Thursday, May 31, 2007

Do you feel good at work?

There are times when you go into work with a great attitude only to have it smashed by the people around you.

Mostly this happens from managers who allow a negative attitude to penetrate their organizations.

Many corporations feel that they need to find and correct what employees are doing wrong. They spend many resources trying to make this happen.

What they should be doing is encouraging good behavior. I have seen employees disappointed when expected bad news turned out to be good news. Those kind of employees need to be out of any organization

The tone of an office is almost always set by the manager. The choice is pretty obvious, build a team where you focus on the positive or let a negative cloud hang over your team.

People respond by either wanting to be in the office or trying to avoid the office.

While you sometimes hear the theory that sales people need to be out of the office all of the time, they also need to be in the office enough to absorb the company's objectives and culture.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The vice president syndrome

The first time I made vice president, my son told me that I had finally made it to the land of empty suits.

My couple of stints as vice president did not do anything to convince me that having a big title made much difference.

I worked just as hard or harder as when I had a less exalted title.

I have also worked for a number of vice presidents.

There are a couple of things I will say about the role of vice president. In some corporations, vice presidents are almost gods with the ability to do almost anything they want.

As companies become smaller, the role of vice president is largely irrelevant. Often the CEO in small companies creates vice presidents only to make their own role seem more important.

That isn't too difficult since in a small company, the CEO has all the power. The vp role is largely ceremonial in those companies.

It can get a little worse. You can have a sales driven company with more vice presidents than sales people. At that point you have a reached a danger point of having more chiefs than Indians.

There is nothing worse than a top heavy company filled with people who think their title exempts them from real work.

The kind of organization that you really want to build is one where titles don't matter.

Most people don't like those, but they can be the most productive of any organization.

A focus on getting the job done instead of awarding meaningless titles make more sense.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Keeping your credibility

Long ago I decided that my credibility was the most important thing that I had to lose in writing.

It is easy to make some wild statements to drum up traffic, but most of that traffic bounces quickly.

You bring people back to your blogs with quality content that is interesting and truthful. They become faithful and regular readers.

I am not trying to play any particular role as I write, except that of a writer who tries to present a balanced opinion even when it is nearly impossible to do so.

My degree is in history, and I have worked hard to stand back and look at situations to understand the facts and try to present them as logically as I can. I do that so that I can understand the situation, not necessarily so I can influence others.

I consider myself something of an expert on technology, sales management, leadership and on a number of places where we have lived. I have definite opinions, but I am always willing to hear another point of view. I value my reputation for expertise in those areas.

What I don't like are self-appointed experts who don't have the experience or knowledge to back their statements. I often see folks on forums that believe their opinion no matter how one sided or unsubstantiated is the only possible way to look at things.

It has been my experience that blanket statements are usually wrong. No place, person, or company is as bad or as good as we might expect.

To understand the truth and then make sure it becomes a positive factor in your decisions if a worthy goal for anyone.

If you help others understand the truth and interpret the facts in a way that keeps their options open and their minds moving forward, you have gone one step further.

This is how that I have built my credibility, and how I plan to keep it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Selling the beach

No matter where I have lived, I have convinced myself that my particular spot is one of the greatest on earth.

Perhaps that is human nature. Still I like to think that I have lived in some gorgeous spots from Nova Scotia to Roanoke, Virginia.

We now live near the beaches of Emerald Isle, NC. It is pretty hard to deny its beauty. A couple of photos that I have taken in the area are among my all time favorites.

The first, Morning Waters, was a sunrise taken from the beach. The second, The End, was taken looking from Emerald Isle across Bogue Sound.

Since living in the area is almost as nice as the Southern Outer Banks pictures are beautiful, it isn't too much of a jump to selling property in the area as a Realtor®.

I really think this is a great area to live. It is easy to sell something you believe in unless you are trying to do it on city-data forum and you have anything to do with real estate.

I started blogging in late 2004 and have a tremendous number of posts about areas and things that have absolutely nothing to do with selling real estate.

While my Realtor® site and my ActiveRain site are definitely about selling real estate, it is really hard to argue that the first page of my Southern Outer Banks site has much to do with selling property. I might be promoting an area, but I am not doing much selling real estate or talking about my services as a Realtor® on a page with steamed crabs.

Today I got banned again from city-data forum for linking to my current Southern Outer Banks site and its Crab Feast article.

At the same time city-data forum is full of Google real estate ads. I am pretty sure that the city data forum folks have a special deal with Google to serve up members of the forum only to Google's paying customers.

I was very careful not to link to my Realtor® site while posting at city data forum and as you can expect I wasn't doing a whole of lots of selling my services as a real estate agent on a post about fried clams.

I may spend a lot of effort selling the area we live in, but that is not the same as being a real estate agent. City data forum must be making so much money for Google placements that they can't afford to have the chance that any forum members might wander across agents other than the ones that advertise on Google.

My latest site is about restaurants on the Crystal Coast. My guess is that the monitors at City Data forum would classify it as real estate site.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What I miss on the coast

There is not much that I miss on the coast or I would not be creating websites with titles like "Coastal Paradise."

I do miss some of the unbelievable lush green colors that we see in mountain valleys of Virginia.

It is the closest green that I have seen to that of summertime in Nova Scotia and the Canadian Maritimes which I believe are the greenest spots on earth.

Even trips to New Zealand and Ireland with their fabled green have not persuaded me to back down.

The beaches of Emerald Isle in North Carolina cannot hold a candle to the green of the mountains this time of year. Of course, they have other attractions that keep me happy most of the time.

At the coast I also miss the hundreds of beautiful Irises that adorn many of the garden's in the interior of North Carolina and Virginia.

In New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Irises would grow in the damp spots in the pastures.

We have lots of beauty on the coast, so I guess it is only fair that we save some of nature's spectacular decorations for the hills and mountains.

I had hoped to have more regular posts here at Ocracoke Waves, but I have been doing some all-consuming web work that has slowed me down.

My site and my Coastal Real Estate site have been completely redone after many hours of work.

My goal was to create a better user experience and make the information easier to find.

You can see some of the results of my work in the clickable buttons to my sites that are now in this blog's side panel.

I would love to hear any feedback. You can click here to email comments to me.

I have also started a real estate newsletter about coastal property which I will t try to do once a quarter, The first one is available for viewing and if you would like to subscribe, this link will get you to the form.

I have also chosen the Reston Backfence Online community for my first online ad. I will be interested to see what the response is.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Fear of salespeople

I am wondering if it is a particularly American thing to be reluctant to talk to salespeople. I will admit to visiting car dealerships only on Sundays until I am ready to engage in the battle of wits.

I wrote about auto buying in America in the "That peculiarly American dance, the auto two-step." Still I like talking to good salespeople who know their products.

That's probably the reason that I avoid many of the big box sales people in electronics stores since it is so rare that they know their products. There are exceptions to the rules as I found in my purchase of one of the HP all-in-one printer, scanner, copiers.

Actually I have always considered myself something of a knowledge sponge, willing to soak up whatever wisdom I can glean from an expert. In real estate, we have used a Realtor® every Itime we bought a place but once. That once reinforced my belief in using Realtors®.

I have been in sales most of my adult life. Even when I was farming for eleven years, sales was never very far in the background. I firmly believe that sales done right is an honorable career.

I have found that in most cases, people have already sold themselves by the time they reach a sales person. The best that a sales person can do is make certain they do not end up buying the wrong product and become unhappy.

I am sure there are plenty of sleazy sales people in the world, but I cannot believe that people have become so divorced from their critical thinking skills that people ignore the opportunity to learn valuable information from people who actually know what they are talking about when it comes to a particular product.

We are almost ready to buy a boat, and I have been wandering around boat show rooms for months since I know almost nothing about boats. Aside from one guy who tried to convince me that if I bought a skiff I would stay wet all the time, the salespeople and nearly half have been women have been very knowledgeable and helpful. In fact most of them haven't been real sales folks since I have gotten almost zero follow-up on my visits. That includes email requests for pricing which have mostly been ignored.

I recently had another experience which made me wonder how some people make decisions. I was participating in a forum where people are trying to find out about cities and towns where they either live or might want to live. Though I thought I was being very careful to adhere to the rules of the forum, one of which was not advertising my services as a Realtor®. I was, however, uncomfortable with people not knowing that I was a Realtor® when I was talking about real estate. I ended up being banished from the forum by what was likely an over zealous moderator who I am sure thought he was protecting people from me. Unfortunately for the readers, I was just trying to help some people learn the facts instead of hearsay.

I have a long history of posts about Apple and their computer products. I recently did a post about my letters to a friend who was considering buying a Mac. A couple of my readers there have suggested that I was doing everything I could to stop him from buying a Mac. Actually all I was doing was making sure that he went into the purchase with his eyes wide open.

In the end his friendship is worth more to me than whether he buys a Macintosh or not. I could tell from his letters that he has already decided to do it, so he might as well know the complete truth about the products instead of the Apple fanboy version of reality. Sugar coating the truth would only lead him to question our friendship.

It's easy to own one product and think that you have had the greatest experience in the world as an owner or user. When you have been involved in the industry or had a history with a particular company, things might not look so rosy.

I will no longer buy a Volvo, and I know a couple of Volvo owners who say the same thing. I only got to that point on my third Volvo. I will not buy a Maytag washer or dryer no matter how many cute the commercials they run are. If my current Apple MacBook breaks again, I might well buy a HP or Sony Laptop. In spite of what some of the Mac users want to believe the reality is that the reliability on my recent Apple purchases has not been good, and dealing with Apple on them has not been a lot of fun.

Still having said that, I am not afraid to engage a salesperson for Volvos. A good one would run back to the company and tell them how they lost someone who could have been a Volvo customer for life.

In this age of full disclosure on the Internet and with the power of Google, I find it hard to believe that there are people who are still afraid of being tricked by Realtors®. I spent nearly three years trying to find the right spot on the Crystal Coast. It was only with the help of a true local expert and Realtors® that we found it.

Expertise might be hard to find, but anonymous expertise is impossible to find. Engage the salespeople and learn what you can. You might find someone whose knowledge keeps you from making a mistake.

If you want to know about living along North Carolina's secret coast, the Crystal Coast, visit my website, "Coastal Paradise." I promise not to sell you anything since the facts speak for themselves, and you might even learn something from someone who is learning from the real local experts as fast as he can.