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?  

How to Make a New Year Resolution That Works For You

Once again it’s the turn of the calendar to January which means you may be thinking about making a new year resolution. It’s quite normal to think about all you want to accomplish in the year ahead. Having targets to shoot for is important to move forward in life. Without direction our life will grow stagnant and directionless. It will have no spark.

new year resolutionBut just thinking about a new year resolution isn’t enough. You have to develop a definitive plan of action. These are the step-by-step plans that will help you accomplish what you want.

In order to get your plans on the right track, you have to decide on the right type of goal. Goals are hard enough to reach. I’m convinced though, we frustrate ourselves by not making the right type of goals in the first place. Consequently, we end up drifting aimlessly because we did not have the proper starting point.

So how do you set goals that will help your new year resolution become a reality? Above all they must contain a few basic elements.

New Year Resolution Goals Done Right

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How to Stop Waiting for Next Year to Get Your Finances Right

Sports fans are always waiting for next year. In any given season, only four teams out of 122 in the four major U.S. professional sports leagues win their respective championship. 118 teams and their fan bases are left hoping that next year will be different.

waiting for next yearOf course we always have hope, right? A few shrewd personnel moves from the front office management can surely turn things around. And maybe, just maybe the manager will finally figure it out next year and make all the right decisions.

Unfortunately, most of the time things don’t get better. The team doesn’t improve. There are injuries. Managers get fired. Free agents go elsewhere.

And once again we are left waiting for next year to get things right.

Many people adopt this same approach with their finances. Instead of addressing their money problems right now they take the “waiting for next year” approach. People who follow this way of thinking typically:

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The One Winning Formula For the Poor (Proverbs 28:11)

Hidden Nuggets Series #88 – “The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding searches him out.” – Proverbs 28:11

The winning formula to have success with money involves two things: altering our knowledge and altering our behavior. Of those two, behavior is by far the most important factor in the winning formula. We can have all the knowledge in the world but unless we put it into practice we’ll never win.

winning formulaRich people have figured this out. Their behavior is commensurate with the fact they have money. Somewhere along the way they realized (gained knowledge) what they should and should not do (behavior). They’ve done something (actually a lot of right somethings) to get to where they are.

According to the Bible the rich are “wise in their own eyes.” They understand what they’ve done and know the right path to take. They have chosen to avoid or pursue behaviors that might damage or propel their future respectively.

They don’t need any more advice.

They’ve figured it out.

The poor on the other hand haven’t and could sure use some.

And as we see in the second part of Proverbs 28:11, they would be wise to seek advice from the rich.

Seeking Out the Rich Is a Winning Formula

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I Have No One to Blame But Myself

Hidden Nuggets Series #87 – “Also to you, O Lord, belongs mercy; for you render to each one according to his work.” – Psalm 62:12

Hard workIn my teaching days I’d often hear moans and groans coming from students when they learned of their failure on a test. What usually followed their whimpers of dissatisfaction was a litany of excuses as to why they did so poorly.

“I had a ballgame last night.”

“My little brother wouldn’t leave me alone.”

“I forgot.”

My favorite complaint was this one, “But I did study!” to which I’d respond by saying, “How long?”

“30 minutes while I was watching TV” (or something like that was the typical response).

Ugh.

I worked in a Christian school so it was typical for us to pray during the day. I always prayed before tests just to calm the atmosphere and help kids get their mind focused.

As I began to put two and two together – lack of study time translating into poor grades (and then subsequent griping about said grade) – I decided to set the tone in my prayer for what the students could reasonable expect to happen based on their study patterns. So at the end of my prayer, I’d be sure to say something like this…

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The 4 Stages of Investing and How to Win Long Term

I’ve been investing now for almost 20 years and have experienced various stages of investing during that time. My wife brought several mutual funds into our marriage and that became my first exposure to the stock market. It didn’t take long for me to see how investing could have a positive impact on our financial future.

the 4 stages of investingOver the years our investments have evolved and our assets have grown. We’ve branched out into other avenues of investing beyond the stock market. It took some time to get there but the results have been worth it.

Making money in the market is a journey. You’ll go through various stages of investing along the way that are marked by specific decisions. How you handle each one of these stages will determine your ability to win long-term.

The 4 Stages of Investing

I hope you are thinking about investing. Next to the personal earnings you receive from your job, investing is the #1 way to build wealth. It does take some time for significant wealth to accumulate and you’ll have to go through these stages of investing to get there:

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Why You Should Never Discount Success When Others Praise You

Have you ever received praise from someone because of a great personal success and then downplayed why that success came? In other words, do you discount or make excuses for personal achievements when people applaud you? I find myself continually tempted to do this even though I know it’s damaging.

woman receiving an award Last month I had my most successful day and month ever on this blog…more page views and revenue than I realistically thought possible considering what I’m doing. When my wife complimented me on a job well done I assumed my best Floyd Mayweather stance and went into defensive mode.

“Well, if it hadn’t been for this and this and this then…”

“It really wasn’t anything I did, it was because…”

“It was just one month…I don’t think it will carry over.”

I sucked her praise right out of the air.

I didn’t accept it.

I didn’t acknowledge it.

Instead I downplayed it and swatted away her alley-oop praise pass.

Why Do We Act This Way?

You’d think we would relish the chance to be recognized for worthy achievements. I love awards and a pat on the back as much as the next guy. But why do we become a downer in the moments immediately after receiving praise for a success?

Perhaps it’s because…

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How Science Proves That Tithing Is Linked to Success and Happiness

Please welcome blogger Anum Yoon as she shares her thoughts on the personal and spiritual benefits of tithing.

Hidden Nuggets Series #86 – “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)

tithingGiving away 10% of your income will lead to success and happiness. Sounds like the start of a scam, doesn’t it?

For centuries, Christians have committed to the counter-cultural practice of tithing (giving 10% of your money to the church, charity or missions). Although the secular world thought it crazy, Christians understood the true blessings that come from financial obedience to God.

In an unexpected turn of events, recent scientific studies have proven these blessings, showing empirically that tithing is linked to happiness and success.

Tithing Brings a Better Mood

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Emergency Fund Basics: The Step On Which All Other Success Is Built

emergency fundWhat’s that? Oh…I see…you are just getting started with the “getting-my-financial-act-together” bit and don’t know where to begin. Well welcome to Emergency Fund Basics, the first step to success in all other areas of personal finance.

That may seem like a bold statement, saying that an emergency fund is the basis upon which all other financial decisions should be built. I can attest though, from personal experience, having money set aside strictly for emergencies is the #1 strategy that has propelled us forward in paying off debt, saving for retirement and college and investing in the stock market.

Why is that?

Because it’s a fact – emergencies are going to come and we will have to manage through the crisis. Sometimes they will rain in droves.

If cash is not available to take care of the emergency the moment it hits our door, then we are really only faced with one alternative – go into debt to deal with the situation. And the constant accumulation of debt hinders our ability to accumulate great wealth over time. The “going-into-debt-to-solve-the-emergency” cycle MUST be broken.

So today I’d like to outline the basics of the emergency fund process. You’ll learn when to start one, what to use it for, how much to save and the best way(s) to fund it.

What is an emergency fund?

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Rethinking the Definition of Success

Hidden Nuggets Series #48 – “Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.” – John 3:29

definition of successWhat is the definition of success?

Such a loaded question and a difficult thing to determine. I would say most measure whether a person has been a success based on a position attained, an amount of wealth accumulated or the level of power they possess. Other views may define success as simply reaching a goal or leaving an impact on others – a legacy that lasts after the person is gone.

Either way, there seems to be a fine dividing line between success and failure in the world’s eyes. To borrow a famous movie line from Trading Places, “One minute you are up half a million in soybeans and the next, boom, your kids don’t go to college and they’ve repossessed your Bentley.” One misstep it would seem can have that big an impact.

Complicating the definition of success even further is that we struggle evaluating ourselves. More often than not it’s the world and other people’s opinions telling us whether we are a success or not. Instead of gauging ourselves and being good with that, we let strangers define our level of success – people who may not have all the facts, who misread our motivation and fail to understand our endgame.

I don’t believe in a magic formula that defines success. There is too much subjectivity involved. For example, as I describe the life of this particular person, would you classify him as a success?

A Success Profile?

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Tools of Motivation: Getting What You Need to Succeed

tools of motivationWhat do you need to stay motivated and succeed?

For my money, nothing beats a good tool. Those who have ever worked on a construction site or have completed a DIY home project know this to be true. The more specific the tool is to the need the better it is able to properly complete the task.

For example, you wouldn’t use a hammer to insert a screw. Well, maybe you could. However, that method is probably going to cause some damage and a ton of frustration. The right tool is needed for the right circumstances to help you achieve maximum results in the most efficient amount of time.

Interesting thing about tools is how they motivate me to succeed. There have been times when I was having difficulty with a particular challenge and a tool pushed me through a mental or physical barrier. In most cases, the tool cost me money to obtain but in the end it proved vital to my success.

So for that I’d say the right tools are worth purchasing to help you win.

My Tools of Motivation

Tools of motivation come in all shapes and sizes for all aspects of life. Here are a few areas where I’ve seen tools be effective in my life.

Electronics

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