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Monday, August 23, 2010

Where Have All The Gurus Gone?

There was a time when getting a real estate license was a formal affair where you would go to licensing school, participate in a classroom setting, took a series of exams, studied -- really studied, then prepared for the dreaded state exam, with all the horror stories of how hard it was to pass it!

And yet, looking back at this from where we are today, facing the inordinate challenges brought on by calamitous lending practices of late, and the mounting foreclosures, pondering the question " it time to get a 9 to 5 job?" because the business isn't working the way it is supposed to, we put things in a different perspective.

Some even consider doing something more creative like getting a coach, mentor, or guru to beat them over the head with, "do this," "do that," "do it this way," "don't do it that way," "buy this special high intensity training," etc.
I thought Mike F., Floyd W., Roger B., Joe S., or even Tom H. had strategies to make this business simple, fun and easy (or even "exciting"). Well, if that is the case, what happened? Where have all the gurus and their instantaneous success strategies gone? Obviously, it isn't working if...

1. Agents are leaving the business
2. Licensees are resorting to work two jobs just to make ends meet
3. Dreamers keep thinking this is just a phase and the sun will come out
tomorrow (without doing much to change anything)
4. Folks are looking for an economic cushion while they figure out a better way to do this business, and
5. Some are venturing into enterprises such as, multi-level marketing

Where have all the gurus gone? What happened to the promises of "million dollar" production?

Someone out there is making money on the downside -- it is a given. I just finished re-reading a book by Robert G. Hagstrom, Jr. ("The Warren Buffett Way") on, whom else, Warren Buffet, you know, the billionaire investment "Sage of Omaha".

Well, he says that the shrewd investor invests in the down cycle, and avoids economic indicators, forecasters, so-called experts, analysts, and the likes. Hmm, doesn't that sound like he's saying, he avoids the gurus?

So what makes him so successful (and rich, the richest man on the planet by some accounts)? How does he do it? For starters, he isn't selling real estate! Moreover, he's buying. But what exactly does he buy?

In addition to real estate, which he buys indirectly (when he buys majority stakes -- stocks -- of companies, e.g., Washington Post, Coca Cola, Time-Warner, Sees Candies, etc.), he's buying IT -- the company, the people, the brand, the real estate, etc.

Warren Buffett buys what he, himself, through careful and methodical analysis, determines is the appreciable and potential value of under valued, under performing companies (in spite of the analysts advice to the contrary), and he succeeds because of this.

Now if we are to take this as a basis for someone whose advice we might want to follow, what lessons can we extract from this advice? Might we consider Warren Buffett a good guru to follow in our real estate endeavors? Let's see.

· Is he rich? Yes.
· Does he know how to make money? Yes.
· Is he happy? (By his own account), Yes.
· Does he know what he's doing? Yes.

And believe it or not, in spite of his enormous success he admits to making mistakes along the way. Imagine that!

Well-meaning as many of the real estate gurus may appear to be, too many of them are only in it for the money! There's nothing wrong with that. Who of us wouldn't want to have a successful business that thrives on someone buying what we're selling (even if what we're selling is "common sense")? Imagine if you could package (and sell) this:

1. Teaching sales scripts
2. Reminding people to practice drill and rehearse sales strategies
3. Extolling the benefits of knocking on doors daily
4. Detailing how to create a simplistic business plan
5. Showing how others create marketing pieces to copy from
6. Reminding people to specialize in a given market
7. Promoting the work by referral principle
8. Selling sales tapes/CDs., etc.

Sound familiar? How many of us haven't bought that bit of that common sense? I know I have participated in dozens of such nonsensical presentations by well-intentioned presenters who might have sold something at some time but now devote their livelihood to selling Realtors “common sense”.

So what, if anything can we take from this? Simply put, yes, it is important to learn from someone who knows more than we do. However, it isn't necessary to pay $2,000 or more (per event), as a couple of these gurus charge only to get common sense or some pseudo "coaching" designed to get you thinking or working effectively.

If you're smart, and obviously you have to be in order to have gotten your license, or explore the possibilities, then you're also smart enough to know how to find useful information through the many forums available (including this one). Heck, if you're even applying a little common sense, you'll save some money and pick up training materials or books or tapes or whatever from your public library or from the REALTORS resources -- FREE!

I for one am not downplaying the importance of education or training. However, I don't believe that many trainer's good intentions are worth as much as some of them want to charge, and believe me, some of them know how much the top agents make (millions?) and therefore figure, I want a little of that too!

Wherever the gurus are, God Bless them. For the rest of us, let's get practical -- we're all business people, let's make our business work with an effective plan, with a consistent work ethic, with a positive approach, with a good crew, and with the end in mind.

Along the way, if we do want to visit a guru, let's go to the library and check out their book first before making an investment.

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