Keeping Things Simple Isn’t Always The Case In Business…the bill always comes due

By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional

Our love of technology has given professionals, such as myself, the option of working our own way…what ever that may be. For me, it is from where ever I happen to be, at any hour of the day. There is no need to see clients face to face when we have FaceTime and real time collaboration apps and tools.

Recently I learned a very hard lesson. That no matter how hard you work, nor what you may achieve…the bill always comes due. For the past year I have been working, quite diligently I might add, on building and launching a new brand in a consumer space that I was not an expert in when I began. The Food and Lifestyle space, while I have lived it well, I didn’t understand the inner workings, until now.

While I am extremely good at my job, and have launched and helped build some of Americas biggest brands over the years, I have to ask myself if I can still do it. Everyone says 40 is the new 30 and when I look in the mirror, I forget at times that I am almost 50 years. Like a woman told me yesterday, I wear my age well, but actions still wear a person down.

For the past few months I have literally been working 60-80 hours a week. And it finally caught up with me. I have heard of people being hospitalized for exhaustion and kinda of wondered how it was even possible for a person to get to that point. Now I know. It hits your like a house being dropped on you. I was down for an entire week and couldn’t even eat, let alone work or take care of my family. The bill came due.

As the person that has been preaching balance, I failed to live by my own words. Take time for yourself. Be good to yourself…whatever that means to you. Make sure you are getting rest. The human body cant keep going on 2-3 hours of sleep a day. It will always protect itself by shutting down and going into a hibernation type mode.

Lesson learned, I am back to work and keeping things balanced. Which for me, means shifting set deadlines, asking for help and being proud of the way our brand has evolved. It is not the company I envisioned 10 years ago, but what has emerged is a brand that I honestly, can’t believe I built. Once the revenue streams are in place, our family will be set for a long time to come. It is becoming a true family business and I had nothing to do with it. They asked to be involved. I couldn’t be more proud.

I am working on our companies first real commercial and mapping out the media outlets to place it on. One of the interesting things I have found is my target audience has chosen me. While. I was working towards millennials, it is actually Gen X that has showed initial support. And I’m talking across all platforms. Isn’t it amazing the information you can find with out paying an outside firm? The analytics provided by social media, Google and WordPress are indispensable.

My point with telling you all of this and being so transparent, is that many of you are friends and peers that I would not want to see this happen to. Learn from my mistake. Keep the balance in your life or you will pay the price. For me it was exhaustion but just as easily could have been a major heart attack. I have already had one, when I was 20 and it runs in the family.

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Out of The Chaos A New Generation of Sales Experts Has Been Born

busy_cityAs I sit down to write this article, I find myself struggling to control the massive amounts of information that is flowing through my head.  Let’s face it…..the world of business that I knew so well no longer exists.  I wish that I could lay all of the blame on the fact that technology has become a necessity instead of the luxury it once was.  But I can not.  I personally made the decision to pull back from the 80 hour a week work schedule….. that took me to that farthest corners of this great country of ours.  I decided that I could have it all.  A wonderful husband, a career to be envied, the home and lifestyle of my dreams and a family that would end up defining me more than any other aspect of my life.  But how would this balance be achieved?

I realized sometime ago that almost every single thing I learned about business and marketing in college is practically useless.  Fortunately I have always been extremely passionate about whatever I happen to be doing at the time.  Passion, Ethics, Integrity and a Straight Forward Attitude have served me well. When combined with an insatiable appetite for knowledge I found that what most folk thought of as trends, I could use to help clients build unbelievably strong brands.

They are called TRENDS for a reason. People tend to flock to the latest and greatest like moths to a flame. It helps them feel special. Those that have the gift of foresight are able to use that to their advantage and capitalize on the latest trends. And when those trends become the norm, then said trend spotters become part of the founding fathers club….. timely experts in their field that none can gainsay.

For the first few years of the Web 2.0 Revolution it seemed like we were beating a dead horse. Brokers, Agents, Affiliates  and other professional groups failed to realize and trust our judgment as industry leaders. I mean come on, you don’t get asked to Key Note or lead sessions at your industry’s largest conferences unless you have made it to the upper echelon on leadership. You don’t get asked to provide quotes for top journalists.  You also don’t reach the Executive Level with out proving your capability. And to ignore those of us that actually have crossed industry lines to lead in multiple industry’s is even more insane. But I digress, while we saw little acceptance of any new tools, due to the fact that too much was changing to fast, we did see trends move into the realm of common practice.

There were two factors that seemed to collide and merge and give industry leaders the leg up for a change. First of all we saw trends becoming common practice as they did not change or evaporate like trends tend to do. Secondly, REALTORS and other Sales Professionals saw themselves losing business because they were ignoring the wants of the consumer.

I can honestly say that we have the cell phone providers to thank for the second factor coming into play. Because if they hadn’t ceased to offer basic phones as a choice when customers needed a replacement phone, we would still be fighting what was once thought of as traditional forms of communication. For example, I was in a Sprint store the other day and every phone offered was a Smart Phone. I was looking for a basic phone for my eldest daughter that specifically wouldn’t let her do anything other than text or dial. She’s only nine years old and I wanted her to have one for emergency calls only.  She has a desktop computer and new iPad that gives her access to the latest technologies and tools.

With social media, press releases, blogs and app technology now the norm for sales professionals and consumers alike, the time has come for REALTORSs and all professionals to take things to the next level.  Did you know that 91% of all adults use cell phones now?  And they aren’t just using them for phone calls.  They are reading the news, watching TV and videos and sharing anything and everything they come across with friends, family and even perfect strangers.  Being a publicist is no longer a specialty, but a common place skill.

For the rest of this article I will use Facebook as my core example…just an FYI.  Facebook celebrates it’s 10 year anniversary this year and while it took professional communications and marketing experts a couple of years to determine and facilitate optimal social media engagement techniques, we are now beyond the simple posting / management on a regular basis.  Or even that it should be at least 15 minutes a day for management at a 90/10 rate of general information appropriate to target audience versus sales and promotional posting.

10 Things REALTORs And Sales Professionals Use In Order To Stay On Top:

  1. Follow back those that follow you.  But there are always exceptions.  Check out their profile and what they post.  If it could be damaging to you then block them instead of following back. Don’t rely on automated tools for this.  Take the time to do it yourself.  It also helps you to learn a bit about your new followers.
  2. Pay attention to posts in your timelines.. If it doesn’t benefit or relate to your target audience then favorite it instead of re-posting or re-tweeting.  Pay attention to blog comments and respond instead of delete.  By responding to a negative post you strengthen your level of expertise.
  3. Spend at least 25% of your marketing efforts and budget on social management.
  4. Call people by their first name and make sure to include something that lets them know you care about them on a personal level.  (While Doctors in particular have always insisted that they be called by their title, it doesn’t make them any less important in society than you.  You are an expert in your field as well.) Ask about their kids, acknowledge milestones in their lives.  Show concern when appropriate.
  5. When asking for referrals, be sure to thank the referrer and alert the new connection to whom referred them and why.  Then proceed to mention something personal to indicate that you have actually looked at.
  6. REALTORs should not simply showcase a new listing, but tell a short story about the listing.
  7. Share original content on each of your social networks.  Only exception is when you have a new blog post.  That should be shared across the board.  Remember that each network is used in different ways and tends to have differing audiences.  Example, LinkedIn is more professionals, Google+ supports organic SEO and Twitter is for conversations.
  8. Images, videos and back links are a must not an option.  With so much information coming at consumers today, we have become a very visual society.  So mind what you are showing your audience and the message they may read into it.  Images are easier to choose.  With videos, I always suggest loading them into YouTube first and not directly to Facebook.  That way you can choose the still shot that is seen before playing.  Facebook only shows the beginning image and it may not be as captivating.
  9. Try to not let a day go by with out sharing on some level.  Gone are the days of a minimum of 3 times per week.  Now it is expected to share and engage at least 5 if not 7 days a week.  Understandable that people get sick or schedules don’t’ allow and that is why I do encourage social managers to use auto posting services for a portion of their content.  But be sure that you use 3 different posting platforms so that you are putting out different content to each.  My favorite chooses are:
    1. Paper.li
    2. IFTTT App
    3. Klout.com or App
  10. Engage your audience on the playing field of THEIR CHOICE.  Each person has their own method of communication that they feel comfortible with.  That is why it is crucial to be an expert in each are.
    1. Social Media
    2. Email
    3. Phone Calls
    4. Face to Face
    5. Video Calls ie: Face Time or Skype
    6.  Texting (when texting is the chosen medium of comminque, refrain from LEET Speak and use proper grammar and spelling.  While it is faster and commonly understood these days, it is not very professional and the image of expertise and professionalism must be maintained at all costs.  Even if it means a few more seconds to compose a message.

Sales professionals that use these 10 tips as a starting point to managing and curating content and engagement will have a huge leg up on the competition.  But creativity, recognizing trends and thinking outside the box must also come into play if you want to stay ahead of the pack.

Michael Harris – Arzon

The Simplistic Professional, @SimplisticPro

President, Ardynn Media Group

Keep Things Simple….Take Your Work Home

It’s been a while since I posted anything and for that I sincerely apologize. This past year has been extremely trying as I struggled to find my way. As a professional with nothing but the strictest of work ethics, I found myself floundering like a fish out of water. When most people were ringing in the New Year with anticipation and jubilation I was being rushed to the Emergency Room with the worst health scare of my life.

After 6 touch and go days of laying in a hospital bed I was finally allowed to come home. But I was a different person. I no longer had the energy or drive of a Twenty Something. But as the next few months passed and I grew inpatient with the doctor ordered bed rest, I had plenty of time to contemplate my life, personal and professional. What I realized was that I no longer wanted to be the power player I had been. I wanted to enjoy my family and community.

I have always been the type of person to bring work home with me and thankfully we live in an age of technology where I could do my job from anywhere at anytime. So instead of doing a little of my work after the kids went to bed as I had a tendency to do, I had been forced to bring ALL of my work home with me. And guess what, I liked it. I found that I was less stressed and spent more time with the family than any other professional I know, while still putting in 50 – 60 hours a week.

Technology and a forced situation had given me a new outlook on how to stay successful. Granted my calendar seemed fuller, but it was spotted with entries like:

Pick kids up from school
Start dinner
PTA Meeting
Conference Call
Social Management
Kids Doctors Appointment
Webex Training
Article Deadlines
Play date with son’s friend from school
Watch the News
Date Night

The point being that by completely integrating my two lives has made me a happier person. So don’t be afraid to bring work home with you. Track your hours in the beginning until it becomes routine and in no time at all you will see that work and home life are one and the same. So break the chains of your traditional work day. You’ll thank me for it, I guarantee it!

Michael Harris – Arzon
The Simplistic Professional

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