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Current Ventures

September 4, 2011 Leave a comment

It has been a while since I have posted, but hopefully I can get back into the swing of things. Everyone that has a blog has the same excuse when they take some time off, i.e. “sorry for the lack of posts but life has been pretty crazy/busy/stressful for me.” With that being said, sorry for the lack of posts but life has been pretty crazy/busy/stressful for me.

I have spent the 2 months working in a Sacramento real estate office as an intern while at the same time working on getting my own real estate license. It has been a wonderful experience and I have found a whole new level of energy from being back in a business environment. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed working the last few months.

The learning curve has been lightning quick and I have picked up a ton of new skills in a very short period of time. I am also extremely fortunate because there was an opening for the office manager position in the office and I was offered the job! This means I will be even more involved in the sales and contracts aspect of the business. I couldn’t be more excited. My ultimate goal is to learn enough to join the team as a salesperson within 6-8 months.

My immediate goal right now is to totally immerse myself in learning the intricacies of Sacramento Real Estate and work from there. I will always be on the lookout for new and more successful tactics to generate more leads and clients for my agent and help her achieve a higher level of success. Any suggestions or comments would be immensely appreciated. I will do my best to update with new things I learn and discover along the way.

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The Three Types of People Important in a Word of Mouth Epidemic

July 1, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and it’s been really eye opening reading about the three types of people that spread word of mouth epidemics. If you are able to successfully get the attention of these types of people it is conceivable to produce a guerilla(cheap) marketing campaign that has great chances for success.  Gladwell argues that it comes down to three integral types of people to launch epidemics that permeate the general population.  Gladwell refers to these groups as connectors, mavens, and salesmen. I am going to share a little bit about these groups and their roles.

Connectors

Connectors are the kinds of people that have relationships with hundreds if not thousands of other people. They have mainly superficial interactions with most of the people in their lives, but the key is they stay connected even if the interactions they have had with a person was brief. If they learn of a new restaurant for example, they might tell 20 people about it. In a word of mouth epidemic they are the amplifiers, they reach a large target audience. When a connector becomes a fan of your product or service it’s message is sure to be spread throughout a large number of people.

Almost everyone knows this kind of person. They are the one that has 1,000 friends on Facebook. The one that even in a different city will randomly meet someone they know on the street. Connectors are the early adopters that you need to get on your side to make sure your message reaches its target audience. In many ways the connectors are “the cool kids.”

Mavens

Mavens are the type of people that will be your biggest fans. Mavens are on top of all the industry research; they are the type of people that read consumer reports publications. They have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the topic they are interested in. They are the well-respected experts in their field.

When a maven finds a product or service that appeals to them, they will tell people all the benefits. They will have such conviction in the tone they use they will easily persuade those around them, even though that is not their end goal. A maven is simply trying to educate the people that they communicate with. The difference between a maven and a connector is that mavens do not spread their message as far. But when a maven speaks, people listen. A connector may broadcast a message about a product to 25 people and 8 people end up purchasing it. In contrast a maven may only tell 8 people about the same product or service but they all end up purchasing it. The same result is achieved only in a different fashion.

In the online world well respected bloggers and authors that curate email lists are good examples of maven’s. Some of these people may not have huge followings so the amplification factor may be as big but they will have a core group of fans that truly listen and trust the source they are receiving information from.

Salesmen

Salesmen are the great persuaders in an epidemic, unlike a maven who is trying to inform and educate. Salesmen will persuade people that are skeptical and they are as critical to creating word of mouth epidemics as the other two groups. What separates a great salesman from an average one is the number of quality answers they can provide to the objections of potential customers. If a potential customer is met with very solid answers to his or her objections they will be much more likely to buy something.

Salesmen also possess a level of energy and enthusiasm that is not often seen in the general population. The positivity that they exude makes it hard for people to disagree with them. Some of the powerful forces that aren’t so apparent are the types of movements and voice patterns a good salesman possesses.  This idea is called synchronicity, which means that the salesman and the person they are talking to fall into a harmony of sorts in their words and body movements. This is the indescribable charisma someone possesses that can almost take control of a room. Bill Clinton is a great example. A natural salesman masters these traits as a sort of super reflex that they produce unknowingly.

Overall your best shot of reaching out to people starts with the mavens. These people are some of the most easily identifiable because they are usually industry leaders. Mavens also have a good chance of being a connector as well. Reaching out to this group and getting their support is what is going to win you your first 1,000 fans. And without them, your movement will be destined to fizzle out.

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How to Write a Winning Email For a Job Interview

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday I received an email from the Sacramento Kings after I applied for job as a Ticket Sales Representative. I am extremely passionate about sports and I want to work in sports to see if it is the right career path for me. After I sent my email, I got a phone call within a few hours asking me to visit for an interview. The post below will go through the questions, my answers, and the reasoning behind why I said what I did in bold:

Dear Ms. Hiring Manager(She had a name but I am not going to post it on the internet),

Thank your for contacting me! Please find your questions along with my responses below. I have also attached a PDF of this email if you would prefer that format. Additionally, I have reattached my resume to this email for your convenience.

First, I showed enthusiasm that I was receiving an email but I didn’t want to sound too eager. Next, I let her know that there was a PDF of my answers attached. Some people have tiny email spaces that they are reading from and this tactic gives them an option to view it in a larger format. This is a breath of fresh air if they have been reading hundreds of emails. I also attached my resume, because again they may be going through hundreds of emails and might not want to search for yours.

1. What do you find most interesting about this position?

I have a passion for sports and I am excited about the opportunity to directly contribute to the Kings success and attendance by selling tickets. I am passionate about sports and I hope to make it my career long term.

I have also been a lifelong Kings fan and I can remember the electricity in the crowd during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I want to contribute to the Kings once again achieving that level of success.

Again, I showed enthusiasm for the position and passion for the team. I also showed how I was a true fan by talking about the Kings glory years. I have been a Kings fan since I was a kid and Chris Webber is still my all time favorite player. I also made it clear that I am looking to get into the sports industry as a career, not just a quick job that I might not be around for in a year.

2. Tell me about your understanding of the job you’re applying for?

I recently read the book Break Into Sports Through Ticket Sales and I have been excited about ticket sales positions since. I understand that ticket sales involve a large number of cold calls and the ability to close over the phone. A ticket sales representative must also quickly and effectively cultivate relationships over the phone.

Additionally, being able to work well within a group, and maintain a competitive spirit accompanied with a positive attitude are vital traits needed in a sales environment. I believe my past experience and enthusiasm will help me carry out these duties in an exemplary manner.

Research, research, research. Read the leading books on your field of choice while you are trying to find a job. If you reference one of the leading books in the field, they’ll know you are for real.

3. What assets or skills do you possess that you think would be of greatest benefit to the organization in this position?

At Tandem Properties, I spent a lot of time explaining our product and closing leases over the phone. That experience gives me a strong foundation in sales. I enjoy working with customers over the phone and I am very comfortable speaking with strangers.

I also spent over two year in the UC Davis Athletic department working in sports marketing in promotions. I worked on numerous projects aimed at increasing attendance among UC Davis students and the surrounding community. I learned how to connect with potential sports fans and convince them to attend our events.

I highlighted skills I had learned through past work experience that were valuable to the position. Don’t go overboard here and list every job experience you’ve ever had here. Make sure the skills you list truly carry over.  The way I worded my response let hiring manager not only sees that I have these skills, but also that I gained them working in a real office and not just through a class. A class may or may not have actually taught you something so real world experience is a plus. I also kept weaving in my enthusiasm for the position and letting the manager knew I had the right skills.

4. Do you have availability M-F, 8:30 am – 8:30 PM?

Yes, I have availability throughout these time periods.

Even if you don’t say you do. Work something out later if you really want the job.

5. Do you have the availability to start immediately?

Absolutely, and I would love the opportunity.

Basic, but again showing enthusiasm. I am hoping that my enthusiam comes through without hearing my voice.

If you have any other questions please let me know. I would appreciate the chance to speak with you about the position. I can be reached at (Phone #) or Nick.J.Altman@gmail.com.

Sincerely,
Nick Altman

You should be ending any job search related email this way.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions on what I could have said, I’d love to hear how you guys make it work for you!

Categories: Uncategorized

30 Days of Unbridled Productivity

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

This post was written a few weeks ago but I haven’t had the time to post until now. In the future I am going to try to keep more up to date on my post schedule. These are the results from my 30 day experiment. I will breakdown some of the highlights and low-lights of the past month. For continuity sake I am going to list everything as a summary of each of the books I have been following.

How to Win Friends and Influence People:

This is honestly one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. There is a reason that it has existed for over 70 years in print. Every principle in the book is just as true today as the day it was when it was written.

Highlights: Above all else, the greatest takeaway from this book for me was the ability to empathize. Carnegie places such a premium on seeing things from other people’s perspective. That is something I sometimes forget when I get caught up I life. Keeping the desires and perspectives of others in my mind has really helped me connect with people on a deeper level. Another big plus from the book was forcing myself to smile. It started out feeling like I was faking it but, after a week or so it becomes a genuine reaction and actually made me feel noticeably happier.

Lowlights: Not criticizing anyone for 30 days is f-ing HARD. This was something I am definitely going to keep working on. I got better over the 30 days and I didn’t consciously realize how much I did this until I monitored it the last month.

Think and Grow Rich:

This book was a continuing source of inspiration and really helped me stay motivated throughout.

Highlights: TGR was the best book to go back to when I needed a pick me up. The tone and style are so uplifting that whenever I needed some motivational words to keep my head in the game, this was the book I constantly went back to. The chapters on desire and persistence were my favorites.

Lowlights: The self-confidence formula was something that proved to be almost as gimmicky as I though it was going to be. The exercise felt forced and ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy, because I was skeptical to start out. Either way I figured out that method wasn’t for me.

Awaken the Giant Within:

I really enjoyed reading and implementing a lot of the strategies in this book. With that being said, there is a ton of material in this book, so it was pretty much impossible to follow everything that is presented.

Highlights: The morning and evening power question really helped me see the great parts of my life. I have so many things to be thankful for. They also gave me some focus to keep me goal oriented and look for solutions rather than dwelling on problems.

Another motivating part of the book was a ten-day challenge that Tony throws down. It was my challenge within a challenge so to speak. The mini-challenge is to focus on four separate goals: Personal Development, Economic, Adventure, and Contribution. Over the course of the ten days you take one action toward achieving that goal. It doesn’t matter how small the action. This really helped me get the ball rolling on some of my someday/maybe goals that I had. I’ll try to do another post detailing this challenge in itself because it may have been the most valuable knowledge I gained.

Lowlights: The sheer volume of material. There are over 500 pages of material so it was near impossible to follow everything. There was also some gimmicky stuff I didn’t find especially useful. There is a section that has you focus on things called “submodalites” of perception. Robbins has you focus in on vocabulary that represents sound, taste, touch, sight, and feeling and try to understand people in terms of how they experience the world. A person will say things like “sounds good,” for example if they prefer the auditory submodality. I thought this was a waste of time, and seemed really manipulative if used on people to get something out of them. If executed correctly, Robbins says you will have more influence over a person when you identify their submodality of choice and persuade them using that submodality.

Getting Things Done:

Highlights: I really liked the system David Allen puts in place here. I thought the concept of a “tickler” file was great. It’s a file that you organize your day-to-day tasks. You put each task in a folder that represents the day you want to work on it. It’s a much more comprehensive way to keep track of things than just a calendar, you can put unfinished projects in the file and know that you will make it back to them, rather than worry about them in the back of your head.

Lowlights: It was a little bit of a shock for me adjusting to such a rigid system because in the past I haven’t had the most organized system in place for my day-to-day tasks. After I got over my initial apprehension though, it actually felt like I was taking a huge burden of by using the system.

The Power of Now:

Highlights: This book really helped me get out of my own head and focus on the moment when it was in front of me. If I noticed it was a beautiful day while I was walking, I actively took a break from thought and pulled myself into the moment instead of focusing on all the random things jumbled in my head

Lowlights: Sometimes the breaks from thought initiated a recurring loop in my head that started with me trying to stop thinking and while I was in that state, more thoughts would pop up into my head crushing my active goal of stopping active thought and the cycle continued.

OVERALL: I had a lot of fun with the challenge, I learned a lot about myself during the process, what inspires me, what makes me happy, how I best overcome challenges, the right questions to ask myself to get me out of tough emotional situations and a lot more. I excelled in some places and struggled in others. I do think I am a better person having went through the challenge. If you are looking for one place to start from these books I would say How to Win Friends is the best place then possibly Awaken the Giant, but it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish because all 5 are very useful for very distinct reasons.

New 30 Day Challenge Coming Soon!

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Positive Thinking, Debunked

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I heard an interview recently on the NPR show To the Best of Our Knowledge (it starts around 29:20 in the show)with author Barbara Ehrenreich about her new book Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.  The basic premise of the book is that positive thinking in and of itself is a bad thing. I had a few issues with the conclusions she shared.

1.Ehrenreich began by talking about her battle with Breast Cancer and how she was told she should think positively during her treatment.  She thought this NEGATIVELY affected her treatment and actually criticizes people that have Cancer and “buy in” to positive thinking. She goes so far as to say that positive thinking is NOT GOOD for Cancer patients.

This is a big issue; In a Cancer patient’s head, what alternative is there to positive thinking? Basically, the answer is depression. Seeing yourself as a victim and retreating into the ”Why did this happen to me?” mentality will not help your treatment at all. Finding inspiration in others’ stories, embracing their success, and using it to fuel your own positive viewpoint can’t hurt whatsoever.

2.The interview continues focusing on positive thinking as a means of corporate control. Ehrenreich believes that corporations are using positive thinking speakers to keep workers complacent and resist questioning authority. She even says positive thinking was used in the Soviet Union to brainwash workers into accepting their roles.

Ehrenreich is way off the mark here, in my opinion. I haven’t been part of a major corporation, but I seriously doubt the primary purpose of positive, motivational speakers is to keep workers down. The priority of these type of speakers is to inspire people. Inspiration breeds productivity and creativity. If anything, positivity creates ambition which, in turn, causes workers to want MORE from their jobs rather than settle for what they have.

3.Ehrenreich criticizes “The Secret” and the simplicity of the “Law of attraction”. She cuts down the idea that our thoughts control the universe.

I agree with her on this point. “The Secret” is much too simple to actually work for people, and is seemingly pandering to the lowest common denominator in our country. However, there is definitely still value in recognizing your vision for success; Ehrenreich is unwilling to recognize this. By clearly defining where you want to be in life,  you can start thinking about the steps you need to take to achieve those goals.

Begin with the end in mind, create a strategy, and work tirelessly toward your goal. Starting with a sense of realism or determination (without positivity) which is what Ehrenreich advocates is going to lead to failure. Realism is the antitheses of ambition. This is realism talking: “I want to create a successful business but only one in 500 businesses are ever profitable. I’ll just be realistic and quit now.”

To achieve remarkable sucess you must be unrealistic starting out. You must believe in yourself (especially when other people don’t) even when it results in failure. Persistence after failure is an integral component to success. Without positivity during that process, failure will derail your ambition.

4.At the conclusion Ehrenreich refuses to concede there is anything valuable about positive thinking. She offers determination as a solution.

I agree that determination is a good thing, but she says:

“You can have determination even when you don’t think realistically that you might succeed.”

Not at all. You have to believe in the success of a project on some level to create determination. Otherwise what are you working for?

Is positivity the ONLY thing that will lead you to success? Of course not.  Constant evaluation, evolution, and critical thinking (among other behaviors) are all necessary for success. But entering into projects without a positive attitude is a great recipe for failure.

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A Few of My Favorite Nuggets From My 30 Day Plan

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

How to Win Friends and Influence People:

Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain: This may be the most promising nugget of information that I can use over and over in the entirety of the material I have gone through. The idea here is basically: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” An extremely simple concept that many of us forget each day.

It’s easy to fall into criticizing a boss/friend/co-worker/significant other behind their backs or shoot down someone’s ideas without thinking about it and without offering any better alternatives. This type of behavior is counter productive and fosters a lot of negativity.

I am going to try my hardest to avoid criticizing, condemning, and complaining for all 30 days and and at least recognize when it is happening to stop it in the future.

Smile: This is also so basic but still so important. Find ways to genuinely smile, it will make you happier and make it easier for the people around you to get along with you. It’s easy to forget the most basic things like smiling and joking around when you get caught up in projects, but that is the spirit that helps keep you energized and avoid burning out.

Think and Grow Rich:

Napolean Hill’s Self-Confidence formula: The formula involves creating thoughts based around the goals you want to achieve. The idea here is to envision your future successful self for 30 minutes a day. Write a script that you repeat to yourself twice a day describing and helping you visualize your ultimate goals. This will, in turn, naturally influence your thoughts and actions in the direction of the goals you hope to achieve.

It sounds a little gimmicky and it reads like a very basic version of “The Secret,” but I have never followed a prescription like this before so I am going into it with an open mind. At the very least it will keep me goal oriented.

Awaken the Giant Within:

I already shared the conviction creation system from ATGW. I will be focusing on fostering one conviction a week spending a few minutes concentrating on it each day.

AWTG’s empowering morning and evening questions: Ask yourself about five questions in the morning and five more in the evening with content along the lines of: “What am I happy/excited/grateful for in my life right now?”

This is a technique that I have used in the past that I had forgotten. It worked very well to keep my thoughts focused on positive things in my life and it genuinely made me happier.

Getting Things Done:

I will be doing my best to follow David Allen’s comprehensive organization system. The system is pretty rigid so I will try use it to the tee for a while, and then adapt it to my own level of comfort, filtering what works and what doesn’t.

The Power of Now:

Tolle’s concept of observing the thinker: The basic assumption of the book is that we are always thinking, even when it is not productive to do so, and that we have a lot to gain by simply “shutting off” when thought isn’t necessary.

Observing the thinker is the process of “watching” your thoughts and recognizing when you don’t need to be thinking. This means all the random things that come into your head, distracting you from focusing on the here and now. After you recognize this excessive thought, try to stop it and bring yourself into the moment. This will help you avoid being lost in your head. It helps clear your mind and restore focus into what you are doing.

Overall a lot of the things I am going to be focusing on are done in an effort to avoid negative thinking and focus on positive goals and being a happier, more productive person. I am excited to get this experiment underway and I’ll let you know how it is going along the way!
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Creating a Conviction

April 5, 2011 1 comment

One of the best ways to drive yourself that I have read about so far is creating a conviction in your belief system. A conviction will create such a positive connection in your head with a certain behavior it will lead you to take massive action. There is a four step process to creating a conviction that sounds simple to follow but takes a significant amount of work to achieve.

Step 1: Create a basic belief that you want to turn into conviction. A belief is just a thought in your head that is powerful enough that you do not question it. For our purposes right now say the belief you are trying to achieve is: “I am a skilled programer.”

Step 2: Create references for that belief. This is integral, use your experiences, imagination, and knowledge to create different references that will shape the belief. One of the great things about this step is these references don’t necessarily have to be true, you just have to believe them.In our programming example think of times in your head where you have created great projects that you were especially proud of. Imagine the type of projects you WILL create with your skill set. Think about winning contests and the excitement and joy it caused you. Also, associate massive pain with not achieving your new conviction. Imagine all the areas of your life that will suffer as a result of not having that conviction.

Step 3: Find a triggering event. Create one event that “fire’s up” that belief. It can be a small start but make sure you DO start. Do not be afraid to jump in even if you’re not quite sure what you are doing. Commit yourself to taking action. In the case of programming it could be as simple as creating a basic HTML page.

Step 4: TAKE ACTION. This is the most important step. Do anything you can to associate your experiences with your new belief. Practice, create, compose, whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, and do it often. The more you do this the stronger your conviction will become. Associate great enjoyment and pleasure from carrying out your new belief. Attach positive emotions to strengthen your belief to the level of conviction. Know that you are living how you want to live and you are directing your own path rather than letting your environment control you.

One thing to keep in mind: We can create references from other peoples opinions of us. This is called social proof and it is something that could severely hurt your chances of achieving your conviction. If you take limiting criticism’s to heart it will diminish and possibly stop your path to conviction.

So ignore the haters, tune them out. Acknowledge what they say, then disregard it. These are the people that are trying to see you fail. They don’t want you to rise above their level so they try to bring you down. These are the people you want to distance yourself from eventually because they can become toxic in the long run.
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