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Archive for the 'the hustle' Category

Getting a San Diego Condo VA-Approved Adds Value To Service Members

Debra Brady and I are experts at VA-financing.  One of the things we do very well is secure a VA condo complex approval for condominiums which aren’t agency approved.  Some comments from a recent YELP review:

I started the home buying process while still on deployment, and Brian graciously worked with me across 13 time zones to begin explaining the ins and outs of home buying.

This is actually kind of fun for me.  With technology, deployed service members can communicate with me well in advance of buying.  Many times, when deployed,  they have free time with little to do.  They use Gchat, Facebook Messenger, Skype, and email to communicate with me.  Sometimes it makes for some weird hours but I enjoy finally meeting them when they return to the States.

I googled VA home approval, and his was the first name to pop up.  Brian is an absolute master at working with the VA.

That’s what I love to hear–that we come up first on Google Search for this topic.

Brian took my wife and I out for cocktails to explain in person the different loan rates and explain the decision making process for each of them, and Debra worked like a fiend to make sure thinks were done WELL ahead of time.

This is how Debra and I work.  I spend most of my time “selling” real estate agents and educating clients and Debra gets the loan done.  When we’re clicking properly, I am “Mr. Outside” and she is “Mrs. Inside”.  Clients know that she is in the office, every day from 8AM until 230PM each day and available on the telephone.  This frees me up to: (a) find more business for us and (b) properly educate home buyers about the process.  We pride ourselves on “no surprises” during the loan process.

To any Servicemembers who are interested in using their VA loan option, look no further than Brian, he is THE expert who will get you into the place you want.

That’s what I hope to hear on every VA loan we close.  It doesn’t ALWAYS happen but, I’m proud to say, it does happen more often than not.

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There is no real estate inventory problem in Oceanside, CA

How often had you heard real estate agents complain about “the inventory problem” this past year?  I used to think their complaints were farcical until these past 3-4 months.  I have about a dozen pre-approved buyers out looking for homes.  Interest rates are low and the foreclosures are getting snapped up as soon as they hit the market.  Not one of those dozen has been able to get an accepted offer since Labor Day, 2012.

Clearly, there must be an inventory problem. 

It’s time to change gears real estate agents.  A few years back, I suggested that buyers would be controlling the market and the listings side of the business should be de-emphasized.  All the properties being offered were short sales or foreclosures.  Paperwork-intensive transactions didn’t sound so appealing to me and I recommended that agents focus all their efforts on finding buyers and getting them into contracts.  Those who followed such advice didn’t get rich but earned a darned good living these past few years.

I had breakfast this morning with Mr. Oceanside, Don Reedy.  We discussed the local market and “the inventory problem” when it hit me; there is no shortage of homes.  In Oceanside alone, there are thousands of home owners, with equity, who can sell their properties to ready and willing home buyers.  This offers the ambitious real estate agent a great opportunity.  Too often, real estate agents (and loan originators) forget that we are paid to add value to transactions.  If we’re simply acting as gatekeepers, we are no different from everyone else.  We need to “create personal inventory”–find sellers for the buyers who want their homes.

Here is my ten- step plan for real estate agents, for a great 2013…with PLENTY of “personal” inventory:

  1. Attend your local caravan meeting each week.  Pay close attention to the agents who speak during the “buyers’ needs” segment.
    Call a dozen local agents weekly who work with buyers.  Find out where the inventory problem is.  At this point, you will see a glaring opportunity in your town/market area.  If you know that those agents have 2-3 buyers, for a certain price range, in a certain area, you have identified “half” a market.
  2. Look at the property tax records in the “problem” subdivision.  Choose only properties with owner’s equity.  Generally speaking, you’ll look for homes bought prior to 2006 or in 2010.  If you’re doing a search with the local title company, and you know the homes are worth $350,000-$400,000, you could also search for sales which had recorded mortgages under $250,000 (that can eliminate a lot of problems).  Compile a lit of potential “equity sellers”.
  3. Visit those equity sellers on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon.  Don’t mail them.  Don’t call them.  Don’t email them.  Bang on their door and tell them that you KNOW where 2-3 willing buyers of their property are.  Ask to meet with them to discuss the idea of “equity transfer” to different property.
  4. Meet the now interested seller and explain that, when they look at their original mortgage payment (before they refinanced), and add the expected equity from the sale of their home, they might be able to buy a “better” (bigger, nicer, closer to work) home.  It might be useful to have some listings printed out, in the “better” homes’ price range, to whet their appetite.  Recommend that they speak with America’s #1 mortgage broker, to get pre-qualified for the “equity transfer” program, with mortgage payments which were equal to their original (before they refinanced) payment.  Schedule a follow-up visit and tell them you’ll have the mortgage broker call them in the morning.
  5. Speak with the agents who have willing buyers for the home.  Verify that they are still in the market and that you might have a property about to hit the MLS.  Explain that you’ll give them a “heads up”, right after the listing agreement is signed, and tell them that you’ll let their buyers “preview” the property the day the listing is entered into the MLS.  Estimate when you think that will be.
  6. At the follow up visit to the interested seller, start the meeting off by showing them the available inventory for the pre-approved amount (you’ll have a pre-approval letter from the mortgage broker).  Sell the fact that you are transferring the equity from the existing property.  If they seem excited, offer to list thee property for 30 days only.  Explain that this market is a bit of an anomaly and, if you can’t get them the price they need, to affect the “equity transfer” in 30 days, it may not make sense to sell at that time.  Have the seller sign a 30-day listing agreement along with a 60-day buyer’s brokerage agreement.
  7. Instruct them to be out of the property from 2PM-7PM on the next Friday and out of the property from 1PM-4PM on the next Saturday.  Schedule time to review offers, at 6PM on that Sunday evening.
  8. Plan to enter the listing into the MLS on Friday morning (or late Thursday night).  Schedule an open house for that Saturday.  Call the agents with buyers, and instruct them to schedule a showing on that Friday (from 2:30PM until 6PM).  Tell those agents you plan to hold it open that Saturday and that quick offers are the wisest policy.  Explain that you expect to be presenting offers all day Sunday.
  9. Find your seller a new home.  Collect commission checks for adding real value to a lopsided market.  Celebrate.
  10. Repeat.

It really is that simple.  If there are more buyers than sellers in a market, find more sellers.


Wow… And you thought the gonophs at ReMax were mercenary…

Spam today from RealtyExecutives, which really used to matter in Phoenix:

I love the monthly fee with the huge, larcenous split. RealtyExecs actually invented the 100% commission plan. It was that idea that Dave Liniger spirited away to Denver, where he founded ReMax. He discovered right away that a 100% brokerage is a giant cash sink — for the broker — but, luckily, his minions in Canada figured out how to combine the 100% claim with a hidden 5% split. Liniger flies in a private jet today because his 100% commission brokerages are all actually split shops.

Still, $95 a month plus a 15% split is a little steep. HomeSmart will do you a monthly deal for twenty-five bucks plus E&O. But before its ignominious bankruptcy, RealtyExecutives was charging on the order of $750 a month — nine grand a year! — whether you closed anything or not. In the interim, a whole lot of Big Names have moved from RealtyExecs to HomeSmart.

I love the rest of the ad, though: 78% of RealtyExecutives’ agents made less than six figures in 2011. And if the average agent closed 12 deals, that suggests that a whole bunch of those agents sold five houses or fewer last year.

And to think: You could be an “executive” too!


Sane People Don’t Comment on Real Estate Blogs, You Don’t Need 1,000 Facebook Friends & Other Valuable Lessons Learned From 3 Years Slinging Stuff Online

The real thing that pissed me off about the well intentioned jackals at Agent ReBoot was not what was explicitly taught: it was what was implied.  Somehow you need oodles of traffic to be successful.  Somehow, you need oodles of Facebook Likes.  That somehow all being able to be at the center a tepid and tense noisy murmur was what it takes to be Real Successful in Real Estate.

And I’ve made the mistake too.  For a long time, I thought it was simple math: converting a tiny percentage of mostly indifferent people would scale.  You would LinkIn a bunch of people on MyTwitFace and voila! Winning!

So you take every friend request you can, and you add the pople you connect with, as force of habit.  If someone has 6-7 friends in common, you add them too.  Winning.

You fire up a blogpost or two,pass it along and your new friends and strangers dutifly comment something often indistinguishable from the stuff that winds up on the wrong side of your akismet filter.

“Nice post, you laid it on me.”  they dutifly say. And you in turn go through the WP dashboard to their sites.  “You make nice post to, I love to hear you on this topic! ” It’s all about the dofollow, baby.  Getcher linkbacks here, and on to the next one.

Winning.  You have a metric to measure: friends, contacts, twitbacks, clicks and raw traffic.  Woot.  Winning. You’re winning that game, the war for comments.  You’re marching your army of 12,000 Twitter Bots, 2100 indifferent Facebookers, and another few hundered people that are still shuffling around the empty halls on LinkedSpace.  Duh, winning!

Bad contacts- just  like bad money –drive out good contacts.  You had a Facebook full of300 friends, coworkers and neighbors.  You were connected to these people.  You were warmed when you saw the pictures they posted.  Now?   You have 300 of your friends.  But now your Facebook had been “improved” by the 700 Realtors from across the country, the 200 vendors that follow them, and just recently a herd of zebra showed up.  Now, instead of the people you love and know, you also get to follow the exploits of a bunch of middle aged philandering conference goers, their pains and passions.

This churns up activity for you.  Fills your status with activity, likes, and loves.   You must seem really popular and successful!   So the people that liked you before, that were receptive are now desensitized to your messages.  Your signal to noise ratio went to hell, and there’s no need to tune into anything that you say.  After all, it’s readily apparent that you’re very popular.

But hey, you’ve got the hordes now.  And you can’t bear to unfriend them, can you?  That would not be nice. And remember, we have to be nice.   The hordes may turn on you!

Here’s a hint: without looking, go here: click “All Friends”.    Go through that page.  IF you don’t know who they are or where they are from?  Buh-bye.  Be ruthless.   Do it 3-4 times.  Tedious work.

Then call the people that are left.  Apologize to them for being a sales-douche on Facebook, and get on with looking at kid pictures and playing the “thank God” game with all your ex girlfriends.  When you do, you’ll have better relationships, more friends, and

Indifference doesn’t scale, it spreads.  To you.  You become indifferent about your community, you muss stuff, they become indifferent to you.  When you allow a FB page to have the folks you’re utterly indifferent to on it, then the next thing that happens is that you miss buying signs, status updates of people that are interested in getting help.  You become innured to your real connections.

Being connected with everyone is like being connected with nobody.    Winning!

From the hip: Six ways to change Facebook for the better..

  • If the other person is a Realtor, and you are at less than $25,000 in GCI from referred/referring business in the last 12 months?  Ditch ’em.  If you have more, it’s a judgement call.
  • If the other person is a Realtor’s-hanger-on.  Ditch ’em.  Even if you’re a Realtor.  (Ahem.  I haven’t solicited any new F.I.R.E. business this year to my knowledge)  I’m all about video these days.
  • If the other person is a drag, in any way, ditch ’em.  Life’s too short.
  • If the other person is a stranger, either meet ’em or ditch ’em.
  • If the other person has more than 3500 friends, ditch ’em unless you know you’re special.
  • If you haven’t talked in a year, talk or ditch ’em.

Less is more.  Win!


“As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.”

Governor John Kasich said it here.

But let me break it down for you:


Joe Biden Was In Philly To Pitch High-Speed Rail

…and I swear, before he finished his speech, he channeled his inner Harold Hill, just to convince the rubes in the vernacular:

Seventy-six small towns on the big rail line
Over a hundred and ten miles of track, to nowhere
They were followed by recyclable trash cans, dotted all across
the Land, the cream of the climate changin’ scare

Seventy-six rail cars caught the mornin’ sun.
With a hundred and ten passengers lounged within.
There were more than a thousand engineers
Watching all the gears
With a horn, signalin’ the big green train was near!

There were union bosses, activists, and ne’er do wells.
Looting, looting,  all along the way.
Earmarks, tax credits, “Gee, ain’t it swell?””
Each politician,  having his big, fat say!

There were fifty miles of track in the far off desert.
Explorin’, explorin’ where noone had been before
An industry to subsidize
All voters get a free ride!
At last!  We’ll even up the score!

Seventy-six short years is the cost recoup
Over a hundred and ten agencies, will oversee
You’ll no longer see coughing, sputtering cars, dotted all across
the Land, just high speed rail, from sea to shinin’ sea!

I love a good musical so I’m looking forward to Robert Preston Joe Biden’s speech in Ioway.


Do You Know How To Network?

I used to hate networking meetings because they seemed like business card collecting contests.  I always feel cheapened by the “Wham.  Bam!  Thank you, Ma’am” Chamber of Commerce meetings, where the person of the moment looks over your shoulder, for someone more interesting, while you compliment her on the color of her blazer.  I usually have two too many drinks at these and wake up with a fistful of business cards and a craving for aspirin.  Often, when I call said peach-color blazered Amway rep, to follow up, she doesn’t remember me at all.

I’ll be damned if I’m not…memorable !

I still like meeting people so I started my own gig, a few years ago.  It’s been mostly successful because I’ve been at the center of the group and have blanket permission to call or email everyone who attends.  More importantly, they remember me when I call.

I’ve branched out on Meetup and started attending new networking mixers.  Here are a few tips I’ve picked up, which has increased my efficacy, and helped me develop more genuine connections with strangers:

  • I don’t try to meet everyone.  In fact, I often ask people where the real estate agents, attorneys, accountants, and wealth advisers are.
  • When I do meet someone, I use Michael Peak’s strategy of asking “What are you working on?” and then asking “How can I help?”  Those two questions reveal more about anyone’s business than the traditional “What do you do?” and “Who’s your best target client?”  Asking those two questions has opened some doors for me.  Ironically, although I reject the Chamber crowds, I met Michael at one of them.  It’s plain to see why he made an impression on me.
  • I set a goal of meeting three people and ask for permission to call or visit with them.

That’s my trick.  I know who I want to meet when I attend, ask those two questions, and try to make three new friends at each gig.  I reject the card collecting and try to go deeper with the conversations.  Oh, I almost forgot; I relax and have fun, too.

So…what are YOU working on?


A new year and the looting of the American people continues unabated.

BofA Settles GSE Buyback Requests for Pennies on the Dollar

According to this MND article, Obama appointee, FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco just handed Ally bank, formerly GMAC Bank and Bank of America potentially a total $300 billion windfall. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, wholly owned subsidiaries of the US Treasury Dept. are foregoing the opportunity to put hundreds of billions worth of  mortgage backed securities  back to these banks in return for $3 billion cash which, no doubt came from the TARP and shadow earnings as a result of regulatory forbearance. The mortgage backed securities have a refund clause by which the originator is obligated to repurchase the securities if there were specific deficiencies in the origination of the underlying mortgages. As we saw in “foreclosuregate”, even the chain of title for some of these securities is defective. I think we can safely assume that there is probably more than $3 billion of refunds to be had with aggressive defense of the taxpayers’ interests.  Why does this matter?  Bonuses, baby.  Every dime coughed up by Ally or Bank of America reduces profits which shrinks the bankster bonus pool.  Apparently the Administration cannot stand the idea of those nice banksters riding in last year’s Maybach.  Especially after they made all those generous campaign  donations.

Maybach Laundalet

Wells Fargo, CitiBank and Chase have yet to cut their pennies on the dollar deals with Mr. DeMarco.  As the article points out, there are many purchasers of these same mortgage backed securities such as public and private pension funds and insurance companies who will probably go to the mat for a lot more than a couple pennies on the dollar.  The pension trustees and the insurance companies have a fiduciary duty to recover as much as possible for their beneficiaries.  It is a trillion dollar shame  that the administration doesn’t take its obligation to the taxpayer as seriously.  It will be interesting to see if there will be any Congressional oversight forthcoming in the new Congress regarding the Obama Administration’s magnanimous gift to the banksters.


In which I find more focus and dump the hocus pocus

Disclaimer: If your business is humming along, I doubt you will get much useful information from this post, however, please do feel free to share any productivity hints in the comment section. Thanks!

I made a public commitment, and so I thought I share where I was and where I’m going. To Jeff Brown: I have yet to do one single 6 hour prospecting day. Haven’t done one. I’ve gotten to the point where I can do 3 hours most days of the work week, but even that isn’t consistent, so that’s still a goal, and I’m still committed to hitting that goal, and I will, but it’s a tough one for me. Which brings me to my first point: Real estate is not an instant gratification business. And the church says, “Duh!” Right. Old-timers are laughing their arses off right about now and I am too. I really like instant gratification, but unfortunately, I can’t use it to pay bills, so if you are seduced by that, as I often am, be careful. Don’t lie to yourself about what is “working”.

Working requires thoughtful planning and focus. If you want to brainstorm an idea, give me a call, drop me an email. I am very very good at brainstorming. Making a goal, making a commitment to that goal, doing the basics, this focus comes less naturally to me, but that’s where the money is so that’s what I’m learning to do.  Know thyself: Hands down, best thing I’ve done to help me focus was to secure a private office. I had been “working” out of a desk in our family room. Oh, I know, my broker supplies a desk at the office, I could use that but my stuff is at home. Unfortunately, so are our dogs, our cats, our kids, the laundry, food, you get the point. Here’s my solution: My broker owns our office building and this being the Rust Belt circa 2010, we have a few empty suites in the building which he has been trying to lease. I’ve taken over an office on a month-by-month basis. If he finds a tenant, I get kicked out. I moved into this new office in September, and it took me about a month to weed out paper, organize for efficiency, and learn how to maximize time at the office- more about that in a bit.

Working from an office has done a few things for me. The drive to a separate building allows or forces me to make a mental shift in attitude: I’m driving to work, I’m there to work. I don’t have all day to spend there so I must stay focused on accomplishing what I’m there to do, and I am very proud to say that I’ve learned to do that. Took awhile, wasn’t easy, but I can do it. And an inexpensive office is probably easy for you to find as well. My Plan B for securing an office was to offer a nominal fee on a month-by-month basis to any number of vacant offices in town. Someone will prefer something to nothing and giving the owner the ability to continue to search for a more permanent tenant sweetens the deal.

The fact that there is an entire industry devoted to organizing calendars and To-Do lists shows how difficult it is for most people to get things done. My husband Jamie is an engineer and project manager, his boss is an off the charts D personality, they share a secretary who is amazingly organized. They all use spiral bound notebooks- you know, the kind you can buy for .10 cents during the back-to-school sales? They each use cheap spiral notebooks for their To-Do lists. As I mentioned before I’m an idea-generator which means I’m a note-maker. I write stuff down, doodle, etc, all day. Writing all this on a spiral notebook To-Do list makes for one big mess at the end of the day. If I write these bits and pieces on scraps of paper or sticky notes, they end up all over the place, which sometimes means lost. Now, I’ve taken an idea from Rands in Repose and use both a To-Do list and what he refers to as a Parking Lot. I use a steno pad for the To-Do list. Its smaller size is convenient and prevents me from writing notes all over it, keeping it clean and easy to read. The Parking Lot is a legal pad that I keep just to the right of my computer– I’m right-handed– with a pen on top. That’s the place I can make notes, doodle while on hold, write down phone numbers and names, dates, etc. Each page is dated so it’s easy to track down notes later, and at the end of the day anything useful or important gets transferred elsewhere- my To-Do list, a calendar, my files. I have yet find a calendar that is useful to me. Suggestions?

I’ve just this past week created a spreadsheet for tracking numbers. No more guess work for me, but also, there’s no way to lie to myself about what is really happening. Yes, I’ve lied to myself. I’ve got a whole bundle of bad habits to undo. Numbers can’t be improved if you don’t know them, but the added bonus of tracking numbers is that they are just numbers. I’ve removed the emotion- it’s just numbers. This is important- it’s crucial for me. So I’m tracking number of contacts and the sources, as well as work in and work out. What do you track that’s improved your productivity?

For the past year and a half I’ve been referring business out, so in one sense, I’m starting over. I’m starting from a stronger place, but it’s a very new beginning. On the other hand, I don’t think I’m any different from any one else in the business. I’ve been listening to Floyd Wickman, and he said something that really struck a chord with me: “Every day in this business, we wake up unemployed.” Once that sunk into the gray matter, it put things into perspective. I wake up every morning thinking to myself: I’ve got to find a job today. And to be honest with you, instead of a frightening thought, it’s kinda where I get my kicks. How many other jobs hold so much opportunity?

I have a favorite quote from Ohio president William Howard Taft,

“Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race.”

Combine that with the thrill of the job hunt? I got it bad. No other career is going to do it for me. I’m going to make this work.


Door knocking my way to walking the walk

So now that it’s time to think big and act on those thoughts, I went door knocking. Oh yes I did. I have made a public commitment to prospecting, and no, I do not have an unbroken chain of red X’s, and no, I don’t feel good about that. Okay so now that we have that covered, let me tell you about door knocking.

Another Realtor and I have on occasion been partnering up for the past year. She’s just gone full time so I recently suggested that we go door knocking. Not only has she never done this, but when I suggested it, she was sure that: a) she’d hate it; b) she’d have people cuss her out and slam the door in her face; c) she’d promptly be kicked off this planet; or d) all of the above. What she didn’t count on, couldn’t believe, and was tickled to find out was, e) none of the above happened. Here’s what we learned about door knocking: The hardest part is getting started. No really. Once you set a time, drive to the neighborhood and get yo lazy booty out the car, the hard part is over, and once you knock on that first door, the rest is a cake walk down Primrose Lane.

We picked a practice neighborhood. A neighborhood that we have a listing in, giving us something to talk about, but we really wanted a neighborhood in which we wouldn’t be too horrified to make some mistakes. It’s a forgiving neighborhood that I’m familiar with. Hard-working, blue collar, friendly people who are used to door-to-door sales people. They will either open the door to be polite, or kindly tell us no thanks. Sorry BawldGuy, not one person told us to go to hell- not one! The houses are close together allowing us to quickly move on to the next house, and we went in the afternoon, 2pm, our thought being the only people home at that time are either retired or SAHM, and both would be receptive to having a quick face-to-face with a friendly adult to break up the routine of the day, plus, retired folks always know what is going on in the ‘hood, and the SAHM are likely to be moving on eventually, and are plugged into the kid’s activities and other mobile families. But mostly, we just wanted practice and to overcome our unfounded fears.

We armed ourselves with business cards a’la Bloodhound Realty. An unobtrusive thing to hand across the threshold, and I know they’ve never seen anything like it before so there’s some novelty involved. Our script? “Hi! We are with Exit Realty and have listing on the corner. Can we give you this wallet-sized property card? If you know of anyone who might be interested in moving into the neighborhood, would you pass it on to them?” Suggestions for improvement are welcome.

So what was our experience? Our very first door, we were invited in to “look around at what I’ve done with the place!” Oooo’s and Ahhh’s and she’s not moving, but she’s retired and knows who is, so that’s a great contact in the neighborhood. At another house, a little old lady, all of 4 ft nothing, holding a child almost as big as her, stepped on the dog to open the door. ::Keep smiling:: Her son just got a divorce, she’ll pass the card to him. Thanks, (although what son wants to live around the corner from Mom?) and uh, sorry about your dog. In all, we made contact with only about 10 owners which in some ways was hardly worth the trip but we needed the practice and mostly we needed to stop being afraid to knock on doors.

Here’s the thing: I just got off the phone with Jenn. She went back to that neighborhood on her own today and met a wife who would like to sell. This was about an hour and a half total time invested over two days. Only one person who answered the door said “No thanks.” No one got angry or even rude, so, if you are hesitant to do this, take heart. People need to hear from and meet good Realtors who really care. They need you to make contact with them. They might not be sure about what’s going on with real estate in their neighborhood and they want this information. Better to get it from you who will treat them well, than someone else.

Jenn and I have already made plans to hit the neighborhood of another listing on Saturday morning, good lord willing and the creek don’t rise. Soooo. How about you? Need to drum up some business? Go out and hit a neighborhood yourself this weekend- we’ll be brothers in arms- and then I’d love to hear from you about what worked and what didn’t.


Tag Teaming Off Of Jeff Brown: Rescue Time

Right now, there’s no real way to do business with me online.  This is not an accident–and I’ll get to the Jeff Brown section of the equation momentarily.  I’m redoing everything. We’ve not been marketing lately, because we’ve got to raise the standards of everything.

This won’t be interminable, we’ll be done with this at some point real soon.  Like this week.   I’ll be up on Tuesday or Wednesday (read Thursday or Friday) and this will certainly be the last ‘public iteration,’ that I ever go through.  I’ve got to end the “stay up all night and then roll the site back to how it was” school of doing things for myself.

A detail to peep at before it gets built into the shopping cart: what happens after people buy. This is one of many things that we’re rolling out, and it simply takes time. Making a sales channel that is tight, that makes and keeps promises and that is reasonably indifferent to the volume it handles.   I’m working back to front- from the customer experience in the first minute, day, 3 days 5 days.

Here’s the “thank you” page that most see the moment their credit card is processed.

There are a series of emails that go out in the first few days, and my illustrious customer service turk calls people within 2 business hours to restate the same stuff and welcome them to our team.  While I was waiting to get this done, I tore out my old shopping cart.  I am not sorry I did this because the project is moving faster.

Now: there is no way to do business with me but sales are not down.  Projects are getting done and delegated, my books are more or less kept (the bane of a small business for many reasons).   Revenue is coming in at the same clip it had been before.

Why?  Because I know what the hell I’m doing all the time.

As part of a fun & semiprivate project, a few of us wanted to get good at what we do for a living . I wanted to be more intense. We  joined forces to set good goals for the last part of the year, so we didn’t take the time between Halloween and St. Patty’s day off.   We wanted to know: what do we do?

So I got a service called “RescueTime.”  And it’s remarkable. 3 weeks on it, and I’m more productive–maybe by an order of magnitude.  It’s the “spouse in the room,” that Jeff wanted.  “26 Minutes?  Reading Klosterman?  You don’t even like him. (I don’t, I respect the talent, hate his subject matter)”

It spits reports like this: was a “news and opinion” reportthat I considered ‘distracting.’   You’ll see that Copyblogger is blue.  That’s not distracting.  Why?  Because Copyblogger commentors are the a top 10 source of business for me.  You can edit manually after the fact.

It gives me nagging warnings: “WTF were you doing between X&Y time.”

You can also “get focused,” and all of the sites below will be blocked. You won’t be able to check and see Sports.Yahoo.Com if you’re “focused.”

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When Greg tells of 70+ hour workweeks, I don’t doubt it.  But I do think that he can shave 15 hours off this time easy, in 3-5 minute bites and chunks.   I know that I have, and I am doing what’s necessary.

The before and after is profound.   I have tracked revisions and “time in the system,” as a primary rubric.   Things that I’m doing are getting done way faster than at any point in my life.

This program is that “spouse in the room.”  Each night, Heather and I have a brief meeting the moment the kids go to bed.  (Recommended: plan the meal for tomorrow, plan the workout, go over money–has changed our marriage).   I share this with her willingly, because if she’s gonna defer her dream by watching munchkins, I gotta do what I gotta do so she doesn’t explode.

So, what I’m doing differently, is staying vertical.  I have a standup desk that’s made to call people. stand, headset on, and I use Skype.  I can contact about 22 people per 60 minutes. Most of them are from facebook.   I see if they need anything, and then follow up with those that do.   I’m averaging 45 minutes per day doing this, and I am increasing it by a bit each day. I hope to work myself up to 90 minutes.

The following is a quick youtube vid of an inelegant system I use:

Tomorrow’s monday.  Tomorrow, there will be 122 days left in the year.  Enough time, I would think, to do some serious damage if you hustle.