Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Wake Up Call

 

Monday Wake Up Call:
Your Motivation, Inspiration, & Direction for the Week Ahead

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4 Ways to Maximize Happiness When You Give
Abstain from Judging, and Listen with Sympathy
Welcome to another week and a great Monday! As we continue our month-long series on the art of listening, the next skill is a tough one: Abstain from Judging, and Listen with Sympathy.

As someone once advised, “Grow antennae, not horns.” If you prejudge someone as shallow, crazy or ill-informed, you automatically cease paying attention to what he/she says. So a basic rule of listening is to judge only after you’ve heard and evaluated what the person has to say. Don’t jump to conclusions based on looks, what you’ve heard about the person or whether he/she is nervous. Go into each conversation with an open mind, eager to hear what the person is going to say.

Sometimes it’s really hard because you may have a predetermined opinion of the person. No matter how outrageous, inconsiderate, self-centered or pompous the person you’re talking to is, remember: He/she is simply trying to survive, just like you. We all deal with stuff in our lives, but some of us have better survival strategies than others.

Listening with empathy means asking yourself, “Where is this person’s anger coming from?” “What is he/she asking for?” “What can I do that’s reasonable?” You’re not a therapist, and you don’t have to carry other people’s monkeys on your back. But on the other hand, if you can think through what makes people behave like they do, perhaps you’ll be inclined to cut them a little slack. Genuinely listening well is – at its heart – an act of love and, as such, may help heal.

Something to Think About
The art of listening is different in every situation. Sometimes it’s fun, lively and interactive with friends and family. Sometimes it’s a little painful with strangers, family, co-workers, etc. But learning to listen in any situation is a true gift.

Weekly Challenge
A good exercise is to go out of your way to listen to a difficult speaker. Maybe he/she talks with a thick accent or talks very fast or very slow. Or maybe he/she uses a lot of big words. Whatever challenge the speaker poses, seize it as an opportunity to practice your listening skills rather than to judge. Given some time, you’ll soon become more comfortable and effective at listening to diverse styles.

Words of Wisdom
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – Bryant H. McGill

“So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

“Listening is active. At its most basic level, it’s about focus, paying attention.” – Simon Sinek

“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.” – Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton



Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday Wake Up Call

 

Monday Wake Up Call:
Your Motivation, Inspiration, & Direction for the Week Ahead

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Giving Gives Your Brain Pleasure

What Does Your Body Language Say?
Welcome to another Monday! I hope you’re enjoying this series on listening. It just seemed like a great time to review something important to all of us, in all aspects of our lives. The ability to communicate makes you more successful both personally and professionally. This week’s listening skill is: Be alert to your body language.
 
What you do with your eyes, face, hands, arms, legs and posture sends signals as to whether you are – or aren’t – listening to and understanding what the other person is saying. For example, if you noticed the person you’re talking to… 
• Glancing sideways
• Sighing
• Yawning
• Crossing his/her arms
• Looking at the ceiling
• Checking his/her watch or phone
• Cracking his/her knuckles
• Watching the activity around you

…what would you think? Like most of us, you’d very quickly get the impression that the person has no interest in what you’re saying.
Try these instead: 
• Look into their eyes
• Smile if appropriate
• Raise eyebrows periodically
• Grin at appropriate moments
• Tilt head on occasion 
• Lean toward the person if appropriate
 
These things show that you’re interested in what the other person is saying. In addition, the active listener usually acknowledges the speaker verbally with comments such as “I see,” “Wow,” “Mmmm” or “Really?”
 
Some people are contact-oriented, while others are much less so, preferring more space between themselves and the people they’re talking to. You’ll be a better listener if you honor those preferences. Again, when you acknowledge the other person both verbally and nonverbally, you build trust and increase rapport. And you’ll probably learn something too!
 
Something to Think About
Mary Kay of global cosmetics company Mary Kay Inc. was known for her ability to make whomever she was talking to feel like he/she was the most important person in the room, even though she was usually surrounded by crowds of people when she was talking to someone. If she could do it, as busy as she was, each of us can too!
 
Weekly Challenge
Listen – really listen – to one person for a day. Choose someone you could relate to better. Commit to listening to – not just hearing – him/her for one day. After each conversation, ask yourself: Did I really make an effort to go beyond superficialities? Did I observe verbal, vocal and visual clues? Did I note what was not said as well as what was said? Once you’re in the habit of nudging yourself to listen better, extend this exercise to successive days, then to other acquaintances. Listening well is a gift you can give to others. It’ll cost you nothing, but it may be invaluable to them.
 
Words of Wisdom 
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just being.” – Eckhart Tolle
“It’s not about ‘having’ time. It’s about making time. If it matters, you will make time.” – Unknown
“Slow down. Calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Trust the process.” – Alexandra Stoddard
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” – Jack Kornfield 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Why Buying a Home That Needs Work May Be Right For You


Whether it is your first home or your fifth, when entering the market you are faced with many options, one of which can be a huge decision – buy a home that is move-in ready or a home that needs a bit more work? Commonly referred to as a “fixer-upper”, these homes are typically older and require some kind of maintenance or renovation. While the amount of work that is needed can vary per home, it is important to be in good financial standing before starting any home project. If your pockets are full and you love a good project, here are a few reasons why buying a home that needs work may be right for you.

You want a unique and personal space

With a fixer-upper, you are able to customize every room to your liking. From the curtains to the cabinet handles, they will all be a reflection of your personal taste and not someone else’s.

You want a home with character

You like the idea of being able to call the shots when it comes to the design of the home, but you want a space that has an antique feel and historical traits that a newer home does not have. Those old claw foot tubs, rustic beams, and detailed wood trim moldings won’t come with a move-in ready home.

You love projects and getting your hands dirty

Buying a home and remodeling is a large task to take on. You have to be patient and prepared to encounter some setbacks along the way. Older homes come with baggage, but in the end, you can have a space that successfully mixes the old and new together to create a beautifully distinctive home.

Special thanks to Mark Moz for the image.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Home Buyer Shortage Threatens Recovery

This article was on the front page of  this morning’s Wall Street Journal and I wanted to get your input. Please take a few minutes to read the article let me know if you believe this applies to the CNY market.


Home Buyer Shortage Threatens Recovery

The housing recovery that began in 2012 has lifted the overall market but left behind a broad swath of the middle class, threatening to create a generation of permanent renters and sowing economic anxiety and frustration for millions of Americans.

Home prices rose in 83% of the nations 178 major real-estate markets in the second quarter, according to figures released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors. Overall prices are now just 2% below the peak reached in July 2006, according to S& P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices.

But most of the price gains, economists said, stem from a lack of fresh supply rather than a surge of buyers. The pace of new home construction remains at levels typically associated with recessions, while the homeownership rate in the second quarter was at its lowest point since the Census Bureau began tracking quarterly data in 1965 and the share of first-time home purchases remains mired near three-decade lows.

The lopsided recovery has shut out millions of aspiring homeowners who have been

Priciest market in the U.S.?

San Jose....................................... A2

 


forced to rent because of damaged credit, swelling student loans, tough credit standards and a dearth of affordable homes, economists said.

In all, some 200,000 to 300,000 fewer U.S. households are purchasing a new home each year than would during normal market conditions, estimates Ken Rosen, chairman of the Fisher Center of Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California at Berkeley.

"I dont think we are in a normal housing market," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. "The losers are clearly the rising rental population that isnt able to participate in this housing equity appreciation. They are missing out on [a big] source of middle-class wealth."

Anxiety about missed economic opportunities is a key driver of the anti-incumbent anger on both sides of the political spectrum that has shaken up the 2016 election season, helping fuel the insurgent presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

"You have these people who cant get housing, and its turning into this rage," said Kevin Finkel, executive vice president at Philadelphia-based Resource Real Estate, which owns or manages 25,550 apartments around the U.S.

While economists expected the homeownership rate to begin edging up this year, the rate fell to a 51-year low of 62.9% in the second quarter from 63.4% in the same quarter last year.

The rate could fall to 58% or lower by 2050, according to a recent prediction by housing experts Arthur Acolin of the University of Southern California, Laurie Goodman of the Urban Institute and Susan Wachter of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Long-term declines could erase gains made by middleclass Americans since World War II. Owning a home provides protection against rising rents and has been a key component of retirement saving and wealth creation.

"The default savings mechanism for American households has been homeownership," Ms. Wachter said. "Today we have historic lows for young households in terms of ownership so theyre not getting on this path."

That can ripple throughout the economy. Homeowners often use home equity to pay for college tuition, vacations or home renovations, which help boost consumer spending. The mere knowledge that home values are rising can make consumers comfortable spending money other places, a process known as the wealth effect.

"Were seeing a divide between the wealth of homeowners and the wealth of renters," said Nela Richardson, chief economist at real-estate brokerage firm Redfin.

After peaking in July 2006, the Case-Shiller index plunged 27% over the next six years. Since then the recovery has been swift, particularly in markets with strong job growth and limited supply, creating problems for entry-level buyers in particular.

Across the country the recovery has been divided between strong West Coast markets and Texas, which have rebounded swiftly beyond their 2006 peaks, while prices from the Rust Belt to southern Florida may not return to those levels for decades.

Prices in the Boulder, Colo., metro area are 45% above their prior peak, while those in Dallas are 26% above their boom-time highs, according to data pro- vider CoreLogic Inc. Meanwhile, prices in the Saginaw, Mich., area remain nearly 40% below their peak levels and those in Atlantic City are still 38% lower.

The main reason for falling homeownership, economists say: mortgage availability. Lenders chastened by the financial crisiswhich was fueled partly by home loans issued to borrowers ill-equipped to repay themhave consequently been fearful of making loans to borrowers with dings on their credit, student debt or creditcard bills, or younger buyers with shorter credit histories.

"Right now our mortgage finance system is still not working well for lower- and middleincome households and firsttime buyers," said Mr. Rosen.

A dearth of home construction, especially at the lower end, is taking a toll. Nationally, the inventory of homes for sale has dropped more than 37% since 2011, according to Zillow, a real estate information firm. Some of that reflects the clearing away of distressed inventory, but economists said the pendulum has swung toward a housing shortage.

An estimated 1 million new households were formed last year, but only 620,000 new housing units were built, according to the Urban Institute. An analysis of census data by the Urban Institute showed that all of the net new households formed between 2006 and 2014 were renters rather than owners.

"We went so many years without building there are in many places in the country a shortage of housing," said Richard Green, the Lusk Chair in Real Estate at the University of Southern California. "I think that overshadows everything else in terms of normalcy."

 

The main reason for declining ownership, economists say: mortgage availability.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Monday Wake Up Call

 

Monday Wake Up Call:
Your Motivation, Inspiration, & Direction for the Week Ahead

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Understanding Is an Important Aspect of Communication
Welcome to Monday! I hope you were successful in learning to listen and be present in your conversations this past week. This week, we’re going to take a look at the second skill involved in becoming a better listener: Understanding.

Understanding what the person is saying is the point in the listening process when you’re able to plan your response. Understanding takes place after you’ve received the information from the speaker and begin to process its meaning.

The best way to completely and accurately understand what they’re saying is to ask questions about what you heard, and confirm that you heard what they were saying. This allows you to demonstrate active engagement with their words and helps you better understand their key points.

Asking questions that start with who, what, where, why and how are a great way to get additional information: “Why do you think that?” “How were you feeling when that happened?” “What did you mean when you said…?” “What was it that...?” “How can I help?” Once you’ve asked several questions to gain additional information and clarity, you’re better able to craft your response.

As you learn to ask questions about details in the conversation, you’ll see that the person you’re talking with is excited to deliver his/her message – because you’re excited to hear about it!

Something to Think About
The art of asking questions will help in many areas of your life. Whether you’re on a listing appointment or working with a buyer, taking the time to ask questions before presenting solutions or properties will always result in a better outcome. And when dealing with objections, you’ll be more successful in coming up with good solutions when you first take the time to ask questions.

Weekly Challenge
This week, practice the art of asking questions ¬– after you’ve listened to what the person is saying – in an attempt to better understand what the person is communicating.

Words of Wisdom
“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.” – Unknown

“The greatest gift you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” – Simone Weil

“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.” – Jose Ortega y Gasset

“Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.” – Jim Rohn 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Monday Wake Up Call

 

Monday Wake Up Call:
Your Motivation, Inspiration, & Direction for the Week Ahead

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The Importance of Listening – and Ways to Improve Your Own Skills
Happy Monday! This week I have a very important message for everyone: The art of listening – and how to improve your listening skills.

Communication in your daily life – among friends, family, clients and significant others – is really important for a number of reasons, including fostering self-esteem, maximizing productivity and improving relationships.

Listening seems simple, but it’s more than just the ability to absorb information from someone else. Listening is a process – an active process that’s so important in business and everyday life that we’re committing the entire month of August to it. Each week, we will cover a skill necessary to improve the way you listen and communicate.

This week’s message is on Receiving: the act of absorbing the information being expressed to you, whether verbally or nonverbally. Not all communication is done through speech, and not all listening is done with ears.

No matter how you’re communicating with another person, the key at this stage is to pay attention. Focus all of your energy on the person you’re talking with by following these three simple tips:
·                     Avoid distractions. This is obvious. Don’t have your cell phone out, don’t text or watch messages as they’re coming in, and don’t have the television on. Don’t try to divide your attention between the person who’s speaking and “something else.” You might think you’re good at multitasking, and perhaps you are, but demonstrating a commitment to the act of listening will make you more respected among your peers.
·                     Don’t interrupt the speaker. You might want to make an assumption about what the speaker is saying or is about to say, but don’t. It’s rude, and you may find your assumption is wrong, which doesn’t benefit anyone. You can, however, practice nonverbal feedback cues such as nodding to demonstrate your attention.
·                     Don’t rehearse your response. Not yet. At this stage, your only job is to listen. If you start to plan a response while the other person is speaking, you’re going to miss certain points and not be able to respond to his/her larger message when it’s your turn to talk.
Something to Think About
We all know people who always seem distracted when we talk to them, or who never turn their phones off and feel compelled to check whenever they hear someone trying to reach them. Maybe you are that person.

I recently took a trip with two good friends to relax and unwind. Both are very successful business people, but an interesting thing happened when we arrived at the airport. One friend was on her phone in the car, at the airport, in the elevator up to the lounge and in the lounge. She kept saying, “Sorry, but this is important.” My other friend said, “This is a really important lesson for me. I’m going to apologize to my family when I see them. That’s usually me when I take a vacation with my family, but no more! I never realized how it makes them feel until now.”

It’s interesting that the friend who was observing the behavior suddenly realized how rude it was. The people our friend was talking to were “more important than we were.” Talking to the people on the phone was more important than being present in the moment.

Weekly Challenge
This week, be present when others are talking to you. Don’t get distracted. Don’t interrupt or cut them off. Just listen, nod, and show them that what they’re saying is important to you.

Words of Wisdom
“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we’re listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” – Menninger

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” – Zig Ziglar

“Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.” – Jill Bolte Taylor

“Sometimes, what a person needs is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a patient heart that listens.” – Unknown

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” – Doug Larson

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Wake Up Call

 

Monday Wake Up Call:
Your Motivation, Inspiration, & Direction for the Week Ahead

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4 Ways to Maximize Happiness When You Give
Was last week a great week? Did you do something to help someone else? If so, fantastic! If you got caught up in “life,” no worries; there’s always someone in need, so you’ll have many other opportunities to help others.
Here are 4 ways you can maximize your happiness when giving:

  1. Give to clear, tangible projects. When you feel like you’re giving directly to a project rather than “overhead,” you give 3 times as much – and feel better about it. When you know that your donation is going to something concrete and tangible, it combats a sense of futility (i.e., Will my donation even make a difference?). You feel like you’re making a more direct impact. This feeling of personal impact makes you more likely to give and increases your satisfaction level after you have given.
  2. Give more frequently in smaller amounts. Giving, like consumption, has diminishing returns. Giving $1,000 doesn’t give you 10 times the high of giving $100. Because of this, you really should be giving more often in smaller amounts so you get that pleasure high more often. Look for a monthly donation program where you can see the ongoing impact of your donation.
  3. Give with no strings attached. Making a donation to get something tangible in exchange can limit that high you get when giving. The same is true when you purchase something where a portion of proceeds goes to charity. These things can take your decision-making from, “How can I help others with my resources?” to a logical thought process of, “If I buy this, it helps a cause.” It’s not that you shouldn’t purchase products that give to charity, but your brain does not emit the same feeling. Nothing beats a straight up donation directly to a charity with no tangible strings attached.
  4. Give when you know whom your donation will help. Child sponsorship programs have been putting this to use longer and better than most. While it’s sometimes heartbreaking, putting a name and face to the cause gives you a big emotional boost. People will donate 60% more when there’s a name, age and picture of the person who will benefit from the donation. This is called the identifiable victim effect, where we care more about the one person we know compared to the numerous others that are just numbers.

Something to Think About
Giving to others gives us pleasure. It makes us happier which, in turn, leads us to give more, which makes us even happier and... you get the picture. And don’t forget: It doesn’t have to be money. You can use your talents and time to help many in need.
 
Weekly Activity 
This one seems simple… Let’s find a way to continuously give to help others.
 
Words of Wisdom
“To be poor does not mean you lack the means to extend charity to another. You may lack money or food, but you have the gift of friendship to overwhelm the loneliness that grips the lives of so many.” – Stanley Hauerwas
“I am a huge believer in giving back and helping out in the community and the world. Think globally, act locally I suppose. I believe that the measure of a person's life is the effect they have on others.” – Steve Nash
“Giving back involves a certain amount of giving up.” – Colin Powell
“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.” – Mandy Hale
“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” – Lao Tzu