How to focus and increase your business by 40%

Is it Time to Try the Distraction Diet?

Are you feeling lethargic?  Pulled in too many directions?  Are you unable to complete the tasks you used to handle so easily?  Feeling weighed down and uninspired?  Lacking energy and focus?

If so, it may be time for what I call the “distraction diet.”

I work with real estate agents with varied backgrounds and varied businesses in various parts of the country.  But here’s what I can tell you most of them have in common: a problem managing distractions.

Feed the engine

Think of your real estate business as an engine that must be fed.  An engine that isn’t fed the right fuel will sputter and eventually stop running (perhaps stranding you in the middle of nowhere).

If the car analogy leaves you cold, how about comparing your business to the human body?  Prior to doing an activity — let’s say, playing in a soccer match — do you eat three candy bars and hoist a shot of tequila?  Not if you want to have a great game, you don’t.

Yet many real estate agents feed the same sort of temporarily satisfying but absolutely non-nourishing “work calories” to their hungry business.

So, let’s look at the word “distraction.”  It’s defined as: a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else; a diversion or recreation.

I think this definition perfectly encapsulates the problem with distractions.  Sure, they can be fun (otherwise they would just be work, and we would be distracted from them by something else).  Distractions draw us in because they either add pleasure to our lives or remove pain from our lives.  It’s that simple.  Distractions allow us to take the easy route — the pleasure route.  At least for the moment, we avoid the pain.  But you and I both know that a distraction is just a temporary turnoff on the road to a successful business!

The lie you tell yourself

Do you (or did you) have a teenager in your life?  Do you remember the battles about turning down the music, or turning off the TV, so they could do a better job with their homework ¦ and how they would try to convince you that they actually got more done with the noise?

You tell yourself that same lie if you are allowing distractions in your work life.

What gets you off track?  Depending in your personality style, your distractions will vary.  It could be friends calling or stopping by, social media, nice weather, or surfing the Internet.  Think about what it is for you.

Staying on track

Try keeping track of your distractions for a week, and see if there are any commonalities.  Understanding what’s getting you off track is the best way to start keeping on track.

Also look at what you’re being distracted from.  What is it that is so unappealing or painful to you that you want to divert your attention elsewhere?  Then spend some time trying to figure out why the activity is so repellent.  It may well be that it’s something you could have someone else handle for you in your business.

I’ve spoken before about my “hour of power” — that hour that I dedicate at the beginning of each day with no phones, no email and no interruptions from family or friends.  That hour of power ensures that I have a big block of time to get work done each day and helps make up for potential distractions later on.  It is the #1 thing that I’ve built in to my business which has created success for me.  If you’re not doing an hour of power, try it!  You’ll be amazed by how much you can get done.

But of course, you need to be focused for more than just an hour a day.  Here are some suggestions for providing an overall structure to make that easier:

1. Set core priorities.  What must get done in your business each week?  Lead generation?  Follow-up?  Market research?  Previewing properties?  Make your list, and figure out the frequencies for these activities.

2. Determine what keeps you from doing these “musts” in other words, your distractions..

3. Start building a series of small good habits and patterns.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and habits are hard to change.  But pretty quickly, small habits become easy-to-manage-routines for productivity.

4. Have goals in your business.  Framing up your daily or weekly activities in this perspective helps you realize that not spending three hours per day on Facebook isn’t going to mean the end of your social life and may actually help you achieve your business goals.

5. Create bite-sized bits of work.  A three-hour lead generation project too daunting?  How about doing it in 30-minute bits instead?

6. Track your results!  When you can look back to accomplishments that occurred as a result of the distraction diet it’s a whole lot easier to stay motivated when the next one occurs.

7. Build in rewards.  Only you will know what’s best and most motivating, of course.

8. Block out time.  Not just for work — but for fun, too!

9. Ask friends and family for help.  Sharing your goals with those close to you accomplishes two things: It allows them to support you by reminding you to keep on-task; and if they are the distraction it can help them understand why you may sometimes need to say “no” to them.

10. Finally, remove distractions as best you can.

Like all diets, the distraction diet requires effort — but boy, will it ever yield rewards!

Why not make today the day you start making good “work calorie” choices for long-term, sustainable results?


By: Denise Lones,

If You Had Only Three Minutes in Front of a Group of Realtors

I was surfing a message board that I frequent with high performing loan officers.  One of them has an opportunity to present to a group of Realtors next week, and he was told that he has a whole three minutes to do a presentation.  Hm-m-m, three minutes.  The post started by asking what would other loan officers do with this opportunity.  It got me thinking about opportunities that I’ve had like this and how I approached them.  Here was my response:

If I had only three minutes to “talk” to a group of Realtors, I would let them talk first.  Ask them what their biggest frustrations are, ask them what they are not getting from their current lender relationships, ask them what they would like to see from a relationship.

I would spend the first two minutes finding out what their issues (“pain”) happen to be, and then I would spend one minute explaining how I could help ease that pain or resolve some of their issues.

If you talk to them they won’t listen.  If you listen to them and then address their concerns I think you would get a much higher interest level.

There are two important preparation points here:

1. Be prepared for no one to speak.  I’m sure that, in the current market, this won’t happen, but you should be prepared with stories or pains that other Realtors have shared and then ask them if they are experiencing any of the same things.  You will certainly get a response when you hit some hot buttons.  Understand which of those issues the audience seems to respond to, and focus on those.

2. The reality, of course, is that you already know what they are going to say and what their issues are.  This is not the point.  Anyone can “show up and throw up” and “tell” the Realtors what he or she can do for them.  But you really want to engage them and let them know that what they feel is important.  Prepare your presentation, and then mentally put each of your USP items or points that you want to make into categories that you can then use to help solve their pain.

This way you can get your points across and focus those points on what is most important to your audience.

Also remember that you can’t tell them everything, so don’t try.  Pick the top three key items that you want to convey — the things that will create the most business for your Realtor partners, the things that will save them the most time, make them the most money, relieve the most frustration, help them build their business and get continued referrals, etc.

I would be surprised if, when you try this approach, the following doesn’t happen:

1. You get more than three minutes.

2. You get multiple questions.

3. You have the opportunity to set up appointments with individual agents to go into further detail with them in a more intimate setting.

Touch on their concerns and offer to follow up with each of them, if they wish.  Get business cards and contact info (biz cards).

Maybe pick one or two products to highlight.  Any more than that won’t fit in that timeframe.

Bring printed materials with your contact info and logo on it.  Make sure it is very valuable information.

Show them some other printed info you have, and whet their appetite.  Offer to send it via email and even offer to personalize it with their information on it (next to yours, of course).  I would bet that you would get a lot of takers.

Remember, it’s just three minutes, and that’s not a lot of time to get anything across — let alone everything — so don’t even try.

My approach would be: Ask, Answer, Tease.

That’s what I would do.  By the way, this is in fact what I actually do — and it works!

So, get out there, and start seeing more Realtors!  It’ll make a big difference in your business.


By: Jason Klaskin,

Why the Fed is Powerless to Clean up Housing Mess

Federal Reserve Board policymakers face a terrible dilemma.  They can’t do what needs to be done to stimulate a near moribund economy.  And what they can do won’t help very much.

The dilemma stems from the core problems facing the economy, which slowed to 1.5 percent in the second quarter.  First and foremost is the continued economic drag from government budget cuts, which has cost over 600,000 state and local public employees their jobs over the past 18 months and over 50,000 federal employees their jobs in the past year.  Without those job losses, unemployment in the U.S. would be a half to a full percentage point less than what it is today, economists say.

The second major headwind facing the economy comes from Europe, where budget austerity and bond market turmoil have triggered deep recessions along the eurozone’s southern tier.  That’s depressed U.S. exports, reduced the overseas earnings of U.S.-based corporations and created a worldwide  climate of economic uncertainty that impedes spending and investment.

The Fed can encourage its European counterparts to take action.  But it can’t pull the trigger.

The final and perhaps biggest headwind is the continuing near depression in the U.S. housing market, which is still operating at half to three-quarters of its pre-Great Recession peak.  New housing starts in June totaled an annual rate of 760,000 units, about half the 1.5 million units registered in the mid-2000s.  Sales of new and existing homes are running at about 4.7 million units a year, well below the 6 million units a year considered normal.

You would think the Fed has real power to intervene on the housing front, primarily through its ability to buy mortgage-backed securities and lower interest rates to stimulate the market.  But, as we’ll see in a moment, there are financial sector roadblocks to wielding that power in an effective manner.

Fed chairman Bernanke directly addressed the fiscal issue in his testimony before both houses of Congress in July.  He repeatedly implored legislators on both sides of the aisle to adopt a sustainable fiscal policy that would combine a short-term stimulus to get the economy moving again with a long-term plan that would bring the nation’s yawning budget deficits under control.

Instead, Congress kicked the can down the road and left businesses and the American public with the gnawing fear that renewed stalemate after the election will result in the government running the economy off a fiscal cliff — a combination of large tax increases and budget cuts looms, which would inevitably lead to renewed recession.

How about the housing market?  The Fed’s chief tool to provide help there would be a third round of quantitative easing that would achieve lower long-term interest rates by increasing the Fed’s purchases of mortgage-backed securities.

An aggressive move by the Fed on that front could succeed in lowering mortgage rates to 2.5 to 2.75 percent, a full percentage point below current levels and the lowest rates of the modern era.  In theory, that should cause a rush of new home buyers to scoop up houses that are now selling for inflation-adjusted prices that in most parts of the country are about where they were in the late 1990s.

But high unemployment, stagnant incomes, especially for younger families, and fear that home prices could fall farther continues to depress new and existing home sales.  And as events in other precincts of Washington on Tuesday showed, there are structural reasons why lower rates might not work in clearing up the twin plagues of the post-bubble era: foreclosures and underwater mortgages.

While foreclosures have gotten most of the attention, the single biggest deadweight dragging down housing activity is the 11.1 million American homeowners who are stuck with mortgages worth more than the value of their homes — so-called underwater mortgages.  Fully 80 percent of these homeowners are not deadbeats.  They make their payments every month — often at rates far above what is available in the current marketplace since they were acquired near the height of the housing bubble when first mortgages were close to 6 percent and second mortgages could be 7 percent or higher.

But when these responsible borrowers show up at the bank to refinance, they get turned away.  They can’t get a loan because the appraised value of their homes is below the mortgage value.  Often it is far below.  A report issued Tuesday by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, said more than half of its underwater mortgages, and those two agencies back about 41 percent of the 11.1 million underwater loans, had loan-to-value ratios above 115 percent.

Some Congressmen are pushing FHMA to use leftover funds from the Toxic Asset Relief Program — the bank bailout bill passed in October 2008 — to write down the principle of mortgages where homeowners have remained current in their payments.  But FHMA acting director Edward DeMarco recently rejected that idea.

“Given our multiple responsibilities to conserve the assets of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, maximize assistance to homeowners to avoid foreclosures, and minimize the expense of such assistance to taxpayers, FHFA concluded that principle reduction did not clearly improve foreclosure avoidance while reducing costs to taxpayers relative to the approaches in place today,” he said.

Clearly, the overseer of Fannie and Freddie is no different than the private banks and bondholders who own mortgage-backed securities.  While they face some risk that underwater homeowners will walk away from their loans, 80 percent don’t.  That means the lenders continue to benefit from the high cash flow from overpriced mortgages taken out at the peak of the housing bubble.

If these same homeowners could refinance at current rates — about 3.5 percent — it would save an estimated $500 to $750 per month per household in lower interest costs, according to a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who has sponsored an alternative approach to the problem.  His bill would replicate a depression-era housing refinance corporation that could sell federally-backed bonds (now costing about 2 percent a year) to raise cash to purchase the old loan.  Charging the homeowners about 4 percent on the new loans would be sufficient to create a fund for anticipated losses while insuring that the program didn’t cost taxpayers anything.

Given the likelihood that the current Congress won’t act on his innovative proposal, Merkley pressed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at a hearing on the Libor scandal to experiment with a pilot project for underwater homeowners.  It will take a new Congress actually open to solving some of the nation’s pressing economic problems to get movement on the Hill.

“It would help reduce the remaining pressures that housing is putting on the economy as a whole,” Geithner agreed.  “We’d be very supportive of progress in that area.”

“Underwater mortgage debt is strongly linked with weak consumption, high unemployment, and sluggish wage growth,” said Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.  “The blockage of prepayment has created a windfall for creditors in a weak economy with low interest rates.”

Congress and the White House could, of course, wait until home values return to pre-recession levels — in essence, letting the market clear on its own.  Or they could devise a program that actually helps underwater homeowners — something previous programs have failed to do.

One thing is certain.  One more round of the Fed lowering interest rates through quantitative easing isn’t going to get the job done.

By: Merrill Goozner,

8 Email Mistakes to Avoid

These blunders are more than just productivity killers; they will also make you look pretty foolish.

Knowing your way around your email inbox is, of course, crucial if you want to get anything done. But it’s also necessary to avoid making a fool of yourself with silly (and unfortunately all too common) communication mistakes. Here’s a list of the most common email blunders to avoid:

1. Not including the email thread in your reply.

Think about how many emails you receive every day. When you’re communicating with dozens of people a day, sometimes you forget where you were in a particular conversation or what the conversation was even about, right? So it’s nice to be able to skim through the previous emails to refresh yourself before responding. Do your recipients a favor and include the whole thread when responding. Although deleting the thread declutters the email and makes it appear less lengthy, in the end, it just creates confusion for the recipient.


2. Not using a professional account.

Syncing your professional account with your personal account is convenient. But when you have this feature set up, always double-check which account you are sending your mail from. Accidentally firing off a message from will not only raise some eyebrows, it will mean the message will probably wind up directly in your recipient’s Spam folder.


3. Not replying to all.

This one is so easy to forget. If the idea is to keep a number of people in the loop, then do exactly that and use the Reply All button. Enough said.


4. Cc’ing the world.

Yes, you need to reply to all, but before cc’ing someone into an email conversation, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Spare that person the gratuitous email if you can.

5. Forgetting the bcc field.

The bcc function is great for when you want to keep someone in the loop but it is not necessary for him or her to be part of the conversation. For example, after someone introduces you to a contact via email, move that person to the bcc field. Also, be mindful of people’s privacy when sending out group emails to various recipients. Not everyone wants his or her email address exposed to a large group of people he or she doesn’t know.

6. Rambling.

Emails should be short and to the point. If it’s something you can’t say in just a few sentences, or you find yourself in a nonstop, back-and-forth conversation, pick up the phone! Overly long emails may end up in the recipients’ TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) pile.


7. Writing unprofessionally.

Always keep a professional tone. That means ensuring emails have proper grammar and are free of slang. Save the “abbrevs” for Twitter.


8. Creating unnecessary back-and-forth.

When you’re sending a quick email to set up a meeting, provide all necessary information in the first email. Otherwise, it becomes a back-and-forth conversation that could have been taken care of in one response from each side. For example, if you are requesting a meeting with someone, offer your availability. If you are scheduling a call, provide your phone number.

Which email mistakes do you see people making?

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Pinterest had an estimated 3.3 million unique visitors in the month of October. While there’s no mechanism for potential customers to buy your products directly from the site, consider the marketing potential: Popular images (with links back to the original source) can get repinned on hundreds of other users’ boards.


1. Spend the time
Like any social network, and maybe even more with this demographic, requires an investment in time. Jason White, who owns Quality Woven Labels, says one key is to build relationships with those who are known for quality “pins” at the site. He says, once these movers and shakers get to know you and your business, they will be more likely to post about your product. White says to focus on the users who get the most likes and repins.

“All of these repins and likes share a common interest, making it easier to take the conversation to Twitter or Facebook to nurture the relationship,” he says. “Like everything else, be real and show your true self. Authenticity is hugely important.”

2. Keep it simple
The main appeal of Pinterest is that the site is exceptionally easy to use. Everyone has a “board” where they pin images that are all the same size. Hana Abaza, the co-founder and CEO of Wedding Republic, says it’s best to mimic Pinterest’s uncluttered aesthetic, so she creates boards that are clean and elegant looking. Each pinned photo includes one link back to her site (you click once to see the pin page, and again to see the source site). Abaza says Pinterest dramatically boosted page views. Through her social media efforts she saw a 75 percent increase in traffic, with Pinterest generating most of that.

3. Connect your physical presence with your online presence
It’s important to connect the dots between a physical location and your Pinterest page. Becca Bijoch does public relations for the Minneapolis store Creative Kidstuff. Often the physical store will feature online ads and Pinterest promotions. Soon the company website will feature Pinterest buttons. So far, the campaign has yielded about 150 extra page views directly from Pinterest and two direct sales. Not astounding, but that’s only after using the site for about 30 days.

4. Make sure your business is a match
This tip might seem obvious, but Pinterest caters to those looking for recipes, room décor, and do-it-yourself crafts. If your company sells power sanders, you might not be a good fit. Quality Woven Labels, which makes tags for custom clothing, has been able to use Pinterest to connect with the perfect demographic: independent fashion designers.

5. Use other social nets to feed Pinterest
The new kid on the block may be getting all of the hype, but existing social networks have one advantage: a vast number of users. Justin Palmer, the online awareness director at Sevenly, a custom T-Shirt shop, says to get the most number of eyeballs his company uses Tumblr and Facebook to point people to Pinterest.

6. Launch a daily pin theme
Sevenly has created a daily pin to promote its brand. The idea is to come up with a catchy slogan that is tied to the organization’s charity work and memorable enough so that the images get re-pinned. The daily themed pins usually lead to repeat visitors. Sevenly also posts a weekly custom-designed t-shirt, which is often re-pinned by other Pinterest users. Bonus: They come back often looking for the new one.

7. Promote more than products
The temptation for any business is to post pins only for products you sell. Giselle Gonzalez is a promoter for Cakestyle, a company that makes wardrobe suggestions for women, and says one key is to post interesting news tidbits, tips, and products from other companies. She says Pinterest users are savvy in spotting a board that is too self-serving and only posts product photos.

8. Follow the big hitters
One of the best ways to raise awareness about your company is to start following the big names on Pinterest. This is the proven method on Twitter: When you follow popular figures, and they follow you back, other Twitter users get the message and follow the leader. Sevenly’s Palmer says it’s important to find out who is “pinning” your products and to follow them to see if they follow you back. Most do, he says.

9. Selective curating
Pinterest caters to those who love to “curate” or weed out the good from the bad. Presenza, a custom clothing designer, finds unique products beyond their own offering and pins them. The company also uses key phrases on their board like “made in the USA” and “defining confidence” to help define the brand.

1. Use it as a Virtual Store


By pinning its products on boards organized by upcoming holidays and popular categories,Michaels has created a simple, visual way for customers to browse and shop on Pinterest. Better yet, every single page on has a “pin it” button, so customers can easily pin items or ideas they see on Michaels’ website to their own boards.

If you don’t have a physical product, try pinning the services you offer or the articles you’ve published, with a link back to your website. And always make sure the page you pin has a photo on it!

2. Give an Insider View of Your Company

Take a look at The Frisky’s Everyday Style Pinterest page—how cool is it that we get a sneak peek into what their employees wear to work each day? Here’s what’s even cooler: Those outfits get put out there in the Pinterverse, and pinned all over with a link back to The Frisky. Get customers and pinners excited about your company by sticking up photos of your employees, the fun company events or parties you throw, or your amazing office space—and aim to show off your brand and what you stand for while you’re at it.

3. Hold a Contest recently launched a contest by asking their followers to create a “Pin it if You Love It” board with at least 10 of their favorite homes pinned from Once a user created her board, she was entered to win one of five home improvement gift certificates for $250. Contests are a great way to get users engaged and participating, which can quickly have a ripple effect across the Pinterest network as people share their contest submissions with all their followers.

Tip: If you hold your own contest, create a special hashtag for people to add to their pins so that you can easily track who’s entered.


4. Showcase Your Portfolio

If you’re a photographer, artist, graphic designer, or in any other highly visual field, this one’s a no-brainer: Use Pinterest to show off your work samples or your portfolio. You’ll attract potential customers or clients, plus inspire others in your field.


5. Get Customer Feedback


Daily Grommet has created a board where anyone can pin a product he or she likes, with the possibility that the product will be featured on the Daily Grommet website in the future. Doing this, Daily Grommet gives itself a head start on predicting upcoming trends, seeing what sort of products its customers are looking for, and tailoring its future offerings accordingly. After all, when it comes to asking someone what they want, a picture often says 1,000 words.


Ready to start pinning? Remember one thing: it’s called social media for a reason. Take the time to pin a couple of times a day, so you continuously show up on your followers’ feeds. Also make a real effort to interact with your community, balancing your own pins with repinning, liking, and commenting on other users’ posts as well. Take Etsy, for example. While it has a few boards promoting various products sold on, it also has boards that are simply for its followers’ enjoyment—no sales act required.


With the right strategy, your products or services will be front and center in the screens, and the minds, of your audience. Happy pinning!


Need to score an invite? Let us know in the comments—it’s a much faster process if you receive an invite versus self-applying And tell us—what successes have you had using Pinterest to help promote your business?



Health Care Tips

Saving Money on Individual Health Care Policies

In today’s economy, many people are forced to enroll in an individual health insurance policy due to being unemployed or being employed by a company that is unable to provide health insurance to its employees.  You should consider yourself fortunate if you receive health coverage from your employer.  Individual health coverage can be extremely expensive if you do not choose carefully.  While you are more likely to pay higher out-of-pocket costs with an individual policy than with an employer-funded group plan, there are some effective ways to lower your costs.  Here is a look at how you can save money when enrolling in an individual health insurance policy.

Shop Around

Just like with any other purchase, when purchasing health insurance you will want to shop around and compare various policies with a fine-tooth comb.  Individual health insurance policies have different features and vary quite broadly from one another.  In order to find the individual health insurance policy that best fits your needs, comparison shop and you can quickly see which health insurance policy is right for you.


The type of plan you choose could mean the difference between saving money and shelling out a lot more than you intended.  There are several different types of individual health insurance policies available on the market.  Just two of the options are PPO (Preferred Provider Organization), and HMO (Health Maintenance Organization).  A PPO policy allows you greater flexibility with the doctors and hospitals you visit.  However, you can expect to pay a higher out-of-pocket cost in terms of deductibles and premiums.

Alternatively, HMO policies frequently have a lower out-of pocket cost.  However, with HMO policies, you will not have the same flexibility that a PPO plan would allow and it may only allow you to visit specific healthcare providers.

Higher Premium Often Means Lower Co-Payments

A common method of determining premiums of health insurance is if you pay a higher premium, your out-of-pocket costs, such as copays and deductibles, will be less.  This is where you will need to weigh your options very carefully.  If the consumer is in good health, he or she may want to consider a plan that has a low premium, since he or she does not to have many medical expenses throughout the contract year.  However, if the consumer expects to have a considerable amount of medical costs throughout the year, he or she may want to consider a plan that offers a higher level of benefits.

Keep Your Eye Out for Additional Perks

Some individual policies have added benefits, such as prescription coverage programs to enhance a healthy lifestyle or dental coverage.  Not all individual policies are created equal.  When you are shopping around, don’t just look at the basic services that the plan covers.  Call the insurance carrier and ask if there are any added bonuses to enrolling with them as opposed to a competitor.  You may be surprised by how much one insurance carrier offers vs. another.

Look Out for Age Branding and Pre-Existing Condition Clauses

Enrolling in an individual policy is much different than signing up for health coverage with an employer.  Many individual policies are subject to age banding and pre-existing condition clauses that can cause plans to skyrocket.  Prior to enrolling, ask a representative at the insurance company about these items.

Age banding is a method that insurance companies use to determine premium rates.  As patients age, their need for health insurance becomes greater than it was when they were young adults.  Due to this fact, some insurance companies charge a higher rate for aging subscribers.

Additionally, if you have a pre-existing condition, your health insurance carrier can employ a clause stating that it does not have to pay for charges related to pre-existing conditions for a specific amount of time.  Play it safe, and get all of your information upfront about these costly features.

Beware of Hidden Costs

There can be other hidden costs with health insurance, such as co-insurance.  Co-insurance is a percentage of the total bill that is the patient liability.  Typically, there is a coinsurance limit or out-of-pocket maximum clause on most individual policies.  However, if there is no maximum, patient costs can skyrocket.  Be sure that you understand your health insurance policy before signing on the dotted lines.  Most health insurance carriers will give potential subscribers a breakdown of patient liability should they need to seek medical care.  Don’t let your medical policy catch you off guard, review the information at great length before making a decision.

The Bottom Line

Enrolling in an individual health insurance policy can be quite expensive if you do not tread carefully.  You can protect your wallet when enrolling in an individual health insurance policy by carefully comparing the features and prices of each individual policy and then selecting the one that best meets the needs of your family.


By: Amanda C. Haury,

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was a remarkable man, who began his learning very early in life and never stopped.

At 5, he began studying under his cousins’ tutor.

At 9, he studied Latin, Greek and French..

At 14, he studied classical literature and additional languages.

At 16, he entered the College of William and Mary.

At 19, he studied Law for 5 years, starting under George Wythe..

At 23, he started his own law practice.

At 25, he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.

At 31, he wrote the widely circulated “Summary View of the Rights of British America” and retired from his law practice.

At 32, he was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.

At 33, he wrote the Declaration of Independence.

At 33, he took three years to revise Virginia ‘s legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.

At 36, he was elected the second Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry.

At 40, he served in Congress for two years.

At 41, he was the American Minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations, along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.

At 46, he served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.

At 53, he served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.

At 55, he drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of the Republican Party.

At 57, he was elected the third President of the United States ..

At 60, he finalized the Louisiana Purchase , doubling the nation’s size.

At 61, he was elected to a second term as President.

At 65, he retired to Monticello   .

At 80, he helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.

At 81, he almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia   and served as its first president.

At 83, he died, on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence. Ironically, he died the same day as John Adams, July 4th.

Thomas Jefferson knew, because he himself had studied the previously failed attempts at government.  He understood actual history, the nature of God, God’s laws and the nature of man.  That happens to be way more than what most understand today. His is a voice from the past to lead us into the future.


John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time.. He made this statement: “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House, with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as  Europe .
Thomas Jefferson

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
Thomas Jefferson

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes, a principle which if acted on, would save one-half the wars of the world.
Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
Thomas Jefferson

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.
Thomas Jefferson

No free man shall ever be deprived the use of arms.
Thomas Jefferson

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
Thomas Jefferson

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Thomas Jefferson

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake up, homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.


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7 Ways to Get over Your Fear of Asking for the Sale

In the seventeen-plus years I have been working with sales people and helping them increase their sales, I have noticed that many of them fail to ask for the sale.  It is impossible to calculate how much business is lost each year because of this fault alone.

In my sales training workshops, people express a variety of reasons why they don’t ask for the sale.  Here are 7 of the most common reasons why sales people don’t ask for the sale and what you can do about it.

Fear of rejection

This is by far the most common reason why people don’t ask for the business.  I don’t know many people who actually enjoy being rejected, and sales people are no different.  However, it is critical to realize that a “no” is not a personal slam against you.  It simply means that your prospect or customer does not need or want your product, service or solution or that they don’t have enough information yet to make a decision.  It doesn’t mean they dislike you as a person — unless of course, you were pushy, rude or arrogant.

They don’t know how

Some people, especially individuals who are relatively new to sales, simply don’t know how to ask.  I remember my first sales call more than 20 years ago.  I had gone through my presentation, and my prospect appeared interested.  However, I didn’t know what to say so we sat there in silence for a few moments until I finally blurted out, “So, would you like to go with it then?”  She said, “Sure.”

The key here is to develop a variety of closing questions that you are comfortable asking.

Don’t know when

The timing can be critical.  Some sales people don’t know exactly when to ask a prospect for their business so they wait — often waiting too long, and thus, missing the opportunity.  Although you don’t want to ask too early, you can’t afford to wait too long either.

An approach that can work is to build it right into your sales presentation.  Take the guesswork out of the equation and figure out the best place to position the “close.”  I generally position it after we have discussed my proposal or solution and addressed any questions my prospect may have.

I usually say something like, “What other questions or concerns do you have?”  If they say, “None,” I reply with, “Should we book a date for the training now?”

Afraid of being perceived as being pushy

Unless you use manipulative sales tactics, aggressive closing lines, or the wrong tone of voice, people will seldom think you are being pushy when you ask them to make a buying decision.

The key here is to ensure that you have done an effective job at identifying a potential problem, presenting your solution in terms that make sense to your prospect and that you have addressed any potential concerns they may have.

If you achieve that goal, you have earned the right to ask for the sale.

They don’t like being asked for their business

People in my sales training workshops have said, “I don’t like it when someone asks me for the sale so I won’t do that to other people.”

I respect that position.  I also believe, however, that we need to eliminate our personal biases.  I know that this is easier said than done.  The key is to identify the personal biases you have related to sales and selling and figure out a way to get past them.

My personal bias is that I abhor aggressive sales people.  However, I have learned that you don’t need to be aggressive in order to ask for the sale.

Afraid of objections

Objections, as you know, are a natural part of the sales process, and the best way to deal with them is to anticipate them and address them in your sales presentation or proposal.

It is also important to realize that when someone expresses a real objection it actually demonstrates an interest to buy.  It is much better to hear an objection than to walk away from a potential sale with no idea of why your prospect didn’t buy.

It feels awkward or uncomfortable

I will be the first to admit that it does feel uncomfortable taking this step — at least at first.  But that’s just like anything else you attempt for the first time.

The key is to create a variety of lines, phrases, statements and questions that you are comfortable using and then practicing them until they flow smoothly and comfortably from your brain to your mouth.  Don’t dismiss this simplicity of this idea.  Verbal rehearsal and practice is one of the most effective ways to remove any discomfort from a new sales approach, question or response.

I believe that it was Wayne Gretzky who said, “You will always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” and this applies to sales, too.

In today’s highly competitive world you need to be proactive in asking for the sale.  Otherwise, a competitor who is more assertive will capture the business you deserve.

By: Kelley Robertson,


The Mentalist and Real Estate

I have a friend who’s not only both honest and smart, but is consistently one of the top sellers in her brokerage.  One day over coffee she let me in on a secret — she watched a particular television show every week, because she felt it helped her to sell real estate.

I was surprised to learn that the show was not a real estate show, but The Mentalist, a detective show whose main character, based on the Amazing Kreskin, uses psychic powers and his ability to observe to solve crimes.

“How does The Mentalist help in your real estate career?” I asked.  The question itself reveals that I don’t have any psychic ability.

“Because,” she replied (a cream moustache had formed over her upper lip after a particularly large gulp of her flavored coffee), “real estate involves 30 per cent the spoken word, and 70 per cent trying to either figure out what they’re really saying, or what they’re not saying at all but revealing through their body language.  The Mentalist is not just mindless entertainment; it actually provides me with tools and tricks that allow me to hear what my client isn’t saying out loud.”

I thought of another popular television show from my youth: Kung Fu.  “You must listen to what you can’t hear, Grasshopper!”  Fortunately, my friend did not pick up on my thoughts.

I signaled with my hand for her to wipe away the moustache and admit I was impressed that, after a few minutes, she picked up on it and wiped away the unflattering residue from her lip.

“Can you give me some examples of body language and real estate?” I asked.

“Well,” she began, “you never enter a home or, for that matter, a room — first.  Always let the perspective buyer be the first to enter.”

“I suppose that’s just good manners,” I wisely noted.

“No, you don’t get it!  It has nothing to do with good manners.  This allows the buyer to get the full impact of the room without your large body blocking the view.”  (Sensitivity to body image is apparently not covered in The Mentalist.)  “So, while your potential buyer is taking in the view, you watch their shoulders.  If they sag, well, then they’re not really interested.  Also, watch their facial expressions.”

“But, I’m behind them!” I interjected.  I felt my shoulders sag; she didn’t pick up on this.

She waved my comment away as though it were a fruit fly.

“You have to get around in front of them and then watch their facial expression.  It’s very important to watch their facial expression, because the truth may just be a momentary flicker of what they really think, and you have to see that flicker; so get around to the side, and watch for the flicker.

“Oh,” she added, “don’t check your Blackberry when showing a home.  That’s not body signals — that’s just common sense!”

We finished our respective coffees and air kissed.  She was then on her way, smart phone ringing with three simultaneous deals, while I pulled up my collar against the cold winter wind and watched.  She confidently walked to her car, looking every inch the successful business woman that she is.

As I drove away from that meeting, I remembered the experiences I had 20 years earlier while working as a waiter.  At first, I was the world’s worst waiter, but as time passed I found that I could accurately judge the dynamics of a new table long before I approached it.  It was all in the person’s body language, and once I learned what to look for the tips improved.

So, I have started watching The Mentalist, because in real estate the words left unsaid are often just as important as those that are spoken.


1) Watch for body language, both yours and theirs.  What message are you sending your client by crossing your arms?

2) Avoid sending off any signal that suggests you are not listening.  (I struggle with this one)

3) Let the client walk into the home first.

4) Allow the client the time to imagine how the house would look if they owned it.

5) Watch your clients’ facial expressions and those knowing glances between spouses.

6) If you fold your arms, don’t tuck in your hands.  This means you’re closed to information or that your hands are cold.

7) Look up from that Blackberry when showing a house.


By: Peter D. Wilton,