Planes, trains and automobiles are unfiltered Pall Malls.
How does one get into Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown or THE Ohio State for that matter? The answer is simple: Be Unique. We have all heard stories of the kid with straight As and perfect SATs who failed to even get waitlisted by a top school. While being a great student is admirable, it falls well [...]
When learning to play a musical instrument. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Sleight-of-hand magic. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Archery or shooting skills. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Dance or martial arts. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. The work in front of you. Slow is smooth and [...]
Alexander "Howard" Dumble custom builds the the most expensive and sought after guitar amplifiers in the world. Well, he did at one time build amplifiers. He is so shrouded in mystery no one can confirm if he is still actively working. His customers, mostly studios and celebrity musicians like Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ben [...]
I got a call from a client yesterday. He was unhappy about some work I had done for him. He was completely wrong. Everything he said; wrong. I was right. So what did I do with all my insight, breath control and zen training? I argued. I argued with a sick old man. It did [...]
Exodus, Moby Dick, Hamlet, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Charlotte's Web, Green Eggs and Ham. Every great story has, at its very heart, risk, peril and a healthy dose of uncertainty. How great is your story?
This is a little far afield, but, heck, I like to share. The best best shower glass cleaner is homemade. The Recipe: Four parts water Three parts white vinegar One part Dawn dish soap The best part about this cleaner: you can use it daily because it costs pennies per batch, especially if you buy [...]
Existential threats at 3 a.m. are rarely given a thought at 10 a.m.
A professional does not sell time. A professional sells value. Hourly billing, more often than not, fails to capture the professional's true value. A parable: A client calls with a project that needs to be done well and very quickly. She is willing to pay a premium to get the project done in three days. Fortunately [...]
Taken in downtown Hackensack, New Jersey.
Here's the thing about being in your own business: You get to choose. You get to choose your clients. You ge to choose the work you do. You get to choose your work schedule. You get to choose your employees, who become your coworkers, maybe even your friends. You get to choose your partners, though [...]
What if you had to double your fees? How would you explain it? Which customers would stick with you? How would your marketing change? How would it affect your brand? How would your volume change? How would your need for resources change? How would your manpower needs change? Would it actually be better? It may [...]
Two of the most basic tenets in football are keep your head on a swivel and keep your feet moving. These are not simply bromides: they apply both to the gridiron and the pressure cooker that is business today. Keep your head on a swivel reminds us to be situationally aware, constantly scanning the field for [...]
There is an old joke in business: Good/Fast/Cheap. Pick any two. What if you took one off the table? What is everything you offer has to be good? Then it can be fast, but not cheap. Or it can be cheap, but not fast. So you get paid well for working under pressure (which feels good), [...]
You only get four, six if you are lucky. If part of what you sell is creative or problem-solving in nature, you may have noticed that the flow state required is not something you can keep up all day. The reality is that human beings can only sustain this level of deep work for about [...]
After the startupworkgrab, you know, the first months or years when a new business will take any paying work, there has to be a time of self reflection. You now have some data and you need to ask yourself some questions. I suggest that you pose these questions as negatives: What work is the least [...]
Since starting my own business in July 2001, just weeks before the world changed in September 2001, there have been no shortage of, um, challenges. 9/11 itself was one of the first. There has always been some problem, some obstacle. This Gloomy Gus really summed it up for me: "There are no pleasant surprises when [...]
People (not me) take vacations in August. Europeans take almost the whole month off. God bless 'em. I took Friday off to watch a little golf at the Northern Trust. And I have jury duty next week. So guess who is working all weekend? This guy. Ah, self-employment. Why did I do this again?
I sat down for breakfast this week with a friend and really fine appraiser who recently started his own business. A lot of his work is in the commercial mortgage sector, which is pretty typical for a fledgling practice. I don't do a lot of mortgage work, so I was surprised to hear of the [...]
A lot of people really enjoy gambling. They play the lottery and bingo, go to a casino and play the slots or blackjack or roulette. They love the bright lights, the excitement, the risk. I am not one of them. I own my own business. Every day is a gamble. Am we getting calls for [...]
In appraisal we call our disclaimers Assumptions and Limiting Conditions. Potato, Potahto. When you come across a business with an extraordinary number of disclaimers they tend to be larger and lawyered up, attempting to cover every possible contingency long before they happen and however unlikely the scenario. From the customer's perspective, it can be a little [...]
I am not old enough to remember party lines (I am not sure they were ever used in the densely populated New York Metropolitan area) but I do remember phone books. Now a relic ignored by all and probably threat to the environment, phone books were at one time revolutionary. Before the invention of the telegraph [...]
Social Entrepreneurship is a business concept that places public good over corporate profits. A lot of businesses have been founded on social entrepreneurship ideals in recent years TOMS is a well known company founded by Blake Mycoskie that donates a pair of shoes with every pair that's bought. Jacqueline Novogratz founded Acumen, which provides "patient capital" to [...]
Do you feel like you are not getting anywhere? Like you are spinning your wheels? Like you keep revisiting the same problems over and over? We, the self-employed, the creatives, the freelancers, the sales people, have all been there. It can be discouraging. Here's the good news: You know more. You are generally better than you [...]
If you are not familiar with the phrase, Hum a Few Bars and I Will Fake It, you are probably under 40 years old. I am not sure of its origins, but it was uttered by a deeply experienced musician who, with just a hint as to the melody of a song, could play the song [...]
A five-minute interruption is not five minutes. It is at least 10 minutes and can be as long as 30 minutes. Why? Because once you off task it takes a few minutes to remember what you were doing and refocus. People do favors for me all the time, for which I am grateful. I like to [...]
I got thinking about who I want to reach with this blog. Through the process of elimination I decided that it was not "entrepreneurs" or "steadies." If an entrepreneur is someone who makes money while they sleep, whose goal is to scale and sell an asset, I don't think I know one personally. I know [...]
I created an email inbox in Outlook to park Blog ideas called Idea Bank. [I know, I am some creative guy]. The concept is simple: when I am in a conference or a meeting or driving and I get an idea, I send myself an email, and later drag and drop. It works well sometimes. Other [...]
I know it is a little odd, but as a youngster I had a fantasy of being a Gentleman's Gentleman. Of serving and helping a great man, well, be great. Maybe this fantasy wasn't so odd. After all, who wants the burden of being great themselves? Isn't it better, safer and easier to bask in [...]
It is not enough to service your clients, or even to service them well. Whenever possible, go above and beyond. Make suggestions, deliver something extra, spend time, empathise, care. Put the proverbial bow on the box or the cherry on top of the sundae. Someone might be offended, but it is worth the risk. You may [...]
When I regularly post blogs, the traffic on my website goes up. Dramatically. Calls for proposals also go up. Dramatically. The complexity and challenge of the work also goes up. Dramatically. Did the calls come from the same people that came to my website? I don't think so. A desire to encourage, inform or entertain [...]
Last week President Trump signed an Executive Order allowing the sale of health insurance across state lines. This is all well and good, I thought, but how would it work mechanically? So I did some research and realized that this is change could be very exciting, especially for people who own small business or are otherwise [...]
Unless you do your laundry naked, the wash is never really done. And you will be chilly.
Marketing is simply a way to get attention for your business, charity or organization. A way to stand out from the crowd, to create a story that attracts customers to your door (or website). Some gimmicks are personal in nature: Slash's top hat, Angus Young's schoolboy outfit, Richard Simmons' striped short-shorts, Steven Tyler's scarves. Some [...]
When was the last time you: Updated your curriculum vitae? Updated your website? Checked in with your best customers? Sent a thank you note? Got new photos taken? Asked for a testimonial? Increased your prices? Really challenged yourself? Made some art? Today would be a good time. Pick one.
Here are some software and web-based services that I find really helpful: ToDoIst This web-based To Do list software runs beautifully on all platforms: Windows, Apple, Android, even Google Chrome. You can set up an infinite number of To Do lists for your business and personal life, and your ToDoIst lists can be shared with [...]
Go on, admit it. You increased your fee because you think the client is or will be a pain in the patoot. In my experience, the relationship starts off badly and goes downhill. The client has a chip on her shoulder, demands a specific outcome, or complains about your terms of service. No matter how [...]
Today they call it anxiety. They used to call it worry. It is the same thing, running a problem through your mind over and over, with no solution or resolution. I suffer from worry occasionally, and when I catch myself (I have no idea why it takes so long), I re-read Dale Carnegie's How to [...]
What's it like when someone calls? What's it like when someone enters your place of business? What's it like when they speak to your staff? What's it like when they speak to you? What's it like when they buy from you? What's it like when they receive your product or service? What's it like later, [...]
The days of mass marketing are dead. Ok, maybe not for Proctor and Gamble or Ford, but it is dead for any business whose customer cannot be defined as, "a breathing human being." Which is, if we are honest, most of us. There could be no larger waste of money for a small business with [...]
...that the Universe tries to thwart your efforts. It is not only your personal Lizard Brain that can work against you, the entirety of the Universe seems to want to put you in your place for daring to create something. Want to write every day, smart guy? Ha! Crashed your computer! The Universe knows that [...]
An example of my personal irrational decision making: I recently ordered several handmade and vintage golf ball markers on Etsy. Some have cool skull and crossbone logos and some are made of unique materials with a motto, my initials, etc. I love these silly things. Do I "need" them in any way, shape or form? Heck [...]
I have not been blogging lately. Instinctively I know this is wrong. I am resting on my laurels, as it were - today's business is due to yesterday's marketing. Which begs the question, what about tomorrow's business? And you know what else? I missed the creative side of it. But life is funny. As I [...]
When you hear the term Protect the Asset, what do you think? Security systems? Insurance? Wealth Management? Form an LLC? I suggest to you, fellow professional, that it is all in your head. More specifically, your brain. Your brain will make you millions of dollars over the course of your career. It is by far your [...]
One fine day last summer I was listening to Radio Margaritaville on SiriusXM when a song by Paul Thorn called Everybody Looks Good at the Starting Line came on the car radio. It is a fun, bluesy song and I drummed the steering wheel for all I was worth. But as I listened I realized [...]
The Appraiser Prosperity Coalition is seeking to level the playing field. I think they should just change fields.
I recently received an email request for a donation to the Appraiser Prosperity Coalition. I was not familiar with the organization, but I took some time to read up on who they are and what they are trying to accomplish. What I found was a group of well meaning residential mortgage appraisers fighting their latest [...]
Want success and happiness? Do these things: Smile. Say thank you. Be responsive. Be friendly. Take a personal interest in your coworkers and clients. Stick to your knitting. Not all work is right for you. Develop a list of professionals you trust and refer, refer, refer. The client you refer will be impressed with your [...]
As you know, The Ol' Prophet is keen on technology and productivity. Here are some recommendations that may help you get more connected and efficient: ToDoist This little gem of a Task Manager is worth its weight in gold. ToDoist works on all platforms: Apple iOS (there are iPhone and iPad apps), Android, Google Chrome, [...]