Weekly Book Scan
Darryl Davis salutes your resilience as a real estate professional, being able to make it through the lean years and come out on the other side. He also recognizes that when one problem in real estate is solved–such as a foreclosure crisis–it’s usually followed by other difficulties, such as the inventory shortages that real estate professionals are having to deal with across the country.
“You thought you had to smile when the market was bad?” Davis says. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
But Davis isn’t all about doom and gloom. The speaker, trainer, standup comic, and real estate professional is on a mission to get real estate professionals smiling more.
Davis expects his new book—How to Design a Life Worth Smiling About—to be available by the time NAR’s annual conference rolls around in November. Until then, he’s determined to get the word out about why people should start smiling more. I saw him in action at NAR’s Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington last week, and I have to admit that I’ve been smiling more ever since.
He cites studies (like this one as published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology) that show that smiling actually makes you feel better. Even when you’re having a tough time, a smile can fool your brain into mitigating your negative attitude with natural chemical stimulants such as serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin, and dopamine, Davis says.
“The smile is a trigger, like a light switch, to tell the brain to produce these chemicals,” Davis says. “It tells the brain, ‘Hey, hello! I’m happy down here; give me some of those chemicals.’”
Davis also mentioned studies that found smiling people are perceived as more attractive and tend to have longer life expectancy. But the benefits go well beyond one’s own well-being. Davis says smilers can spread the love like a contagion.
“It gives people permission to smile,” he said. “Our smiling is our tail wagging… it makes you more approachable.”
Davis’ 40-minute talk was part of the Leadership Express sessions at Midyear, created especially for people in leadership positions, including volunteer leaders, association executives, staff and membership. Davis’ message wasn’t exclusively for leadership, but he did acknowledge that wearing a smile as a leader can make an especially important difference in the work environment.
“You can’t lead people if you look like you were weaned on a pickle,” Davis joked. “Smiling is so important to the success of a human being that really it is a leadership tool.”
But what if you just can’t crack a grin? While Davis strongly believes you should “smile, especially when you don’t feel like it,” he’s got a trick up his sleeve for the forever frowny: Bite a pencil. Using those same muscles might just fool your brain into thinking you’re smiling.
Then again, you might look sillier with a pencil in your mouth all day that you would if you just smiled. But hey, whatever makes you happy, right?
After last week’s post underscored the longevity of Gary Keller’s The Millionaire Real Estate Agent as a favorite book for newer agents, I thought it was time to go back and take a look at the top ten business books on real estate again. We used to check in with Amazon more often, but the last time we brought you a best-seller list was back in 2011. For shame!
So, I guess I shouldn’t be shocked by item number one. But there are a few on this list of the ten most popular real estate business books on Amazon this week that I wasn’t expecting.
- The Millionaire Real Estate Agent: It’s Not About the Money…It’s About Being the Best You Can Be! by Gary Keller, Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan (Feb 11, 2004)
- Other People’s Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made by Charles V. Bagli (Apr 4, 2013)
- Home Buying Kit For Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown (Mar 6, 2012)
- Buy It, Rent It, Profit!: Make Money as a Landlord in ANY Real Estate Market by Bryan M. Chavis (Apr 14, 2009)
- Real Estate License Exams For Dummies by Drei John A. Yoegel (Jan 28, 2005)
- What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow… And 36 Other Key Financial Measures by Frank Gallinelli (Sep 8, 2008)
- Real Estate Investing For Dummies, 2nd Edition by Eric Tyson and Robert S. Griswold (Mar 3, 2009)
- Every Landlord’s Tax Deduction Guide by Stephen Fishman J.D. (Dec 28, 2012)
- Property Management Kit For Dummies by Robert S. Griswold (Feb 18, 2013)
- How to Buy Real Estate Overseas by Kathleen Peddicord (Apr 8, 2013)
In particular, I’m surprised at the fact that there are four books from the “For Dummies” empire here. Then again, we are looking at a list of popularity, not necessarily “brightest insight” or “best-in-class.”
What do you think about these and the other books that managed to get on this list? Or maybe you’ve recently picked up a book that you’d like to see on Amazon’s top ten. Let me know in the comment space below.
Last month, I had the opportunity to help document the cover shoot for the May/June issue of REALTOR® Magazine. Because the issue contains the profiles of our 30 Under 30 honorees, we thought we’d invite a few of the new recruits in for a photo shoot.
Interviewing these young practitioners as a writer for the magazine, I learned a great deal about how to shift from recession to recovery, the influence of technology on the industry, and what their local markets are like all across the country. But as administrator of the Weekly Book Scan, I only had one question: What’s your favorite real estate or business book?
More than half of the seven honorees named Gary Keller’s The Million Dollar Real Estate Agent (Rellek Publishing Partners, 2003) as a favorite. So if you haven’t read that one yet, I’d suggest you start there (or if you have, you may want to check out Keller’s latest work, The One Thing).
- The Richest Man in Babylon (Penguin Books, 1926), by George Samuel Clason
- The Champion Real Estate Agent: Get to the Top of Your Game and Knock Sales Out of the Park (McGraw-Hill, 2006), by Dirk Zeller
- (7L) The Seven Levels of Communication: Go from Relationships to Referrals (AuthorHouse, 2010), by Michael J. Maher
- The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life (Simon & Schuster, 2009), by Ivanka Trump
- The Art of Closing the Sale (Thomas Nelson, 2007), by Brian Tracy
Of course, this is just a tiny sample of what our current crop of 30 Under 30 honorees are reading, which is an even smaller sample of the books that young real estate practitioners in general cherish. Let me know what your favorite business and industry books are in the comment section below.
Becki Saltzman has arranged a threesome. It involves you, your clients, and her wacky self, and it takes place in her new book, Arousing the Buy Curious: Real Estate Pillow Talk for Patrons and Professionals (Oomau Media, 2013).
While the book is peppered with what some may term naughty language and innuendo, perhaps the more shocking element is that she wrote a book that is aimed at practitioners as well as buyers and sellers. What? Didn’t someone tell her not to give up the secret codes?!
But after reading this compendium cover to cover, I can assure you that you can relax. In fact—once you read the client-focused chapter and the client tips scattered throughout the book—you’ll probably want to buy this for all your (not-so-uptight) buyers and sellers. Not only does Saltzman guide clients on how to pick good agents, but she teaches them a whole lot about how to be good customers as well.
OK, back to the naughty bits. This book is not for those easily offended by language. Still when Saltzman writes, “You might be appalled by some of what you read in this book, but I promise that the ideas my potty mouth spouts are valid,” she lives up to the promise. Indeed, her advice is novel as it is solid, and it spans everything from getting started in real estate, to transaction management (from both sides), to handling crazy market fluctuations with grace.
Arousing the Buy Curious, coming to bookshelves in September, is definitely useful. But it’s also hilarious. There are quite a few laugh-out-loud commentaries that I can’t print here. But here are a few that can sneak by:
- The word “charming” appears in 72% of all real estate listings, but what does it really mean? After all, people described Ted Bundy as charming.
- (On deciding to work within a team:) If companionship is what you’re looking for, join a book club or a twelve-step program.
- The better you sniff, the more you will find that the adage “Buyers are liars” should be changed to “Salespeople suck at getting to the truth.” Too bad that doesn’t rhyme.
- (On the importance of choosing a good hair stylist:) Hell hath no fury like a woman improperly shorn.
As someone who reads business books for a living, I particularly appreciate her subtle pokes at the genre. At one point she calls biz book authors out for their over reliance on acronyms, categorizing waitstaff’s usefulness as COT (Conveyeors with Opposable Thumbs), SOT (Sort Of Trustworthy), or TBK (The Best Kind). She also peppers sarcastic exercises throughout that seem way more fun (and possibly more effective) than the corny routines I’ve read in some other business books.
Her sidebars of “Sortafacts” are both helpful and hilarious (One example: “Studies show that the most confident people use their first and last names when making business introductions in person. Online, however, people tend to introduce themselves by the name of their first dog and their current computer operating system.” *). She does include one chapter that harkens back to her training in psychology in a semi-serious way called Bit-O-Science, which applies some of science’s real-world findings about peoples’ reactions in sales situations. It’s informative, and has real citations.1
The best secret Saltzman gives away is how to do exactly what she’s doing—putting together a collection of smart observations about business and how people work. This is one huge part of creating a business book that actually works, rather than one that is just littered with nice-sounding platitudes.
“Try to apply lessons from outside the world of real estate to your business,” she writes at the end of Chapter 20. “Listen to your own family folklore and learn from the stupid things your family and friends have done. Think like a storyteller so the lessons will implant for longer and on a deeper level.”
Lucky for her brand, she does not reveal the secret to being hilarious and snarky (though she does give plenty of examples of how to mix things up a little). I guess some people are just born that way.*That would make me “Misha Mountainlion.” It’s got a ring to it, no?
1 It also cautions people against believing citations.
Hi, Book Scan readers. I spent the first part of last week hanging out with community planners at the American Planning Association’s national conference. Though I haven’t read the book described below, I thought the author (who gave the closing keynote at the conference) had some beautiful thoughts on home ownership that real estate professionals would appreciate. Enjoy! —MW
Early Pearl has a great idea for dealing with an intractable problem. As a homeless 11-year old Chicagoan, she sees all of the sturdy housing stock that stands empty and abandoned in her south side neighborhood and decides to take action.
She gets some friends together and, with a few cameras, they snap pictures of these empty houses. They send the pictures—along with their imaginings of how the structures could be transformed into dream homes for kids without anywhere to live—to community leaders in an effort to spark a change in their unfortunate circumstances.
Early is only a character in Blue Balliett’s newest mystery novel, Hold Fast (Scholastic Press, 2013). But there are more than 30,000 kids in Chicago alone who are homeless just like she is, and some 16,000 vacant properties like the ones that Early dreams of inhabiting.
“Kids will easily share their dreams about a home,” Balliett said in her keynote speech at the American Planning Association’s national conference last week. “They never make small plans.”
Balliett, a bestselling author of young adult literature, told planners that she came up with the idea for Hold Fast during the housing downturn, when she noticed a dearth of news stories about the effect foreclosures were having on her target audience.
“The children were invisible,” she said. “I kept wondering about the kids: Who are they and what does it feel like to grow up without a front door?”
Of course, community planners, writers, and nonprofit directors know as well as real estate professionals the value of home when it comes to children.
“What kids need most is stability in their lives and a home provides that… Blue’s book really captured that,” said Chicago Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Ed Shurna, who spoke on a panel alongside Balliett at the closing keynote of the APA conference. “The danger is that they are going to stay homeless as adults.”
W. Paul Farmer, executive director and CEO of the APA, called on members to devote more of their attention to this difficult problem.
“As we have become arguably the best-housed nation in the world… we have allowed ourselves to not realize that we have these problems,” Farmer said. “These are, in fact, invisible to many people in the country.”
In a brief Q&A period, attendees asked panelists what they could do to help solve the issue in their local communities.
“Part of the key is to make your community care and take ownership in this problem,” Balliett responded. “Become determined to do something.”
Dave Liniger, chairman and co-founder of RE/MAX, has a long list of accomplishments. He’s raced cars at Daytona and trained with NASA. He’s parachuted from airplanes and hunted big game in exotic locations around the world. He’s been a police officer and a soldier. How does a guy like that face the idea that he may never walk again?
In late January of last year, Liniger discovered he couldn’t move his legs. What he initially assumed was part of his chronic back pain turned out to be a staph infection that not only ran the entire length of his spine and into his brain stem, but it also spread to his blood, meaning he was septic and in real danger of dying for weeks on end. My Next Step: An Extraordinary Journey of Healing and Hope (Hay House Inc., 2013) is Liniger’s memoir of the next seven months of his life, from feverish hallucinations to drug-induced comas to the long recovery from multiple surgeries and partial paralysis. The book includes short vignettes from family, friends, and professionals who helped care for Liniger in the hospital and through physical therapy.
The book isn’t really about real estate, but the main character might be familiar to real estate pros, even if they’ve never been affiliated with RE/MAX. Liniger has that I’ll-sleep-when-I-die attitude that many successful real estate brokers display through long hours and an ever-present can-do spirit. That kind of determination might lead a person through a tough transaction or office merger, but can it lead a person back from the brink of death?
“I can’t tell you why I’m alive,” Liniger writes at the end of the book. He cites positive thinking, faith in his own strength, luck, and the extensive network of friends and family who were praying for him.
The one thing that abounds in this small volume is Liniger’s advice for anyone going through such a trying physical ordeal (as well as for their loved ones). It was clear from the very beginning of the book that he hopes others can learn and benefit from his story. At the end of the book he admits his purpose for the book:
“As I spent so many nights awake and scared, I desperately wanted to find something I could read to help me understand what I was going through. I wanted a book that inspired me to keep working hard and to motivate me to never give up. I hope this is that book for you.”
I’d recommend this book to anyone enduring a long hospital stay or facing months of PT. But I recommend it even more wholeheartedly knowing that author proceeds from the book will go to three charities: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Wounded Warrior Program.