Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Off to the Races
August 27, 2013

apple-full[1]The start of a new school year brings mixed emotions.  For many, summer is too long and the start of a new school year is very exciting and long overdue.  For others, summer is never long enough and the end of summer brings nothing but anxiety as the next school year lurks around the corner.  For all kids and their families, it means transitioning away from the unscheduled pace of summer to a more hectic pace that fills the calendar with to do items.  Just as schools play a vital role in the lives of our kids, they also play a vital role in real estate.  Once again this year, Blue Leaf Realty had the good fortune of helping many families get into a new home just in time to begin the school year.  For that, we are grateful and we hope that all kids who are starting school or heading back to school will be challenged to reach their full potential.

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Liana Oram Completes Rigorous Program at UTA
August 12, 2012

Periodically, Realty Express takes a break from blogging about real estate trends and issues to congratulate one of its own.  This time the spotlight falls on Liana Oram, BlueLeaf’s cofounder.  She has just completed the final course, Construction Management, in the MSRE program at UTA, earning a master’s degree.  During the program, Liana completed a variety of courses focused on commercial real estate analysis, sustainability, and adaptive reuse.  She will graduate with honors, and has bold plans on how to implement what she has learned over the past two years.  Everyone at Blue Leaf Realty is very proud, so please join us in congratulating her on this terrific achievement.

Self-Reliance in America
July 4, 2012

The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson understood the true meaning of self-reliance.  On this July 4th, I’m wondering what it means to be self-reliant in America today.

Does it mean that I am entitled to live in a big house and drive a new car?

Does it mean that I swear allegiance to one political party or the other?

Does it mean that I follow a trail that others before me have made?

Does it mean that I am entitled to wealth and prosperity?

Or, does it mean, like the founding fathers believed, that I hold certain virtues to be so important that they are inalienable such as the ones mentioned in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

I’ve always tied these inalienable rights closely to the idea of self-reliance.  In fact, I believe the founding fathers were filled with self-reliance when they drafted the Declaration and the Constitution.

To me, self-reliance is the underbelly of work – the side of work that seldom gets much credit anymore in America.  It’s not the flash of genius moment; it’s the moments leading up to the flash of genius where an inventor or scientist works at discovering something that has the power to change the world.  It’s not the moment when a business makes a profit for the first time; it’s the moments where the owners devote countless hours getting there.  It’s not the moment when a child walks for the first time without his parent’s help; it’s the moments leading up to that event where the child spends hours crawling in order to strengthen his muscles to the point where he can walk without help.  It’s not even the single moment when a team wins a championship by only a few points; it’s when the individual players realize that all those moments spent practicing have finally paid off.  Single moments in time are exciting, of course, but they are not the embodiment of self-reliance.  Instead, self-reliance is best expressed by the moments we don’t see.  The ones of failure and heartache that lay behind the moment of victory where a person simply refused to give up, refused to quit.

Ever wonder why an Olympic athlete cries when he wins the gold medal or sets a new world record.  Rest assured, it’s not the applause of the crowd or the promise of fame.  It’s because in that brief instant, in that single moment, the winner realizes and reflects on all the hard work that has led him up to that single event, that single moment in time when he uncovers his personal best.

In America, we too much cherish the event.  Instead, we should focus more on the sacrifices and hard work leading up to the event.  This is why self-reliance is no less important today than it was when our founding fathers created our beloved Constitution or when Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence.

Without a doubt, the Declaration of Independence is probably the single most important American document ever written and it’s always good, in my opinion, to review at least the first few paragraphs now and again, especially on the 4th of July.  In doing so, I always wonder about the ‘pursuit of Happiness’ part and how that is interpreted.  Although it sounds good, I’ve often wondered whether happiness was the best choice of words.  It sounds very literary, of course, but I wonder if what Thomas Jefferson really meant was the pursuit of Self-reliance. not the pursuit of Happiness.  Today, happiness is generally used to refer to a temporary state.  Obviously, this meaning of the word is probably not what Jefferson had in mind when he chose the word.  Read on and determine for yourself:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Self-Reliance.

I agree, it simply does not roll off the tongue as well, but for me at least, it completes the thought much better. On this 4th of July, think about how America could be a better place if self-reliance became a virtuous virtue once again.

Blue Leaf Agent Derick Townsend Sets Record…
July 2, 2012

Blue Leaf agent and military veteran, Derick Townsend, sets Blue Leaf single month new homes sales record in June by helping military personnel utilize the VA benefit.  We congratulate him on his accomplishment and wish him continued success in helping people from the military who want to become home owners.  VA loans are one of the few opportunities left whereby a home buyer can finance 100% of the sales price.  Of course, to be eligible for the VA benefit, you must be active or retired military from any branch of the armed services.  In light of the July 4th holiday, we are delighted to have an agent like Derick at Blue Leaf Realty who is dedicated to helping soldiers purchase a home.  On behalf of Derick and everyone else at Blue Leaf Realty, I would like to say thank you to those in the military for their service!

Approximately 526,000
January 24, 2012

CCR may have said it best when they sang, It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one; it ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no millionaire’s son.”  As the owner of  Blue Leaf Realty, one thing I can say for sure is that good fortune has not come our way unless it was the result of hard work and personal sacrifice.  It certainly has not been the result of lucky breaks or fortuitous timing.    

Although real estate has been challenging at times, quitting never was an option.  Some, even from within our inner circle, have called us crazy; others have simply called us stubborn and left it at that.  Are we crazy?  I don’t think so, although I’ll freely admit that a stubborn streak runs through both me and my wife.  The truth is building from the ground up is difficult but it’s our nature, and for us it’s an integral part of the pursuit of the American Dream.  All along, our mantra has been that anything worth doing is seldom, if ever, easy. 

In our case, my wife and I did not inherit a company that was built by our predecessors, nor were either of us born with silver spoons.  Our real estate company was not borne out of a real estate boom; in fact, it was the opposite as we’ve been compelled to grow our company in an unprecedented downturn.  Furthermore, we did not receive funds to start our company from a wealthy relative or a venture capitalist and we have received no bailouts when times were tough.  No bank lent us money to get started, nor have we sold stock to would-be investors.  Instead, we simply put one foot in front of the other each day and relied upon common-sense, hard work, and faith in God along with a tenacious belief in the idea that the American Dream might be injured but it’s not dead – not for us at least.  

The reality is the formula for success is not that complicated and fairly easy to replicate.  It just involves a lot of hard work in the form of blood, sweat, and tears which makes all the difference, approximately 526,000 minutes worth of it every year.  In my opinion, that’s how good things, maybe even great things, get built, by layering minute upon minute of hard work and sacrifice.  That’s the way grandma and grandpa did it back when hard work mattered and personal sacrifice counted for something, and that’s the way we intend to do it – one minute, one hour, one day, and one month at a time.  We hope to see you at the finish line!

North Texas – A Great Place to Live, Work, and Play
October 31, 2011

Okay, forget about the traffic for just a second… North Texas is one of the best places in the US to live, work, and play.  It scores high marks across the board with only  a few exceptions.  Like many businesses, BlueLeaf Realty has put down roots in the heart of North Texas for the same reason so many residents call North Texas home.  There are job opportunities here, there are cultural attractions here, there are great sport’s venues here, and, last but not least, there are wonderful people here as well.  The best part: it’s only getting better.  As a company, BlueLeaf is growing just like the area, and we are embracing agents with the same perspective about service that we have.  Growing a real estate company over the past several years has been no small task but growing pains are a part of every great story.  We look forward to serving the North Texas community for decades to come and look forward to partnering with other North Texas real estate agents who share our MISSION to Deliver Remarkable Service.

Good Neighbors – the hidden asset
September 13, 2011

Identifying the tangible assets of a neighborhood is easy.  You can drive up and down the streets, visit the amenity center, or look at crime statistics.  Doing these things will tell you a lot about a neighborhood, but it won’t necessarily reveal the hidden assets of a neighborhood – the residents. 

A neighborhood is made up of people, and they provide the intangibles in a neighborhood that aren’t easily measured.  Every neighborhood has many such hidden assets.  Assets like my former neighbor, a retired minister who daily practices being a wonderful neighbor.  It is the small things he did everyday that made him a good neighbor.   Having a good neighbor and being a good neighbor are the intangible assets that seldom show up in an appraisal.  They do, however, enhance your quality of life and they also indirectly increase your property values.  How this happens is very subtle, but it happens nonetheless each and every day.  For example, when a neighbor pitches in to help another neighbor repaint his home, he has just inadvertently increased the property values of his own home.  Another neighbor might indirectly enhance property values by lending a hedge trimmer or a lawn mower to his neighbor, thereby enhancing the curb appeal of his neighbor’s home.  In yet another instance, a neighbor might replace an outdoor light bulb for an elderly neighbor, making the neighborhood safer and indirectly increasing property values for everyone on the street.

So it is that kindness and generosity from the residents of a neighborhood, the hidden assets, contribute to maintaining and even enhancining property values.  If you have good neighbors, consider yourself blessed.  My neighbor would tell you that the simplest way to have a good neighbor is to be one.  I think that’s the simple truth.  To me it’s amazing to think about how much property values are enhanced by the things you don’t see on the surface.  It’s the small things that some times matter the most.  Start today by being a good neighbor in your own community.  Many thanks to my former neighbor Cody who inspired me to be a good neighbor simply by being one.

Great Companies Are Built on a Foundation of Small Gestures
September 5, 2011

If your business survived the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, it might be time to reflect on why your business survived and others did not.  Prior to the financial industry unleashing economic Armageddon on the US economy and then hoarding capital for years, many small companies were humming along oblivious to the financial turmoil that was bubbling under the surface.  Then 2008 and the ensuing financial meltdown changed everything overnight. 

Currently, the local and national landscape  is littered with stories of small businesses that struggled to make it but could not hold on in spite of tremendous effort.  Many had invested their entire life savings only to realize that their timing was really awful and there was no bailout plan and no golden parachutes waiting for them.  Many hopes and dreams were dashed.  And, with another recession looming on the horizon, it seems feasible that another round of businesses will have to throw in the towel if people tighten up their purse strings once again.  

Still, it’s worth asking why some companies made it while others who fought the good fight did not.  I suspect the answers are as varied as the companies that were created.  Partly, businesses that survived implemented strategies such as more efficient and streamlined operating procedures and serious cost-cutting measures.  But the real answer may be less about austerity measures or the creation of new streams of revenue; instead, the answer may be found in the quantity of personal sacrifices made by the company’s owners.  I’m sure there is a strong correlation between survival and sacrifice.  There has also been a renewed sense that a solid business foundation is more than just pretty spreadsheets and financial statements – it is a portrait of a thousand small gestures delivered to the company’s customers day after day.  In fact, small gestures are the adhesive that binds a solid foundation and keeps customers coming back time and time again.  Companies that hold fast to the idea that it is the countless small gestures delivered to customers each and every day which will carry it through the tough times and reward it during the good times.  

Hopefully, we can dodge another recession in the US and small businesses across the nation will finally  get to enjoy a bountiful harvest that is commensurate with their level of dedication and sacrifice.  If not, I suspect that many small businesses will hunker down, continue delivering small gestures to their clients and customers, and survive to become stronger than they were when they started out.  Unlike the people who run large bureaucracies, small business owners know better than to rely upon Washington to get it right or bail them out.   What they will rely upon is the notion that through hard work and sacrifice great things can be accomplished.  They don’t spend their time arguing over esoteric points or fawning over their hair in the mirror or fighting over the spotlight.  Those things matter little to them.  Washington should take heed and follow suit.

Seize the Day
August 9, 2011

Setting goals is important in every profession, but goal-setting is especially important, even crucial, for small business owners.  Each week, a small business owner must set short-term goals that, once accomplished, will result in them being farther down the path toward accomplishing their long-term goals and vision.  This is why it’s so important for small business owners to seize each day.  In the movie Dead Poet’s Society, Robin Williams challenges his students to live life according to the motto ‘carpe diem!’  It is good advice for students and business owners alike.  Take a look at the you tube video below from Dead Poet’s where students are admonished to seize the day:

Carpe diem!

Seizing the day, however, gets you nowhere unless you become an expert goal setter.  When it comes to setting goals, set ones that are SMART:

Specific    Measurable    Attainable    Realistic    Timely

Setting goals that are SMART will compel you to be accountable to your long-term vision.  Setting SMART goals regularly will also lead to extraordinary accomplishments over time.  Remember, life is more of a marathon than a sprint!  Set SMART goals and you will finish the race well.  Blog post inspired by a  first-class friend of mine, Kelli Kilpatrick – a real life marathoner.  Hope you’re back on the trail very soon Mrs. K.

Falling Down Is Okay As Long As…
August 7, 2011

Falling down is okay as long as you get back up.  Learning to cherish failure as much as you do success is a very intriguing idea.  I’ll admit it’s not a very widely embraced one and it’s a little hard on your ego, but think about how much you learn when you experience failure.  Some people mistakenly equate failure with giving up.  They are not the same.  For some, failure results in giving up.  For others, however, failure rarely leads to quitting.  Most often, those who succeed view failure as a stepping stone to success.  If you are contemplating giving up because of failure, even repeated failure, consider following in the footsteps of these well-known figures:

Famous People Who Persevered

Many in America our fond of saying that failure is not an option.  A better way to think about this idea can be summed up by saying that failure is always an option but giving up never is.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly.”
~ Robert F. Kennedy