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True Differentiation

True Differentiation

How it impacts profit and dictates strategy when selling a home.

 

By  Michelle Lieberman

I realize the image above may look a little Howard Hughes-ish, but there is a method to my madness. And this sketch, if you’re thinking of selling your home, may have a profound and direct impact on your bottom-line profit. You’ll also want to share this with friends and family members that you care about too.

When I set out to study Warren Buffett, his investment philosophy, to find out what made him the world’s greatest investor, and ultimately, how his methods could be applied to my clients’ home sales — I stumbled upon a book called Differentiate or Die. This book changed my entire perspective on real estate. Jack Trout was the author. In the book he laid out the fundamental reasons why a business must differentiate from competitors, not just to be successful, but as the key ingredient to thrive in our current era of Killer Competition. Now, admittedly, from a business perspective, this is common sense. Every entrepreneur knows he must differentiate his business. As a mentor once told me, “Nobody needs two left shoes.” In business, if two businesses are the same, then one is dispensable.

But, this got me thinking.

Business, and the fight for new customers, really, is no different than real estate and the fight for homebuyers or sellers.

Your home is a home, yes, but analogously speaking, it is also a product no different than Tide laundry detergent, where you are the owner of that product, no different than Proctor & Gamble owns Tide. And when you look at your home through this lens, the profit from your home sale and its ability to compete in the marketplace comes down to your ability to differentiate.

Is your home no different than the many other homes on the market? Is it just a commodity? Or is it different, and could it be judged superior?

In my sketch above, you’ll notice there are three scenarios. Each scenario describes the starting position of your product, your home, in relation to other competing homes on the market. Each of these scenarios can also be thought of as a race.

The more and better you differentiate your product, the faster you move forward toward higher profit. And of course, the less you differentiate the faster you move backwards toward lower profit. All the while the other homes on the market, in your neighborhood, in your price range, with similar square footage, amenities, etc., are competing in the same race.

In scenario #1 – you, your home, you start even with your competitors. You are neither ahead of or behind. There is no discernible difference between your home and others. No apparent advantages and no apparent disadvantages.

In scenario #2 – you, your home, starts out ahead of the competition. This could be for a number of reasons. But through some means of differentiation, you have the advantage of a 5-second head start. So as long as you run the race appropriately, and don’t trip over your feet or make a fundamental mistake, you have increased odds of winning.

In scenario #3 –you, your home, starts out at a notable disadvantage to the competition. You are now the underdog, not the frontrunner. And to win, and bank the most profit from your home sale, you’ll have to run the race of your life.

Part of my job then becomes, prior to creating the actual “race strategy,” is to determine where a client’s home’s starting position is.

If you’re running the 800-meter dash, for example, someone running on the inside lane—from a strategic standpoint—must run a very different race than the runner who runs in the outside lane. Similarly, the runner with a known disadvantage, like Aimee Lee Mullins who I wrote about previously, who set multiple NCAA records despite having her lower legs amputated as a child, must run a very different race than the runner who doesn’t have that handicap.

Now you would think that every home, given the three scenarios above, either a) starts out even, b) ahead or c) behind the competition, right? Wrong. There is actually a 4th possible scenario.

In scenario #4 – you, your home, starts out ahead of the competition but…only “in your mind.” For obvious reasons, this is dangerous.

When a homeowner is blinded to their true starting position in relation to other competing homes on the market, due to pride of ownership, ego, arrogance, lack of understanding of how true differentiation works, how value is created, etc., almost always, in my experience, they sabotage their chance for maximum profit.

There is, by the way, nothing wrong with starting from behind. The fabled underdog story exists for this reason, to upset the odds-makers. But the underdog, to win, must realize he is the underdog and, through strategy, offset his handicap.

David versus Goliath: an apparent mismatch, but in this fight Goliath’s size is no match for a small well-placed stone, shot from a distance, out of reach of Goliath, from David’s high-tension slingshot. Bing! One stone upside the head, and Goliath is out.

This is why, in our book, The Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate: How to protect yourself from Real Estate Greed and bank an extra $30K in profit by taking a Value-Driven Approach, I talk about the importance of getting an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis—for this very reason—to identify your homes’ true starting point.

The last scenario in the world you ever want to participate in is scenario #4.

One interesting tidbit too, about how true differentiation works, when done correctly and effectively, you not only control whether your home moves forward or backward “in the race” toward higher or lower profit, you also control whether other competing homes (with yours) move forward or backward too.

I suppose it’s kind of like cheating, that is tying a rope around your competitor, and anchoring him to a tree before the start of the race, but hey, that other homeowner should have hired someone who understands true differentiation, then they wouldn’t have been in that position, chained to a lower potential profit.

The biggest secret, though, for maximum profit, you must know your “product’s” starting point in relation to its competitors. Without this, nothing else really matters, as the details are fiction and hypothetical, not reality.

But with reality, we can get to true strategy.

If it turns out that we’re the underdog, so be it, we’ll run the race of the underdog and in accordance to the facts, strive for the upset.

 

ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.

‘Disruption’ – A Fickel Little Friend

‘Disruption’ – A Fickel Little Friend

This One Word Defines a New Way of Thinking That Could Either Catapult You or Leave You as Road Kill

 

By  Jay Lieberman

I do love me some disruption in an industry. Something that is just about to change the way we all think or do something.

Disruption is the perfect cause of the ‘Holy Shit’ moment.

But, be careful. Disruption by its very nature is very high risk and operates at a lightning fast pace.

Let me tell you about a disrupter named Mike Dillard. He is a serial entrepreneur. This dude has built various companies over time, teaches courses for entrepreneurs, and has the most successful podcast show interviewing everyone and everything. He shifts left and right, constantly. Always maneuvering, learning and growing.

He learned about the pains and evils of disruption the hard way.

A couple years ago, Dillard began researching a better way to bring clean produce to the kitchens of the world. He was looking to disrupt the agricultural arena, which supposedly has low efficiencies, toxic chemicals, pollution, transportation, land problems, labor issues. As an example, he found that it took 28 gallons of water to grow 1 head of lettuce. That alone kind of pisses me off.

And by the time it ended up on your kitchen table, it had been laced with toxic pesticides and subjected to pollutive transportation.

He set out with a massive war chest of knowledgeable people around him, and millions of dollars, to develop an indoor hydroponic produce growing system for the individual home. He knew nothing about it to start. He literally went on Amazon, bought as many books on the subject as possible, searched on Google and went to town.

I personally followed his journey. It seemed to be the type of disruptive enterprise that brought about 100 new issues for every one being solved. Then, after 2 years, the physical unit was completed. He showed it off. It is gorgeous as hell.

A living piece of furniture, sitting there as the new model of healthy, low impact plant growing.

But, there were issues. Keeping the PH levels correct, emptying the water reservoir every couple weeks, monitoring this thing or that thing. It wasn’t a hassle necessarily, but it was involved. And the cost ended up at about $3,000 a unit.

Hmmm. Disruption is not easy. It will constantly fight back at you. His began to kick and scream at him.

But, just hold it right there, Dillard. Did you see what was coming your way? Just around the corner.

Something he knew existed before his disruptive endeavor, but was not overly concerned about. But, again disruption is fast and takes no prisoners. A company had created a soil and sponge growing kit that uses no electricity, no hassle, no nothing. Oh, except for a little water to saturate the soil sponge and a seed of whatever you want to grow.

It is called Click N Grow. Done. Dillards hydroponic disruption, 2 years in the making, innovation, tons of money. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Done.

All crushed by a simple pot shaped soil sponge that can fit in your hand at a cost of $30. 100 times cheaper. Same result.

Disruption is sweeping and makes no friends.

This is what Michelle and I have been talking about for some time now in our little world of real estate. We decided to disrupt our local industry. Namely, the way the majority of real estate agents operate. We ceased all of the cold calling, door knocking, postcards, painful drip email marketing. Things that killed our reputation as human beings in our community. We replaced it with our documented approach in book format to help our clients avoid mistakes when selling homes. How to consistently yield more profit for our clients. We spotlight local business owners on our Conejo Podcast show. We share stories about our lives and our clients in our monthly print newsletter.

Like picking fresh home-grown produce from your kitchen, our approach is a higher elevated process that has consistently brought about “more healthy” results for our clients. Exactly what we wanted it to do.

But, disruption brings in the naysayers, the questioners, the curious and fearful. They have all reared their ugly heads at Michelle and me over the last year or so.

This means we are nagging at the industry enough to make a dent. The dents will get bigger. I PROMISE!

However, we have to be hyper aware. There could be a real estate Click N Grow out there ready to disrupt us. This is why we have built in various points of complication into our systems to make it much harder for any other agent to copy or implement.

We also continue to build on it, one platform at a time.

The next being the launch of Impact Club Conejo Valley, a giving club making monstrous impact on our local community.

If you plan to take a stab at changing the order of things,   to flip an industry on its head, make sure to look around constantly. Pay attention. And be sure to build in difficulty to minimize the pesky copy-cats.

Disruption is necessary, but it will be the last one to tell you when it’s coming.

 

ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.

Real Estate Maximum Profits

Real Estate Maximum Profits

The Aggregation of Marginal Gains: How “The Value-Driven Approach To Sell Real Estate” Creates Max Profit For Homesellers!

 

By Michelle Lieberman

I read an incredible article the other day about Tour de France cyclist coach, Dave Brailsford.  In the article it said, “In 2010, Dave Brailsford faced a tough job. No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France“, but as the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team), Brailsford was asked to change that.

His approach was simple.

Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.

They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.

But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.

Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years’ time.

He was wrong. They won it in three years.

In 2012, Team Sky rider Sir Bradley Wiggins, became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. That same year, Brailsford coached the British cycling team at the 2012 Olympic Games and dominated the competition by winning 70 percent of the gold medals available.

In 2013, Team Sky repeated their feat by winning the Tour de France again, this time with rider Chris Froome. Many have referred to the British cycling feats in the Olympics and the Tour de France over the past 10 years as the most successful run in modern cycling history.

The article then asks, “What can we learn from Brailsford’s approach?”

The answer is obvious, isn’t it? The coach’s concept, “The aggregation of marginal gains.” As the author points out, “It’s easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis.”

And, also states, “Almost every habit that you have—good or bad—is the result of many small decisions over time. And yet, how easily we forget this when we want to make a change. So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it.

Whether it is losing weight, building a business, traveling the world or any other goal, we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.

Meanwhile, improving by just 1% isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.”

After all, isn’t that how Warren Buffett became one of the world’s richest people? Not overnight. But through the power of compound interest. Small regular improvement. Aggregated together. Compounded over time.

Again, it didn’t happen overnight. But that “Value-Driven Approach,” as Warren Buffett is a value-driven investor, is what turned Buffett’s portfolio from 3 shares of Cities Service, an oil service company, at the ripe age of 11—into, 75 years later, a personal fortune of $72.5 billion. Or, purely for effect, to truly understand the size of that number: 72,500 million.

Well, when selling real estate. The path to maximum profit, no different than winning the Tour de France or engineering a massive portfolio, isn’t done with one epic, noticeable decision. It is, instead, the aggregation of many small decisions that serve to eliminate fundamental mistakes.

Take a look at the chart below:

Now imagine the negative impact of just a 5% decline in decision-making effectiveness over the course of 100 decisions. At first, it’s not noticeable. But quickly, those inferior decisions begin to compound, derailing the entire train. The opposite is true for highly-effective decisions. They too, over the course of 100 decisions, quickly compound to lead to a result that maximizes profits.

This is why, when it comes to our approach to sell real estate, we documented it, to be sure we consistently made more effective decisions. End result? Happy clients. Higher profits.

 

ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.

Just Call and Ask

Just Call and Ask

The Day That Walter O’Brien, Founder of Scorpion, Agreed To Help Me Out

By:  Jay Lieberman 

It all started with this email I received not long ago:

“Hi Jay, I have discussed your need with my team here and we feel confident that we have the resources available with the appropriate experience to fulfill the requirements you expressed to me.”

The sender was from one of the guys that works for Walter O’Brien at his company called Scorpion Computer Services.

If the name Walter O’Brien doesn’t mean anything to you, let me tell you a little bit about this guy.

He was a prodigy starting as a young kid, with a tested IQ of 197. He started programming at 9 and founded his firm Scorpion when he was the ripe age of 13. He realized in forming this company that he could bring other really smart talented people and engineers together from all around the world and solve not only major technical engineering problems, but also every day business and life problems.

He solves the unsolvable for major businesses and governments all over the world, and now also helps the regular guy, under the tag line “problem solving for ANY funded problem.”

You may have seen his character on the television show Scorpion. That’s the guy.

Like a modern day Einstein. Pretty unbelievable.

Why am I telling you all this?

Well, stepping back for just a minute, for as long as I can remember, if I needed help, I never hesitated to call anyone for anything at anytime. Especially if it’s for a client. All hands on deck. Phone banks activated.

I got this quality from my Dad. I grew up watching him put calls into the president of this company or that company if he was not satisfied with something. This mayor or that political figure if he didn’t like the way the traffic was flowing on the 405 freeway. Stuff like that. Those things rubbed off on me and ever since then, I can’t put the phone down.

 Recently, I was brainstorming about some crazy out of the box ideas for the growth of our real estate company. Things the industry has never seen before. Things I have never thought of before. I talked with friends with businesses, some that failed and some that grew like wildfire. Learning, reading and researching. I am looking down the road at our 10-year business plan.

As most of you know, we started a metamorphosis of sorts over the last 15 months with the start our Conejo Podcast Show, this newsletter you are holding in your hands, and our unique Value-Driven Approach to Selling Real Estate, which we published in book format for use by our clients.

So far, these new ideas and platforms have done exactly what we hoped. Having greatly improved the results and profits our clients experience when allowing us to apply our approach to real estate.

These things are part of a 5-year plan.

But now I’m looking to build on that. And in a major way. To take our approach and processes to the next level, 10-years or more down the road.

So, I reached out to Scorpion. Just like my Dad would have if he was in my position.

These guys are probably trying to disarm a nuclear weapon somewhere in the world or save us all from impending doom. Why in the hell would they have any interest in talking to me?

But, then again, I had a problem and they say they help solve problems for the regular guy.

I tossed them an application request. Never thinking it would go anywhere, but at least I was trying.

After a few weeks, out of nowhere, I got a 9-word email:

“Would like to set up a call with you.”

No time or date. No signature line. No phone number, address. The usual stuff at the bottom of an email. Just “ – Mark.” Very clandestine. At that point I couldn’t care less if it didn’t work out. This was getting exciting. It felt very CIA, FBI, KGB.

A few days later we had a call. It was fast – about 5 minutes. Probing question after another of what my problem is and my expectations. I felt the gigantic IQ on the other end of the line ooze through the phone.

He told me he would discuss it with his team and get back to me. A week later is when I got the email at the start of this article. They were interested in my case. My hair stood on end. I actually got a knot in my stomach with excitement. What does this all mean? I was acting like a 5-year old with a new toy.

Then, a few more weeks went by. No contact. I emailed a couple times. No response. I was getting bummed out. They got me all excited and I felt let down. They went dark on me. Like I was invited to go to Disneyland with friends but the friends forgot to pick me up. I actually got a little sad.

I was left wondering why I was getting so emotional about this whole thing. I was not even certain what this would cost, what they were going to do for me, and if I really wanted to move forward with them at all. These guys solve problems for governments for shit’s sake.

I think I simply loved the idea that I reached out to these powerhouses and they got back to me. I felt satisfied enough with that.

Still no contact. 6 weeks. Damnit. I lost them. That was that. Oh well. I tried. So, I went back to the books to devise my own ideas for my 10-year plan.

THEN ONE MORNING MY EMAIL LIT UP.

I felt a bit faint when I saw it. I almost didn’t want to read it. The idea of Scorpion and Walter O’Brien working for me was so exciting that I didn’t want that feeling to go away. I let the email sit there for a while, but it kept staring at me like a baby that needed a bottle.

Finally, I clicked it, Hi Jay, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’ve been trying to get approval for your SOW, but Walter has been traveling. I now have that approval and will be sending it over to you ASAP. Regards.”

Wow. Now that Walter O’Brien approved it personally, I really may be onto something larger than I think.

Who knows how this will work out, or if at all. But, I again realized to never let anything hold me back from reaching out for help, for new ideas, from anyone. Doesn’t matter who it is – the President of the United States to the owner of your favorite restaurant. It doesn’t matter. If you have a problem or need help, just call and ask.

You never know when your email will light up like a Christmas tree.

P.S. I did finally get a proposal from them and am considering it. The retainer is a minimum of $10,000 with additional fees on top of that as they succeed. They are so brilliant I can only understand the first page of the proposal so far. The rest reads like engineering schematics to me!

 

ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.

 

Share Your Story

Share Your Story

May I take you on a bit of journey?

Four Stories To Higher Profit – from your home sale and, anything else you sell in life.

 

By  Michelle Lieberman

Let me share with you several stories that recently impacted me.

The first comes from a book, written by Carmine Gallo.

Meet Aimee Mullins, she as 12 pairs of legs. Like most people she was born with two, but unlike most people Mullins had to have both legs amputated below the knee due to a medical condition. Mullins has lived with no lower legs since her first birthday.

Mullins grew up in a middle class family in the middle-class town of Allentown, Pennsylvania, yet her achievements are far from ordinary. Mullins’ doctors suggested that an early amputation would give her the best chance to have a reasonable amount of mobility. As a child Mullins had no input into that decision, but as she grew up she refused to see herself as or to accept the label most people gave her—“disabled.” Instead, she decided that prosthetic limbs would give her superpowers that others could only dream of.

Mullins redefines what it means to be disabled.

Mullins tapped her superpower—her prosthetic limbs—to run track for an NCAA Division One program at Georgetown University. She broke three world records in track and field at the 1996 Paralympics, became a fashion model and an actress, and landed a spot on People magazine’s annual list of the 50 Most Beautiful people.

When Mullins told her story to the world, “The opportunity of Adversity,” just as I have told you her story here, it was quickly viewed nearly 1.5 million times.

Let me tell you another story that I read about. In his book, Gallo also introduced me to Cameron Russell.

In a presentation, Russell tells the audience, “Looks aren’t everything.” Cliché? Yes, if it had been delivered by anyone else. Russell, however, is a successful fashion model. Within thirty seconds of taking the stage Russell changed her outfit. She covered her revealing, tight-fitting black dress with a wraparound skirt, replaced her eight-inch heels with plain shoes, and pulled a turtleneck sweater over her heard.

“So why did I do that?” She asked the audience. “Image is powerful, but also image is superficial. I just totally transformed what you thought of me in six seconds.”

When Russell told her story, the full version, not just the intro as I have shared with you here, it was quickly viewed more than 6.5 million times.

Let me tell you yet another story. This one about Magic Johnson but more specifically, his business partner, Ken Lombard. Ken and Magic were scheduled to meet with Peter Guber who, at the time, was the CEO of Sony pictures. Upon meeting Guber in his office, the first thing Lombard said was, “Close your eyes. We’re going to tell you a story about a foreign country.” Guber thought it a little “unorthodox,” but he shut his eyes and went along with it. Lombard continued, “This is a land with a strong customer base, great location, and qualified investors. You know how to build theaters in Europe, Asia, and South America. You know how to invest in foreign countries that have different languages, different cultures, different problems. What you do, Peter, is you find a partner in the country who speaks the language, knows the culture, and handles the local problems. Right?” Guber nodded in agreement as his eyes remained shut. “Well, what if I told you a promised land exists that already speaks English, craves movies, has plenty of available real estate, and no competition? … This promised land is about six miles from here.”

Lombard and Johnson were pitching Guber on building movie theaters in underserved urban communities, but knew Guber wouldn’t be interested if he knew from the start that this was their idea.

Lombard knew, first, he’d have to create a desire for Guber to own such a location. For this, he needed to tell the above story. He’d need to take Guber on a journey, so he could see, and imagine, before he judged and ruled it out.

It worked! In the first four weeks of opening, the first Magic Johnson Theater was one of the top five highest-grossing theaters in the Sony chain.

Finally, meet Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn. They founded the site SignificantObjects.com, a website dedicated to the power of story. Significant Objects was a social and anthropological experiment devised by Walker and Glenn. The two researchers started with a hypothesis: a writer can invent a story about an object, investing in the object with subjective significance that would raise its objective value. In other words, they could buy crap, tell a compelling story about that crap, and because of the romanticism of the story, create a desire for the object to sell it for far more than they purchased it for. They curated  objects from thrift stores and garage sales. The objects  would cost no more than a buck or two. The second phase of the experiment saw a writer create a short, fictional story about the object. In the third step, the object was auctioned off on eBay.

The researchers purchased $128.74 worth of objects. The thrift-store “junk” sold for a total of $3,612.51. The men had discovered that a powerful story had raised the average products’ prices by 2,700 percent.

Through the experiment the researchers concluded, “Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively. Or simply put, “When someone likes a story about an object—or your home, if it’s on the market and you’re selling it—that emotional connection is expressed by the buyer in his willingness to pay a higher sales price. This of course, earns the seller of the object a greater profit for whatever that object is being sold.

So why tell you these stories? Because each one of these stories reveals a secret that we use when working with real estate clients to realize higher bottom-line profits. If you want to turn adversity into opportunity, for example, you craft a story. Every home has its flaws; there is no perfect home. But through the power of story, as Aimee Mullins demonstrated, how those flaws are seen and viewed to the outside world can be changed. The thesaurus definition for the word disabled is: broken-down, confined, decrepit, handicapped, helpless, hurt, incapable, laid-up, lame, maimed, out-of-action, paralyzed, powerless, weakened, worn-out, wounded, wrecked. But as Aimee Mullins exemplifies, even with no lower legs, none of these “definitions” are true. She believes her prosthetic limbs are her superpowers and give her options. Longer prosthetics to make her taller for balls and black tie events, spring-loaded prosthetic legs for running at incredible speeds, shorter prosthetics for every day… she has options we do not. And while I can’t ever imagine wanting to trade my lower legs for no lower legs, through the power of hearing Aimee’s story, I wouldn’t now fear it. With every adversity there is opportunity. The Power of Story helps real estate clients to see that same truth, when looking at or selling a “flawed” home. We can turn it into a positive.

If you want to transform the look of your home, as Cameron Russell revealed, image is only surface deep. In the same way Russell completely transformed her image within 30 seconds of taking the stage, we, through a process called                                                           “Scientific staging”, can transform the image of a clients’ home. In her full presentation Russell talks about, in preparation for a photo shoot, of having a team of hair and make-up stylists, photographers, fashion coordinators, people to help her pose, etc., all working to tell a story through her newly created image. And, in real estate, maximum profit works in exactly the same manner. Through the creation of a new imagine, we’re able to tell a home’s story. And, from Rob and Joshua’s research at SignificantObjects, on the power of story, we know this is a path to higher profit.

The reality is, we all love stories.

They have the power to entertain us, suck us into a message, and help us envision the impossible, even change our minds about deeply held beliefs—as Lombard proved to Guber about building theaters in urban areas. This is why Jay and I spend so much time crafting, listening to and studying stories. Sure, we enjoy them, but also, for our clients, our job is to tell them effectively. Their profit, and the speed of their home sale, depend on it.

I guess my point is—never forget—the story you tell about your home, in more ways than you can imagine, has impact on your bottom-line profit. So don’t shortcut this step and be certain that no agent you may hire to help you, shortcuts this step either.

 

ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.

 

 

Failing My Way Forward

Failing My Way Forward

A Sermon That Innocently Opened My Eyes to the Grace of Failure

 

By  Jay Lieberman 

I remember it now like it was just a minute ago. But, I have struggled trying to understand it for many years – 20 years ago in fact when I let fear get the best of me. When it allowed me to throw away everything I worked so hard for.

First let me take you back 4 months when this over-whelming realization began.

At Rosh Hashanah services late last year, our Rabbi projected out a powerful sermon.

I was hanging on every sentence. It was as if he created it just for me. What I didn’t expect was the flood of emotions that came rushing forward, along with some very misty eyes.

Something woke up inside me.

His core message was not about G-d, what he/she is or isn’t doing for me. It was not about how an old mythical Rabbi from 1,000 years ago said this thing or that thing, which I should model my entire life after.

No, it was not about that at all. It was something based on every day existence as a human being.  It was a deeper gift I was given. I felt the other 500 people in the sanctuary disappear around me.

His Sermon was entitled, “The Courage To Be Imperfect.”

It’s almost impossible to paraphrase that moving 20 minutes, but the overall message was this – the expectation of Perfection separates and distances folks from one another. Those that believe it can be achieved and others that realize perfection is unattainable.

The opposing Imperfection is critical. It is where we find the really important stuff, like courage, commitment and character. These things tend to arrive just after failure of perfection; after situations of great turmoil, upheaval, stress, and anxiety.

Errors aren’t mistakes. What is interesting, what is fascinating is what comes right after a mistake,” the Rabbi said.

Some people are so consumed with being perfect, keeping up with those they believe are perfect, that they never truly branch out and try something new. They never stretch beyond it.

They become frozen by the mere thought that someone may see their faults. Or more importantly, they may see within themselves that they are not as perfect as they once perceived themselves to be.

You see, failure provides many gifts, such as innovation, new ideas, looking at things from a completely different lens. These go out the window if failure and imperfection are not embraced.

I know that it takes a lot of strength to try something that demands an incredible resistance to doubt, while at the same time a commitment to faith.

So, what does this all have to do with my career path?

Well, back in 1995 I was getting ready to graduate from law school. I had spent half of those grueling 3 years studying for a specialty in criminal law, working towards a job at the District Attorney’s office in L.A.

I had already clerked for a Judge and at the City Attorney’s office, so I was headed down an exciting path. I was ecstatic about the direction I was going. Also, I knew the D.A. personally. He coached his son’s and my little league baseball team back when we were kids. Things felt good.

I had the first in a series of interviews with the DA’s office and left very excited about my future there.

Then, just days after the interview, something unexpected happened. A thick fog began to engulf me. I became terrified. I had no idea at the time what the hell was going on. There was some invisible force causing me to doubt everything I wanted and worked for.

Flashes of fear raced through my mind day and night. Scared to be in court. Fearful of not performing well in front of so many people. Scared my failures would put more criminals back on the street. Fearful that I may forget something, that I would get disbarred.

I was afraid I would make a mistake. And that mistake would be the end of all things.

Crazy shit whirled around my brain. I worked so hard and loved the prospects for my future. I had been mapping it out for years and it was finally within my grasp.

And overnight it dominated my most dreaded thoughts.

I became silently depressed.

The only way out of the pain was to get rid of the cause. So, I cancelled the second interview and immediately forged a new career path.

For no other reason, I realize now, except for my fear of being imperfect.

Don’t get me wrong, I am nothing but grateful for the career, experiences and adventures I have had so far in my life. I couldn’t imagine being any happier than I am today, serving my clients, my family and my community as I have the honor of doing every day.

But, I never realized that fear of failing and imperfection was the reason for my abrupt upheaval so many years ago. It had been nagging at me for years. I could never put my finger on it until now. Until those flowing words from my Rabbi hit my ears.

I realize now that I can never be perfect, that I may make 100X more blunders than successes. I realize now that perfection is an impossibility.

Understanding this has allowed me to begin to embrace imperfection. It has allowed me to not give a shit what anyone else thinks. And it now allows me to pursue things in my life, which exposes me to risk of failure, without the threat of fear halting my path forward.

I am so fortunate that I showed up to temple that day. That sermon liberated my mind and forged new roads ahead.

 

The Good Old Days

The Good Old Days

By  Jay Lieberman

I spent the last 15 years trying to get to and from somewhere as fast as humanly possible.

Then, in what seemed like an instant flash of time, those years flew off the calendar and all I was left with were pieces of a puzzle, memories to try and put back together – the chaotic frenzy of daily life.

Let me back up about four years ago. I came to a massive realization from an odd source.

I’m a superfan of the show ‘The Office.’ I have binge watched the entire 9 seasons multiple times, know just about every line of every episode, and identify with a lot of the characters.

During the finale episodes, as the cast is reminiscing about old times, Andy Bernard, played by actor Ed Helms, says something directly to the camera, that was so powerful, so thought  provoking, that each time that episode runs I have to play it a few times back to soak it in.

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

You see, I realize now that when I was in my 30’s, it was all about the rush. Get to the soccer game. Run to the dance recital. Grab dinner quickly on your way home. Carpool 100 kids to the birthday parties. Run the kids to and from school. Work all day and sometimes all night. Hop on and off planes for work.

I know we all have pictures, albums and videos of this stuff. Taken with care during the games and parties with the sincere hope to preserve those special events. But, maybe like you, mine are in a box somewhere, a hassle to get to and in most cases I don’t have the right plug or wire to play the videos anyway.

This really does nothing to bring those important memories back.

Now that my focus has somewhat changed over the last few years, from my kids on my shoulders at Disneyland to now monitoring their incredible progress as they enter adulthood, I’ve had a chance to reflect.

Time to form the memories back together – like a million piece puzzle.

Time to figure out and realize that those were the ‘Good Old Days.’

Now, every day I am breathing and able to suck down a cup of Starbucks coffee is a great day.

What I’m talking about here is the grouping of rushed time we all wish we could have slowed down and paid more attention to.

I don’t know how easy that would have been though, even if I knew then what I know now.

Honestly, I’m not sure that  we are meant to slow it down.

Maybe it’s supposed to fly by so that later in life we can realize how important that time really was.

Nevertheless, I pay more attention now to the day, the night and the time in between. The short Facetime calls we have with Alex at college and the talks I have with Caiti about life.

I take every moment in and relish it the best I can, hoping that someday I won’t have to look back on my 40’s and say the same thing I did about my 20’s and 30’s.

I’m learning now that every day is a Good Old Day and I am taking it one mental picture at a time.

 

ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.

 

 

Real Estate Agents Violate Rules

Real Estate Agents Violate Rules

 Investigation Finds 6 in 10 to be Unethical

 

By Michelle Lieberman

 

Yep, they’re back at it. The Unethicals.

“Attempting to buy a home in a red-hot market can make it feel like the deck is stacked against you. But if a real estate agent is behaving unethically, it could cost you tens of thousands of dollars—even the house of your dreams.”

That is the opening paragraph from a recent article, as a result of Marketplace’s hidden camera investigation. The investigation reveals, “some real estate agents are breaking the rules in an effort to double their sales commission.”

“Using hidden cameras, Marketplace, documented how top agents…breached ethical and legal rules aimed at protecting consumers.”

As one honest agent, Josie Stern, put it, “There’s a lot of money at stake and corruption is just all over the place.” And she is absolutely right.

Why be paid just one commission, when through secrecy and some smoke and mirrors, you can be paid a double commission?

Referring to hot markets and multiple offer situations, the article states, “With bids [that are kept] secret, it’s hard to catch,” referencing the corruption.

To conduct the investigation, Marketplace staff posed as homebuyers and visited real estate agents in our local area. The faces and names of the agent s have been concealed, as experts told Marketplace the problems are not specific to individuals but exist across the industry.

Now, can we stop there for a moment?

Do you not find it interesting and fascinating, as well as troubling and concerning, that the problem is apparently so widespread in real estate, that experts see no need to hold any individual accountable for their unethical actions? I mean, think about that. What would we do if the act of murder became a societal wide-spread problem, would be stop holding individuals accountable.

It seems to me, the only way to reverse an industry-wide problem like this, where agents are choosing to be unethical for personal enrichment, is to make it known that the punishment to any individual found in violation of the rules, would be swift, massive and extremely painful.

After all, if there is no fear of punishment for breaking the rules, putting consumers at risk of being exploited, victimized, taken advantage of, then what prevents the industry from continuing the behavior?

From the investigation, it was found that 6 out of 10 agents [when dealing with multiple offer situations] promised to share confidential information and give an advantage if they were to represent both parties in a bidding war. An obvious violation of ethics.

When Marketplace followed up with the six agents found to be breaking the rules, most said they did nothing wrong or were merely passing on their professional expertise. One agent said behavior like this happens all the time.

Now, I won’t bother to paint the parallels. But in other professions, whether you’re a practicing physician, licensed attorney, or a trader in the stock markets, isclosing confidential information, and/or using confidential information for the enrichment of self, is not only unethical, but in many cases illegal, and likely to lead to the loss of personal freedom or professional license or both.

In real estate, though, discipline is rare.

After Marketplace presented the findings of their investigation, the regulatory Real Estate Council wrote this message to its members:

“These practices are a clear breach of the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 and the Code of Ethics. Engaging in this sort of behavior undermines consumer protection, consumer confidence, and puts the reputation of the real estate profession at risk. Anyone can lodge a formal complaint against an agent with RECO. However, people may not know if an agent acted unethically and the closed-bidding system can make complaints hard to prove — even harder to prosecute.” Then added, “The system, as it is now, obviously isn’t perfect.”

Now, if I’m not mistaken, translated, here’s what that says: “You can file a complaint if you wish. We know the system is broken. Corrupt even. But we aren’t going to do much, because we’re here to collect membership fees and dues, not to spend time, money or resources on an investigation.”

That means, my friends, that you’re best protection is to learn how the game is played inside and out, so no one can play you like a fool.

I continue to be dumbfounded by the vast amount of homebuyers and sellers, that continue to take the advice of a real estate agent at face value. “Well, my Realtor said…” Which then leads into the horror story, that continues to haunt. The saddest part? These homeowners think there is something they can do. In most cases, there isn’t. Because in real estate The Code of Ethics isn’t any kind of a formal law. It’s just a set of guidelines.

And how do you prove unethical vs. incompetence vs. an honest mistake? It isn’t easy.

Take it from me. The best protection you have against The Unethicals in real estate is due diligence. You should ask – Do they have a Documented Approach that has been researched and proven to achieve for clients a superior result? If they do, ask for a copy of their book so that you may consume the research for yourself.

Also, you should ask for case studies of their Documented Approach, put to work on behalf of their clients, to verify the consistency of the results for yourself.

We collaborated well over a year in developing a scientific approach to selling property, documented in our book The Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate and let me tell you…it has produced incredible results time and time again for our clients – putting more money in our clients pockets and protecting our clients from the Unethicals!  Grad a FREE copy if interested at www.FreeBook4YourCharity.com.

 

ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions Are Sh#t!

New Year’s Resolutions Are Sh#t!

Goals And Resolutions Are Doomed For Failure Without A Foundation Of Systems Behind Them

By  Jay Lieberman

 

The other day a buddy of mine stopped me just outside my office door and said, “Hey Jay, what’s your big new year’s resolution this year?”

“I don’t have one,” I responded.

“What do you mean you don’t have one? Everyone has a new year’s resolution,” he said.

“Nope, never make ‘em.”

And with that, he smiled, turned around and walked. I love when that happens.

He was confused. Obviously wondering how in the hell I get anything done each year.

I have never really paid attention to January 1st. It’s just as arbitrary to me as November 12th, February 2nd or June 24th. All the same. Another day.

This little exchange, however, made me think about the fact that new year’s resolutions and goals are shit by themselves. They are meaningless. They are meant to be tossed aside as failures, likely to crumble no later than January 31st.

I’m not the only one to see it this way.

Statistic Brain, a research and data collection company, recently published an article on the topic of new year’s resolutions. They surveyed 1,840 people about the resolutions they made for 2016. The top 5 comprised well over half of the responses. Not surprisingly in the areas of weight loss, self-improvement, finances, quitting smoking and doing more exciting things.

Are you ready for the results?

About 9% of people overall believed they achieved their resolutions.

Yeah, you are reading that right. Nine-Percent!   Wow. Real shitty odds.

You would think they would do something different. But most don’t. Most continue on the track of stupidity. Laying out a goal and setting a ridiculous start date as if the world is starting over on January 1st each year.

I asked another friend of mine the other day what she thinks of these yearly resolutions. She is funny as hell and painfully honest so I was preparing for a special answer here.

She said she loves them, but admittedly fails at most, pointing at her muffin top. Her words, not mine.

There was something she said that made me have one soft spot of acceptance of new year’s resolutions.

She told me that she sees her resolutions at the beginning of the year as a type of confession in church. Even if she doesn’t start them, let alone complete them, she says it helps her mentally focus on change.

Now that I understand. If it is about mindset shifting, then I get it.

But, I think she is not the norm.

Most blindly decide on a new course of action without thinking it through. With no tools.

Just as ridiculous as deciding to travel to the moon and later realizing you don’t have a rocket ship to get there.

This leads to inevitable failure, regret, unhappiness, larger muffin tops. All spiraling out of control.

Let me ask you a question…a way to demonstrate why I distaste new year’s resolutions so much.

Would you make an investment where you only have a 9% chance of getting your money back? Those are the odds folks.

It’s really that simple to me.

So, now that I have torn new year’s resolutions apart from the core out, you may be wondering what I do to achieve my goals.

Let me illustrate how I go about achieving my goals, which is really what resolutions are all about, right? About setting a goal and achieving it.

It is not the concept I have a problem with. It is the methods used to get there.

Towards the middle of 2015 I decided I wanted to start a podcast show to interview local business owners and community leaders at the beginning of 2016. I started planning months before. Studying, researching, reading, reaching out to mentors with experience in this area. Listening to hours and hours of other podcast hosts, learning their style, cadence, tone, content structure. Methodically putting all the pieces in place. It felt like building the largest Lego set imaginable with missing pieces..

I did not simply say the goal out loud and then hope and pray for the best.

I put in 100’s of hours to learn all the processes in the proper order so I would actually start the show with a sprint at the beginning of 2016 and keep it going.

The goal was not to start a show. It was to start a show and continue it indefinitely.

This culminated into 187 separate steps that we follow to produce each episode.

If I just blindly went to Guitar Center and bought a microphone, without any of the work behind it, there is no way I would have made it past episode three.

The blood, sweat and tears behind the production of the systems for the show is the actual work involved for the goal, not just the idea of the goal.

The result…as of this publication date, we have aired shows every week in 2016, only missing one week over the holidays (intentionally), and are now over 51 episodes strong and just getting started.

Resolutions and goals without systems are shit and that is why such a high percentage of them fail, and fail quickly.

Goals and resolutions are a dime a dozen. They are easy things to get fired up about as you pound your third plate of ham or turkey at your Christmas or Hanukkah dinners.

But, once you wake up from your holiday food coma, you will have found that your goals for the New Year have no structure to build upon, operate and actually give you a chance at success.

Take a different approach this year. Set a mid-year goal and start laying the foundation and systems now. The real work. You will be shocked at how your chances of success skyrocket.

 

ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.

 

 

All I Want Is For My Girls To Be Proud Of Me

All I Want Is For My Girls To Be Proud Of Me

The 5 Words That Forced A Change In Everything I Do In My Life And Business

 

By Jay Lieberman – One Dad Living for His Kids

 

Back in early 2014, I asked my two daughters a question.

Looking back, I wish I never asked it. I was not prepared how their answer would crush me.

I simply said, “Would you guys ever be interested in joining Mom and me on our real estate team?”

It was meant more as a ‘What do you want to be when you grow up’ type question.

I was not ready for the answer, but it came at me like a tiger goes to raw meat. Like the release of a nuclear bomb in my head. It blew me to pieces. Shifted me at my core.

They simply stood there, looked at each other, laughed at me and said,

“Ehh…don’t think so Dad.”

I know they did not intend on hurting me. But, in their teenage minds and laughter, what Michelle and I do for a living seemed embarrassing to them.

It was the first time in my life that I truly felt that my kids were not proud of me.

My two girls are the most important people on this planet to me and their opinion of me matters. Really matters. They are the only true mirror I have in this world.

There were always hints every now and then. Hints of their embarrassment in what I do for a living. Their friends seeing our picture in the paper. The constant self-promotion, more representative of a desperate salesman than a respected professional. Postcards and door hangers on their friends’ doorsteps. Halloween bags delivered to every home in our neighborhood. Our faces on notepads sitting on their friend’s kitchen counters when they went over there for dinner.

I should have paid more attention to that. They were inadvertently sending me a message. I was working so hard to provide for the family that I was blind to it. Or I probably didn’t want to see it. One way or the other, I was not prepared for the reality behind their answer.

I was now wide awake. I was on my way down the rabbit hole. Realizing that I work in one of the lowest reputation industries in existence and I would not let myself be defined by that.

For the sake of my kids.

That was the day I decided that I was going to be something more than “just another fucking real estate agent.” I’ll never forget that day. That was the day I decided we were going to drastically change things. Turn the way we work and live, on its head.

So, I sat down to simplify a 2-question test, my personal gatekeeper, that I would use before I moved forward with anything in my life and business:

Question No. 1:            Would what I am going to do make my girls proud of me?

Question No. 2:            Would doing it make them realize they can do whatever they want in this world?

We immediately stopped the pictures in the paper, the postcards, the door hangers, Halloween bags, the notepads, cold calls, door knocks. All soul killing, meaningless crap that my kids are embarrassed by.

I was struck by the amount of stuff we did that was not even getting past Question No 1.

I decided to start doing the hard stuff. I felt that the harder it was to do, the more proud of me they would be.

It’s the hard that makes it great right?

So, we started writing stories and published them in our monthly print newsletter. Sharing our past, our struggles and successes. This was really hard. Really personal stuff. I knew that putting myself out there, exposed, would sting. Looking back, I don’t know why I thought that. In reality, it has led to some of my deepest connections with people. But to start, mentally, because of my own self-confidence, given this new and different way of operating–it was incredibly painful. I doubted myself. I questioned myself. Should I publish this? Should I not? For the sake of the approval of my daughters, I had to push through it.

We then wrote a book about a new approach to selling homes.

We spent 100’s of hours starting a Podcast show, interviewing local business owners in our community. Spotlighting and learning from others.

We began to change our focus to impacting our community and those in need.

Only things that would first, make my girls proud of me, and second, would make them realize they can do anything they want in this world.

All were passing with flying colors so far.

A shift slowly happened. I started to get comments from them. Things like, “You wrote a book?,” “When did you guys start that?,” “Your Podcast is on iTunes?,” “You volunteered for what now?”

No hints of embarrassment there. CHECK!

Then the day finally came.

After recording an episode of the Podcast show one day, my daughter Caiti walked through the door, home from school. We told her about a really great lady we just interviewed on the show that does medical tattooing, which includes tattooing new nipples for post operative breast cancer patients. You can catch this Episode 034 at www.ConejoValleyAdviceGivers.com. Really interesting stuff.

I will never forget it. She paused…and said… “That’s really cool.”

“THAT’S REALLY COOL!”

Three words that radiated down my body like a lightening bolt. Three simple words that spilled out of her mouth, validating everything we are doing. A simple sentence that finally let me know that she was proud of who we are and what we are doing.

This whole process has really made me understand who I am. And I can tell you, it’s not about being just another real estate agent. It’s not simply about making money. Although those things are important to us, as we have incredible clients, and take great pride in executing our “Value-Driven Approach” to achieve for them the best result. But my life, and that now includes my business life, more so than ever—is about building a legacy that my kids can look back on and be proud of long after Michelle and I are gone.

And the journey of change continues…

 

February 2017 Issue of the Newsletter done…CHECK!

Episode 051 of the podcast recorded…CHECK!

Donation to a local school from a recent home sale…CHECK!

Formation of a charitable impact club group…IN THE WORKS!

 

ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.