2 Ways - to get in shape

There are 2 ways to achieve your “get in shape” goals.

1.) Work out. Once you’ve done your daily workout, you’ve been successful, and the rest of the day is easy. Over time you’ll get stronger and faster, and more “in shape.”

2.) Wage a constant war against yourself throughout the day, pitting pleasure against self-discipline.

  • Elevator, since I already worked out? But the stairs offer more exercise!

  • Full lunch, since I already worked out and I’m really hungry? But the small lunch will help me lose weight!

  • Ice cream on the couch after dinner, since I had a good day (or a stressful day)? Ice cream, really, when I’m trying to get in shape?!

The first way will get you most of the way there, and is black & white easy - you either succeeded or you failed, each day.

The second way will get you all the way to your goal, and much faster. But it will consume your life.

Both options beat doing nothing.

The best option is a combination of the two: exercise consistently, and make good choices throughout the day. (Notice I said good choices, not perfect choices.) “In shape” will come, slowly and over time. Work on the processes, the daily habits, the pattern of making good choices consistently - and the shape will follow; it won’t have a choice!

There isn’t a right or wrong way to do it - only that you do it. You cannot, under any circumstance, achieve your goals (or even make progress towards your goals) without doing the work. And consistent work over time beats short periods of hard work, every time.

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- Chris Butterworth

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And if making good choices all day long is exhausting, and you don’t have the mental energy left over to sit down and write your monthly e-Newsletter, let me do that for you. It’s what I’m really good at, and it’s why I created 8DollarFarming!

 

How Diverse is your Contact List?

Diversity makes for a good contact list.

Think about the real estate needs of an average up-and-coming young person today (if there is such a thing..)

  • Young person buys a first house - a small starter home, or condo, probably on the outskirts of the neighborhood they really want to live in.

  • Young person gets married - the couple decides to sell one of their homes and live in the other one.

  • Family grows - a couple of kids later and the house is too small; the family needs to sell the starter home and buy a larger, more family-friendly house.

  • Pause - for many people, this will be the last house they need for a long time, as their focus turns towards raising their family.

  • Career grows - those fortunate enough to be climbing the career ladder (or whose businesses are thriving) may have one more purchase - the big house in the good neighborhood, before they pause to focus on family (and saving for college, and retirement, and vacations, and...)

So, from early 20s to mid 30s it's not uncommon for a person/couple to buy 2, 3, or even 4 houses. But then they might have a period of 15-20 years without needing any real estate help.

Sure, there are other reasons people need to buy and sell homes:

  • Job transfer / Relocating

  • Marriage / Divorce

  • Lifestyle Change (wants a condo, or doesn’t want a pool, etc.)

  • Empty Nest / Retirement

There becomes a trade-off, where younger people may buy and sell homes more frequently, but older people (let’s call them more mature, or more established people) may buy and sell more expensive homes.

If you’re going to be in this business for the long term, it’s a good idea to have a diverse mix of people in your contact list. Keep adding younger people to your list, as they will grow into mature people eventually. (Most of the time. Hopefully.)

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-Chris Butterworth

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And if you need help staying in touch with the large, diverse group of people you know, please consider my e-Newsletter service - I would be happy to help!

Outsourcing your life

Outsourcing makes your business, and/or your quality of life, better.

You could pay a transaction coordinator to handle your paperwork because:

  • Make More Money: Getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty paperwork takes your focus, and your time, away from your marketing efforts. You can make more money (consistently, without ebbs and flows) if you pay someone else to push digital paper.

  • Avoid Potential Problems: You aren’t good at filing paperwork, and your lack of details might end up costing you a lot of money in fines, lawsuits, and/or E & O exposure. You can save yourself a potential financial nightmare by spending a little bit of money on each transaction - much like an insurance policy for your business’s long-term well being.

  • Increase Quality of Life: You’re busy, and you don’t really enjoy this part of the business. You’d rather work 40 hours per week and enjoy yourself than 50 hours per week and complain about all the stupid rules your broker has for each document in each transaction.

Outsourcing has been around for centuries; it’s the basis of the entire service industry. (More than that - it’s the basis of the entire free market; otherwise we would all have to be completely self-sufficient - and who wants that?) You can pay someone to do just about anything for you: cooking, cleaning, child care, home maintenance and repair, etc. - the list is infinite.

On the flip side, however, is spending money. You’re welcome to pay all these people for all these services, which will free up loads of time. But you better use that time to make a lot of money, because outsourcing these services isn’t free!

Bottom Line - Pick your spots. Outsource the work that can help you make more money, or more consistent money. Outsource the things you aren’t very good at, or the things you simply hate doing.

We all have a goal which at some level is about increasing our quality of life - short-term, long-term, now or in retirement, family time, work-life balance… Whatever. If outsourcing helps you get there, do it!

- Chris Butterworth

Ps - Here’s my shameless plug for 8DollarFarming. If you want to outsource your monthly eNewsletters, and have someone else write and email them to all your contacts, every month, on your behalf.. Well, I’m pretty good at that.

Service, not Systems

My wife and I bought a new car last month. (Yay - new car! Boo - spending lots of money!)

The car is awesome. The experience was… meh.

Here’s the short version: We spent 6-8 weeks deciding whether we wanted a big or mid-sized SUV, and we looked at several different brands. We stayed in touch with the sales guy for each dealership throughout the process, either by answering their follow-up calls, or calling them with questions, or stopping by to see the car in person (again.) Eventually we narrowed our list down to a couple of options, and bought the one where we were able to negotiate the best deal.

That’s it. The process was over. We have a new car, and each dealership’s sales guy knew if/when they were out of the running. End of story - or at least it should have been the end of the story. But it wasn’t.

We then received multiple sales emails over the next 2-3 weeks, from the dealership where we had just bought our car:

  • Hi Chris, it looks like you missed an appointment you had scheduled with (sales guy’s name). Did you want to reschedule your appointment to a more convenient time?

  • Hi Chris, we are having a big sale this weekend on (model name). Please give (sales guy) a call to schedule an appointment to come test drive a new (model name) and get a great deal on a great car.

  • Hi Chris, it looks like you haven’t been by our store to see (sales guy) in a little while. Please give us a call or stop by anytime if there’s anything we can do. We would love to help get you a great deal on a great car.

Finally we called the sales manager and asked to stop sending us emails.

This was worse than bad customer service - it was insulting.

We spent two months in constant communication with your sales guy, then spent a lot of money at your dealership, and you can’t even move our contact information from your “prospect” list to your “customer” list?

It’s a good idea to use systems to help increase your efficiency and stay in touch with as many people as possible.

It’s a bad idea to take the customer, and the service, out of a customer service business.

Systems are great; personal is better.

- Chris Butterworth

 

It's the Banks' Fault (op-ed)

Sometimes I hate being right.

I wrote an article 10 years ago called It's the Banks' fault, really. I was frustrated with the financial meltdown, and the government-bank bailout, but mostly I was frustrated with the lack of accountability.

  image credit -  flickr ville misaki

image credit - flickr ville misaki

 

Have you been to Las Vegas lately? I get to Vegas every couple of years, and I'm always blown away by how fast it grows. There are always shiny new casinos, and each one is bigger than the last. Then the older casinos keep updating themselves, adding additional rooms and more extravagance in an effort to stay relevant.

This has been happening consistently since the 1960s. And why? Because the casinos control the game!

  image credit -  flickr matthewpaulson

image credit - flickr matthewpaulson

 

The casinos have the money and they set the rules for each of the gambling games.

  • Who wins under every possible outcome - each turn of the card, roll of the dice, and bounce of the ball.
  • How much you'll get paid under every circumstance, and when you can cash out.

They have all the power and control, and they have set up the rules of the game such that they win more often than they lose. Period. The end. You can win one weekend, and I might win another time, but by and large, over the long run, the casinos win more than the people who gamble.

Could you imagine if the opposite were true?

What if the casinos set up the games for a short-term increase in the number of guests, rather than the long-term profitability? They would compete with each other to lower their winning percentage, a little at a time, until eventually they went below the 50% mark - and started giving the edge to the gamblers.

The gamblers would start winning more money, more frequently, and word would spread. More people would fly to Vegas from more parts of the world, and every casino's hotel would be fully booked. (Short-term goal achieved!)

But it wouldn't take long before that many gamblers, all playing with winning odds, would break the casinos.

In this scenario, all of the Las Vegas casinos would go bankrupt, and the city itself would collapse. And would we expect a government bailout?

This is exactly what happened with the banks in the early 2000s.

  • The banks had the money to make mortgage loans.
  • The banks wrote the legal language of the promissory notes. (You're not allowed to edit the loan paperwork at the closing table, right?)
  • The banks had made tens of millions of loans over the years, and had all the statistical data to determine which borrowers were more likely to repay their loan.
  • The banks set the pricing of the loan.
  • The banks were given fully compliant borrowers, and were allowed to investigate creditworthiness in just about any way imaginable.
  • And ultimately, the banks were the ones who decided which loans got made, to which borrowers, and under what terms.

But, instead of taking a Las Vegas Casino approach by setting favorable terms, the banks took the "what if" approach, and decided to give up their advantage. They stopped underwriting, and started making loans under whatever terms the borrowers wanted.

So what would you expect to happen? They stated making $500,000 loans to single-mom schoolteachers, and all sorts of other scenarios that common sense would say didn't make sense. Of course the banks lost money - lots of money. Tons of money. And rightfully so.

The banks who participated in this "close your eyes" style of lending should have been run out of business. And the people in charge - the top 4-5 levels of management - should not have kept their jobs. But they did.

The bailout let the banks, and the banks' management teams, avoid any real consequences. In fact, a few years later these same banks were reporting record profitability! It's the opposite of what should have happened.

And if bad actions don't have any consequences, do you think those actions are going to stop? NO! It doesn't matter whether you're a young child or a Fortune 500 CEO - everybody's behaviors are shaped by consequences to actions.

Grrrr. I'm still frustrated by the whole ordeal. So why drag all this back through the mud? Because I read something recently - Patrick Watson, a big-time, well-respected economist, and Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank - totally agree with me! (see the article Capitalism Can't Work Without Losers). And worse, they think the table is being set for another round of bank-induced instability.

Being smart with your money is a great idea for us and our families. But then I guess we aren't cut out for running a big bank...

- Chris Butterworth