!

 

Be Engaging!

The copy in your marketing materials, and particularly your listing presentation, you’re going to want to describe the home not by features alone, but by how it can be used by the new buyers. An open concept kitchen becomes an entertainment or homework hub of the home. A master bedroom becomes an oasis of calm at the end of a day. Evoke imagery, and help potential buyers envision themselves living in the home, not just buying it for the walls and roof.

 

But how does that help your listing prospects to choose you as their realtor? Your potential listing clients want to know that you see them as more than just a transaction, and so you must prove that you approach their home in a human-centric way (i.e. buyers aren’t just part of a transaction: they’re people with lives and needs who want to know that the home is perfect for them and their family).

 

In today’s hot real estate market, being more human, and less about transactions, will win you new clients. Take the plunge and throw in a little more personality into your presentation. We could list a hundred things you can put into any listing presentation, but they’ll all fall flat if you mess up on connecting and engaging with your prospects.

 

At the end of the day, you want to be remembered, right? So be memorable! Stand out and don’t be afraid to add your personality to your presentations.

Feel like you're Failing? 4 Tips for Success

In business, and in life, we experience ups and downs. If you talk to any successful business person they will probably admit that their list of failures far exceed their successes. Struggling once in a while is normal, and even necessary to learn and grow, but what do you do when you feel stuck? Sometimes we need that extra push to get past the hurdles; here are 4 tips for success for when you feel like you're failing:

 

1. Take advantage of support

Have a support system in place and use it! It's stressful to go into something alone - don't be afraid to ask for and accept help. Sometimes all we need is a sounding board or someone to 'give it to us straight'. A lot of our burden can be lifted simply by having someone to talk to. Reach out to the people that know your business well – they will be more likely to offer constructive feedback. Be open to advice and criticism.

 

2. Shift your focus

Anytime there is a problem, it is easy to get caught up in the stress of the situation. When something goes wrong we can get paralyzed by the fear of failure and lose sight of what needs to get done. Instead of obsessing about the bad, get into problem-solving mode! Shift from “I haven't been able to get a solid lead all month, this situation is terrible!” to “Here are the steps I can take to better my chances this month”. Focus on solutions and get back in control of the situation.

 

3. Fake it 'till you make it

It may be a cliché, but it does work. Positive thinking can change our behaviours and experiences. You may currently be in a situation where you know things could be better. Your natural reaction might be to complain about the situation and have a sour attitude because you know it's not ideal. It's easy to be negative, especially when the people around you are unhappy in some way. So how can you be positive in a negative situation? Just fake it. It may sound silly, but acting like you're happy will actually make you happier! Fake a smile – it's proven to improve your mood. If you're struggling with having a negative attitude, practice acting happy. It'll be hard at first but as the days go on you'll notice you are trying less and less. Before you know it, you won't be acting at all!

 

4. Be honest

If there is a problem, be honest with yourself; denial won't get you anywhere. If you work with a team, especially if you have a management position, it's important to keep colleagues in the loop. Hiding important information can make a bad situation worse. You don't have to paint the full gory picture, but outright lying can ruin your reputation. Be open and transparent, and who knows, discussing the issue could prompt helpful dialogue.

 

Failure is an important part of success. Remember that things will work out one way or another. Focus on the future and keep setting goals for yourself!

Journey and Destination – Why both are Crucial for Success

There's a famous quote that reads, “It is the journey that matters, not the destination.”

 

Do you think of your career as a journey, or a destination? Is success an end result, or an ongoing process?

 

If you've ever taken a road trip, cruise, or backpacking trip, you probably understand the importance of a journey. Even though there may have been an ultimate destination, many of the fondest memories you had most likely happened along the way. When we think about our careers, we may consider our greatest accomplishments to be the recognitions we receive, lucrative deals we make, or sales goals we reach. But in reality, these accomplishments are just a culmination of the hard work we put in every day (like the miles we drive, the places we visit...).

 

Large accomplishments are actually just a series of small accomplishments. Think about what the ultimate goal in your career would be. For example, if your goal was to be the top-selling real estate agent in your region, how would you accomplish this? This is quite a feat but if you work backwards and look at what it takes – you will realize that it's just a series of attainable goals. If you hope to be number one (the destination), then you will have to get the clients, make the sales, build your brand (the journey). The new leads you acquire, the deals you close, the networking you do - all these daily accomplishments add up and get you to where you want to be. Keep your eye on the prize, but don't forget about the daily processes that will get you there.


The difference between destination and journey boils down to perspective - one focuses on the future, while the other focuses on the here and now. Both are necessary for success. We know that having goals is crucial - the world would not progress if humans didn't have the drive to do better, be better. But we also wouldn't progress if we didn't pay attention to what was happening around us - sometimes we need to make mistakes, change our course or simply take a break.

 

Remember that some days will be more productive than others, some ideas will be brighter than others, and some jobs will be easier than others. There will be days when we feel like we're falling behind or like our failures outnumber our successes – these are the days we need to remind ourselves of the journey. Other times we might get caught up in office politics, or get stressed about a client or a job – these are the days we should remember the destination. Both go hand in hand to create a road map for success.

Feeling Stressed? Try this Relaxation Technique Today

Although stress is a regular part of life, sometimes it can get to a point where we feel overwhelmed.
When stress and anxiety begins to take it's toll, it's time to find a way to get back to a positive and healthy mental state. Learning and mastering relaxation techniques can improve our well being and alleviate physiological and mental strain.
 
Stress affects us physically
 
High-stress situations activate our sympathetic nervous system (think fight or flight response). When we feel angry, anxious or scared, our sympathetic nervous system gets activated. It includes the part of the brain that responds to threats and stress. Our heart rate increases, breathing becomes rapid, blood pressure increases, digestion stops, our muscles tense up and stress hormones are released into our blood stream. That's a lot happening all at once! Our bodies feel unpleasant and we look for ways to feel better during these situations.
 
Coping with stress
 
After some period of time, our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and brings our physiological changes back down to normal. Relaxation processes are all about changing our physiological state when we are tense, anxious, or angry. Basically, we are shifting attention, and taking control of breathing as a way to jump-start the parasympathetic nervous system.
 
Here's a simple and effective relaxation method developed by Dr. Will Meek. Follow the   sequence all the way through to relax and get into a positive and peaceful mental state:
 
1. Orienting: Pay attention to your immediate surroundings. Visually and mentally recognize where you are right now and what is around you. Think about what you see, what time it is and what is happening. When we are stressed or anxious we are not present – we are consumed by our thoughts and feelings related to something other than our surroundings.
 
2. Grounding: Shifting our attention to our connection with the environment. Relaxation is a physiological process so it's important to direct your attention to your senses. Notice how you are connected to your surroundings. For example, notice how your feet are planted on the floor, or how your back is resting against the chair or how your jacket feels on your body.
 
3. Slowing: Bring your attention to what is happening inside of you. Notice your breathing and your heart rate. The easiest way to control the way our bodies respond in any given moment is to control our breathing. One of the easiest ways to control breathing is called “4-7-8 breathing”. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 7, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat. Work at a pace that feels good to you. The key is to make the exhale stretch out longer than the inhale. As you do this your heart rate will slow.
 
4. Coaching: Once you have the breathing pace down, keep doing it while you move to the coaching step. The key to this step is giving yourself positive, reassuring, and calm messages. Think positive thoughts like “Everything will be alright”. “I can get through this”. Everyone will have a different message that works for them. You can either be imagining someone you care about saying this to you , or it can just be your inner voice. Keep repeating this along with the breathing until you feel like you can get back to what you are doing.
5. Emerging: The key to this step is calmingly returning back to the present moment. Focus on going back to what you need to do with the same peace of mind you have when you wake up from a satisfying sleep. Gently reemerse yourself back into the flow of your day. Your body and mind should stay in a more relaxed and positive state.
Once you get the sequence down, change it up to fit your needs. Practice every day, the more you do it, the more effective it will be. 

 

Wake up Happier!

Let's be honest -mornings aren't the most pleasant part of most people's day. We're usually waking up groggy, just a little bit too early for our liking. Mornings tend to get a bad rap because many of us don't get enough sleep; we wake up stressed, rushing through our morning routines - always late for something.

Mornings don't have to be bad – the a.m. can become the best, most positive, part of your day. Start your day happy and relaxed with these tips:

1. Let the light in. Open your blinds or curtains half way before you go to bed. When morning comes, your room will fill with natural light and the rising sun will send signals to your brain to slow production of melatonin and start producing adrenaline, signaling that it is time to wake up. This way, when your alarm goes off, you'll already be half awake. 

2. Rise with the sun. If possible, go to bed early enough that you are able to wake up with the sun rise. Get your recommended seven hours of sleep. If you are able to maintain this routine, it is likely that your biological clock with be reliable – you'll be awake with the sun without problems.

3. Give yourself extra time. Set your alarm a little bit earlier. This way you are not rushing out of bed. Begin your day slowly waking up. Stretch, listen to the news, mentally think about what you are going to wear, what you are going to do, and what you'll eat for breakfast. Mentally preparing yourself for your day can do wonders, and remember – don't press the snooze (no matter how tempting it may be!)

4. Stretch. Start stretching even before you get out bed or open your eyes. Start with your fingers, move to your wrists, then your arms. Stretch your toes, feet, ankles, and legs. Sit up, stretch your neck and back – the enhanced flow of blood will provide an extra flow of oxygen to all your tissues.

5. Enjoy the shower. The shower can be a very relaxing part of your morning - if you're not rushing. Take a moment to enjoy the water beating on your back, or have a warm bath if you can. It can be a both simultaneously relaxing and energizing experience. Schedule a little extra bathroom time into your morning routine.

6. Get inspired. Read a motivational quote, recite a poem, or watch a feel-good video. Get yourself in a positive mindframe by exposing yourself to positive words or images first thing in the morning. Have goals you want to keep in mind? Stick a few post-it notes with affirmations on your wall in a place you'll see during your morning routine.

7. Take your vitamins! This is self explanatory. Take your vitamins and make sure you are eating right and drinking plenty of water. When we're healthy we sleep better, have more energy and are generally happier people!

 
8. Make less decisions in the morning. For a truly relaxing morning, make your decisions the night before or save the decision making until after lunch. Decide what clothes to wear, what to eat, what route to take to work the night before. Routinize as much of your morning as possible to save time and headaches.

9. If you drink coffee, make it good. Get a coffee maker with a timer that you can sync with your alarm. Knowing you have a fresh pot of piping-hot coffee waiting for you will motivate you to get out of bed. Drink good coffee. Whole beans are the best for the freshest taste. Many coffee experts recommend using double the amount of coffee that the instructions suggest.

Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your immunity. Starting your day happy and relaxed can help increase your chances of a healthy, productive day!

6 Productivity Tips to Try Today

Productivity is about more than doing work and keeping busy. Often, we can be occupied without really making progress towards our goals. It's important to be conscious of what our time and energy is being spent on and being mindful of what needs to get accomplished. Here are 6 tips that will help you prioritize and manage your time for maximum productivity:

 

1. Write it down. Studies show that you are 42 per cent more likely to accomplish a task if you write it down. Don't leave it to your brain to remember and sort through all the things you want done – write them down to help you focus.

 

2. Rethink your to-do list. As mentioned above, writing things down is super important, but there's more to it than just making a list. It's important to have a broad view of all the things that need to be accomplished (plus action items to get you started), but our ability to work on certain tasks will change from day to day. There will be times of the day that are suitable for us to work on our 'number one' action items, but the rest of the time will probably filled up with less important tasks. Be realistic and flexible with your list and don't be hard on yourself if there's something you can't 'check off'.

 

3. Laziness can serve as a filter. It's good to be picky about what you spend your energy on. Be willing to wait for inspiration – something should be really worth your time before you work on it. Remember, there is a difference between being busy and actually working on important tasks.

 

4. Make use of whatever time you have. Being efficient means being creative and using whatever windows of time you have available. Be flexible and willing to switch tasks based on what the situation calls for. There are few times and places we really have the appropriate energy level, tools, and uninterrupted time frames to work on our most important work.

 

5. Focus on one large project at a time. Say you had three ongoing projects, if you switched your energy back and forth between them every day, chances are that you would make progress but not be completely finished any one of them. Focus on one project each week and give yourself a timeline and schedule to finish that. Productivity will increase if you follow the concept of keeping your energy and focus on one thing at a time - shifting focus takes more time and energy than you may think.

 

6. Make schedules and routines. Make schedules for the different aspects of your life. There should be a work calendar, a personal calendar, and a calendar for any creative or business projects you have on the go. When you schedule your day, you are less likely to float around doing random jobs here and there and more likely to actually get things done. Getting into a routine allows you to improve your efficiency and make the best use of your time.

 

When are you most productive? What do you do to ensure you stay on task?

5 Ways to Become a better People Person

In order to gain influence and achieve success, we need people to like us, trust us, and believe in our abilities. Developing amazing people skills is key, but unfortunately, it isn't something that we've been taught in schools. People skills are something we work on and develop every day of our lives. Here are five tips to help bring the 'people person' out in you today:
 
1. Take the time to actually get to know people.
 
Ask the right questions, you know, the ones that people are excited to answer. Small talk is all good and fine but it often results in automatic responses that don't really help you learn about somebody. Getting people to quickly open up is easy when you ask deeper questions and express interest in their answers. Be attentive and present.
 
2. Find something that makes you stand out.
 
When networking at events with hundreds of people, how can you stand out? What good is knowing how to talk to someone when you can't even get them to notice you? One CEO owns over thirty pairs of orange shoes. Why? Because they make him stand out. They're a great conversation starter and have become part of his persona. You don't necessarily need to go out and buy a crazy accessory or outfit, but finding something that sets you apart can be helpful in making you seem both interesting and approachable. If you aren't a natural social super star, you know it can be difficult to spark up a conversation with someone out of nowhere - having something that works as a talking piece can give others an excuse to approach you.
 
3. Tell it, don't sell it.
 
Persuading people is easier when you have an engaging introduction and a compelling story. Captivate your audience with a story and they will be more likely to care about your mission. Be authentic, straightforward and show enthusiasm.
 
4. Raise others up.
 
Promote your colleagues. Share the accomplishments of other people. When you raise others up, people will be much more receptive to share what you have to offer. “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Arnold H. Glasow
 
5. Make your good mood contagious.
 
We tend to take on the attitude of the people we talk to. If you're in a bad mood, it's contagious. If you're full of enthusiasm – it's contagious, too. When people feel enthusiastic and optimistic during a conversation with you, they associate those positive feelings with you. They'll remember that you made them feel good. Being associated with positive feelings will help you to stay top of mind and build better relationships. Be conscious of your mood when communicating and interacting with others.
 
We always strive to leave a good impression on the people we meet. Going above and beyond expectations is what makes us memorable.
 
Always be the best version of yourself. Hold the door open, send a handwritten note, remember important details and most importantly, show people that their time is valuable.
 
Have a few minutes on your hands? Try out
this quiz to see how your people skills fair and let us know how you did!

5 Apps for Tech-Savvy Realtors®

In a competitive industry like real estate, it is important to get an edge wherever you can. Taking advantage of tech tools and software not only helps to make your life easier, but it also benefits your business and your brand.
 
Here are 5 helpful apps for tech-savvy Realtor to try:
 

1. Get locals to know who you are. 

Snapchat Geofilters – Snapchat is a great social media tool for Realtors®, but more specifically, their on-demand geofilters are a fantastic way to get local engagement. Geofilters are an overlay for images that are based on a geographical location and selected time frame. If your target neighbourhood is hosting a popular event, set up a geofilter for that date and location that all local users can access. Get creative with your design. Fun, visually-appealing filters are more likely to get used. Find creative ways to incorporate your own branding or information for an upcoming local event. For as little as $20, you have the potential to get thousands of people to share your filters.
 
2. Create and edit attractive content.

Adobe Spark – Part of excelling in real estate marketing is producing shareable high quality content. If you don't have the budget to shell out on complicated photo and video editing software, Adobe Spark is a great alternative. This free app can be downloaded in the App Store or you can use it right in your desktop browser. Create and edit banners, ads, videos, graphics and newsletters for free.
 
3. Track your time and be more efficient. 

Hours – Hours is a time tracking app that allows you to discover and track how your time is being spent. Discover how long it takes you to complete tasks and monitor what you spend too much or too little time on. You can run reports that explain in detail where you tend to allocate most of your time and how to modify your schedule to be more efficient.
 
4. Give buyers valuable information about their new home.

Centriq Home – This app allows you to take a photo of an appliance label and within 24 hours the system will identify the make and model, display the serial number and pull all relevant manuals and how-to videos for the particular unit. It allows you to store receipts and documents, a list of service providers, notes and home inventory. Why it's good for Realtors®: Allows you to upload your own branding and gift the app to buyers at closing. The buyers will have all the pertinent information about their new home and they'll be seeing your branding and information every time they use the app. Cost: $349 USD annually.
 
5. Share information with clients, right away.

Gboard – Gboard is an iPhone app that allows you to do a Google search right in any app. Instead of leaving iMessage to do a search, selecting and copying information, going back and pasting it, you can now do it all right in the keyboard. This may not be revolutionary, but it is a handy tool to use when emailing or texting clients - allowing you to seamlessly send restaurant info, news articles, reviews, etc,. The search results appear as cards with key information like phone numbers, ratings, and hours and you can respond instantly.
 
With thousands of apps and tech tools out there, the possibilities to grow and maximize your business are endless - the key is to find the tools that work best for you.