Hope for your financial life and beyond

Dress for Success: Style Tips for Professional Real Estate Agents

The real estate industry is built on strong first impressions and appearances and for good reasons. With the average home in America priced at $188,900, there are almost 200,000 reasons for people to be picky when it comes to hiring real estate agents.

So how should real estate agents come across to potential clients? What is the first impression a potential client has of you? What do you look like? Are you simply wearing a T-shirt and jeans? Hopefully not.

For real estate agents just entering the industry, it’s tough to figure out how formal you need to be. Does your wardrobe need a complete overhaul? So here are some tips for dressing for success in the fast-paced world of real estate.

Tips for Real Estate Agents

Curb Appeal

This is a concept that agents will try and drill into the heads of their clients when they take a listing. First impressions are vital. This sentiment translates directly from looking at homes to being an agent.

Male agents will want to sport a crisp haircut and freshly pressed shirt and pants. Women will want to have skirt or pantsuit, conservative dress with a jacket and close-toed pumps. This is the prototypical professional image that most people expect from a real estate agent.

Pro-Tip: One what to bolster your curb appeal is to use the latest tech trends. Using real estate lead generation software on a tablet or other device will help you look like you’re “in the now.”

Context is Key

You don’t always need to be in your Sunday best to make a good sale. Sometimes, the regional context in which you live will overpower the need to be professional. For example, if you’re showing off condos at a ski-resort or bungalows in a beach town, business casual is more common. If you are trying to sell vacation homes, you want to appear relaxed, yet professional.

Also, if you live in a rural area selling ranch properties, you’re not going to want to be walking around cattle grazing areas dodging cow-pies in your Manolos. In this context, wearing jeans and boots is just fine and even preferable.

Don’t Stop at the Clothes

You can be decked out in all Armani. However, if you show up in a beater car, you probably will lose some of the curb appeal you need to form a good first impression. There are a couple schools of thought with regards to what kind of car a real estate agent should have:

  • A fancy car will give the impression of wealth and success.
  • The only thing tat matters is that whatever you drive is clean and reliable.

The first school of thought assumes that buyers and sellers will only want to hire some uber-successful real estate personalities. The second assumes that what you drive ultimately doesn’t matter. Which is the right one?

When comparing these two philosophies, it’s important to once again consider context. If you are selling a home in Beverly Hills, you’ll want something a little more flashy that shows off your successes. If you’re selling something in the suburbs, you will most likely be fine with something reasonable and affordable.

The truth is that you need to be self-aware of your circumstances. Know the region and portion of the market you are trying to enter. With a little bit of awareness, you’ll be well on the path to dressing your way to success.

Questions for Discussion: What other advice would you give a real estate agent wanting to make a good impression on a potential client?  

Want to Chase Your Dreams? This Is the Right Way to Win Big

I hope you have some big goals you are trying to reach. Setting the right type of goals is key for personal and professional growth. But have you adequately prepared for what is ahead as you chase your dreams?

Our family faced a situation several years ago when my wife was facing a professional identity crisis. She enjoyed teaching math to high school students and was quite good at it. Although she loved the students, teaching wasn’t leaving her personally and professionally fulfilled.

So we began to discuss a big goal for her – making a career change that would take her from classroom math teacher to CPA. Those initial discussions were exciting. But, they were also filled with some indecision, apprehension and a little fear about how to accomplish the task.

chase your dreamsThe point here isn’t to be a discouragement as you chase your dreams. By all means, find your passion and go for it. However, many people have a tendency to jump before they think. That’s a mistake. You have to plan for the drawbacks and unforeseen situations that will arise as you chase your dream. The better you can prepare for those ahead of time, the easier they will be to deal with when they come.

We faced our share of issues during my wife’s transition. The great thing is we dealt with them and she eventually reached her goal.

Could it have gone smoother? Absolutely! That’s why I’m sharing five hints today from our experience that I hope will help you chase your dreams and reach that goal. You have to think these things through ahead of time and know how to deal with them if you want to win big.

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How to Resolve the What Career Should I Have Dilemma

Have you ever asked yourself the question, What career should I have?  If so, you know the answers aren’t that obvious. Coming to a decision about what career bests fits you can be quite a dilemma, no matter if you are right out of high school or in your mid-30s looking for a career change.

It sure was for me.

what career should i haveAfter high school graduation, everyone wanted to know what I was going to study in college. I didn’t know so I just told everyone I’d be taking my general education requirements first and decide on a degree track later. Seemed like the wise thing to do considering I didn’t know what else to do.

In the end, I chose psychology and counseling as a course of study. I didn’t know where that would ultimately take me later in life. All I knew at the time was that it matched up with my personality, my ability to listen and my desire to help people.

My chosen field of study didn’t lead me to a counseling career per se. After grad school, I ended up in education, first as a teacher and then as a principal at a small private school. Years later, I laid down my career as an educator and am now working as a youth pastor. While I’m not counseling in the strictness definition of the word, my education did prepare me in a lot of ways for things I faced (and am facing) when it comes to dealing with families and kids.

So in college, when I asked the What career should I have question, did I end up choosing the right one? Was my path of study appropriate, especially since I didn’t end up pursing that career in the end? Could I have gone through some steps to make a better choice that would have led to a career that aligned with my educational goals?

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How Reckless Driving May Affect Your License, Career and Credit History

Enjoy this article today from New York based attorney Zev Goldstein. Just don’t read it on your smartphone while driving.)

When it comes to traffic violations, reckless driving often ranks just below driving under the influence. A violation can affect every aspect of your life, from your job to your ability to attain future credit.

What Is Considered Reckless Driving?

Although the legal definition of reckless driving varies from state-to-state, it’s generally taken to mean driving in a manner that indicates a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of others.

Excessive speeding, tailgating, not signaling appropriately and running lights and stop signs are commonly considered reckless. Distracted driving from talking on the phone or texting behind the wheel can also fall under recklessness.

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Research-Based or Practice-Based Nursing Doctoral Degree: Which is Right for You?

There’s no doubt that earning an advanced degree of any sort can benefit your career — and the field of nursing is no different. While many nurses opt to earn specialized master’s degrees, a smaller number choose to seek a terminal degree, or doctorate in nursing.

nursingPart of the reason for the dearth of nursing doctoral candidates is confusion about which type of degree to earn. Nursing doctorates fall into one of two categories: Research-based or practice-based. While both have similarities, in the sense that the overall earning potential is about the same (average annual salary for a nurse with a terminal degree hovers around $90,000) and the number of opportunities available for each is the same, the two degrees are actually quite different.

An Alphabet Soup of Credentials

The first major difference between nursing doctoral degree programs is the type of degree that the program leads to: DNP or Ph.D. A program that leads to a DNP, or Doctor of Nursing Practice, is a practice-based program, designed to prepare nurses to serve as nurse leaders or in administration or management. There’s also a growing push to require nurse practitioners, who currently can practice with a master’s degree, to seek DNP degrees to ensure quality care.

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Psychological Tricks That Will Get You a Raise

Get a Raise IOf all of the potentially awkward conversations that one can have at work, asking for a raise ranks only slightly behind firing someone in terms of discomfort. No one likes going to their boss and asking for more money. If the conversation goes well, it’s great. If it doesn’t, or if your boss can’t (or won’t) increase your pay, then the disappointment often comes with a side of embarrassment and resentment.

Many experts have advice on how to ask for a raise successfully, and much of it is good. You need evidence that you deserve a pay increase, such as testimonials and outlines of successful projects. Demonstrating in quantitative terms how much you’ve grown and improved is a good idea. And of course, you need to do your homework to ensure that what you’re asking for is in line with the going rate for your position, industry, and region.

Still, there is always a chance that your boss is going to turn you down. That’s why you need to be prepared to use psychology to improve your chances of getting a raise.

The Psychology of the Workplace

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Not So Obvious Steps If You Want a New Job

Tired of where you work? Looking for a new job? If so, you are not alone. We have all “been there” at some point in our lives.

new jobIn fact, in 2102 the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a study that tracked the number of jobs people born in the years 1957 to 1964 held from ages 18-46. They found men held an average of 11.4 jobs and women held 10.7 jobs. I can only imagine those numbers will be considerably higher for those born more recently, to whom a mobile and transient culture has become the standard of life.

If you want a different job though, don’t jump the gun. That could be disastrous on many levels, including landing in a spot that’s not a good fit. Instead take your time and go through an evaluation process that covers these six big areas.

Initial Steps to Finding a New Job

The next job is out there waiting for you. But before you land it, slow down and follow these steps:

Determine Your “Why?”

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5 Practical Steps to Consider When Making a Career Change

Today I’m guest posting and commenting at the personal finance website Cash Cow Couple. Click the link below to read about all the steps my wife and I took when we were considering her career change.

career in crosshairsWe’d all like to make more money, right? Sometimes that can happen by taking on a basic part-time job or coming up with our own personal side hustle. More than likely though, over the long-term, we would want to make more money from our main career so those part-time jobs and side hustles could be eliminated from our daily schedule. Nobody wants to carry multiple jobs indefinitely. That would prove very stressful over time.

If there is little possibility of making more money from your current full-time job then a career change might be in order. It’s a scary proposition to launch out into a new career, unsure of how it’s going to work out. It’s that fear that keeps people from even considering it. We’d rather face being short on money than deal with change and battle the unknown…

Click here to continue reading at Cash Cow Couple…

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Your Best Investment Ever Won’t Be In The Stock Market

best investmentWhat is the best investment you could ever make? Historical analysis suggests an investor in the U.S. stock market can reasonably count on an average annual return of 8-10%. To get that, I’ll have to weather down periods in the market. It’s would be worth it knowing the good years will balance out the lean years to achieve that return.

While the stock market is a great creator of wealth, it’s not the best investment we can ever make. Nor is it land, rental properties, CDs, bonds, or commodities. None of those will bring the level of return needed to really succeed in our life, in our career and with our finances.

There is one investment that outshines them all in terms of total lifetime return. That’s the investment you make in yourself. Nothing will move you forward quicker, push you farther and have more lasting impact than the time and money spent on oneself.

Why Investing In Yourself Is the Best Investment

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Why I’m Quitting My Job To Be A Stay At Home Dad

stay at home dadYou read that right. It’s not a misprint or a trick to get attention. As of Friday, May 23rd 2014, I will no longer be formally employed. I’m becoming a stay at home dad.

After 17 years in education serving as a principal, teacher, coach and mentor, I’m quitting my job to be a stay at home dad.

Those are the most exciting words I’ve ever typed on this blog! I’m starting a new journey.

They are also the scariest words I’ve ever typed on this blog because I’m starting a new journey.

I’ve waited a long time to share this news and start talking about what has brought our family here. It hardly seems real even after formally declaring my intentions. Maybe my new life as a stay at home dad will me next week as I start to clear out my classroom. My guess is I won’t feel it’s full impact until sometime next fall, probably on the first day of the new school year.

The decision to be a stay at home dad appears to have come out of nowhere to those in my circle of influence. Obviously the students were surprised last week when I shared the news with them. I hadn’t hinted at this at all, even though I’ve known for some time this was going to be my final year. What appears to those outside to be a surprise, is actually the culmination of a multi-year prayer journey.

That’s right…I don’t make decisions quickly. Especially when it comes to leaving a place to which I’ve committed my entire adult working life.

I can’t unpack all there is to share about this move in one single post. So if you came here looking for a step-by-step tutorial on how to become a stay at home dad or the financial challenges associated with it, that’s coming later.

For now, I’d simply like to focus on “the why.”

Following Through On the Stay at Home Dad Desire

Life is a series of choices. Sometimes those choices collide and cause friction no matter which option is chosen. Regardless of the situation, we can never say we don’t have a choice. There are always options.

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10 Clues That Help Reveal When to Change Jobs

when to change jobs

How many times will the average person change jobs have in their lifetime? I have to admit being somewhat amazed when I went looking for the answer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics published a report in July of 2012 that tracked baby boomers born between 1957 and 1964. The report states that from the ages of 18 to 46, these individuals held an average of 11.3 jobs, a job being defined as an uninterrupted period of work with an employer. Men held slightly more jobs (11.4), while women held slightly less (10.7).

The news gets even more staggering for Millennials (those born between 1977-1997). A Forbes article published in 2012 states 91% of those surveyed expect to stay at a job for less than three years. That would put their job total between 15 and 20 during their adult working life.

I certainly don’t fit into either of these molds, having only worked three jobs in my post-college adult life: 1) one year as a construction worker; 2) one year as a sporting goods sales associate; and 3) 16 years in education as a teacher and principal. So my average job length is six years, but you can see that figure is a bit misleading when trying to determine what career has been most important in my life.

I’ve always been a creature of habit, so figuring out when to change jobs has always been a challenge. I shudder to think about making the “should-I-take-a-new-job” decision 10+ times in my life. Because I don’t like change simply for change sake, something would really have to motivate me to look at a new job offer.

Reasons That Reveal When to Change Jobs

Here are 10 such circumstances that might help you decide when to change jobs:

1. When there would be a significant upward change in salary and benefits.

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