Interruptions: Are You a Victim?

“Interruptions are in the eye of the interrupted.”

 

Information that you think is important to your business, may simply be an interruption to your business goals.

 

An interruption is external. It’s a break in continuity, something unexpected that “pops up” and causes you to divert your attention.  Examples: Someone calling your name, an e-mail alert on your computer, a ringing phone, a raindrop falling on your head, a bowling bowl dropped in your lap.  Interruptions grab our attention by diverting our focus.

A distraction is internal.  It’s an emotional disturbance that requires our own compliance.  It’s your mind thinking about lunch options while you are in an important business meeting.  It’s a gaze out the window to watch the birds fly by or the feeling that you left your iron on in the laundry room.  There’s an underlying cause for distractions that divides our attention in a subtle way.  Distractions may seem like harmless “white noise,” but they can be quite, well, distracting.

 

Workplace interruptions and distractions serve one disturbing purpose: They take us off course.  Every time we “follow the bouncing ball,” our business goals get pushed aside.

By taking your focus off the “big task” of what your business needs (more on this in a sec…), your vision becomes clouded, your message muddled, your decisions diluted and delayed.

 

What’s even worse is that it becomes a habit. You end up conditioning your brain to respond in a similar fashion in the future.  In essence, you are re-wiring your brain to work against you.

 

There’s a real reason why many racehorses run with blinders on. It’s so they’ll stay focused on the task at hand – winning.

 

So why is it so difficult for entrepreneurs to do the same? Why don’t we work with blinders on, avoiding interruptions so we can focus on growing our business and achieving our goals?

 

Maybe it’s because you love being in the race more than you love achieving the results. You enjoy the “busyness” of your business, but are unwilling to get serious about doing what it takes to succeed. You’re allowing distractions and interruptions to pull you away from your business goals.

 

How can you avoid the interruptions that are distracting you from your work?

 

An easy answer is to work in solitary confinement, but that has its own downside, and is a bit unrealistic.  A better answer comes from asking a better question:  Why are you allowing yourself to be so easily distracted?

 

No one makes us answer e-mails.  There is no law, under penalty of death, to respond immediately to instant messages or a ringing telephone.

 

We can avoid interruptions and distractions if we want to do so. So why do we allow this to happen?

 

It’s always easier to blame an outside source for our troubles – a computer, a colleague, a PDA – rather than take that terrifying look inside ourselves to see what is lurking among the cobwebs.

 

Are we are our own worst enemy when it comes to distraction?  Are we the cause of our own interruptions that take us off the path to success and down a spiraling path toward procrastination and diminished productivity?

 

Think about it for a moment.  Each time you sit down in front of the computer you should do so with an ultimate goal: task completion.  But getting from Point A to Point B in your business is rarely a direct line of progression – at least, that’s what you’ve been telling yourself.

 

The demands on our attention are infinite, but our attention is finite. So we have to keep focused on the goal of winning.

 

Every time we turn our attention away from our purpose – task completion – and toward something else (i.e., reading e-mail, mindlessly surfing the Web, chasing butterflies, chatting on the phone), we imperil our business goals and do our customers a great disservice.

 

We can choose to blame technology, our neighbors, family and friends, but really the blame is our own.  It is our own refusal – note, I did not say “inability” – to eliminate the interruptions and distractions that cause frustration and prevent us from achieving ultimate success.

 

By allowing interruptions to sidetrack us – by giving in to the pull of distraction – we simply delay our primary gratification: the knowledge and pride in a job well done and the financial reward that comes with it.

 

Instead of doing what your business needs you to do, you end up doing what you want to do.

 

Let’s put that in perspective. You may not want to change diapers, but your children need you to do it. You may not want to pay taxes, but it’s probably a good idea to complete them on time each year.  In both cases, you just have to hold your nose and get it done.

 

Successful entrepreneurs (in the right business) love their businesses.  They shouldn’t “have to” do the job; they should “want to” do what is best for business development and ultimate reward.

 

This creates another immediate concern:

 

Do you know what your business really needs of you?

 

If not, all of the time you waste through “distraction” may really be the fault of your own “indecision.” You must decide what your business needs from you (in a step-by-step list of tasks) and eliminate the interruptions and distractions so you can get it done.

 

Early radio and television programs used to be interrupted by breathless announcers with a familiar refrain: “We interrupt this message to bring you a special announcement…” The message grabbed your attention and wouldn’t let go until you absorbed it, at which time you were “returned to your regularly scheduled programming.”

 

It’s time to get clear about what you need to do, focus your attention and “get with the program” of working on what matters.

 

So, why are you not achieving your business goals faster?

 

Do you have an interruption problem, a distraction problem, or an indecision problem? (Share your thoughts on this here by leaving a comment)

 

Sometimes introspection can be a painful journey of discovery, but one we all must take.

 

So do it right now, right here… Then get back to work!

 

Have a great weekend!!

 

Ed

 

 

Great News Today!

You all know what an advocate I am against SPAM!

 

Please join me today as we celebrate the capture of what authorities believe is the “Spam King”. 🙂

 

Robert Soloway, a 27-year-old Seattle resident dubbed the “Spam King” by federal authorities and exasperated Web users (myself included!), allegedly ran his business from his apartment.

 

Soloway is accused of violating the federal CAN-SPAM Act, which criminalizes large, commercial e-mail messages sent using an unauthorized computer or with the intent to hide the e-mail’s original source. The allegations could put Soloway in prison for decades.

 

Federal prosecutors are also seeking $772,998 from Soloway, which represents the proceeds of his activity.

 

Authorities said Soloway, in an apparent effort to hide his true identity online, constantly shifted domains, including registering with Chinese Internet service providers.

 

Additionally, he used slave computers, called “botnets,” to send spam that advertised his corporate Web sites, which contained false headers to obscure their true origins.

 

I’d love to think I had something to do with Soloway’s demise… but no way to be sure.  I have taken a VERY active stance against spammers in the past six months, forwarding  hundreds of identifiable spam messages to federal authorities.  The FBI would neither confirm nor deny that any of my tips led to his arrest.  Oh well… at least they caught the sucker!!!!

 

Here’s the complete story from CNN if you care to read it:

http://money.cnn.com/2007/05/31/technology/spam_king/index.htm?section=money_topstories

 

Have a great week!

 

Ed

 

Few Ideas

Well.. either most everyone is far too busy working with clients (not the reason I suspect), OR, most everyone is stumped by the question.

 

My question was:

What is your USP? What makes you different from your competitors — in ten words or less — and gives your customers a powerful, compelling reason to use your service?

 

Some of the responses were:

  • I have the key to your new home at the price you want to pay.
  • 100% HomeBuyer Representation 100% of the Time!
  • Protecting your bottom line is our business.
  • Exclusive Buyer Agent – Don’t invest in real estate without one!
  • Three important words in real estate: exclusive, buyer, agent.
  • Real estate “no spin zone” – an Exclusive Buyer Agent.
  • Where HomeBuyers Make and $ave Money.
  • Sellers NEVER, Buyers ONLY!
  • The Home Buyer’s team, always on your side.
  • I have a ‘Heart’ to be an Advocate** for HomeBuyers. 
    (** Advocate-to zealously work on your behalf always.

 

Let’s be brutally honest here for a moment, can we?

 

If you were an un-educated home buyer just beginning to think about buying a home, and just beginning to research real estate agents online (or off-line for that matter) Do ANY of those above USP’s cause you to say, “Hmmm… now that sounds like an agent (or company) I need to check out..” ?  Do they?

 

I’m not here to condemn, criticize or complain, just trying to stir some thought process here folks. 

 

I think, ALL TOO OFTEN, we all get very complacent and stuck in our ruts of thinking that just because we offer a unique and top notch service to home buyers, they are all going to automatically know it, just because I call myself an EBA.

 

It’s no fluke that EBA’s EVERYWHERE are having bad years.  The terrible press, the constant news about how bad the real estate industry is, the constant bad publicity with the sub-prime mortgage markets, all of these things are lending themselves to everyone (in most markets) seeing their lead flow decrease dramatically over the past few weeks and months.

 

Add to that, the fact that we (and I say we in general terms) are not exactly screaming our USP’s to the buying public and causing them to come running to see us or sign up at our websites for more information… and it’s no wonder that traffic is down.

 

Yet, at the same time, some brokers are having their best year ever… and recent news proves that record numbers of people are buying real estate right now in spite of all the bad news about how the home buying sector sucks.

 

One of the things that continues to amaze me after all these years is the number of brokers who don’t even promote their own blog or website on every single thing they do or send out… including, business cards, email signature lines (a big missed opportunity) letterhead, all print ads, phone on hold messages, and the list goes on and on and on.

 

I see it everyday… people who put up a website, and think the world will come flocking to their doorstep (their home page)…. and it just doesn’t happen.
“What’s wrong with my site?”  “What am I doing wrong?”  “Why am I not getting any leads?”

 

All very legitimate questions, but also questions that should be causing you to re-examine how you’re treating your business.

 

Over the next few weeks, I am going to continue this thread here, trying to instill in everyone a different mindset.  One that will cause you to look at what you’re doing (or not doing) in your business, and make you begin to think more about how you can compete better with today’s Internet, and what you need to be doing next to stay on the cutting edge, and how you need to be marketing today in order to stay competitive.

 

As EBA’s… we all too often get caught up in the fact that, yes, we know that what we do is best for the consumer, but how can we get that word out there, so the consumer knows?  That’s a question EBA’s have been asking since day one.  And although I don’t claim to all of a sudden have the magical answer… I do believe I have some ideas that, if put to use, will help you turn the rest of 2007 into one of the best years you’ve ever had.

 

You see, I am a firm believer that when real estate (in general) slows down or hits bottom, THAT is is the time to ramp up, not pull back.

 

Conventional thinking among most brokers is just the opposite.  Most start pulling back and cutting back when sales or leads are down, and that is the quickest way to sure death in your business you could go!

 

Keep reading here, and please.. continue to post your ideas and thoughts.  I don’t want this blog to be a one-way conversation of just me.  I appreciate your input, and appreciate your thoughts.   I know we have a lot of very smart individuals as clients, and I appreciate you being out there on a day-to-day basis… battling the battle and struggling to survive in a down market.   Let’s all share that wisdom, and make this blog a very active forum for idea exchange.

 

I’m also going to be changing this blog in the very near future so that you will be able to subscribe to comments, giving you the ability to receive an email anytime anyone comments on one of your comments.  Stay tuned for that.

 

In the meantime, as you prepare for this upcoming Memorial Day Holiday weekend… I’d like to personally thank you for your continued support and loyalty… and beg you to put your thinking caps on and be ready to expand your thinking over the coming weeks and months as I share some new stuff with you here. 🙂

 

Have a great holiday weekend!  Take some time to relax and enjoy!!

 

Ed

 

What Makes You Unique?

Good Monday morning!  Today, I’d like to just get you to think about something for a minute, and then ask you….What make YOUR business unique?  And are you telling your potential buyers about it?

 

It never ceases to amaze me when someone contacts me about helping them with their business, and I ask them those two questions, how they can’t seem to answer the first one.

 

Seriously, before you even start developing your business — or building your website — or writing a single word of salescopy — you should have been able to clearly articulate what the heck makes YOU different from your competition!

 

Or using proper marketing mumbo jumbo: “What’s your unique selling proposition, or ‘USP’?”

 

I know I know… “I ONLY represent buyers…” or, “I help buyers save money on their home purchase…”  or even worse, “We help buyers get the best price on a home…” or “We offer the best service to home buyers, period”…. blah-blah-blah..

 

Let me blunt: none of those USPs work.  I’ll tell you why in a moment, but first — do you want to hear something ironic?

 

Big brand companies have abused many of these USPs to the point where potential customers have become desensitized to them. “Low price!” or “Best quality!” ads no longer grab people’s attention or give them a unique, believable reason to use your service.

 

Here is the quick and dirty of it: If you want to be really successful you need to stand out from the crowd by offering a USP that’s truly different… something your competition just can’t claim.

 

(And in hindsight, you’ll know you did it right when your competitors scramble to catch up by offering the same USP. But they won’t sound as believable — because you’re the one who offered it first!)

 

To get your creative juices flowing, here are some famous USPs that have played a pivotal role in the success of their organizations:

  • Fedex – “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight!”
  • Domino’s Pizza – “Hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes — or it’s free!”
  • M&M’s – “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
  • Wonder Bread – “It helps build strong bones 12 ways.”
  • Head & Shoulders – “You get rid of dandruff!”
  • Olay – “You get younger-looking skin!”
  • Red Bull – “You get stimulation of body and mind!”

 

Take note that these are all clear, to-the-point messages conveying a simple idea that differentiates their product from everyone else’s. And most importantly, they’re believable

 

So what is your USP? What makes you different from your competitors — in ten words or less — and gives your customers a powerful, compelling reason to use your service?

 

Post your USP as a comment here on my blog… I’d love to hear about it!  And maybe you can get some ideas from others who post a comment here.  Go ahead… post your USP as a comment.  If you don’t post, that tells me you probably don’t have one.  And if you don’t, then SHAME ON YOU.  Maybe you need to re-think your USP… if so… post that too.  C’mon…  it won’t hurt you to share your USP with everyone here.  I promise. 🙂

 

Have a great week.  I look forward to reading your USP.

 

Ed