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Live Easier This Year

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Click the player to listen to podcast episode #932 Live Easier This Year on The BIGG Success Show

The two of us have a goal for this year – it’s to live easier and help you do it too!

What does live easier mean?

It means:

• Capitalizing on what you have so you can do more of what you want.
• Being confident that you are making the right decisions.
• Providing the best for you and your family.
• Having more fulfillment and happiness.
• Making the right choices to live life on your own terms.

How do we help you live easier?

We have a new program called E-Z Lifelinks, and it gives you real solutions that maximize your money and time.

The wrong choice:

• costs you money
• costs you time
• leaves you frustrated and discouraged

E-Z Lifelinks helps you make the right choices about your money and time, by linking you to what you need to know now. It comes straight to your inbox every weekday.

You can try E-Z Lifelinks free now by signing up.
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Is it Time to Buy a House?

home_sales The national news is full of bad news about our economy – rising unemployment, stocks hitting ten-year lows, and the value of our homes falling. We wanted to get an inside perspective so we turned to the experts – the National Association of Realtors. We were fortunate to be joined by Jed Smith, their Senior Economist, on The Bigg Success Show today. Here’s a recap of our conversation:

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marylynnWe’re hoping for some rainbows and butterflies from you, Jed. Are there markets where home prices are actually rising?

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jedThere are a few. Right now, the market is in a process of stabilizing, which means that prices are down but sales activity is up in quite a few markets. Just to give you a few examples, prices are actually rising a little in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Mobile, Alabama, Stamford, Connecticut; and Amarillo, Texas. It varies around the country depending on a lot of local conditions. However, right now, we’re particularly interested in the level of sales. Obviously, a good level of sales can lead to an overall price rise in the future and, as your listeners probably know, both sales and prices have been declining for awhile. We’d sure like to see those level out and there’s some reason to believe that we’re getting to the bottom of the market.

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george
Real estate is still a local game, right?

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jedYes. Every market is local. To give you an example, prices are way down in Prince William County, Virginia. That’s a suburb of Washington. Just across the way, up the street in Washington, D.C., prices are stable; and in Arlington, Virginia, prices are actually starting to rise a bit. So it varies from region to region.

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georgeSo, while we may be hearing doom-and-gloom about national real estate prices, it’s possible – depending on your local market – that the dream house you want to buy is getting more expensive.

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jedWell, prices right now are down. As I said, they are starting to turn a little bit in a few markets. Most markets are either declining a little or holding steady while they’re getting ready to turn. But I think if you’re thinking about a house right now, I don’t think you want to think about a short-term flip. There was a lot of flipping a few years ago during the rapid run-up in prices in 2006 and 2007. Right now, as measured in terms of affordability, taking into account interest rates which are at an all-time low coupled with reasonable prices, housing is actually a very good buy. If you’re not buying it to flip it, but rather to hold it for five or six years, I think you’ll be very pleased with the ultimate result.

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georgeOn average, Jed, how much have house prices fallen back nationally from their peak?

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jedWell, that will vary from area to area. I think we want to talk in terms of the last year. They’re down about 15 percent in the last year, probably down about another 10 percent above that from the peak. That’s not true everywhere. That’s just a national average, like my head’s in the furnace and my feet are in the Artic, so I’m comfortable on average.

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george
I like the way you explained that!

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jedWe think that with the forthcoming recovery – there’s a lot of spending going on, a lot of economic stimulus, and a lot of effort to stop foreclosures – we project that prices will start to level out, certainly, by the fourth quarter of this year. That’s why, when prices are in good shape and you can get that $8,000 tax credit, right now is a good time to consider buying a house if you don’t own one.

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marylynnWe’ve been hearing that prices in areas like Detroit are just astoundingly low. Is it wise to go into an area that has been beaten up and buy some property there?

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jedThat depends on the long-term outlook for the area. Let’s put this into a little broader perspective than Detroit. Much of California, Arizona and Nevada have had prices that have been beaten up pretty thoroughly. Yet we all know that those areas are going to have vibrant job growth over the next four or five years and, right now, we see buyers flocking out to purchase property in that area. The prices are low, but the number of buyers showing up is substantial. I think for the longer term, these folks are getting a good buy.

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marylynnFor people who are thinking about buying in some of those areas, do you have any recommendations for finding an area that is beat up but has long-term growth potential? How do people get that information?

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jedThis is the type of information – specific market characteristics – that a Realtor would know. A Realtor could give you an idea of the outlook for jobs, income, population in a specific area, and how prices compare to the overall market for that area. That’s why we would recommend working with an expert – a Realtor – to understand the market because there are some good buys out there.

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george
And you probably know a Realtor or two, don’t you Jed?

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jed

I probably do.

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georgeI think you’re absolutely right. I have found in my life that it pays to turn to the professionals and let them help guide you through the process. With a Realtor, you know it’s win – win all the way through.

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jedWe think that Realtors bring a real value-added to the market because they live in the community, they know the community, and they’re part of the community. They’ve been there for a long time and they’ve done a lot of transactions. They can guide you – just like a doctor or a lawyer does with their professional services – in making your largest purchase.

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Thanks Jed so much for sharing your time and wisdom with all of us! And a special thanks to Hilary Marsh and Sara Weis, Jed’s co-workers at the National Association of Realtors, for helping us arrange our conversation with him.

If you’re in the market to buy or sell your house, the National Association of Realtors is a great resource. Check out their tips for home buyers and sellers.

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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Join us next time as look squarely at the four-leaf clover on St. Paddy’s Day! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00351-031609.mp3

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(Image in today's post by svilen001)

The Need to Lead – Part 2

career_opportunities On The Bigg Success Show today, we continued our discussion with Douglas E. Welch, host of the popular Career Opportunities, podcast. Last time, we discussed why Douglas has declared 2009 the “Year of the Leader.” Let’s get back to the conversation …

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georgeOne of the challenges we face is getting started. You’ve talked about inertia – we tend to remain inanimate unless we really push ourselves. One of your quotes that I love is that we need “leadership over laissez-faire.”

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douglasThere’s the old phrase that the only person who likes change is a wet baby. I see that every single day. It is so important. Newton had it right – objects at rest tend to remain at rest; objects in motion tend to remain in motion. I find that if I can get someone in motion, making the smallest step, the next step becomes all the easier. There is something about momentum and forward movement that builds on itself. Unfortunately, inertia builds on itself too. We can become really sedentary in our lives in a variety of ways – both physically and mentally. That’s part of the reason I write the column. Sometimes when I write, I picture myself giving that stone just a little bit of a push downhill. If I can get it to roll a quarter of a rotation, maybe it will start to roll a little bit further. That’s something we need to do in our own life and also cultivate in others.

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marylynnLeaders are admired for their ability to keep pushing, taking all the steps necessary to keep progressing toward goals. Does your knowledge in this area stem from a time when you didn’t push yourself enough?

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douglasI have to admit that I face this problem every day. I think we all do. There are days when we just want to sit down and do nothing. We just want the world to go spinning around us and not have to worry about whether we have groceries in the house or if that check has come in from that client. It just gets a little overwhelming to us. I grew up in a very small town – a rural town – in Ohio of about 2,000 people. Frankly, in a town that small, there’s a lot of inertia. There’s not a lot of push to go on. I found out very early, though, that I get bored very easily. If I don’t have a constant set of stimulus coming in, I can very easily settle down and just let the world go by me. So as part of learning about myself, I realized I have to have a new book to read, something new to watch, a new place to go to, a new area to go for a walk. I have to constantly have that new input so that I can continue to create the output that I do create such as my column, my podcast, and the other stuff that I do.

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georgeThat’s a great way of looking at it. Look at the inputs – the actions that you take – and then the results will come at some point.

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douglasThat comes from an artist coach that I had become friends with many years ago. I worked at Walt Disney Imagineering for five years as an IT professional in the computer department. One of the biggest perks I got at that job was that I had access to all of the art coaches that all the creative people did. One of the things we discussed was that you cannot output art or other great things in life unless you have enough input coming in. Those are the raw materials that you use for your creation. I really took that to heart and have lived that particular philosophy for a long time now.

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georgeAnd if you can’t afford a coach, find that friend who may be a little bit ahead of you in life or in their career. I have a friend who I meet for coffee. We would always say we needed to get together more often, but it never happened because we didn’t make it happen. So we finally said that we would meet at a particular time every month. That’s what made the difference – getting it pre-planned.

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douglasI started a whole new event here in Los Angeles specifically for that reason. It’s LA Friday Coffee. It is coffee and casual conversation between work and dinner. We meet at various coffee places all around the city. But at its essence, that is my attempt to get myself out on a Friday night to meet and talk to people that I don’t see often enough.

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marylynn
And boy you just can’t beat coffee!

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george
Unless it’s a martini!

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douglas
Anyone who follows my Twitter stream knows that I’m into coffee!

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george
We have to be, doing what we do. Right?

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douglasIt’s weird. I’m a geek in all things. When I find a new interest, I geek out on it as much as I geek out on technology or anything else I’m interested in. So I’ve read up on roasting coffee, how to make coffee, and the perfect espresso shot. My wife’s family is Sicilian and we’ve been to Sicily so I’ve tasted real coffee. That whole geekness kind of filters into my whole life as well.

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george
I’ll bet you make a mean cup of coffee though. When will it be ready? We’re on our way!

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Thanks Douglas for sharing your thoughts with us. He has started a free online resource called Career Camp where members of his community can share their expertise. We highly recommend it to you!

And thank you for taking time to read our post today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00333-021809.mp3

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The Constitution: A Model for Your Organization

constitution Today in the United States, we’re inaugurating Barack Obama as our 44th President today. It’s both a celebration and an orderly transfer of power.

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marylynn
I can hear “Hail to the Chief” being played. I just love that song!

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georgeI got inaugurated once. I was on the speech team in Junior High School. I’m dating myself here, but I played Gerald Ford taking the oath. So I tripped … I mean stepped … up to the microphone, held up my right hand, and said, “I, Gerald R. Ford, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

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Yes, all Presidents solemnly swear to uphold the Constitution. We hadn’t thought about this for some time, but we started discussing the purpose of a Constitution.

The United States Constitution itself tells us. It begins with the famous line “We the People of the United States” and then goes into the reasons for the document:

“in Order to form a more perfect Union”
At least we know that the Founding Fathers were realists – they didn’t expect a “perfect” union! They just felt the Constitution would help make things better.

“establish Justice”
It was important to establish laws so that every man and woman was treated the same. 

“ensure domestic Tranquility”
The Constitution allows for peaceful disagreement and debate.

“provide for the common defence”
It was important to determine how the safety of the citizenry would be insured.

“promote the general Welfare”
But it goes beyond safety. The Constitution also maps out how to make things better for the people of the country.

“secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”
This document should insure the freedom of its citizens now and in the future.

Now think about that list. These are the reasons why the Founding Fathers felt it was important to have a Constitution.

But this isn’t a civics lesson. Which is good because we sure wouldn’t be qualified to talk about it! But it made us think …

Aren’t those good reasons for us to have a Constitution in our organizations?

A framework for growth

As small business owners, we often run from structure. We are rebels at heart. We like to break the rules. These characteristics are part of what lead to the success of many small business owners. However, this lack of structure is also what keeps many of their businesses really small.

So does your organization need a Constitution? If you want to establish a framework to grow your business and insure that all people in your organization get treated fairly, then YES!

The Constitution as a model

To find out how to establish a framework for your organization, look at the Constitution.

Set down governing principles.
This list of principles expresses the Core Values of the organization. All decisions should be congruent with these principles.

Establish a structure. How is it organized? This helps us see the bigg picture. Think about your Mission.

Define procedures. How is it run? How do we do things around here? It doesn’t set the ceiling for idealistic behavior, but it does establish a floor. What is the minimum acceptable behavior? Think of this as your Operations Manual.

Describe duties. What are the obligations of the people involved? Think Job Descriptions.

Delineates powers.  What are the boundaries within which the people involved must operate? What resources are available to help them do their jobs? Does this sound like an Employee Handbook?

Can you imagine what our lives would be like without our Constitution? While none of us would say everything runs perfectly, they certainly run more smoothly because of our system of government. Using the Constitution as a model for your organization is a great way to form a more perfect union …

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Thanks so much for stopping by today. Join us next as we begin a three-part series on heroes. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00312-012009.mp3

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Keep Your Resolutions In Your Face

new_year Here we are in a New Year with many of us clinging tight to our New Year’s resolutions. We found a poem by Herbert Kaufman that is perfect for this time of year:

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You are the man who used to boast
That you’d achieve the uttermost,
Some day.

You are the man who used to boast
That you’d achieve the uttermost,
Some day.

You merely wished a show,
To demonstrate how much you know
And prove the distance you can go …

Another year we’ve just passed through.
What new ideas came to you?
How many big things did you do?

Time … left twelve fresh months in your care
How many of them did you share
With opportunity and dare
Again where you so often missed?

We do not find you on the list of Makers Good.
Explain the fact!
Ah no, ‘twas not the chance you lacked!
As usual – you failed to act!

A putdown or a kick in the seat?

It sounds kind of negative doesn’t it? We shouldn’t see it that way. We should view it as a kick in the seat. If you feel like you missed out on some opportunities this year, ask yourself why. Is it because you failed to act?

We all begin each year with a precious inventory of time. It’s up to us to make the most of it before it’s gone. Many people set New Year’s resolutions. Most soon forget them.

Bigg goal-getters understand that setting bigg goals for yourself isn’t good enough. It’s may be only one percent of being able to live the life you want. You have to take action!

Keep your resolutions in your face to keep your resolutions

We have a friend who has a great method to make sure he keeps his resolutions top-of-mind. He writes three or four goals for the upcoming year on a small card.

He laminates three copies of that card. He tapes one on his bathroom mirror so he sees his list every morning when he’s shaving. He puts another on the rear-view mirror in his car so he remains conscious of his goals while he’s driving around. He keeps the third copy in his billfold so he says it every time he pulls out his wallet.

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georgePlease note: Just like your insurance broker, we’re not advising you to place a copy on your rear-view mirror.

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marylynn
But it’s what our friend does, so we felt obligated to report it to you!

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He told us that he almost always reached the goals he has on this laminated. Every year, he has other goals but he said he almost never reaches them. Keeping these goals in his face helps keep them top-of-mind which helps him keep these resolutions.

We all have many things that demand our attention. It’s easy for our goals to fall by the wayside. The secret is …

Keep a short list of goals,
put them in writing, and
keep them in your face!

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We have a great resource to help you set goals – our Goal Planning Workbook. It’s free when you subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly
our free weekly e-newsletter.

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Thanks so much for stopping by to read our post. Join us next time when we’ll look at the one word that makes a bigg difference in keeping your New Year’s resolutions. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00299-010109.mp3

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