Open for Business

 

open

“Work works”

Perhaps an obvious statement yet it seems somehow to be missed when we consider what we do to generate business (or results in whatever you do).

Often many of us (myself included) spin our tires as we think about what we are going to do. People fall into what I like to call “paralysis by analysis”, as we contemplate the many options that lay before us each day. In an information age that bombards us like drinking water from a firehose there are so many distractions. Sometimes these distractions may spark moments of inspiration or ideas within us. “Maybe I should write a blog, produce a video, make a logo, hire a virtual assistant, begin an email campaign, join a community group, clean my garage” etc.

When we get these sparks they can often leave us as quickly as they come to us. Ideas indeed seem to be perishable and unless acted on, expire. There is a resistant force it seems that challenges us to begin and to keep the status quo. The more urgent and less important tasks of the day invade us, in the forms of phone calls, texts, emails and the daily to do’s. Yet these urgent and less important tasks keep us from what we may be the more important and less urgent.

For example: starting and growing a YouTube Channel will never likely be a task that a boss or a client is going to demand needs to be completed by the end of the week. Most likely if you have such an inspiration those around you will balk as you throw away good time on some seemingly recreational task.

Yet when we see a video on YouTube with a million+ views or a YouTube Channel with 100,000+ subscribers we may marvel and envy those who have turned a seemingly recreational project into a powerful media source. Commanding the attention of an audience is an outlet is of extreme value, having raving fans is something big businesses often pay millions for.

Yet these strong and vibrant media channels all start with an idea, a spark. Clearly those who have succeeded have stepped out of the realm of inspiration and taken action. It is this action and execution of an idea which is the work of creation.

As I compose this post I am assembling my thoughts on this subject and considering my own personal experience. This is in essence a public note to myself as I stir myself back from the sidelines of contemplation (analysis) into the field of action (work).

Through March and April 2015 I spent almost 5 weeks in the hospital and had 3 surgical procedures. I was naive prior to this time of the possibility of ever being laid flat out by the universe. My life is high energy and I thrive on being productive and active every day possible. Yet through this time I came to experience more of an existence, being numbed by morphine and barely able to walk down the halls of the hospital. I experienced complete surrender of any possible pride, as the nursing staff, doctors and visiting friends saw me in a state that could best be described as broken.

At the onset I thought to keep this surgery fairly private, yet when what was supposed to be 5 days turned into 5 weeks (and more and more people were asking whats up with Lucas) I chose to share more publicly via a Facebook note where I was and what was happening.

When my home town of Calgary, Canada  experienced an epic flood in 2013 businesses in the affected areas (and the City as a whole) started a campaign to let everyone know they (we) were open!

Don't let the floods sink businesses in Calgary and affected communities. Show your support by shopping in flood-impacted areas this summer.

Don’t let the floods sink businesses in Calgary and affected communities. Show your support by shopping in flood-impacted areas this summer.

In the last 6 weeks I have had the good fortune of enjoying a return to health and experiencing quality recovery. I am so fortunate to be in a Real Estate Team for in my absence The Ramage Group was going full steam (even in what some have thought to be a quiet Real Estate market).

Yet as Calgary businesses felt compelled to advertise that they were open in the wake of the flood, I personally want to deliver a clear message to the online world (where most of us dwell).  The proverbial waters of my own epic health journey have receded and I am “Open for business!”

We experience momentum, when we are in action and accomplishing important work. When we are in motion the universe often shifts from “resistance” to “assistance”. Opportunities present themselves, people show up, doors seem to open in the direction of our dreams. The law of physics apply that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Currently I have been experiencing how starting (or restarting) demands more energy then maintaining. 

I have been schooled in Real Estate by my dad, a forty year veteran in the business. As he coaches day to day on what it takes to succeed, it is common for him to recite his observations that there are those that come and go, start and stop and ultimately never find their stride as they struggle through a more of a feast and famine lifestyle. Perhaps his favourite statement about succeeding is “work works”. This is a key principle that our family business has been established on and it is what motivates me everyday to put one foot in front other.

On that note, it is now 7:30 am, time to wake the children, get them dressed, fed and off to school. Time to suite up, show up, and do “the work”, because we are “Open for business!”

Legacy, in the daily grind of life.

Legacy. It is a compelling word. A word that represents a desire that so many of us have.

At times when a goal, a vision, an ideal, a dream, seems so massive we hesitate to approach it. The ultimate triumph is elevated in our minds to an out of reach podium that “one day” we may decide to tackle.

Inevitably that “one day” can seem as far away as the vision or dream we have had for ourselves and our life. A speck on the horizon that never draws near, as we allow ourselves to be distracted with the many more urgent and pressing needs of the day. Always attending to the urgent and ultimately unimportant tasks that press upon us.

Yet in the mire of the endless list of “to do’s” that fill our days I believe we have the opportunity to create our legacy.

Personally I have had notions of writing books or creating movies. The thought that such accomplishments are lasting contributions to the world. Providing an opportunity to spread ideas to a global audience and ultimately exist in some way, shape or form beyond the years of our physical life.

Meanwhile I feel this modern era has given us all an opportunity to tell the stories of our life and share our ideas and observations in new ways. With every post, upload, share and comment we leave an impression that will in some way be our legacy.

I may never write a book or create a full length feature film. Yet these small tidbits I create become the sum total of at least part of the story I want to tell. I am not surrendering what may be thought of as a grander vision for my life and I am not intending to minimize the incredible contributions made by those who scale projects to the extreme, and go big.

I want to encourage those of us, many of us, perhaps all of us; That as we battle through the trenches of what may be thought of as the mundane and daily grind, we are leaving our mark on the world.

I believe as we elevate our awareness of this reality we may have renewed interest in caring about the seemingly small things. For in the end it is assembly of small parts that make the whole and become the legacy that we leave. We may then be encouraged that the seemingly far away dream we have had for ourselves is in reality not far away at all, it is here, today, in front if us right now.

Perfection can be the enemy of creation

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to share how much you care. This little video was rather simple in terms of production. It all started with an idea and a little inspiration, the same way anything of value begins. When you have those little sparks it’s important to follow them through, ignite them and see where they go.

I have learned that interest in perfection can be the enemy of creation. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about creating quality content and elevating production value. Yet there is a delicate balance between striving for improvement and striving for completion. If you hover over a project to long grooming for perfection you may never see your work shared, and as Steve Jobs eloquently stated:

“Real Artists Ship”

I could write all the things that are expressed in this video (and indeed that was my intent in beginning this post), but that might mock it’s simplicity. Rather I hope it inspires you in your work, your art, your marketing and your sharing.

Why to share “How to”

17 months ago I read the book Rework by 37Signals. I have since listened to this audiobook regularly as I travel in my car from appointment to appointment. I have drawn so many ideas from this simple book and I recommend it regularly to everyone.

The following excerpt has captivated and inspired me:

Emulate Great Chefs

You’ve probably heard of Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, Jacque Pepin, or Julia Child. They’re great chefs, but there are a lot of great chefs out there. So why do you know these few better than others?

Because they share everything they know.

They put their recipes in cookbooks and show their techniques on cooking shows. They want you to take what they have developed and make it your own.

Great organizations should share everything they know, too. Don’t be paranoid and secretive, but be open and generous.

A recipe is much easier to copy than a business idea. Shouldn’t that scare someone like Mario Batali? Why would he go on TV and show you how he does what he does? Why would he put all his recipes in cookbooks where anyone can buy and replicate them? Because he knows those recipes and techniques aren’t enough to beat him at his own game. No one’s going to buy his cookbook, open a restaurant next door, and put him out of business. It doesn’t work like that, but many organizations think that’s what will happen if others learn how they do things.

Emulate famous chefs. They cook, so they write cookbooks.

What do you do? What are your “recipes”? What’s your “cookbook”? What can you tell the world about how you operate that’s informative, educational, and promotional? -Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson – ReWork

This writing immediately inspired me to create a “How to make an awesome Real Estate Video” video and post it to YouTube. That little video has garnered over 12,000 views in combination with it’s second half Part 2, and has created thousands of connections for me internationally and expanded my viewing audience considerably. I have watched my YouTube Channel grow from 100,000 channel views at the time I posted, to now over 350,000 channel views with over 1000 subscribers.

It is this same sentiment of sharing my knowledge which further inspired me to present to my peers at a recent Real Estate conference in Calgary http://www.rebarcamp.com/calgary

Offering all my insider secrets does not cause me concern that my competitors will knock off my work or my style. If anything it reminds me how hard I work to create the very best marketing for my clients.

Having the chance to share something you are passionate about is a joy and tends to invigorate productivity and awaken the imagination. This entire concept of open sharing and discussion is the whole premise of REBar conferences, and as much as I gave; I also learned much more from the other sessions I attended.

This was a milestone event; www.Ramagegroup.tv was inspired by a reading of the book Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck, in which Gary (the author) suggests one of the results you can expect if you follow his path to social media success will be to become a keynote speaker at conferences and events. I now have a very good presentation ready for delivery, and ReBar Calgary gave me the opportunity to format it for an audience and deliver as a speaker.

It is easy to see the value of building a platform and creating an audience, video is an awesome way to deliver a message. If you would like to know how video can help you in your business or if you need a Realtor who stands out from the competition using modern marketing methods please connect with me and I will be happy to offer you ideas, “How to crush it with video”.

Lucas Ramage

5 Ways video can help your Real Estate business

1. Getting in the door.

Anyone thinking of doing business with you will start with a Google search and likely a visit to your website. If they are searching for you they were already inclined to do business with you. But there is going to be some preliminary screening. What they find when they seek you online can either move them to take the next step, or it may cause them to go the other way. Either way it is difficult to define the role that video plays in strengthening this point of contact.

We do know that those who are visiting our site and have seen the video marketing that we do are very impressed. We know because we get this feedback all the time. When we are invited to visit a property, to do an evaluation and share our marketing plan, we have already established our professionalism by what the consumer finds from their online investigation.

2. Taking home the listing

We are often on the list for people calling “Top Realtors”  so we find ourselves (as many agents do), in these evaluation situations where we need define our service from “the competition.

In the past I found competing very challenging (bottom line was I did not like it). I am sure that reflected in my own success rate at bringing home the listing. When it got right down to it, I struggled to articulate what made us “the best”. It’s easy to appreciate how the average person can have the outlook that “all Realtors are all the same”.

But when I started to master the power of video marketing, I had added a really amazing layer of service, something that defined our team from the competition. I am excited about Video marketing!

When you believe in the service you are offering, when you actually feel you are the best, and when you have enthusiasm for what you do, it is (of course) contagious!

Now when I get the opportunity to go head to head against any agent to compete for a listing I expect that we will come out on top and win the listing. Again video has been a key ingredient to getting the listings.

3. Selling the home

We sold a 2 million dollar home from one of our online videos. An out of town buyer was not able to be in Calgary to see a home first hand but she had seen the video of the house, she declared it was perfect. The husband was in town and he was able to view the home and verify it matched their needs. In this case the video was a key ingredient to a big sale.

4. Strengthening buyers resolve 

I have had many times that we have sold a home and I will ask the buyer what effect the online video had in the process. They will often say that they were considering various options but they would be drawn back to the video. Often stating the “narrative articulated the aspects of the home that we were really looking for” The also viewed the HD video over and over to confirm certain details of the property, pausing and rewinding to see site finishing details etc.

5. Top of mind

Putting out steady, quality, and consistent content places you top of mind for any “would be” sellers or buyers. Again, this may be hard to track quantifiably, but posting 2-4 videos a month for a over 2 years in my social media networks certainly reminds people that I am a Realtor.

Although these people are my “friends” we all know how friends can forget your services in times of need (If you are an agent and you’ve ever bumped in to an old friend who’s told you they moved recently, and you know it wasn’t you who helped them, you know what I am talking about).

Is it my years in the business that has been bringing more friends my way or is it the video marketing? I would venture to say the video marketing has been huge in terms of helping friends remember my services.

The public meet you before they meet you

When I host an Open House many of the people walking in will say “I saw your video”. It seems to make a more comfortable point of initial contact. It creates a natural conversational point and I feel confident it has been a key tool that has inclined those home shoppers to secure my service as an agent.

Looking Back – Competition and a challenging market

To really understand how Real Estate videos have impacted my own personal business as a Realtor. To understand the positive effect video has had for me you need to know a little bit about my business.

I have worked with my family (Father and Sons) Real Estate team for about a dozen years. From before the time I had joined the family business, The Ramage Group has been a successful top producing team.  So any experience I have had in this field has never translated easily to coaching advice to newer agents. Join a successful team that shares your last name and you are set!

But that is not exactly the case. As everyone knows success does not coast on auto pilot. It takes consistent steady work. This is a highly competitive industry and we always need to be enhancing our service and upping our game if we want to be a top player.

I would say 4 years ago our team was losing ground to the competition. Suddenly listings were not just coming our way because we were “the best”. There were some examples that had come as a big surprise to our group, suddenly when the competition seems to get a foothold they can role with that momentum and it rattled our foundation. Combine this with a challenging market, where the wind had left our sails and vessel we had to sail to the horizon of the future suddenly seemed to have cracked up.

This is why I express gratitude for strong competition, it pushes us to dig deeper to deliver higher value to our clients. It is also essential to endure some trials and hardship to focus your energy and determine for yourself what you will do to succeed.

I can say today that our Real Estate team has more then bounced back from losing ground to the competition. We have returned to having a stronghold in our area of specialty having sold 5 times more homes in my community then the #2 team (based on a MLS statistics review February 2013-February 2014).

Was video the secret sauce?

This is where it is difficult to define what ingredients have played a key part. Certainly the biggest change we have made in the last three years has been the introduction of video. Not just the introduction of it, but I would say pursuing excellence in video marketing.

Say something!

A few times a month our family (like most) get the typical Real Estate flyers in our mail box. “Just Listed” or “Just Sold” along with a simple invitation to call for your free home evaluation. Unlike most however I work with my family in Real Estate and specialize in the community that I live in Briar Hill.

So when it comes to these flyers I am a little bit defensive when they show up in our community. 

Often my Dad will collect these little mail outs on his desk and the topic of our meetings would move towards putting out our own “Just Listed” or “Just Sold” Flyers. The task of flyer creation, proofing and over seeing distribution typically would land on my desk. Over the years these mail outs had faded away to near zero. The reality is that it is not because we have less to promote but because in my core I completely disagree with the use of Junk Mail at every level.

Take a stand – Say something!

I was inspired by a couple of the key points in a book by the founders of 37 Signals called Rework (I would highly recommend).

Draw a line in the sand

Take a strong stand. Some people will be put off by this, but that is ok. Strong opinions are how you attract superfans. It also gives your staff values they can believe in and guide their decision making.

With my strong opinions about unaddressed admail and my equally strong opinion that we offer a better way to market and sell homes for sale using video and online marketing I wrote a simple script. Admittedly I sort of crammed it down the proofing pipeline that exists in our group, but ultimately I got the green light to go ahead and take a stand and make this video “No More Junk Mail”.

Anyone who knows me would be quick to say that I am not a contentious person. Actually the opposite is typically the case, I am quick to make friends and do my best to be gracious and loving to all. I know great people in the print media business and I am friendly with all other industry members (Realtors).

But the fact is I really do think junk mail sucks and I honestly believe there is a better way to market and promote.

If you can’t do awesome videos, you could post awesome photos on some social sites like Facebook. You can create some simple Google AdWords, you can tweet “Just Listed” and “Just Sold”. There are an infinite number of ways to promote with modern marketing tools that don’t produce the waste of unaddressed admail and that actually connect your message to your target audience with much greater impact. (I get lot’s of inspiration from reading 1000 Watts blog) I am grateful that I have done the work to build a platform that gives me a place to share a message (My YouTube Channel and Video blog).

And to help move this small idea in to action wass another gem from the book Rework…

Inspiration is perishable

Ideas linger forever. Inspiration expires. Use it now.

So with that, if you disagree with my position… say so and I hope you are inspired to share your message.

Oh, and in classic Realtor style (self promotion)… now that I have earned your attention, let me take this moment to say that in 2014 (and in the collective mls history) no other Real Estate team sold more in our little community of Briar Hill (:

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The Best of 2013

Happy New Year!

“Why not outsource video production for Real Estate?”

I was so happy that this video was picked up in some Google+ circles amongst international Real Estate Agents. It feels great to get compliments on my work and appreciation for sharing.

I received one friendly comment that said “well done, but I am wondering why not outsource this video work?”

To answer this all I can do is recap my journey in making videos for Real Estate. http://www.RamageGroup.TV was inspired after reading the book “Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk. With a point and click camera I began video blogging sharing tips and trips along with market and listing information relating to Real Estate. However I started to witness some other agents who created some really sweet video commercials for their listings.

The moment I saw these higher quality productions I knew it was a game changer. In my core I felt I had to get my content to a higher level of production quality or my future business would suffer.

This was in 2011 and at the time I asked around and nobody was really doing what I was interested in creating. Additionally anyone who considered it as a possibility was looking for some pretty premium pay. Early on I had video professionally filmed and it cost $1000. I know relative to what a Real Estate commission is $1000 is a relatively small expense but it is enough to make you consider what your options are.

We all have moments when we see something and say to ourselves “I can do that”. This is simply the feeling I had when I investigated making my own Real estate video productions. But I did not stop there, I took the next steps… and I did it.

My first production probably took me 24 hours. “Wow, this is completely unsustainable!” is the natural thought I had upon completion. However there is a pride that comes with a accomplishing something. That video was for a $2,000,000+ listing and investing the extra energy seemed very appropriate. By the end of the year I was making videos for $150,000 condos.

With anything you do, over and over and over again and again and again…. you get better!  Now I have 192 videos posted to YouTube. The first 80 or so are video podcast monologues. But now I have over 100 high quality premium HD video productions for homes that we have had for sale. I can crank out a good video with 2 hours of filming and 2 hours of editing.

Let me now give 5 Reasons why I do these productions myself.

1. I am an artist and this is an art.

If your career involves to many things that can be outsourced and automated I think you better start to keep your options open for new future careers.

In my mind the future belongs to the artists.

With each video I get to enjoy the sense of “flow” that comes with creating.

2. As a Realtor I have an eye for elements that need to be documented.

“This wide angle lens makes the downtown view feel 100 miles away, someone is paying $2,000,000 for a view lot, we better get this right!”

Being the one holding the camera and capturing the video I am in control. I understand what are the value features of the property. If I send a video person to film there is no guarantee I will have the key elements documented in a satisfactory way.

3. Becoming very intimate with a property.

When you spend 2 hours in a home documenting it’s details with a camera you become very, very familiar with a product that you have been hired to sell.

Additionally carving out a solid narrative on a home requires that you get deep in to the details. 2-3 minutes of voice over demands that you as the agent can properly articulate the highlights of a property.

4. Become a one person army.

I am in a team and I value the dynamics that come with working with others to accomplish a goal. Yet there is a certain sense of comfort that comes with autonomy. I am not at the mercy of any other persons schedule (or invoicing hours) to complete what needs to get done.

Having the skills to produce a high quality video in this day and age feels like possessing the tools to communicate in a way that connects with this current generation. Could somebody outsource writing and typing, yes they can. But in my opinion that person is giving away some of their personal power.

5. Having fun!

Yes, I could pay someone else to go out on the running paths and film runners and pedestrians. I could hire someone to walk through and film the natural land reserves in the areas of the city that I love. I could hire somebody to edit these productions. But the fact is that for me, it is fun!

Creating videos has created a new dynamic to my business that did not previously exist, and now that I have it built in to my routines there’s no way I want to give away one of the pleasurable parts of my “job”.

The fact is I could pay someone $1000 to make a pretty sweet video. But consider that last week I made a video and sold a house that earns me $15,000. I could consider that I am a well paid video producer (who sells Real Estate), I know that very few people are prepared to pay $1000 for a video production but I believe whole heartedly that they are worth every penny and probably much much more.

I should express that I really don’t do what I do for “the money”. I eagerly want to add as much value as I can to whatever it is that I am doing. It does seem to me that energy that you put in to the universe in some positive productive fashion has the habit of coming back to you. If you’re doing what you do “for the money” there’s a good chance it’s gonna suck.

My next post, will relate to this recent production…

The Best of 2012

Yoga Shala Calgary – Mysore

In Mysore class you show up anytime during the posted hours and will be taught the Ashtanga sequence one posture at a time with a teacher. As you repeat the postures daily, you gradually increase your knowledge and create an independent, personal practice. New students are asked to commit to a consistent Mysore practice of at least 3x per week (students are welcome to come and observe class anytime). This commitment enables the student to fully realize all of the benefits of this method of practicing Ashtanga yoga.

Click Here to visit the Shala site

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