Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Days at The Beach Are More Special Than Others

If you read this blog, you know I spend a fair amount of time on Magen's Bay Beach, in St. Thomas, especially early in the morning. The astounding beauty brings peace, preserves sanity in crazy times and provides great exercise.

This past Saturday was a day I was determined to get there, a particularly demanding week with rental issues, made it even more important. A friend was supposed to meet me but she wasn't there when I showed up. I forged on, walking briskly and enjoying the picturesque homes in Peterborg and Misgunst nestled in the rolling lush green hills, crystal clear water with gentle waves lapping the shore, a cool breeze and brilliant warming sunshine.

 As I started my second length of the beach I noticed an attractive man go down on bended knee at water's edge.  Standing beside him, a pretty blonde woman, open mouthed, grabbed her chest and mouth in surprise. I was close enough to see the color come into her cheeks and tears spring to her eyes as she reached to hug the man. It was clear, I was witnessing a proposal. I saw a camera swinging from her wrist.

As I interrupted to offer to capture the moment on their camera for them, she pointed out he had written in the sand, "Will you marry me?". From her accent, I believe they were from Australia.  Ooops, I had almost stepped on the proposal.  I inquired, "Clearly this is a specail moment, may I take a picture to capture it for you?". She excitedly said, "he has a ring and everything!". Curled tightly on his pinky was a lovely diamond ring.

 I think it is a safe guess, she had forgotten the camera was even on her arm.  I did my best to capture them, the view and the sand writing in one shot. I took several shots, of them and the writing separately. Their joy was so obvious. I wished them many years of happiness and moved on.

As I continued my walk, I was overwhelmed with emotion, as I was allowed by fate and them, to share such a special moment with total strangers. I have seen a lot of weddings at Magen's, many of them very beautiful; it is an ideal location. This was the first time I happened on a proposal. I am still not sure why it moved me so. Writing about it brings back the emotion.

I thought about asking them to e-mail a picture or two so I could post them here, but I thought it would be a bit too intrusive. I may not know them but I will always remember them and feel connected in some small way to them.

Another great day at the beach.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Improving the Efficiency of My Business

It is great that Active Ranis is doing this contest. After attending the NAR Convention in Anaheim in November of last year and attending Jack Canfield's class I knew I needed to make a concerted effort to improve my business.

The first step was identifying  where I was most inefficient.

1. I was using a manual day planner and to do lists. It was bulky and awkward, so I stopped carrying it and sometimes would use small note pads.  Paper gets crunched up, when you don't carry it you forget what was on the list and so on.

2. I was buried in paper and physical files,  I have a small office with limited cabinets that are filled to the brim and I now have metal boxes holding the over flow and truthfully there are files on the floor. Talk about inefficient, when you are sorting through hand labeled files in boxes on the floor when you are trying to reconcile rental accounts.  The feeling of panic was sometimes overwhelming when I could not locate something I knew was there somewhere.

3. I have a Quick Books system for accounting an billing but I am not fully utilizing the program. When I first purchased it I had an accountant show me how to do the essentials, basically using it like a check registry.

4. Over the years I have developed friendships with people who seem to dwell on all that is wrong in the world. They will call and spend what feels like hours complaining or will set lunch dates and use the entire time to complain. I leave feeling drained depressed.

5. Keeping focused on goals has also been a weakness of mine, which is reflected in a level of scattered efforts and resulting in a lack of results.

6. Obtaining signatures on listing agreements and sales contracts and ensuring the customers and clients are left with a copy has been a challenge in the field. I carry a folder of forms everywhere and try to remember to prepare possible listing and sales contracts in triplicate in advanced. I am killing trees by the dozens and have a car filled with paper. Not to mention the hours of time I have wasted calling and e-mailing people because I haven't gotten the signed document back. My clients and customers literally span the globe, from here in the Caribbean, to South Africa, the Middle East and China.

The first thing I did before I left California was to purchase a IPad, eliminating the need for my day planer, or note pad. My to do lists are always at hand, so I don't forget what I need to do, I am focused on my goals because the are always with me. I can prioritize everything, plan my route of travel in the most efficient manner (gas is too expensive and time is too precious to wonder around) and I keep the larger picture in focus now. Truly mobile access to the internet has been enlightening, I am not hindered by truncated messages or images on my phone. I don't have to search for a scrunched up notes, I know they are at the tips of my fingers.

I do my, to do list, the night before, it eliminates the anxiety during the night of "what have I forgotten?"; that used to make me sit straight up in the bed in the middle of the night.

Then I moved on to the paper, I am in the process of going paperless. We are required by law to maintain file for seven years in the Virgin Islands. All of my files are in the process of being converted to e-files. My office is being transformed.  I am going to start my new files as e-files and eliminate the physical file all together. This is a major challenge for me as I cling to the physical paper.

Quick Books remains a challenge for me and I never seem to have time to attend the courses when they are available. I am out sourcing this too. I have a son who has a business degree and could use some extra work, he just became engaged and there is a big wedding in the planning stage. We have agreed to set up a Dropbox account so he can attend to this aspect of my business for me, since I dread doing it and am not very good at it anyway.  Freedom, to do the things I like and am good at.

My negative friends, are still my friends but I have to admit I have cut way back on the time I will allow them to absorb. I listen for a minute, try to inject something positive and motivating for them and excuse myself.

After reading the Docusign promo, I am signing up for the free trial so I can stop hauling all of those forms and wasting time following up on whether someone received my fax or was able to scan and e-mail a signed document back to me. With the distance of some of my customers and clients the time difference will no longer be an issue either.

I now have organized days that are more often than not started with a trip to the gym very early in the morning. I have eliminated lots of anxiety and replaced it with focused efforts, resulting in increased business and a fitter and happier me!