24 Hours vs. Bullshit

On the way to school this morning, Sam wanted to know why it's easier for kids to learn things than it is for adults. In trying to explain, I used the example of learning a language and how much easier it is for kids who grow up in bilingual families.

“That would be so cool!” Lily said.

“What? A bilingual family?”

“No daddy, it would be so cool to speak another language!”

It took me a minute to get over the shock of what I’d just heard. Ever since I started learning Spanish, Lily has wanted nothing to do with it.

Here lately, she’s been totally over it.

“For the love of God, would you please speak English!!!!” she says.

I guess, at least for this morning, speaking another language is cool. So I said, “Well, pick a language and get started.”

“But I can’t,” she said, and then began listing all the reasons why she couldn’t.

Every single one was bullshit, and I shot them down one after another. With nothing left, she finally said, “But I don’t have as much time as you do!” and I nearly spit my coffee onto the steering wheel.

It’s funny how kids her age view adults. As though between the time we drop them off at school and the time we pick them up, we’re just sitting around sipping coffee and taking it easy.

I told her, straight up, that not having enough time was a bullcrap excuse.

"There are 24 hours in every day. I’m not a magician, I can’t pull time out of a hat, so I don't have any more of it than you do. We all have the exact same amount of time every single day. The only difference is how we choose to spend it.”

Then I reminded her that she could learn a language in 10 or 15 minutes a day, and dared her to look me in the eye and tell me she didn’t have an extra 20 or 30 minutes every single day.

“I don’t have time” is the ultimate excuse we give ourselves when we want to experience something new, but we’re unwilling to go through the pain of actually doing it.

“I don’t have time,” we say, and with those words, we let ourselves off the hook.

Meanwhile, we find plenty of time for all sorts of other things.

Netflix and chill.

Mindlessly watching YouTube.

Scrolling through social media.

Playing the latest video game.

But when it comes to that new experience we claim to want, suddenly we’re all out of time.

Most of the time, that’s bullshit.

We all have the same 24 hours.

The difference between "enough time" and "not enough time," more often than not, is commitment.

Getting Out Of My Own Way

Every morning when I look at new listings on our MLS, I’m amazed at what real estate agents get away with.

Amateur photography.

Allowances for repairs instead of just making the repairs.

Lack of staging.

Neglected curb appeal.

A new fridge, but a 20-year-old range and dishwasher.

Dingy paint & dirty walls.

The list goes on. . .

I have a certain way in which I think houses should be marketed. I won’t get into the details here, but suffice it to say I’m very serious about maximizing equity for our sellers. As a consequence, I'm rather particular about how our listings are presented.

Because of this, for many years, our company was structured such that I was the only agent who could list houses; everyone else worked exclusively with buyers.

That model worked just fine back when it was only Lloyd and me, and we were small enough that we each knew all of our clients. It was easy to hand them off to each other, depending on what they wanted to do.

But as we grew, that model worked against us.

For example, a potential client might call an agent in the office to list their house. That agent would explain that they don’t list homes and that, instead, I will be in touch.

Well, if the potential client knows me, it might work out just fine. But if they don’t know me, they might reach out to another broker with whom they already have a relationship, in which case we lose out on the listing.

On the brokerage level, missing one listing isn’t a huge deal. But, on the agent level, it is a big deal, and that’s where the model worked against us. We’ve lost (and failed to hire) good agents because they didn’t want to be restricted to working only with buyers.

Here’s a fact: most agents want to be able to work with whoever they want, however they want. You would think that with me having been in this industry for 14 years that such a fact would be plainly obvious.

And it should have been, but at times I can be a little stubborn.

Despite being able to see how our structure limited growth, my need for control clouded my vision. It took me until earlier this summer to recognize that, for the firm to grow, I would have to release that control.

Since then, Teresa Guion BroomeHeather Todd, and Lloyd Trimble have been doing an excellent job of listing & selling homes which has freed me up to work on other areas of our business. Now we’re shaking things up, making some changes, and getting ready for growth.

It’s growth that could have happened years ago.

If only I’d gotten out of my own way.

Boredom, discipline, and fist bumps.

Last week I went to my local CrossFit box to try it out. I’ve been doing CrossFit-style workouts in my basement gym for a little over a year now, and I wanted to see what it as like “for real.” It was cool, and it thoroughly kicked my ass, but I don’t think it’s for me.

CrossFit workouts are usually somewhere between 15 and 25 minutes long.

The walk from my desk to my basement gym is a good thirty seconds if I take the scenic route, whereas it’s ten or fifteen minutes to the gym.

I usually warm up for a couple of minutes before I start my workout. At this gym, the warmup is almost 15 minutes.

In the basement, it’s just my equipment, so I can leave it wherever I want. But at the gym, you have to get it all out and put it back.

All in all, it takes an extra 45-50 minutes to do the same workout at the gym as opposed to doing it in the basement, and I’m not sitting on a ton of spare time.

But there was one thing I did really like.

The people!

There were fist bumps, high-fives, and a good bit of “come on, man, you got this!”

I don’t get that in the basement.

Down there, at times, it can be a little lonely.

Boring even, and boredom is the enemy of discipline. It’s hard to stay committed to something if you're totally bored with it.

Take burpees, for example, which might be the epitome of boring. They suck, and I freaking hate them. As beneficial as they are, I’ve avoided them like the plague.

That is until I started competing with some folks in my StoryAthlete group to see who could do 100 of them the fastest.

Suddenly there were fist bumps, high-fives, and “come on, man, you got this!”

It’s made it much easier to remain disciplined about doing them, and my time is getting faster - 10:28 this morning, down from 14:26 just a couple of weeks ago.

StoryAthlete launched a new thing this week- GRIT. A group of us - about 50 right now - have committed to some unknown and unknowable workout for 28 days starting on October 4th.

The commitment is real. If you don’t do it, document it, and post to the group about it then you’re out.

No excuses, no second chances.

Doesn’t matter where you are or what else you’re doing.

On vacation? Tough shit, figure it out.
Got another workout to do? Tough shit, figure it out.
Have to get up early to do it? Tough shit, figure it out.

All we know right now is the equipment we need:

1: A big hill or high school stadium
2: A sandbag
3: Resistance bands & handles
4: Pull-up bar
5: A kettlebell

Sounds fun, right?

I don’t know exactly what to expect from it, but I do know that it won’t be boring.

And given the consequences for missing even one day, the discipline will pretty much take care of itself.

Julia is a Hog

You might recall that Julia and I are going to Mexico as soon as we both hit a 365-day streak of Spanish lessons on DuoLingo.

It was an idea we had back near the end of July after she followed my lead and downloaded the DuoLingo app. We figured learning a language is hard and, if we stuck with it, we should reward ourselves.

A trip to Mexico where we could impress the locals with our Southern-twanged Spanish made sense, so on July 31 of this year, I announced that we’d be booking the trip next year on July 12th.

That was 347 days later.

As of this morning, we’ll be booking that trip in 333 days, on August 20, 2020

Now even if math isn’t your best subject, you’ve probably figured out that we're way behind schedule.

This morning, over a breakfast of bacon and eggs, I was reminded of a little parable I read in the book My Life & 1000 Houses by Mitch Stephen.

In it, he tells the story of deciding to build himself a house. (Literally by himself, doing the work piece-by-piece, and paying cash as he goes).

On the day he poured the slab, he was feeling overwhelmed, as if he would never finish. Standing there with his dad, looking at the fresh concrete, he wondered aloud if he would ever be able to complete the house.

“Of course you will,” his dad said, “you’re the hog.”

“What?”

“Son, at breakfast, did you ever consider the difference between the hog and the chicken?”

“No.”

“The difference is this, son: the chicken is involved, but the hog is committed.

Today, you’re the hog.”

He meant, of course, that with the foundation poured he was committed to the project and had no choice other than to finish.

Committed.

That’s been Julia with learning Spanish. She’s got one or two other apps besides DuoLingo installed, she’s put little sticky notes on objects all over the house with the Spanish word for that object, and she’s got a notebook she carries around with notes about her lessons.

She’s even reading the Spanish translation of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Her streak stands somewhere around 130 days.

My streak stands at a measly 32 days.

Julia’s been the hog, and all the while I’ve been playing chicken.

"Making an ass."

"Making an ass."

One of the first things I did when we bought our house was to split a large bedroom right down the middle, turning it into two smaller bedrooms so that each kid had their own room.

It was not a complicated project by any stretch, but I was short on time, so I paid someone to come in and frame the wall for me. Afterward, I did the simple wiring, which consisted of only two lights and a handful of receptacles.

Conveniently, there was an outlet right beside the new wall, so I popped the cover off and looked inside to what gauge wire was on the circuit before heading over to Lowes to pick up my supplies.

The entire job took about 45 minutes, counting sweeping up the mess from drilling through the studs. Mind you this was just the rough wiring so the sheetrock guys could get in - I’d not yet installed any receptacles or switches, nor had I tied into the existing circuit.

When I went back to make the tie-in, there was a problem. I’d wired the new wall with 14 gauge wire, but the wire in the existing receptacle was larger 12 gauge wire.

Somewhat panicked, I ran down to check the circuit breaker, which I should have done in the first place, and sure enough, it was a 20 amp circuit.

Dammit! I had extended with wire that’s only good for 15 amps (unless you want to burn your house down).

When I’d looked in the existing outlet and saw white, I assumed it to be 14 gauge since all the 14 gauge wire I've ever worked with has been white.

As it turns out, that hasn’t always been the case. When this bedroom was wired back in 1983, they made 14 gauge wire in light grey, which I’d mistaken for white.

By now the sheetrock was up, the walls were painted, and in just a couple more days kids would be sleeping in those bedrooms. The last thing I wanted to do was tear all that sheetrock back out and rewire the wall.

I’ve always heard that when you assume things you “make an ass out of you and me.”

I guess in this case I made a [dumb]ass out of myself because when I called an electrician friend of mine for advice the first words out of his mouth were, “You dumbass.”

At least he had an easy solution for me, one that I probably would have realized myself if I weren't so pissed at myself over the faulty assumption.

All I had to do was change the circuit breaker from a 20 amp to a 15 amp breaker and the problem was solved with no tearing out of new drywall required.

That's a good thing. I'm pretty sure, with all the cleaning she'd done to get the house ready, my wife might have killed me if I'd started tearing out sheetrock on moving day.

What if everything changed overnight?

Looking back, I can see two things.

One, the writing was on the wall and, two, I was utterly unprepared.

Hindsight offers that sort of clarity.

In the spring of 2009, I was flat broke. The housing market had collapsed, and over the previous nine months, I’d sold only one property, earning just a couple thousand dollars. The bills were piling up, and with the credit cards maxed, and I had no idea what I was going to do.

Although the collapse took place over many months, it seemed as though it had happened overnight. All of the signs were there, but like most people in the industry, I chose to ignore them and keep cashing those commission checks.

The struggle to recover was fierce, and I promised myself I wouldn’t get caught with my pants down like that again.

Fast forward ten years, and there’s more writing on the wall, but this time I see it. No, we are not in danger of a housing crash similar to the Great Recession, but those of us in this business are facing a rapidly changing industry.

New business models, innovative technology, and a shift in consumer behavior & expectations are coming together in a fashion that will eventually disrupt and then totally upend the traditional brokerage model.

My prediction: Five years from now, we will look back on this time and say, “remember when we use to do it that way?”

The whole world of real estate will have changed, and it will seem to have happened overnight when, in reality, it’s happening right in front of us, right now.

There is one only aspect of the housing market that will never change, and that is the basic human need for shelter. Everybody has to have somewhere to live, and for most of us, that somewhere is a house.

Here’s something you might not know about those houses - 35% of them are not owned by the person who lives there. Instead, they are owned by investors, many of whom use property management companies to handle the business of leasing.

We see opportunity in that segment and, as one part of our plan for continued growth in a shifting industry, we are launching a property management division of R.W. Price Realty Associates.

I’m excited about it. We’ve set some pretty audacious goals for this venture, and I’ve decided to document it from inception through the end game that lies 10 to 15 years ahead. This video is the first of a series that will follow that journey.

Will it be challenging? Yes.

Are there risks? Yes.

Are there unknowns? Of course.

But to that, I say, “Bring it on.”

Because the question isn’t really, “What if everything changes?”




Obstacles

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When I pulled into his driveway, my buddy Ken asked where I wanted to ride that day.

“Beats me,” I said, “this is your neck of the woods, you tell me.”

Unlike the middle of the state where I live, in the hills of Western North Carolina when they say “mountain biking” they’re talking about literal mountains.

You spend the first half of the day peddling up. Once you get to the top, you flip a switch on your bike to open up the suspension, and then fly down the other side of the mountain as fast as you can go.

Mach-chicken, we sometimes call it.

It can be a little dangerous if you're not careful, but it’s wicked fun.

“Let’s do Farlow,” Ken said, with a sinister grin.

We met up with another buddy, Jay, at the local bike shop where I rented a Santa Cruz Bronson, a bike that was plenty capable for this trail. An hour later we were at the trailhead and started the climb.

This was my second or third time riding this sort of trail, and I was still not used to such brutal climbs. I pulled up the rear for what seemed like the entire day, doing my best to keep up with guys who do this two or three times a week.

They were cool about it, though, and despite my slow pace, we made it to the top around lunchtime.

“You ready?

“Yes.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

“You can always go back the way we came.”

“Hell no, let’s go!”

Right away, I knew this trail was different than any I’d ever ridden. Not 100 yards in, there was a long rock garden. Except that, unlike the rock gardens back home, these rocks were shifting around beneath my wheels.

You know how if you are driving a car on a paved road and you hit a gravel road at high speed the car will tend to get a little squirrelly and slide around? It was like that, only I was on the bike, and these were big-ass rocks, not gravel.

Aside from several of these rock gardens, there were big three and four foot drops (that I did not attempt), practically vertical sections of the trail, and slick rocks beside waterfalls and creek crossings.

I spent most of the day scared shitless with my butt puckered up, and I walked a lot.

But I made it down unscathed, and it was insanely fun.

My buddies were all woo-hoos and high-fives.

“You made it, dude!”

Hell yes, I did, and if it weren’t for the long climb to get to the top, I’d have been ready to do it again. Instead, we turned left onto Daniel’s Ridge for the 1/2 mile ride to the parking lot and cold beer.

The bike I’d rented performed so well I’d already decided to buy it. In fact, the one I was riding was a terrible color, and I wondered if the shop would make a good deal on it because of that.

One minute I was zipping along on this relatively easy trail, still pumped from the decent and having the time of my life while thinking about buying a bike.

The next thing I knew, WHAM, I was over the bars and laying flat on my face.

Facedown with the bike on top of me, I knew right away something wasn’t right with my shoulder. Figuring I could still ride, I stood up and got on the bike, but it was no use. Putting any pressure on the handlebars with that arm was excruciating, and this was not the sort of trail you ride with one hand.

Ken and Jay carried my bike down for me.

At the ER I found out that I had a grade III-IV separation of my AC joint. That’s a fancy way of saying I’d jacked my shoulder all up and torn some ligaments. They patched me up and sent me home and, although the joint separation is permanent, I was healed up in a couple of months.

There were no scars, but my left arm is now about an inch longer than my right, and I’m reminded of that crash every time I put on a dress shirt.

When things are going really well it’s easy to get careless, to forget the effort it took to get there. It’s easy to shift into auto-pilot and stop considering the obstacles that lie ahead. Obstacles that, if you’re not paying attention, and bring your progress to an abrupt halt.

Even though I lived to ride another day, I guess you can say I learned that lesson the hard way.

But What About Thirty?

“But what about 30?”

If you saw my video yesterday, you know that I’m chasing down some friends who can do 100 burpees in under 6 minutes, with a couple of them closing in on sub-five minutes.

I’m learning that, between the mind and the body, the mind is the bigger roadblock.

“You can’t do that,” it tells me.

In that video, I talked about bout breaking the 100 movements into sets of ten with a break after each, and how that’s causing problems.

If I pass ten, my mind gets confused.

“Wait,” it says, “what just happened?”

“You were supposed to stop!”

By number 13 or 14 it’s screaming at me, “STOP DAMMIT! STOP THIS INSTANT! IT’S BREAK TIME!”

As a consequence, I never make it much past 10. I believe 17 consecutive burpees has been my max, and I had accepted that I would never get very far past that.

“I’m the guy that needs a break every ten or so.”

Fine.

Until this morning, in my StoryAthlete® group, when a challenge was issued: Initiate A Mental Test That You Doubt Is Possible.

Burpees seemed the logical choice.

At the Spartan Race, the penalty for missing an obstacle is 30 burpees, so that number holds some practical value for me. With the next race coming up in November, I figured I’d see if I could get thirty in a row, non-stop.

I set my timer.

3, 2, 1, GO.

Predictably, at about number 9, I started to feel the break coming on. Pushing past ten wasn’t terribly difficult, but by 19, my mind’s eye was looking at me sideways, like “WTH, dude?”

At 23, my quads were burning, and my heart rate was through the roof.

At 25, I didn’t think I could do it.

My brain is now howling at me, “Make it stop!”

26. (STOP!)

27. (TAKE A BREAK!)

28. (YOU CAN’T DO THIS!)

29. (YOU’LL NEVER MAKE !)

30. (HOLY SHIT DUDE, YOU MADE IT!)

I collapsed on the floor.

Breathing heavy, but smiling despite having 70 burpees left.

Yesterday, Robert said he did the same thing with breaking big sets into smaller chunks. “Let me know if you find a hack to beat that,” he posted.

I’m not sure there is one.

Hard shit rarely comes with a shortcut.

But you don’t need one.

You just need to tune out the voice that says you can’t, and tune in the one that says you can.

Watch.jpg

“That time you pooped on me.”

Riding home from school the other day, I was telling stories about funny things Sam did when he was a baby and, of course, Lily wanted to know something funny about her.

Back when she was born, you couldn’t teach me anything about how to tend to a baby - I already knew it all. So, despite having never changed a diaper in my life, I wasn’t about to take any advice on how to do it.

Being an expert diaper changer, I reckoned, required nothing more than fathering a child.

It’s a baby, a butt wipe, and diaper.

How freakin’ hard can it be?

Seriously, how hard can this be?

Seriously, how hard can this be?

One day Lily’s got the gurgles. You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s when a baby has a touch of diarrhea, and they are laying around, gleefully shitting their pants, until poop comes gurgling out the top of their diaper.

On the diaper grossness scale from one to ten, it’s a solid 14.

Or maybe it's a liquid 14.

Either way, upon discovering this situation, I carried her upstairs and put her on the changing table.

Off with the onesie, off with the diaper. Wipe the child down real good, put the wipes in the dirty diaper, roll it up into a neat little ball, and throw it in the trash.

All set and ready for a clean diaper, no problems.

Except I noticed a little bit of diaper rash. So I left Lily laying on the changing table (don’t judge me) and went in search of the diaper cream.

I don’t know how long I was gone, but her insides must have been festering the entire time.

The “touch” of diarrhea and turned into full-blown “liquid poop” diarrhea.

How do I know?

Because the moment I pulled her little legs up and pushed them back towards her belly so I could apply the cream, she let loose with a high-pressure stream of warm brown liquid that sprayed me from my chin down to my belly button.

Quickly, I reached for the diaper to try and cover her rear and stop the flow, but I’d sat it just beyond my reach. With no other choice, I used my free hand to block the poop eruption, which did little more than splatter it back all over Lily’s butt.

Moments before, I had a clean baby ready for a fresh diaper and clean onesie, and now we were both completely covered in shit, and it's dripping from my fingers.

Lily was grinning, but I didn’t think it was so funny.

A more experienced parent would have known better. Looking back, it’s clear that leaving a baby naked who, moments before, had poop gurgling out of their diaper is a bad idea.

I guess, like anything else, expert-level diapering doesn’t come naturally.

It takes a little practice.

They're All Mental

“They're Mental”

From a challenge thrown down a few weeks ago, a crazy bunch of my friends are doing 100 burpees every day this month.

I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, but with old bike injuries to both shoulders and an upcoming Spartan race, I didn’t want to risk it. (That might be an excuse, I’m honestly not sure, but that’s another story)

Either way, I’m not doing the challenge, but 100 burpees make a regular appearance in the Crossfit WOD bible that guides my workouts.

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The first time I did it last summer, it took me somewhere around 30 minutes.

By January of this year, I had it down to 19:42.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished in 14:32, which I thought was pretty dang fast.

Then John Savage posted a time of 5:42 on day 17 of the burpee challenge.

100 burpees in 5 minutes and 42 seconds.

I don’t know for sure, but that has to be approaching the fastest speed at which a human is capable of going through that range of motion 100 times.

John says it’s all mental.

“Your body can do it,” he says, “it’s just your mind telling you that you can’t.”

I thought that was total bullshit.

But then Mark Broady talked about how, when he started on the first day of September, he could barely do 20 without stopping for a break. Two weeks later, he decided that he was just going to do all 100 without stopping.

Like Nike, he said, just do it.

And he did.

Now if you click on those guy’s names and stalk them, you’ll quickly see they're both super fit, six-minute mile type dudes. And you might think to yourself, “well, I mean, obviously those guys can do it - they’re freakin’ athletes!”

That’s true, they are.

But most in the group would not describe themselves as athletes, and still, they are making incredible gains in a short amount of time.

30 minutes down to 20.

20 minutes down to 15

60 minutes down to 35.

Huge improvements, short time.

I don’t know that I’m ready to agree with John and Mark that it’s 100% mental, but looking at these numbers, there’s no denying that the mental is a huge part of it.

Fifteen days isn’t enough time for physiology alone to explain going from less than 20 burpees non-stop to 100 burpees non-stop, nor is it enough time to solely explain cutting the time it takes in half.

I kinda hate that I’m not doing this challenge, but watching it is a damn good reminder that we’re all capable of much more than our minds tell us we are.

Different Pictures.

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See these owls?

LuLu, Lily, & Jack painted them in a class with a dozen other kids back in 2015.

I’ve always liked these three owls. At our last house, they sat on a ledge in the laundry room, keeping a watchful eye over anyone who might attempt to mix the whites with the colors.

Here at the new house, they sit in my office where it’s my turn to keep an eye on them.

The artwork is nothing special, of course. No different than what you would expect from any seven or eight-year-old kid with a canvas, paints, and an instructor leading the way.

On the surface, it’s just kid art.


But look closer, and you’ll find a window through which you can glimpse of the inner workings of the human mind.

All three were painted on the same day and at the same time by people of similar age and ability. Each used the same canvas, the same brushes, and the same paints. The same instructor led them and, notwithstanding the choice of a hotdog, hamburger, or chicken nuggets, they even had the same thing for dinner.

But the outcome for each person was totally different.

The blank canvas presented the same problem to each, but the solution each painted was totally different.

Is that not the human condition?

It’s not so much our problems that define who we are but, rather, the way we react to our them.

Two drummers lose an arm in a car accident. One becomes a victim and never plays the drums again. The other is Rick Allen who has been playing for Def Leppard with only one arm since 1986.

Two girls are born into poverty, both children of a teenaged mother. They are raised in the inner city, sexual abused, and pregnant at 14 only to have their child die in infancy. One never escapes poverty while the other becomes Oprah Winfrey.

Two men are fired from their jobs. One turns to alcohol and drugs, ending up divorced and homeless. The other is Steve Jobs and, well, you know that story.

Everywhere you look, the story is the same. The same thing happens to two people. One becomes X, and the other becomes Y.

The canvas was the same.

But the picture is totally different.

Powering Through

Yesterday, heading home, I spied my friend Kevin out getting some exercise. As any good friend should, I wanted to offer inspiration and encouragement, so I quickly stopped, rolled my windows down, and grabbed the iPad that’s connected to my stereo.

Moments later I was rolling slowly beside him with my music blaring.

Bompa-chica-bompa-chica-bompa-chica-bompa-chica-bompa-chica

Bomp!

Bomp! Bomp! Bomp!

Bomp! Bomp! Bomp!

“Risin' up, back on the street. Did my time, took my chances.”

If you’ve never done this to one of your friends, you should. I promise you that it’s great fun. Just ask Jbt Walters, I’ve been doing it to her for years.

You know the song, right?

Eye of The Tiger, the theme song to Rocky III.

It’s the ultimate endurance song. According to Wikipedia, it’s impossible to feel unmotivated if this song is playing at or above a certain volume.

You know the words, it’s about refusing to give up.

“Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past, you must fight just to keep them alive.”

“Went the distance now I”m not gonna stop.”

These last couple of weeks I have not felt like going the distance. On a couple of fronts, things have not worked out exactly the way I’d expected them to. Nothing terrible - nobody died or anything - just a short period where my stuff isn’t coming together the way I want.

I’ve felt defeated.

Often our response to defeat is to quit, to seek comfort.

Didn’t lose any weight on that keto diet this week? Quit.

Facebook ad didn’t bring any new customers? Quit.

Got passed over for a promotion? Quit.

That’s pretty much how I responded. My schedule has been off kilter - I haven’t been getting to the office until 1-2 hours later than I usually do. I’ve missed a handful of workouts, something I haven’t done in almost a year. I haven’t written anything on my blog/Facebook for almost two weeks and the May issue of All Right, Sally is still sitting here 75% done.

I haven’t quit, but I definitely haven’t been playing my hardest.

And do I feel any better?

Hell no! I feel worse, of course.

It’s times like this when you have to channel your inner Rocky, bring the stamina, and just power through it.

So today I got my ass out of bed despite the fact that I didn't want to so I could get to the office early like I needed to. Then I went to an early meeting (that I could have easily skipped) before meeting Julia for yoga that I didn't want to do. Now my emails and voicemails are caught up, I’ve written this story, and I’m fixing to roll through a “Twelve Minutes of Death” workout before heading my afternoon meetings.

Another day of this and I should be back to normal.

I should send a thank you card to Kevin, if I hadn’t seen him out walking yesterday I wouldn’t have woken up today with The Eye of The Tiger.

"And the final number is. . ."

As I wrap up the renovation project in MoRA I’ll need to calculate my net profit in order to document it for myself as well as future partners or investors. This is the largest renovation I’ve ever done, it’s wicked fun, and I would like to get to a point where I’m doing even larger renovation projects in addition to cosmetic flips so precise reporting, down the penny, is imperative.

Reconciling the figures to produce this report should be the easy part.

Every dollar that has been spent is documented and ultimately runs through one bank account.

I have every receipt.

I have every invoice.

I have every delivery ticket.

I have every bank statement.

I have a spreadsheet with the numbers in it.

spreadsheet.png

The problem is that I also have a big folder, about two inches thick, full of receipts and invoices and delivery tickets. But along the way, I stopped putting all those numbers into the spreadsheet.

So now, instead of just adding the last couple of invoices and pressing a button, I’ve got to sit down and dig through the folder, organize it, and punch all the numbers in. Instead of taking me 10 minutes it will take a couple hours to precisely calculate the return on this project.

Whenever I would toss a receipt into that folder, I’d tell myself I was saving time.

“I’ve got to do X right now, so I’ll come back to this later.”

But then I didn't come back to it. Instead, a couple of days later, I'd toss another stack of tickets in the folder because I was busy doing some other task.

Three months later and I’ve got a mess that will take me twice as long to do as it would had I just kept up with it all along.

Like everybody else, I stay pretty busy. I use the excuse of being busy for why I don’t stay on top of things and wind up with a mess like this.

It would be so much easier now had I just tended to this all along.

The funny thing is, if you ask anyone in my family, they’ll tell you that I preach this all the time.

“Pick up the mess from drawing before you get out the board game”

“Fold your laundry as soon as it’s done drying.”

“Wash the dishes right after you eat.”

I guess maybe I need to start preaching to myself.


Coffee, black.

“Coffee, black”

There are 1,280 calories in a quart of half & half which I know because for many years I drank about that much of it every week.

It sounds like a lot when you say it that way, but it’s not like I was drinking it from the carton, so I never really noticed.

I drank it a couple tablespoons at a time.

Morning coffee.

Mid-morning coffee.

After-lunch coffee.

Mid-afternoon coffee.

And, sometimes, evening coffee.

Yes, I drink a lot of coffee. Don't judge, it’s not polite.

Anyway, the older I get the more I find that I have to fight my body to keep it any shape other than round, and that fight has required some subtle changes in my diet. For instance, I used to drink a lot more beer than I do now.

I’d have a beer at lunch, a couple beers with the guys after work, and a beer with supper. I’d have a beer the way a lot of people would have a Coke or sweet tea - it’s just what I wanted to drink, especially with food.

4 beers a day, seven days per week adds up to a lot of extra calories. In my twenties, my metabolism soaked it all up like a Bounty paper towel, but by my mid-thirties, the only thing soaking it up was my belly, and I had to cut out the “everyday beers.”

One morning last summer, fixing my morning coffee, it hit me that the half & half posed the same problem. 1,280 calories per week for 52 weeks is 66,560 calories. Using the standard 2,000 calorie-per-day benchmark, that equated to an extra 33 days of calories.

Except for Saturdays - my cheat day - I drink my coffee black now. It started with not putting cream in just one cup of coffee, but over the course of a year, I’ll avoid an entire month’s worth of calories that I would have otherwise consumed.

Interesting, isn't it? Not my coffee habits, I realize that's pretty dull. What is interesting, though, is just how much small changes can add up to big differences over time.

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What's the point?

Back last June when I started this whole business of exercising and eating right my goal was straightforward - lose weight so I could fit in my clothes.

Tracking my progress was simple. I had Julia take my measurements every Monday night.

Eventually I was able to wear all of my clothes again. In fact I’ve got a few things that I’d had let out to accommodate my formerly excessive girth which now need to be taken back in.

I’m good with that.

The problem, however, with meeting my goal is that I lost interest in having my measurements taken. With that having been my primary means of tracking progress I was left only with trying to beat my previous times on CrossFit workouts and counting pull ups.

I’ll continue to track them but, honestly, I’m bored with those metrics.

They’re not enough to keep me motivated.

With those, the goal and the metric are one in the same. In other words I track the number of pull-ups so I can see my progress towards a certain number of pull-ups. And I track my times in CrossFit workouts just to see if I can do the same workout faster a few weeks later.

See the difference?

With my original goal I had an underlying reason, which was to fit in my pants. I didn’t just pick an arbitrary waistline measurement and go for it.

Twenty pull-ups is totally arbitrary. Aside from the original challenge of competing with friends there’s no underlying reason that I need to be able to do twenty pull-ups. Without a reason, I started to get bored with it.

Failing to identify the underlying reason for a goal is a fundamental mistake.

Goals should be purpose-driven.

“I want to lose 50 pounds because _______”

“I want to run a 10k because ________”

“I want to earn $1,000,000 because _______”

People say, “I want to weigh 145 pounds.”

No they don’t! There’s a feeling they associate that feeling with a certain number on the scale. Maybe it’s how much they weighed in high school or how much they weighed when they got married.

It’s the feeling they want, not the number.

Nobody really gives a damn about the number, and arbitrary goals lead to boredom and burnout.

I’ve been studying the Spartan Race courses to learn more about what I can expect on April 7th in Concord. One thing I’ve discovered is if you fail to complete an obstacle you have to do 30 burpees in order to proceed.

That’s a lot!

Right now, I can do between 12 and 15 before I’m totally winded and have to take a break.

So my purpose-driven goal is that “I want to be able to do 30 burpees without stopping so that I can perform well at the Spartan Race even if I miss an obstacle.”

To achieve it I’m challenging myself to 28 days of burpees in February. Every day in February, weekends included, I’m going to do one set of 30 burpees and track how many I can do without stopping.

On race day I hope I won’t miss a single obstacle. But with the purpose combined with the practice I plan to be a burpee machine, just in case.

Two Kinds

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of people in the world. For example you either dry off in the shower (which is the correct way, obviously) or you are one of those freaks who gets out of the shower before drying off, getting the entire bathroom wet in the process.

Let’s be honest.  There’s only one right way.

Let’s be honest. There’s only one right way.

You either hang the toilet paper the right way (which, of course, is overhand) or you can be one of “those people” who hangs it underhanded.

Then you’ve got your folders vs. your wadders.

Pizza crust eaters vs. crust leavers.

Ketchup beside the fries for dipping vs. ketchup squirted all over the fries.

iPhone vs. Android.

The list goes on forever.

Earlier today I got an email from “America’s Top 100 Real Estate Agents.”

I have been selected for an award because I have, according to them, “years of exceptional real estate sales above market value in luxury or high-volume markets. . .”

Plus some other impressive sounding stuff

I’m not surprised by this, I’ve been selected every year for the last four of five years. That’s not as impressive as it sounds, though. I’m pretty sure any agent who’s done more than one or two transactions in a year gets selected, despite the claim that the award is limited to the top 1% of professionals in my state.

Still, they promise the world if I accept.

Name recognition!

Search engine optimization!

Publication on their high ranking website!

Prestige!

A special seal that I can put in my email signature!

All of this, and more, can be mind if only I accept the award.

(And provide my credit card number, of course.)

This got me to thinking about the two kinds of people in this world. There are those who strive for greatness, and then there are people who strive for the appearance of greatness.

This award is clearly intended for the latter.

It’s clearly nothing more than a pay-to-play award. A trophy in exchange for $350. Another in the huge array of meaningless & disingenuous designations and awards available for purchase by anyone with a real estate license.

It’s bogus.

Even the information about the agents who have accepted this award is mostly bogus. I checked our MLS, which conveniently tracks the production of our more than 15,000 members and, of all the agents in my area who have claimed the award, only three are actually in the top 100.

For the record, I’m not in the top 100 either.

So I think I’ll pass again this year.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with someone else choosing to accept it if that’s what they want to do.

I’m just saying that person probably also puts the toilet paper on upside down, squirts the ketchup all over their fries, and leaves their pizza crust on the plate.

“You shouldn’t say that about your peers”

That’s bullshit, and I’m not apologizing.

I’ve never been shy about calling out the sleazy, cheesy, and unprofessional tactics that are so common in this business.

Like, for example, the video I posted on YouTube about the funeral crashing realtors who send letters to windows that open with, “since you’ve lost your husband you’ll surely want to downsize. . .”

Or the article on my blog about harassing folks who are selling their own home.

Or my Facebook Live rant about cold calling.

The list goes on.

And, invariable, when I call out such behavior, other real estate agents tells me I shouldn’t.

OMG! You can’t say!

You can’t post that!

What will people think?

They will even invoke the Realtor Code of Ethics and claim that I’m not allowed to say things like that.

That’s BS, too.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - there’s simply no justification for this stuff.

Random pictures of my daughter and I having coffee, because I didn’t have a picture that fit the theme of this post.  She doesn’t like cheesy or sleazy either.

Random pictures of my daughter and I having coffee, because I didn’t have a picture that fit the theme of this post. She doesn’t like cheesy or sleazy either.

Take the common practice of calling people who’s listing expired. I’m telling you - it’s nightmare for those folks. It will start at 7:00 in the morning the day after the listing expires and run all day.

Phone call after phone call.

Over and over.

“Hi there, just calling to see when you’re going to hire the right agent for the job?!!!!!”

Or, worse yet, the biggest lie in real estate:

“Hi there, I’m calling because I might have a buyer interested in your home, would you mind if I come take a look at it?”

BS! If you had an interested buyer you would have shown the house to them already!

And the same people who do this telemarketing are often the ones complaining the loudest about all the telemarketing calls we get as Realtors (which is somewhere between 2 and 1,000 every single day, but that’s another story.)

Nobody likes telemarketers, nobody wants strangers knocking on their door, and nobody wants a stack of business cards from random realtors who pop by their husbands funeral.

It’s annoying, at best, and disgusting at its worst.

So, yeah, I’ll keep calling out this kind of behavior.

And, no, I won’t apologize for it.

Because it makes you look like a jackass.

A since we’re in the same business, I end up looking like a jackass by proxy.

“Throwing money away.”

Earlier today I was explaining to a new client that before we put their house on the market we would have it inspected. We do it all the time, for every listing.

In fact it’s one of the first things we do because it’s on the critical path towards the superior outcome that we’re shooting for.

“OK, that sounds smart,” she said, “How much is that going to cost me?”

“Nothing. We pay for it, it’s included in our fee.”

“Oh!”

She sounded surprised.

So did my buddy, who’s also in the real estate business, when we talked a few weeks ago.

“How do you get all your clients to pay for a pre-inspection? I wish I could get my clients to do that.”

Having your home pre-inspected is the smart thing to do.

Having your home pre-inspected is the smart thing to do.

See, I think everyone intrinsically understands that it’s a good idea to have a home inspected BEFORE you put it on the market. But not everyone wants to pay for it, which was evident in his response.

“You pay for it? That’s a lot of money you are throwing away!”

Eh, not exactly.

The thing is, at some point though the houses I sell are going to get inspected. It’s pretty rare that someone purchases a home without a home inspection so, as the seller, you have a choice. Either wait around passively biting your nails and hoping that everything goes well once the house is under contract, or you proactively have someone inspect it before hand and find out if anything is wrong upfront.

The same issues are going to come up either way, but finding out upfront gives you the advantage. If you have minor issues they can be repaired and potential buyers never need to know about them. Should something major come up you can take the necessary time to get multiple bids rather than scrambling to get it done by a contractual deadline, potentially saving thousands of dollars.

Waiting for the buyer to inspect, on the other hand, gives the buyer the advantage. By the time they conduct their inspections most people selling a home are mentally committed to the transaction. Sometimes they are financially committed as well, by virtue of having put a deposit on the house they are buying. That makes it all too easy for the buyer to demand excessive or unnecessary repairs and for the seller, now under duress, to agree.

And trust me, buyers always ask for something.

Always.

Passive vs. proactive, the choice is yours.

Unless you’ve hired me, in which case you’ll have a home inspection appointment with Wes GrantBrandon StrawnLucas Johnson, or one of the other inspectors at National Property Inspections of NC/SC.

Collectively they’ve helped us save clients thousands and thousands of dollars by identifying issues before they become a problem in the transaction.

Is that throwing money away?

I don’t think so.

I think it’s just smart business.

“Five Friends”

I can still hear the words today as plainly as when she said them 30 years ago. “Take out a piece of paper and number it one through ten.”

It was always followed by a collective groan from everyone in the class and then the shuffling of papers as we waited for the first question. For three years of my life at Monroe Middle School this how Betty Jean Liles began her infamous pop quizzes.

If she was in a good mood and we’d been well behaved they could be easy, merely an opportunity to boost your overall grade. But if we’d been acting up, and particularly if there had been any monkey business for a substitute teacher the day before, there could be hell to pay.

She was a great teacher though and, without question, the one I remember the most from back then. Some advice she gave me sticks out more than the most, too.

“You’ll be lucky if, when you’re my age, you can say that you have five friends.

Most of us are fortunate to be surrounded by friends. But we are surrounded by them in much the same way as I was surrounded by friends in Ms. Liles’ class - by circumstance. The other kids were my "friends" simply because we’d been assigned to the same class.

Our adult lives are much the same. We’re friends with each other because we happen to work at the same company, go to the same church, or live in the same small town. Our circumstances bring us together, we like each other well enough, and so we are “friends.”

20 years through all the ups and downs this dude has always had my back.

20 years through all the ups and downs this dude has always had my back.

At least that's what we call it. But really they are merely acquaintances, and the relationship we have with them is totally different that the one we have with our “real friends.”

Our real friends are those with whom we have a deep and intimate bond. We are connected in ways that circumstance cannot drag apart. These are the people who are still by your side if you loose your job, move to another town, quit drinking, or get divorced while your circumstantial friends are nowhere to be found.

This was on my mind this morning because a close friend of mine, who has gone through a major life change, was recently talking to me about how he lost all of his friends. He feels lonely and isolated and often wonders what he did that caused his friends to turn their backs.

The answer is nothing.

His circumstances just changed.

I can relate. The same thing happened to me when the circumstances of my life changed and I got divorced. Lots of people who I counted among my friends simply stopped talking to me. I never heard from them again and, to this day, some of them act as though they don’t see me in the grocery store line.

At first it bothered me, but then I remembered what Betty Jean Liles told me. These people weren’t my friends, they were merely acquaintances.

Our circumstances will inevitably change. Over the years many, many "friends" will come into our lives and just as many will go.

It’s OK.

Be thankful for your real friends.

You can always make new acquaintances.

The Italian Poop

Y’all seen those new bidets they’re making?

It’s called “The Tushy” and, as a long time fan of a clean rear end, I’m kind of interested in getting one.

It’s a device that attaches to your toilet and then connects to the water supply. After you poo, instead of rolling out some TP, you press a button and your hind quarters are sprayed with a refreshing stream of water.

I’m interested, but I’m skeptical.

And a little bit afraid.

Many years ago I was traveling in Italy and stayed for a night in a very luxurious hotel. Bidets, of course, are more common in Europe and I immedietly noticed the particularly fancy one in the bathroom of my suite when I checked in.

If you’ve never seen a bidet, they kind of look like somebody tried to install sink faucets on top of toilet where the tank goes. Instead of an opening in the bottom, like a toilet has, it has a stopper like bathtub. It’s kind of like somebody tried to take the tub, toilet, and sink and combine them in to one.

bidet.jpg

After spending the day eating and drinking in Rome I arrived back at the hotel and found myself rather pleased that I needed to relieve myself. After taking care of business on the porcelain throne I was ready to move on to the bidet.

That’s when the problems started.

The hotel had not thought to post instructions on the wall. So there was the bidet, but toilet paper had also been supplied. I didn’t know if I was supposed to make a cursory pass with that first or if it was strictly a stand up and move over affair.

For traditions sake, I wiped first, and then stood up to move over.

More problems.

The lack of instructions meant that I didn’t know how to sit on the bidet. Decades of experience with porcelain plumbing fixtures told me that sitting with your back towards the wall was the way to go. But since I couldn’t reach the faucets I figured that couldn’t be right so I stood up, turned around, and sat back down.

That’s when I noticed the shelf on the wall. On it sat a basket full of small bottles of soaps, oils, and perfumes. Like what you would see on the bathroom counter of an American hotel - the little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion - except these were clearly not meant for your hair. Under the shelf was a bar draped with what looked like cloth napkins.

Hmm. What do I do now? Am I supposed run a little bit of water to wet my butt and then soap up? Or am I supposed to close the stopper, fill the bowl with soapy water, and then somehow dip my butt into it?

Good lord, if only YouTube had been around back then.

I opted to do it the way I would do a bathtub. So I turned the hot water on and let it get warm. Then I closed the stopper and added some soap from one of the little bottles. Turns out, it was really, really concentrated so I suddenly had a full-on bubble bath forming beneath me. The water was crazy hot, too, so I reached for the cold faucet to temper it.

You know how sometimes at a public bathroom you get to the sink to wash your hands and, when you turn it on, the pressure is super high? Then all of the sudden you have water splashed all over your pants because it hits the sink so fast and then sprays out all over you? And then you’re worried that people will think you peed on yourself - this has happened to you too, right?

Well, that’s what happened when I turned on the cold water. The pressure was ten times the hot side and suddenly that bubble bath was spraying up out of the bidet and all over the place.

All over me.

All over the walls.

All over the floor.

Thank god I had opted do this naked!

I got the water turned off and weighed my options. My butt still wasn’t clean and I’m dripping in water that, although isn’t exactly toilet water, doesn’t seem far from it. Obviously in my drenched state toilet paper isn’t going to do me any good so I decided to just get in the shower which was right behind me.

I stood up, took one step back, and immediately slipped on the soapy floor. Falling backwards I hit my head on the cast iron tub and felt a searing pain at the base of my skull.

I’m pretty sure I was knocked out.

I know for sure I laid there for a very long while before finally crawling over the tub and into the shower.

A full hour after it all started I was finally done. Not only was my butt finally clean but so was the rest of me.

The whole thing was a pretty shitty experience, I can tell you that.

Still, I’m interested in those new Tushy bidets.

I just hope they come with instructions.