Tag Archives: Benjamin Day

Our First Year at Selley Group: Pikes Peak Urban Living @ 1

This time last year, we were buying new signs, sending proofs to Santa Fe for new business cards, and in my case, cleaning out an office that had way too much stuff in it until 11:30 at night. The first “day in the office” was November 2nd, but Hannah Parsons and Benjamin Day joined the tribe at Selley Group one year ago today on November 1st, 2010.

I could have Photoshopped a candle onto the tree...

Both of us have experienced our best year ever. Hannah is closing five sides in six days right now. She has already had her best year ever, and I’m having my most profitable. But the signature of our first year together, which started with a lot of audacious, “we’ll do this better and that better” sorts of strategic planning is this: being.

Good writing isn’t supposed to use the passive voice in American English. You’re not supposed to get introspective and Shakespearean with your “to be’s and not to be’s”. The Bard was a deep thinker and what was going on beneath the surface – be it torment or motivation – was as important as what was going on above the surface. But American English doesn’t like the “passive” inner voice. It likes action verbs. It likes moving forward. The most American of presidents was Teddy Roosevelt, and he embodied everything American by constantly rushing forward in a whir. He was the Rough-Rider who took San Juan Hill for crying out loud.

Constantly rushing forward in a whir is tempting. Real Estate succumbs to 24/7 action-verb life pretty easily. On the surface, our production numbers this year are tangible metrics for what we’ve accomplished. They don’t even begin to tell the story however. The story starts in the passive voice of being.

This year has been a journey for both Hannah and I. Real Estate as an industry is in tumult. The failings of our industry caused the Great Recession and the continued sputtering in this enormous sector are continuing the malaise. We are surrounded constantly by the grouchy, the upside-down, the burned-out, the flighty and the burned. Real Estate for decades has embodied the American Dream for both practitioners and owners: start your own small business and be self-directed; enjoy the fruits, benefits and pride of home-ownership. Today, it embodies American Angst: live in fear of your business failing, act out of lack of trust, scheme, plot and scratch to keep your head above water; make all your decisions out of a spreadsheet, and allow the mistakes of the past to carry-over into the present and future where they are destined to reappear. We have begun year six of a less-than-thriving industry. The number of agents practicing in our business is down 40% from October 2007.

The origins of our partnership came from the problems of going 24/7 into American Angst, and the hope for something a bit better and more humane. There should be a little happiness in your work. You should have peers and allies. There should be a thoughtful perspective to share the results of a well test. There should be an empathetic listener when buyers’ choose to default. There should be a way to have a life for four or seven or fourteen days at a time without cell coverage. There should be a way to be a spouse and a parent without worrying about a transaction. There should be a way to not have to bring home the weight of so many burdens, every evening, every day.

Pikes Peak Urban Living is a joint marketing venture. Sometimes we share clients where I will do a listing and Hannah the buy side, and presently, behind the scenes, we are creating a fantastic, online, client-resource as a shared project. But what we’ve accomplished in our first year is a little more balance, a little more space, a little more focus, a little more perspective, and a little more presence. The culture of our business does not typically brag about increasing  value per hour or being able to stay at home with a sick child or carving pumpkins on the front lawn on a 65 degree Sunday afternoon, but that’s what we wanted to be about when we started this 365 days ago, and that’s what we are becoming.

And there is that passive verb, yet again. It’s a journey. It’s not defined by actions and activities and  metrics achieved and other metrics unfulfilled; instead, it is defined by Hannah being able and wanting to rush out  to cover an appraisal appointment for me last Friday night when an appraiser scheduled an appraisal on a vacant house on 2 hours notice (instead of the usual 1-2 days) and I had Trunk or Treating with the kids and Amy was in Virginia. Or me covering for Hannah tonight at an appointment with an architect because she’s supposed to be at a closing that got delayed, and Bob can be home at that hour to be home with sick kids.

If this sounds to you like it’s all about us, well you bet it is. And if you’re wondering how this benefits you, ask yourself this: do you want an agent that’s tired, burned-out, making short-cuts in life and has no money in their bank account and therefore cannot give you advice without personal sacrifice or compromise? Or do you want someone that has an ally, a larger perspective and is making sustainable business decisions with constant accountability?

After one year, we can’t say at all “Mission Accomplished.” We’re on a journey. We’re trying to live a better story. We’re embracing the “be”. We can say we have cut superfluous chatter, reduced distractions, given it our all, and been happier with our business than we have in years.

Thanks for journeying with us as we embark on year two.

“Hey Zebra, that’s not a foul!” Zebra Solidarity and Black & White Wednesday’s

I’m barely a blogger.

I might write 50 to 60 posts a year. That’s nothing in blogger world, and certainly not something I do for SEO. I have 500+ Twitter followers, and after three years on there, that’s pretty ready evidence that I’m not that into it to have that few. I’m frankly too busy with clients and too obsessive with my service delivery systems to spend time daily diligently plugging away writing SEO-powered marketing. I could. I just don’t.

But I know well the awesome power of word of mouth. I know who I trust. I know that trust is earned, and easily lost. I know I like Daniel Rothamel, one of the first two dozen people I started following on Twitter. I know I like Jay Thompson, one of the first three dozen I started following on Twitter. I know I like their friend Mizzle, my contemporary in the Colorado Springs market who I also started following immediately.

Why point out that I’ve followed these people on Twitter for three years? Because they’re relevant. They’re easy to find. They’re worth following. I’m smarter and better at what I do because of what they’ve shared online.

And because Daniel Rothamel is being sued for using the moniker “The Real Estate Zebra” that is apparently a copyrighted name in the state of Washington by an organization called “The Lones Group.” That’s right, in cyber-land, one agent is being sued for $75,000 in damages by a company that provides marketing services… to Realtors.

I won’t go on for the epic 1800+ words Jay Thompson did (and really, if you’re a real estate broker or care at all about social media, you must spend five minutes and read Jay’s post about this matter here. He’s close friends with Daniel and has set up a legal defense fund. He’s funny. He’s smart. And he’s dead-on). Jay’s point is that Lones Group did more to destroy their online reputation in an afternoon then they could possibly recoup in damages; damages that are baseless and illegitimate.

But just for a moment, I want to have a little fun with this, for Daniel’s benefit. Like Mr. Thompson, I had never heard of Lones’ Group’s Real Estate Zebra product(s?) or thought of them as a premier authority on… anything… and frankly, I would rate Daniel Rothamel as a premier authority on real estate education and leadership. So seeing someone who due to merit and permission asset deserves their business and fame, being attacked by someone who uses the same imagery and claims a copyright, but is hardly relevant, that gets me mad. But one of the major laughing points in the suit against Rothamel is something about “Lones Trade Dress”. Apparently, “Lones is well known for its distinctive trade dress used  in connection with these services (the “Lones Trade Dress”), which features an image of a zebra and zebra stripes.”

Really? I read that to mean they dress in Zebra-themed attire, and are the only ones legally allowed to do that and talk about real estate. Are zebras that distinctive?

So if I sell real estate, talk about real estate, blog about real estate, teach about real estate, I violate Lones Trade Dress if I wear one of these? That’s $19.95 that I better not expense, because I’m looking at a $75,000 lawsuit from someone in Bellingham, Washington.

Ladies, you might think it’s confidence you’re embodying when you slip on a pair of knee-high zebra-print boots. You’d be mistaken. You need to stay away from that website that is exclusively devoted to zebra-print footwear, and keep those out of your professional life. Your confidence isn’t worth a $75,000 lawsuit. In fact, that website ought to carry a

Wear with caution

sizable disclaimer to the entire 1.1 million members of the National Association of REALTORS warning them that wearing of any of these products is a hazard known to the State of Washington, isolated premier real estate bloggers and marketing pioneers of the real estate revolution, and other individuals willing to sacrifice their online reputation, et al.

 

Maybe the most shocking part of this, is how little research these sue-happy folks did in forming their lawsuit. Why is Daniel Rothamel the Real Estate Zebra? Because he’s a basketball referee. I can’t make this up. The dude likes his ball, and likes to give freely of his time as a basketball referee. There is no way he is paid anywhere near the value he gives of his time to this cause. And the two things go hand in hand, real estate refereeing and basketball. I hope some of the parents at his games ask for his card after he gives their son/daughter a technical. Seriously. He’s helping kids learn major life lessons in a pretty un-self-serving way. “Hi, I’m Daniel and I’ll be ref’ing tonight. During the day, I’m a real estate broker. I’m doing this game with Tina. She’s a plumber.” Thus the title of this post… “Hey Zebra, that’s not a foul!”

This is from Daniel’s own blog site (where he is about the only blogger I know who so deliberately lays out very ethical and legal rules about blogging): Aside from being a REALTOR, I am also a basketball official. I officiate High School basketball in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and NCAA D-III basketball in two conferences. I love officiating, and I love real estate, and The Real Estate Zebra is my way of sharing it. The things that I have learned through officiating have helped me tremendously in real estate, and vice versa. I love to help people, and I love to educate and inform people. Hopefully, I will be able to successfully do both, while keeping you entertained along the way.

Yep. That’s a pretty deep threat to an organization providing marketing services TO the real estate industry 2800 miles away. Let’s get this delinquent off the streets. Light ’em up. Send out the subpoena’s. He’s a $25,000 treble damage threat. I hate to calculate the emotional suffering he’s inflicting.

Puh-lease…

There is a part of me that’s afraid of the legal ramifications of this suit. I go by the handle Benny Moo. Yep, that’s a goofy, triple-edged reference to the evangelist Benny Hinn,  Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, and my Twitter Handle COSBenny. I thought of BennyMoo in 2007; I laughed out loud and checked the URL; it was available; I ran with it. I also have my name URL’ed: www.BenjaminDay.com. Do a Google search of me and my name DOES NOT come up right away. The godfather of American printing was Benjamin Day and Wikipedia beats my butt every day. I also can’t use Ben Day as a Twitter Handle, because there’s a pretty decent bloke who rides bikes from Down Under named Ben Day. I follow him on Twitter, but he doesn’t follow me. Stinker. I also can’t use BenDay.com because that Ben Day iss a cool dude in Boston who runs a consulting company. We used to get emails for each other. But I better tread with caution over the use of my name, because apparently, the legal minefield is deep and the opportunity to be seen as a confusing competitor deliberately attempting to maliciously direct business from it’s legitimate to my nefarious source. Because I blog, and that might be confused with 19th century printing production, and since that’s kind of technology, it’s easy to confuse that with software development, and because I every now and then go over the handle bars in Ute Valley Park and say something about it on Facebook, I might be impersonating someone more famous than me who shaves his legs and wears spandex for a living.

Hannah and I use Pikes Peak in our brand, PikesPeakUrbanLiving.com. We

We're just asking for a lawsuit with that logo and those four words...

might want to reconsider autumn tree imagery. Or mentioning anything Urban. Or Life as we know it. Let alone Purple Mountain Majesty. The opportunity for being served seems to lurk at every corner.

 

I’ve published something called “The Stat Pack” since 2006, a collection of real estate market data. CBS Sports started showing their in-game fantasy football stats sometime in 2007 as “Stat Pack.” CBS is worth billions. Maybe I ought to sue them? A lesson I learned from Steve Dallas, the slimy attorney of Bloom County fame: Never Sue Poor People. Now if I can just prove I thought of Stat Pack first. I can’t tell you how the emotional suffering I get watching football is strictly tied to this, and not the Broncos 19-29 record over the last three years…

I could live in fear of a lawsuit. I could. Or I could promote solidarity with Daniel and do what I encourage you to do: wear black and white on Wednesdays until this suit is thrown out.

We need leaders. We need inventive personalities. We need Daniel Rothamels. And we can’t have clueless ninnies who lack a permission asset sue someone else because they share the same love of a horse’s cousin and use it for logo purposes.

Hmmm… I have a tuxedo I never wear in my closet. I think I need a Zebra cummerbund for it this Wednesday….

A Unicorn in the Balloon Factory: Presenting Pikes Peak Urban Living

Seth Godin has this image he uses when he speaks of a unicorn in a balloon factory.

The balloon factory isn’t really a bad place to work if you rationalize a bit. It’s steady work, with a bit of a rush around New Year’s. The rest of the time it’s quiet and peaceful and not so scary.
Except when the unicorns show up.
At first, the balloon factory folks shush the unicorn and warn him away. That often works. But sometimes, the unicorn ignores them and wanders into the factory anyway. That’s when everyone runs for cover. It’s amazingly easy for a unicorn to completely disrupt a balloon factory. That’s because the factory is organized around a single idea, the idea of soft, quiet stability. The unicorn changes all that.
The balloon factory is all about the status quo. And unicorns (leaders) change the status quo.

Welcome to changing the status quo.

Hannah Parsons and Benjamin Day have created a marketing partnership to take care of their people. Yes, there is a possessive in that last statement… their people.

Combined, the two of us have been in the profession for 17 years. In that time, we have completed 450 some real estate transactions. The greatest challenge that exists to the real estate professional in this day and age is sustaining the energy required to navigate the story that unfolds before, during and after a real estate transaction.

It takes guts to be in your client’s kitchen hearing of their familial loss.

It takes guts to find alternate lenders on deals that have died the day before closing.

It takes guts to persevere through a “professional colleague’s” negotiation tactics that amount to references like, “little lady” or “this is not my first rodeo”.

It takes guts to help clients out when life has thrown them a brutal curveball.

It takes guts to have real skin in the real game.

The Balloon Factory doesn’t want the factory workers to have skin in the game. That’s the entrance of a unicorn.

Pikes Peak Urban Living is about helping clients with sustainable financial decisions. It is about placing relationship ahead of profit. It is about durable strategies embodied in life-giving actions.

“Life-giving actions? Are you REALTORS?”, hoots the balloon factory.

What is precious in this frenetic world is also highly disruptive. Two suggestions to disrupt the frenetic: time and space.

The consumer-centric principals of Pikes Peak Urban Living are that consumers deserve quality, but they also deserve the opportunity to let something breathe. They need to be informed objectively, but they also need to allow their right brain to come in and play with the decision. We are guides in the process, facilitating better, more productive outcomes. We catalyze positive action in our community, from our church, to Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, to The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, to our preschools and elementary schools.

We are parents.

We live here.

We are building a road, via real estate, for people to live better lives and enjoy a better story.

Road-building isn’t always sexy work. But sometimes, it helps the unicorns find the balloon factory.

Benjamin Day and Hannah Parsons have formed Pikes Peak Urban Living at The Selley Group. Today is day two of boutique brokerage empowering consumers with both measurable data and human empathy.

Thanks for joining us on this journey!!

What the Consumer Wants Now

It is foolishness for the real estate profession to say that they know what the consumer needs now. That answer is so obvious (sarcastic emphasis intended). Consumers clearly NEED to buy, right? Say YES to this contract. Say YES to this lowball offer. Say YES to this uninformed decision.

Press hard. Five Copies. Even on e-contracts.

Really?

Pick apart the differences between the words Need and Want. Move from “Need” to “Want” and the consumer becomes a far more complicated animal. All of a sudden, they don’t “Need” to buy anything. They don’t “Need” to accept an unfairly low offer. They don’t “Need” advice. They really don’t “Need” anything. But they do “want” somethings.

They want deep smarts.

They want objective data.

They want pricing presented in many different ways.

They want to understand the risks of their decisions, and implications of outcomes.

They want empathy.

They want consistency.

They want options.

They want accessibility.

If things stand in the way of giving the consumer what they want, and instead, propose from some ivory tower that this is what they need, consumers tend to act like cats being summoned inside.

They run away.

Our goal in business is to listen to what you want.

Benjamin Day and Hannah Parsons have formed Pikes Peak Urban Living at The Selley Group. Today is day one of boutique brokerage empowering consumers with both measurable data and human empathy.

The Don Miller Press-Release: We’re Making Snowmen

Sooner or later, though, we have to create. We have to go and make
something with the collected likes and dislikes we’ve assembled, we have
to turn them into stories and songs, into families and gardens, into
companies and churches.
These things start small, though, just a kid rolling a tiny pile …of
snow into a ball until it gets so big somebody gets interested and wants
to help him, after which the ball gets larger and larger, and then
others get motivated by what they are seeing and bring out sticks and
lumps of coal and a top hat and a scarf. 

But then again, snowmen are stupid. They just melt. Why try.

If you do your business from the heart…

If you actually are up nights worrying about your clients…

If making a profit is less important than making art…

If relationships are more important that P&L’s…

Sooner or later, you’re gonna start making a lot of snowmen…

Benjamin Day and Hannah Parsons have formed Pikes Peak Urban Living at The Selley Group. Today is day one of boutique brokerage empowering consumers with both measurable data and human empathy.

Thanks Don, for putting words to what Hannah and I have been trying to pull off for more than a year!

Small is the New Big: Pikes Peak Urban Living

The Catalyst of Change in the Real Estate Market

The over-used word of the decade is synergy. People drop the word with such frequency, it dilutes the power of it’s physics-defying implications. Wiktionary says it means this: Synergy, in general, may be defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently.

Flush it out: one can be one, but it will never get to two, let alone three by simply being one. Unless another agent comes and acts upon, through and with the first agent, nothing happens. No one (or thing) goes anywhere.

People know they like synergy. They know they want synergy. But how often do you actually see synergy?

How about a band of REALTORS realizing efficiencies, holding one another accountable to growing their business and their lives, and posting things like this on their website: Core IdeologyOur brand is fresh, healthy, progressive, innovative and forward-thinking. Succinctly stated, our core ideology focuses on education about real estate over the “profit-driven” tactics of sales. Our clients’ interests become our interests. We are meticulous about hearing the true heart of our clientele, and we thrive on providing better solutions so our clients might experience the fullness of Colorado living. Well said, Gordon & Cherise.

Multiply that times two.

Now multiply that by two, again.

Can you hear it? It’s the sound of small making a big noise…

Benjamin Day and Hannah Parsons have formed Pikes Peak Urban Living at The Selley Group. Today is day one of boutique brokerage empowering consumers with both measurable data and human empathy.