Check Out The Contest to Design Blue Gypsy Inc.'s Logo

Right now I'm fully engrossed with the creative process happening on! With more than 3 days to go, in a 5 day contest, designers from all over the world are submitting ideas to help brand my new company Blue Gypsy, Inc., by creating a logo.

Recently I told, @socialsonya, the boss chick at Wave Marketing, and the founder of an amazing new concept, the Geekette's Club, that I wanted to hold a contest on twitter to design my website. I want something innovative and cool and I wanted the chance to see a lot of options. She told me about the concept of crowdsourcing. There are contest formats on many creative design sites that outsource to groups of people interested in winning your business. This really is an amazing way to go! You get the creative juices flowing from all over the world to your own benefit.

Since Blue Gypsy, Inc. was inspired by my travels around the world, it only seems appropriate to give designers from around the world the opportunity to have some input into the brand....and it's a great social media experiment.

What I love is the wild fire I've lit under these artists' butts. I think it's the name that has them so enthused by the prospect of creating my logo. Right now there are logos that will pay them more, yet there are not nearly the number of submissions as for Blue Gypsy. With over 110 options for me to choose from already, I'm having a hard time choosing! With 3 more days to go I don't know how these designers are going to top my favorites, but I've been addicted to the site checking in all the time to find out what I'm missing!

Check out my rankings (And do it quick because I change them all the time) Let me know which ones are your favorites and why! Since I am changing the rankings tell me by their submission number, the # in bottom left corner.

Click the link! Blue Gypsy, Inc. Logo Contest and tell me what you think!

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Values and Goals Go Hand-in-Hand

Since my last post was about values, I wanted touch on goals. Goal setting is always something I've felt passionate about. Values and goals go hand-in-hand and make up who you are.

Once you define your values, the things that make you tick and how you want to operate your life, your business, and your online presence, the next step is to use those values to define your goals.

Whether they are social media goals, personal goals, or business goals, they all are intertwined with your values. Jeff Turner made a simple yet illuminating point the other day. He said that you make your goals around your values and not the other way around.

Sometimes people set unrealistic goals that are counter to who they are, in that case they are setting themselves up for a tough, if not impossible road. I've found that one of the keys to goal setting is to make them manageable. Set short term, medium term, and long term goals. These goals can all have the same end result in mind, but by breaking them down into manageable chunks it is much easier to develop the plan to reach those goals.

I used to teach goal setting to teenagers while working on sailboats in the Caribbean. We'd dive during the day, and do some pretty cool leadership development programs in the evenings. One night while working with the director of the program he asked me to start off the goals session with the shipmates. I'd never lead one of the sessions before but I was hooked! I just started asking them simple questions. What is a goal? Give me an example of a goal you set for yourself? From there we took off into an amazing discussion and I saw a lot of ah-ha's on their faces as they started to identify the usefulness of goal setting.

I've found that the more specific you are with your goals, just as the more specifically you define your values, the more likely you are to achieve them.

When you write down your goals clearly and keep them in a place where you can review them on a regular basis it helps you actualize them. Many athletes use visualization to help actualize their goals to improve on their specific performance of their sport. This same visualization and actualization can work with anything. This is a great addition to the act of setting the goals.

The difference between a dream and a goal is that you also create a plan around how you are going to achieve that goal. You can't say I want to lose 5 lbs a month for a total of 45lbs in the next 9 months and then continue to eat the same way, not exercise on a regular basis, and hope it will just melt off because you've said, "I want to lose 5 lbs a month." That's where the mini goals come in.

By setting a plan to achieving your goals the possibilities are endless. It all just depends on how hard you want to work and how well they match your values.

If you value chocolate and it must be a part of your life on a daily basis, it may not be very congruent with achieving the goal of losing 5 lbs a month. If you hate vegetables and your goal is to eat a salad every week probably aren't going to stick to that for very long either. That's why it's so important to look within yourself and know who you really are.

Figure out how to reduce that chocolate, and work around salads, exercise more and achieve the same result. But being honest with yourself upfront by examining your values will help you set more achievable goals.

What are some of your goals? And how are you going to achieve them?

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Jeff Turner: "Social Media Is Value Driven"

Yesterday at Social Media @ the Beach, a local SM event in Hampton Roads, listening to the Keynote speaker, Jeff Turner, was like listening to an old friend. Actually one of my best Dad!

Let me explain. My father has always been one of my mentors. I'm lucky. Not only is my father a great dad, and a successful business man, but he also was a mentor and coach to groups of CEO's for over a decade while working with an organization called Vistage. The predecessor to Tech, Vistage is an international group of business coaches focused on providing innovative ideas to its CEO members.

He still mentors fledgling business owners on a voluntary basis through the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore and The Business Incubator in Montgomery County. Because of my father's commitment to helping others, I've always had access to great motivational speakers, tools and ideas which he's generously share with me. Long ago, when I was at a crossroads in my life, one of my epiphanies happened when he handed me a values exercise. My father helped me see a simple truth with a values exercise similar to the one Jeff Turner gave to the group yesterday.

A decade ago I was having a difficult time with what should have been one of the most amazing jobs in the world...diving in an exotic local. I found that no matter what you do, if you don't share the same values as those you interact with, you will find a difficult road to success. The shared activity was diving in tropical reefs, but the values of those I worked with were so disparately different from my own. Whether it's in relationships, business, or in life, values are the root of your being.

Even today my father starts out with his new clients or business start-ups by giving them a values exercise worksheet. Yesterday I had an "ah-ha" moment as Jeff related social media and building online communities to this same values proposition. Jeff explained that values drive shared experiences and thus social media is value driven. When talking about your brand: who you are and what you deliver, overtime will reveal your values. You can't hide your values, they are who you are.

One of Jeff's slides broke it down so perfectly. His diagram showed that shared vision and values lead to creating community awareness. Within that community you have interaction and shared interests which then results in engagement and participation. These are conversation starters around shared visions and values which create a community affinity. This is the essence of social media.

In social media, no matter how many platforms you use -- blogging, tweeting, facebook...whatever you choose -- if you are being authentic you are going to paint the same picture across all platforms and present a consistent message. Jeff's words resonated with me because this is a philosophy I've embraced for over a decade thanks to my father's teachings.

Personally my experience is that when you surround yourself with people who have shared values it lifts you up, possibilities are endless, ideas are exchanged and an innate positive energy flows through the interaction. When you are at cross purposes with others, and values are different there can be misunderstanding and wasted energy. Given the choice (And you always have a choice) it's more productive to align yourself in the positive environment of shared values than to bang your head against the wall.

Just as both Jeff and my father are advocates of a simple exercise, I suggest it for anyone trying to decide their way forward. Years ago I found a quite place with pen and paper (ironically the exact conditions Jeff suggested) and really went deep within. Think about who you are and the words that define you. Jeff provided 3 simple steps (Simple but not always easy) Identify, define and explain. The more clearly and completely you do this the better you will understand yourself and what makes you tick. This can only be beneficial in building your online community.

Thank you Jeff Turner for re-energizing me with some truths that I had the privilege to learn years ago. Learning is always key, and reinforcing lessons is essential in shaping your knowledge. Listening to Jeff was like listening to an old friend because it's apparent that we share many of the same values!

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And the Miss Understanding...OSC's Pay Attention, That's Their Job!

In my last post I talked about an agent who put out a public tweet on losing a sale due to perceived lack of follow-up on the part of a customer... My intention was never to slam this agent nor make her look bad. (hence I kept the name out of it) And for the record, this is an excellent agent with an amazing track record.

The point of my post, and if I missed the mark I apologize, was to exhibit that there is an inherent difference between agents and online sales consultants. The two parties are not competing for business, instead one complements the other. An OSC is not about closing the sale, they are about closing the appointment. An OSC often finds themselves "hand-holding" the buyer both before and after the appointment. In the extended buying cycle it's often hard to get a buyer in to a new home site, or to meet with a resale agent because many are "Just Looking" they have not yet begun to narrow things down and that's why they are online, or making phone calls. But even after the appointment many people do not buy in that 30-60 day window.

The agent and the OSC have two different skill sets that are meant to work together in achieving the sale. One, the Hunter (Agent), has more immediate needs, and is focused on the close. The other, the Farmer (OSC), has all the time in the world to keep touching base with someone until the prospect says, A) I'm ready to meet with the agent B) I've bought somewhere else C) I'm no longer interested, or D) Jump off a bridge you're bothering me!

It is rare these days for a home buyer to walk through the door and buy a home, or call up a resale agent and know immediately what they want. If an OSC does their job well, and right, they can create rapport and trust with the buyer and then bridge that buyer over to the sales agent when the time is right (And sometimes it has to happen again and again because they won't buy right away.) When the house hunter finally hits that critical window of being ready to write a contract in 30-60 days, they are ready for the agent who has a whole different set of skills. Sometimes bridging the buyer from "looking" to "buying" can take YEARS!

My point in my last post was that the tweets could have come from any number of agents who are frustrated with the extended buying cycle and losing a sale due to the need of extended and exhaustive follow-up. Many agents have told me they've let a buyer go cold, only to find out their competition had picked up the prospect and sold them a home. It can be difficult to understanding how, when, where, and really what the point of follow-up is. The process is never perfect. But when you can team up with someone who can help you with that follow-up process you are setting yourself up for a higher success rate. Who wouldn't want one more sale a month? Two more sales a month?

I never meant to offend the agent who's tweets I used, especially because I consider her to be a great agent. I just thought they were a timely example of why an OSC can be so important in an agent or a builder's business.

I hope this post brings more clarity to the idea of an OSC, and what they can do when working hand-in-hand with an agent to use their strengths (follow-up, follow-up, follow-up) To keep a builder or an agent from losing a sale to their competition.

OSC's pay attention, that's their job.

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"I Sell Houses, I Do Not Sell Attention."

Okay did that get your attention? Recently I was reading through my twitter feed and a real estate professional had this written in their feed lamenting the fact that they lost a sale because someone said their follow-up was poor.

As an Online Sales Consultant, and Lead Gypsy (CEO) of my new business, Blue Gypsy, Inc. a lead management service for builders and real estate professionals, I can tell you that attention is exactly what prospects need! People don't just walk in the door and buy a home anymore. If you think they do, then you really aren't aware of all the research buyers do upfront. Over 80% of people are beginning their home searches online. They are shopping through elimination. That's right. They are going to eliminate you for any number of reasons. One of which may very well be a slow response time...or no response! And this goes for builders and resale agents alike.

You may have the best home in the world for someone but if they hate the customer service, you may find yourself out of luck. I thought it was interesting that the agent realized that she "Lost one sale" because she didn't follow-up quickly enough. What she doesn't realize is that she's lost many sales because of this problem. It just happens that one person bothered to tell her she lost their business due to lack of attention.

This agent also said in her next tweet, "I never understood follow-up just to follow-up. Maybe losing a sale will now make me understand it." In reality it's more than understanding, it's having a plan, and having a certain nature which makes you follow up. As Mike Lyon of Do You Convert has taught me, most agents are hunters. They are concerned with the prospect walking through the door, the one that will close with in 30-60 days. But Online Sales Consultants (me, the Lead Gypsy of Blue Gypsy, Inc.) are farmers.

We understand the concept of follow-up, of watering and nurturing a lead through until they are ready to buy a home. We build a strong bond of trust, and with the extended buying cycle, this is what keeps a prospect interested and engaged. When that buyer is finally ready to purchase they are going to buy from the agent, the builder, the people who kept them most engaged, cared about their needs, and stuck with them through their decision making process.

Selling houses is selling attention. And the closer attention you pay, the more likely it will payoff.

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"What? You're Not Following Me? I'm Going To Take My Toys and Go Home!"

I've been hovering around 940 followers on twitter for a month or so now. I follow about 920 tweeters. They are not all the same people. Yet every day there are several more twitter followers in my inbox. Still...the number keeps bouncing between 940-945.

For some people the above scenario would be annoying. They'd follow everyone who follows them to get their numbers up. And now with so many automated tools out there that will un-follow people who are not following you....well, I think it's all kind of silly. If you follow someone, there should be a reason for it besides just getting your numbers up. It is a community interaction after all. If someone doesn't follow you immediately and you are interested in what they have to say, try something engaging them in a conversation, retweeting them, I've even had blog posts spin off of comments I've read on twitter. In my opinion DM's would be highly ignored unless you really know a person...otherwise you think it's just more spam in your in box.

I do laugh when I get followed than un-followed because I didn't act quick enough. It's kind of that "Fine you don' t want to be my friend...then I'm going to take my toys and go home!" But most weeks I wait until Saturday to just wade through the people who have, for some reason or another, found me interesting. Maybe I'm just a pessimist with certain things, but I believe many of those twitterer's in my inbox likely found me through their automated system. I said one word that got "its" attention, and they have no real care who I really am!

I'm not really sussed about the number of followers I have, as many people are, to me it will always be quality not quantity. Thanks one of the mantras by which I live my life.

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