December 19, 2014

Weekly Book Scan

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Updated: 32 min 11 sec ago

The Top Business Book of 2014

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 14:58

The Financial Times has come out with its list of top financial books for the tenth year, and I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read one of them! Granted, none are specifically about real estate. But being as concentrated upon economic issues as the British publication is, it shouldn’t surprise me that almost every one of FT’s choices seem like they are about large systems of finance, where one of the cogs is undoubtedly real estate.

©Andalusia, 2006. Morguefile

Reading their reviews, it looks like I’ll have to pick up a few of these for review here at the Book Scan in 2015. I’m especially interested in their top pick: Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty. The synopsis promises “his findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.” A tall order indeed.

In the meantime, let me know if you’ve read and/or enjoyed Piketty’s book or any of these on this year’s short list:

Or just for fun, check out my post about the FT best financial book list last year. And a hap-py new year!

6 Books to Consider for Your 2014 Holiday Shopping List

Wed, 12/03/2014 - 09:51

There’s something special about buying a book for someone. Reading is generally a solitary profession, but gifting the written word is an intimate way to connect with someone without having to burst the bubble a reader gets to occupy when curled up with a new book (or Kindle download, as it may be).

That’s why I decided to comb through the long list Weekly Book Scan posts over the past year and recommend a few that might help you with your holiday shopping list this year.

The Fall of the Alphas: The New Beta Way to Connect, Collaborate, Influence—and Lead, by Dana Ardi
This one is for the crusty, old-school businessperson on your list. If anyone can teach them how to think outside the box, it’s this corporate anthropologist whom I had the pleasure of seeing at a real estate conference in January.

Build Your Own Web Site: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress, by Nate Cooper and Kim Gee
This comic book/teaching guide is perfect for the office assistant who wants to learn more about updating and administering websites (or even a savvy young relative looking to learn the basics of web design and publication).

Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, by Carmine Gallo
Do you work with an ambitious salesperson or inspiring broker whom you think would make a great addition to the speaking circuit? Or maybe you know someone who recently rose in the ranks and is struggling with a new role that includes giving presentations. This book is both helpful and extremely interesting, given the variety of TED Talk subject matter.

Game Changers—The Unfounded Fears and Future Prosperity of the Residential Real Estate Industry, by Steve Murray, Lorne Wallace, and Lon Welsh
After talking to Dallas Hancock, CEO of the Peoria Area Association of REALTORS®, about how she bought a bunch of copies of this book and handed them out to her full board (as well as a few staffers), I knew I had to include it on this list. It’s perfect for any strategic thinker in your real estate world.

The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal
We all know someone who spends their entire commission check as soon as they get it, or who cannot put their phone down for more than two minutes. Help them break the habit with this smart guide to finding and maintaining focus.

Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying and Faster Selling, by Brendon DeSimone
This book is perfect for new agents and wary would-be home buyers alike. Help them feel comfortable in what has become a whole new world of real estate.

Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves, by Diane Laney Fitzpatrick
This one is for your good-humored repeat customer. You know, the home buyer who has moved so many times that “relo” has become the butt of all their jokes? This funny memoir/advice book will be well loved by anyone who’s ever had to distract a home inspector from seeing that spiraling mouse who’s trying to run away with a mousetrap clamped to his head.

Which books are on your shopping list this year?

A Guide to Gratitude

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 10:11

I don’t know about you guys, but getting ready to host Thanksgiving is pretty hectic for me. How do I get 20lbs of turkey home on the train? How do I entertain out-of-town guests the rest of the weekend? What can I do weeks and days ahead to lower my stress on the big day?

Notice anything there? I, me, mine. Not the George Harrison lyrics; it’s the T-day ego. See, all the folks you praise for working so hard to make Thanksgiving happen aren’t saints. Most of us genuinely like making stuff for other people, and seeing you all smile and pat your tummies when it’s over is the best thanks we could get. What we hosts really need is to be reminded of how to thank others. See, in planning and executing such a grand experience, it’s even easier to forget the meaning of it all than it is for those who simply partake.

For me, the best way to remember to be thankful is to read the words of others who are actively giving thanks. This year, my inspiration comes from the REALTOR® family. A little over a week ago, when reflecting on his time at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans this month, Nate Ellis of Keller Williams Realty in Walnut Creek, Calif. wrote the longest Facebook update I have ever read in full.

See, Ellis was recently diagnosed with a very rare neurological condition called CIDP. While his prospects are apparently good, he required a wheelchair to make it through the long days of the conference. And instead of posting something at the end of the conference talking about how tired he was, or how much work awaited him back home, he took the time to thank more than 50 people (!) who had made his conference experience awesome, listing the specific actions they’d taken to do so. When is the last time you could list even half as many people and tell them what they’d done to make your world a better place? I have never met Ellis, but he seems to be that quiet kind of “amazing” that embodies gratitude.

Here’s just a tiny snippet from Ellis’ post:

I knew that coming to New Orleans I would need to lean on some of my friends for support. I just did not know how much their love and support would really mean to me… My smile may have masked many things during this conference. From pain, to doubt, to self pity but please know that my smile contains so much joy and gratitude for everyone who has helped me make this my favorite and most memorable conference ever.

So, if you’re not sure how to toast this Thanksgiving dinner, channel your inner Nate Ellis. You’ll be thankful you did.

Creating Connection with Shared Public Spaces

Sun, 11/09/2014 - 12:14

“Lose the ego.” “Integrity.” “Pay attention to detail.” These are the some of the phrases REALTORS® wrote on the chalkboard wall outside the Morial convention center’s La Nouvelle Ballroom at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo to complete the sentence “Professionalism means ____________.”

The concept is the brainchild of Candy Chang, an artist at the intersection of public space and personal well being. Her iterative installations, found in cities around the world, are often tools for gathering community input about how to make unused public space engaging and inclusive (“I wish this was ___________.”)

At times, her installations are more personal. After the death of a close friend, Chang struggled for perspective. Searching for a way to connect with what really matters, she sought permission to paint an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood with chalkboard paint. Passersby were then able to complete the sentence “Before I die, I want to ____________.” The project spawned more than five hundred Before I Die walls all over the world and a book that collects images of the walls and the stories behind them.

She said the heartfelt responses—from “tell my mother I love her” to “follow my childhood dream”—help her remember what’s important.

“Our public spaces are our shared spaces and, at their greatest, they can help us make sense of the beauty and tragedy of life with the people around us,” Chang said.

—By Christina Hoffmann