Smile, you’ll look younger!

In the movie, Larry Crowne, the main character (Tom Hanks: Larry Crowne) loses his job at a big-box Smilestore and decides to go to college so he can get a better job.  Early in his venture into academia, Larry meets a scooter riding free spirit named Talia (Gugu Mbathar-Raw).  She is a doll.  If Talia can’t make you feel alive and full of life, there’s little hope for you.  Everybody who comes in contact with the vivacious Talia is inspired by her upbeat and positive presence.

I was walking through a local Lowes store recently with my son.  We were in the midst of doing a project, and we had headed to Lowes to get materials.  When I’m focused and on the hunt for something I don’t pay much attention to looking like the local businessman that I am.  For some, I may even look a bit intense (a hazard of working in prisons for 16 years).

While walking down the isle to checkout a young girl walked up beside me and matched my stride.  She was a Lowes employee, and she was Talia is so many ways.  She walked along with me for about half of the store.  While walking along she turned to me and said, “Smile, you’ll look younger.”  I looked down at her and burst into laughter.  My son and I were talking about our project.  I have no idea why she picked us out of the customers, but it was hilarious.

That made me think about the image I project when I’m out in public.  The way you project yourself gives your clients a preview into the person you are.  Some people may not even give you a chance based upon their first impression.  It’s important that you give off a positive presence that is inviting.  Would you hire you?  Take a look in mirror and you’ll be able to answer that.

Sometimes, you just can’t get rid of clients. Good!

I’m approaching the end of a short sale that has gone moderately well.  That alone is a miracle, but there is another aspect of this one that has surprised me.  I inherited this couple from another agent who didn’t have the stomach for short sales.  He tried to get them through the process, but he just didn’t like the battle a short sale can be.  It doesn’t bother me that much.

The wife dropped by the office late this week to ink one more signature before it goes to closing.  We satHug around and chatted briefly, and then I walked her to her car.  While we were walking she said, “So, this is it?  I mean, once this goes to closing you’ll go your way and we’ll go ours.  Does that mean we won’t see you anymore?

I was a little taken back by her heartfelt question.  She continued asking how we could keep our friendship fresh.  I promised her we would get together.  Of course we could keep up online, through calls and texting, but she wanted a little more concrete commitment.  So, I guess I’ve added another family to my collection.  I don’t mind though.  I’ve got lots of storage room for more.  The world is plenty big to house them all.

Sometimes, you just can’t get rid of clients.  Good!

Another look at the impact of September 11, 2001

As we approach the anniversary of September 11, 2001, I have to reflect a bit.  On that morning, I had just returned from the gym and turned on the TV.  The first tower had just been hit and there was a lot of confusion about what had just happened.  Reporters were just starting to broadcast, and there were more unknowns than knowns.

I was telling my wife that it looked like a small plane had crashed into one of the twin towers and it was on fire.  Then I saw the second plane circling around to make impact.  Within seconds it hit the tower, and I followed that with the comment, “We’re under attack.”  As a Christian, I’m familiar with the voice of God, and instantly He said, “It’s not over!”  That started a day of phone calls and prayer at our house.  Two of my good friends were commercial pilots.  One was taxiing in the plane behind the plane that hit the Pentagon.  I stayed engaged in those calls until I had accounted for all of my friends and family.

That was the beginning of a new America.  The one I had grown up with was over, and a new country was about to emerge.  Within six months, I was in the former Soviet Union, and in a conversation with a dear friend, Yana Katsova, I said, “What the terrorists didn’t understand is that they would have to kill all of us to kill the American spirit.”  And Yana, in a simple, but classic response said, “That’s the same thing they think.”  She was probably right, but I wonder if the terrorists really knew who they attacked.

The United States of America isn’t just a land mass.  Geographically, it might be, but the USA as we know it, is an idealIt is an idea born out of the hearts of men and women who longed for freedom and the free expression of their thoughts and ideas.   It’s more than dirt.  It’s a determination and a dedication in the hearts of its citizens that exceeds the bounds of fear and intimidation.

America is more than political parties, religious sects, tribalism and sectarianism.  America is the strength of the individual combined with an invisible bond to people known and unknown.  It is that bond that causes one individual to rise up to defend another simply because he is an American.  Strangers become allies when attacked by outside adversaries, and for that moment they are one.  They may return to totally disconnected lives in the days that follow, but in that one event they are brothers and sisters.

What the terrorists of 9/11 could never figure out is that an attack like that of September 11, 2001 only works to make us stronger.  Rather than cower in fear, an American rises in strength and an undaunted boldness that overcomes fear.  It empowers the American spirit to respond purposefully and justly.  When the hammer of justice slams down on the enemies of the American ideal an element of mercy rises to make sure that the measure of justice is just and not simply a response of flailing at invisible enemies who cannot be counted.  Sure there have been those who have abused that long arm of justice, but they are soon exposed and ostracized by the very people they assumed they would impress.  No, make no mistake, Americans are seekers of justice more that seekers of retribution.

The United States of America, even with all of her flaws and foibles is a great land.  She is still a light set upon a hill.  People from all over the world risk life and limb to land upon her shores.  She is the hope of many, the home to masses and the greatest idea and ideal mankind has ever seen.  God bless this great country.  God bless those who perished, and those they left behind, on September 11, 2001, and may we never forget what makes us great.

The Kids Didn’t Get the Memo

While much of the country vacillates between economic hope and hopelessness, there is one segment of the country that hasn’t gotten the “things are tough” memo.  I received a text message today from a young man that gives me hope for the future of our youth.

It went something like this:

Hi, Mr. Cooper.  This is Jack.  I was outside doing my parents lawn and I was wondering if you needed someone Raking Leavesto cut the lawn next door?

Me: Absolutely.  I was going to buzz you.  When can you do it?

Jack: Just tell me when.  I’m outside doing my parent’s lawn right now.

Me: As soon as possible.

Jack: OK, I’ll get on it.

Me: Thanks.  You can text me the fee.

Jack: No problem.  $50.00 for front, back and edging.  It would need every week or every other week.

Me: Sounds good.  Would you clean up the heat pump area?

Jack: Thank you, sir.

I love this kid.  His parents are friends of mine, and Jack has helped me in the past.  He has an entrepreneur’s heart.  He saw an opportunity, and instead of waiting for it to come to him, he went after it, gained a job and made sure that I knew it would need continuous care.

What a great lesson for all of us.  If you want something, you’ve got to go after it.  If it’s available and the decision is not within your grasp, you need to ask.  If you get what you want, can you see a way to make it become a continually producing part of your life?

When is the last time you walked into a bank and talked to the REO department?  When is the last time you called a local bankruptcy or estate attorney to ask if you two could link up to do REO sales for him/her?  When is the last time you called a FSBO to see if you could help him sell his house?  That doesn’t mean you have to list it, but you can still profit from it.

If you see an opportunity, ask about it.  If you gain the opportunity, how can you turn it into a continuing resource?  Entrepreneurship is an evolving process of having eyes to see what others aren’t seeing, and then, putting yourself in a position to become the immediate solution.  Good job, Jack!

The Kids Didn’t Get the Memo