“A baby fills a place in your heart, that you never knew was empty.”
“A baby fills a place in your heart, that you never knew was empty.”
I am sure you have seen the movie, Pursuit of Happyness. http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thepursuitofhappyness/ There are many examples as to how people in humble beginnings persevere to a higher level. We all know that journey. I can relate because I had previously pursued credible and challenging sales jobs with a very meager lifestyle earlier in my life. It wasn’t all that bad, but it was enough for me to get out of my comfort zones and pursue something more. It took lots of second jobs, patient landlords, dozens of job interviews and endless networking. I can comfortably say, I feel developed and every step and obstacle along the way had its purpose.
In the movie, a salesman, Chris Gardner became homeless and broke while raising his son, played by Will Smith and his son. Chris worked to become a top trainee at a brokerage firm. He persistently made calls to prospective clients and his efforts finally paid off when Gardner passed his exam and became a full time employee of the firm.
Was his pursuit lucky?
Was it strategic?
What made him persist and overcome?
I think the pursuit of happiness is real. It is an authentic desire of our nature. Our personal Constitution. In our pursuit of happiness it is important to recognize which paths are illusions and which are dead ends. Some are misleading and some are authentic. Sure, there are basic things, like eating healthy, being positive, exercising, treating people nice, having meaning and goals. All of it is to ultimately chase opportunities, create happiness…to pursue happiness. Like Chris says, to his son…” You want something? Go get it. Period. You need to protect it.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajjGtsjI7CM
Chris started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He says, “I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. …No matter what.” If we label happiness as a highly unattainable lifestyle or a few unique events or an emotion that comes and goes or a disciplined mindset…is pursuing our version of happiness something we need to prepare for? Or is very little needed to make a happy life? I think if you strive for happiness in a meaningful and authentic way and connecting that happiness to others, it could be effective, long term and continuous. That’s what the experts say..right?
But, what about the ugly surprises, the obstacles and the unpredictable problems? We tell ourselves to be happy when it’s a smooth, easy ride, and we even try to stay happy when challenges and obstacles arise too. But, when we push away or surround fear with positivity, we eventually are caught off guard, unprepared and have no basic steps toward resolution, except to maintain a good mood. By not even considering about negative potential problems or future scenarios, we never develop or utilize the skills of being able to handle them. We have no experience. Everything is unfamiliar. So, the (fake) happiness we hold on to never regenerates and becomes irrelevant. Some will disagree.
We all have our own way of engineering our own pursuit. We can follow some simple, basic, fundamental laws or rules out there that we can adopt and learn to vastly improve our lives and maintain that good attitude. All those books and seminars say so. Right? We can also wake up, stop suppressing our fears and stop creating manufactured, false states of happiness when we feel otherwise. We can become more capable and dynamic with solving problems. Our own and others. The experience is in the pain. Not in the positive thinking. ( debatable)
But……… It’s too hard.
The fight is hard.
The chase is hard.
Life is hard.
Maybe happiness is not a new car, or fancy clothes or social acceptance or cheap gratification. We know that. Maybe it’s a moment of clarity. An optimistic view of the future. Maybe, it’s a culmination of many things. Maybe happiness just can’t be defined with words … which is why the ending of this movie is so good.
Before this scene: *IRS takes all his money
*Chris and his son are evicted, becomes broke.
*They are homeless, and are forced to stay in a restroom at a subway station.
*Chris develops a number of ways to make phone sales calls more efficiently and never reveals to clients that he is homeless or broke.
At the end of the movie…Chris says, ” ….and this little part of my life…this little part… is called….happiness.”
Being happy is good. Being continuously happy is great and pursuing happiness is a reminder of how far we have come but a reminder to how we need to improve when it all goes wrong. Do you view happiness as a continuous struggle or a chase? A chase we should be pursuing no matter how bad or good it gets? Or, is happiness something we deserve continuously and we should handle problems as they come? Was it the positive attitude that helped Chris get this moment? Or was it all the fear, sadness, depression and ugliness that contained the key to his own liberation?
I think we don’t need to improve our happiness. It is what it is. Happiness will be there waiting for us, when we are ready for it. Maybe we need to improve, change or alter our view of what we really think our happpiness is and how it fits into our own puzzle. We need to stop pounding square pegs into circles.
Is it just a day to day emotion? Is it a standard of living? Is it a destination to where we want to go? Or is it only meant for the lucky? Maybe only then…will we learn how to really pursue it…most importantly when we lose it, learn how we can find it again…to make it a repeatable process.
the Future of Banks
My wife and I recently discussed the idea of buying a new car. But, in my experience the car-buying process is a huge disappointment because the car I had my heart set on can’t be found on any dealer’s lot. I am sure this happens because the dealership selects a predefined set of a cars that they think will sell the most of, which didn’t include my prototype.
Before I knew it, we were on the Internet, building and customizing our own car. It only took 15- 20 minutes and the car was built and ready to be bought. The whole point of custom-ordering a new car is mainly to feed your ego, strengthen your identity and give yourself a sense of personalization and taste. You actually feel like you designed it. It was actually easy to figure what your next vehicle will be and how you want it equipped. When you’re done, you’re ready to buy.
Also, I was told I would wait at least 3 months to get my car. Ughhhh. But consider this: Your car is likely the second most expensive purchase you’ll ever make, which brings me to the future of the banking industry. I figure if we can customize a 40 or 50 thousand dollar car, why not walk into your local bank, get a pre-approval letter, digitally build a prototype of a house, customize it and keep it their database until a Realtor has a match. Maybe, you put an offer down on a house and it was counter offered by someone else and they took it. It would be very frustrating to start the buying process all over again. You could literally slide your debit card into the ATM, enter your pre-approval pin code, touch the screen and use your finger to customize a house right there, dragging and dropping new guest rooms or making the living room bigger. They save the information with a touch screen button. Sq footage, number of rooms, style, lay out etc. Sure, there is plenty of 3D/home design software already out there for builders to download and tinker with on their computers and maybe draw one up for a project, but usually it stops there. They are protective and do not share their designs. I say, take the existing technology we already have and take advantage of it and implement it in the bank’s systems.
If we as car buyers can build our own car without a mechanic or auto industry expert, why not build a house without an architect or bank consultant? The real value is making the pre-approval /qualified process quicker, more customized and accurate based on taste and needs of the future homeowner. Simple. Instead of listing hundreds of different houses, why not list 40 or 50 based on the most popular prototypes. Open Houses would be more relevant and useful. Maybe the market would pick up too. http://home-design-software-review.toptenreviews.com/
Maybe, you are a parent with three kids and quality family time is very important to you and all three of your kids are always in three different parts of the house doing three different things. Maybe, you could customize a big room that would serve 3 different functions all at once. Maybe, you are more focused on your pets, or being a weekend entertainer. Maybe, your kids are at college, but you are looking to downsize the size of your house, but looking for a way to accommodate your son or daughter when they return from school. You could make sure your den could easily transform into a guest bedroom. Or if you are entertaining the neighbors, you need to make sure your living room borders the kitchen. All of this is possible and this kind of technology already does exist, but to a bank or lender it’s non existent.
What if a bank analyzed the data of their local market and the result was that 80% of new local home buyers wanted solar panels? Would this sort of information be helpful to local sellers? What if a sunroof in the kitchen was the only thing that was needed to solidify a buyer’s signature? But there wasn’t a sunroof. What now? As a buyer, do you renegotiate a lower listing price with your realtor? Do you call a local builder you do not know?
I think banks need to get smarter and more diligent, but this would be a great base line as new technology can now cater to future maintenance and repair fees for a seller or a buyer. Maybe, you want to make changes before you sell your house or you plan on cashing out some equity to add on a deck or new addition. You customize your new house and your bank would tell you how much your new loan would be, before talking to any builders or contractors. Or maybe, you talk to a builder first, he gives you a quote and then you walk to your local bank, put your ATM card in the machine, modify your house based on new square footage and see if his quotes compares to theirs. Banks need to execute this kind of reassurance to their customers, in order to win them back. I think the auto industry has made more of an effort to be more efficient and effective after their bailouts. But, maybe that’s because people buy more cars in their lives than houses. Let’s talk about this.
Let’s say I go to my local bank, make a deposit, develop a prototype of my first house, picked a location, punched in my prequalified loan amount, and it showed me my rate and payment, taxes and insurance. I went back home and sitting in my email inbox is listing of a few houses not too far from my location, my payment was pretty close to what I could afford and had the specific space and yard that I wanted. Some of my choices are new construction houses and some of them are older models..
I am pretty happy right? Ebay meets home mortgage loans.
But a few years later I get married and buy. A few years later, I have two kids and need to sell. Two years later, I add on a bathroom and deck. Five years later, I get divorced and sell again. Two years later I get remarried and buy. Eight years later my kids want to go to college and I need to cash and refinance. And twenty years later, I want to downsize and sell. Thirty years my kids inherit my house and sell.
I am not sure about the numbers…but my wife and I attended 15 open houses for 1 purchased home. For 1 home mortgage, we spoke to 5 other banks. For every home upgrade…. we will need to speak to multiple builders too.
If reliable bank technology exists to give us an accurate, version of the truth…. we will no longer need 2nd opinions.
I was wondering last night, when I am 90 years old and I die hopefully of natural causes, I am going to leave all this data behind. Pages from Facebook and Twitter. What “they” could do is, sell it back to my family to make the decision to leave the account “as is” and preserve the account. They could let my great grandchildren read and analyze all my tweets, find out what my interests were and look at all my pictures and see if I was related to any other people with preserved accounts too. I think after awhile, it would get boring. But, everyone would have their virtual tribute. The newer generations wouldn’t just be an administrator of the account, but a whole family tree of accounts that were owned by relatives many years before. Any friend or relative that were previously or currently connected could see the whole family history between the preserved accounts and the newer generation of accounts. It would be a really morbid Timeline to some. But, a true learning experience to others. To my future great grand kids, what would make this so interesting and important might be:
1) my hobbies/passions
2) photos of me and other family/ friends with preserved accounts
3) How I occupied my time on a day to day basis
4) what I really wanted to share in life
Barack Obama, I believe is the first President of the United States to have a Twitter account. Right? Maybe, 100 years from now his tweets will be remembered and studied in history classes. Social Media is already in the schools and I am sure his tweets would be a great baseline for learning social media and remembering and learning about recent milestones. Right now, the President’s primary goal is to spread his message and agenda to as many people as possible but, the data he and future Presidents or many others leave behind will be extremely valuable and who knows if his most recent tweets will be analyzed and preserved. Do you think after his 2nd term is up, will his account go idle? be deleted? Or continued to be used?
Social Media is preserving history and is recording it more accurately. Maybe in the future, when really smart, important, rich people leave their fortunes, mansions and money to their families, they will also have to leave the keys to their Facebook and Twitter accounts and make the decision to destroy the accounts or preserve them for future use. It will have to be chosen, because in a few years, millions and millions of accounts will be deleted – mourning parents angered by their son’s or daughter’s deleted Facebook accounts. All those happy pictures…gone. Maybe, we could pay a fee, edit and administer the account and for a small fee, … preserve the account forever.
It’s already happening.
Social Media is important to us now, when we are alive and well. But, will social media remain just as important to us or to our survivors and when we are on our death beds, will these types of decisions have to be made? More importantly, will we have those rights? Right now, our social media accounts are the virtual roots of our family tree.
Do people trust mortgage consultants? Or do we trust them just enough to stay with one? ( I was one many years ago) As a consumer, we spend almost all our time making sure a bank has the best rates that they say they do, then we need to dedicate all of our time after that making sure that their mortgage consultant will actually give us that best rate. Who wants to chase the bait and only to get hooked? No one.
Mortgage experts let us know our debt, credit score, assets and income are factors to getting the best rate possible. But today, people need to know, you either qualify or you don’t. It’s a conforming loan or an FHA loan. That’s it. Many consultants give off the illusion that the rate or fees are higher because of your shortcomings. Negotiating to qualify for a loan is a lost cause. You either get a loan or you walk away with nothing. If you truly don’t, learn and educate yourself as to why and improve your current situation. If you are eligible for a 5/1 Arm, you are eligible for the 10/1 Arm, you qualify for a conforming 30 year fixed, you can get an FHA loan. After the bubble popped, mortgages went back to basics. Common sense. Just know what you can afford and commit to it, like anything else. If you are confident in the payment, everything else should work out.
First off, it is not that hard to write, submit, sell and close a loan. It may require some sales skills, basic math, knowledge of the market, trust from the customer and a good relationship with underwriting. That’s it.
The big mystery is:
1) how consultants get paid.
2) how you link all these different products to your financial goals
3) And how amortization works. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amortization
When I was a consultant, one of the biggest factors in winning a customer’s business / trust was telling them flat out how and why I was charging them, instead of secretly increasing closing costs before the loan closed. It’s called the “bait and switch.” Banks do not do loans for free but consultants are capable of overcharging at the end. If you are in an adjustable rate, your payments are going up and you are refinancing into a fixed mortgage, take your new, expected monthly savings and compare them to the consultant’s fees. Maybe you are saving $400.00 a month and the fee is $3,000.00. Will you break even in 6 months? 1 year? Am I getting just a good rate or am I getting a good loan?
The secret to the magic trick is… the more volatile or higher the rate they sell you on, the more the bank will pay out to the consultant. Sometimes– up to 3-4 points of the loan amount and then they can charge whatever they want up front in closing costs. Remember pay option Arms?
Learn how and why they get paid. Do their charges/fees match to the value of the loan? If a consultant is giving you cash out, fixing your rate and saving you money… do his up front fees sound reasonable? Or should you get a 2nd opinion? A consultant does need to make money, but is the cost transparent? 1) Always get a time frame in place as to when the loan is closing. 2) hold them accountable to what they are selling you on. ( rate, fixed, savings, fees 3) Are they educating you on the loan?
Why the bubble didn’t get everyone?
Five, six years ago, their was a housing bubble. Everyone was buying with cheap credit. The people that got screwed got into Arms and crossed their fingers while pursuing the American Dream. They had lots of debt already, got a mortgage w/ no money down, values went down and eventually drowned in rising interest. The smart and truly qualified buyers opted for adjustable rate mortgages too. They had very low fixed rates for a short amount of time, had mediocre credit, had minimal debt, with no money down, BUT used their ARM as a vehicle. As a tool. The smart, qualified buyers paid down their loan with least amount of interest, knew their budget all along, improved their credit …all before their rates went up. NOW, they are most likely in a 30 year fixed mortgage, in their dream house and can see themselves living there in the long term. That’s how you use an Arm. That’s how you transition into a 30 year mortgage. An Arm will get you where you want to go, but it has a time frame. You need to know when it’s up.
Where are you? What are the next steps? How do you envision your housing situation withing 5 years? What do you need to do to leverage your first house or existing home to get to Point B ? Maybe it’s putting a kid through college, adding an addition to your home or simply to save lots of cash. After you achieve those milestones… are you ready to start actually owning your home? Maybe a 30 year fixed mortgage is the right time. Maybe you don’t want to go back to another 30 years after being in a mortgage for 10 years ( that’s 40 years) ..maybe you refinance and are more focused on paying more money to the principal and roll into a 20 yr or a 15 year fixed mortgage to own your home free and clear.
Understanding Interest/ Amortization
Paying interest on a loan is very tricky, personal and complex. That’s the most complex thing about mortgages. Why? Because “they” want it that way. Lots of interest and complexity.
Educate yourself on where your money goes the first 5 years of a mortgage. It’s mainly interest. No principal. ( look at chart) Do you want to refinance back into another 30 year after NOT paying off any of your mortgage balance for the last 5 years? Educate yourself on bi- weekly payments too. You can knock off the life of the loan by doing so. Understanding and extending or reducing the terms to your mortgage and the effects it will have in the long run can save you cash.
One of the best ways for indecisive buyers to make decisions on financing is to understand the incentive of the consultant and what the bank secretly wants us to do. Do they want us to keep refinancing? Do they want to see no loan depreciation at all? Just to keep paying interest? Do they wants us to keep going back to a 30 year mortgage?
Maybe all of the bank’s fees and costs are still existent, because of manual labor and lack of efficiency. Processing, originating, documenting, verifying etc is all work. When will be the day, when we can stick our ATM card in a machine, hit a refinance button, choose a rate, term and estimated closing cost fees and be done with it. Right now, we can call or go to any cellphone/mobile store, cable company, internet provider and have them compete for our business. We can upgrade, change our accounts, cancel or continue our services with no hassle.
What makes them more timely?
Maybe bank financing won’t get more efficient as time goes by. Complexity is their “secret sauce,” and having, lightening, quick technology to make choices visible and easy to understand will go against their real agenda. Choosing a bank, consultant and loan are all inter-twined together. The bank is the brand, the loan is their product and the consultant is the price. Once we overestimate the value of work of somebody else… we get screwed.
**** I just want to say I have worked and know some credible, trust worthy mortgage consultants. Their agenda is not always aligned with the bank. This is not to bash all consultants..everyone needs to make a living. The first step toward choosing better decisions when it comes to finance is understanding the whole process. Low rates and cheaper closing costs doesn’t mean there is value. And the complexity of banks and finance doesn’t mean they are working any harder for us.
A few years ago, I invested in some stock with a few companies that I loved… Some stocks were WWE, Krispy Kreme , sneakers, pet supplies and some others, that I don’t care to remember. Besides having a 401k, I didn’t really care much for investing after that. My return was not that great. Some of the others were slow and steady, but nothing to brag about. My original thinking was, since I was a strong, passionate advocate, it was a sure win.
After failing on return many times, my thinking was…what if I invested in companies that I wasn’t too fond of? Those bad, big profitable, greedy companies that socialize their losses and privatize profits. .. oil and gas companies, .big insurance companies and financial banks. Maybe my return would have been different. Insurance and bank stock is at an all time low for buyers. Top oil and gas companies have great ratings. Natural gas is booming too. Automobile manufacturing is making a comeback. For me, it was just too painful to make sense of it all, the ability to put myself on their side and make an investment because their reputation was just so awful. How do you invest in something when you are taking an opposing position?
Now, that you see what I am getting to, I might actually take my hypothesis and use it on real life people that I shy away from too. I think the same results may apply here. I have lots of “comfortable” relationships. They get me nice smiles, handshakes and greetings, but that’s about it. Sometimes I run into colleagues, ex workers and people from my past that have made things unpleasant, but they are always giving me something to think about. For the most part they weren’t jerks. Maybe we focus too much on people that make things comfortable and miss out on other opportunities? Every day people that used to annoy me were:
1) challenging, confrontational, direct
2) efficient and on the go
3) had high expectations
4) outspoken, talked too much
I think most of my annoyance for people from my past fit into 1 of those categories. If you think about it, it’s nothing major. They didn’t waste time engaging in a conversation, they presented a challenge and presented a timeline for a solution and were highly efficient. I think, besides the bit of discomfort… I would say sometimes, there was more benefit to knowing these people than the best buddy from college. Good friends tend to “beat around the bush” and say things that the other person wants to hear. They are good for “comfy” weekends and to sit next to at a bar to and listen to gossip. They laugh at your jokes. They tell you that you’re right and always side with you. Not presenting challenges is the same as being nice? No?
If you are looking for a “return” in a relationship…I say …look for people that you are not too fond of. I wonder how prosperous our lives would be if we secretly knew our discomfort for people had a hidden return. I would invest in the Yankees, gas companies, embrace competition with most people, trust my bank and mortgage broker, have better conversations with my real estate agent, give more family members attention and listen way more.
Do our comfort zones make us predictable relationship investors? I guarantee one of those people that you hate so much..there is a huge return on the other side of the rainbow.
My buddy Don Perkins, marketing and sales colleague https://twitter.com/donfperkins had asked me 2 years ago, if I would write about the similarities between poker and sales. I had agreed, but after attempting a few times, I had stalled. There have been numerous blogs already written on poker and sales and I felt I had nothing to contribute that was fresh or unique.
But, bluffing and reading your prospects was interesting to me. It’s those subtle pieces of information that can be the difference in winning or losing. In poker, we call these things “tells”. Body language, betting patterns, reputation and style can tell you volumes about the strength of their hand. In a complex sales process, you have to pick out the critical pieces of information to be successful too. Sales and marketing call this “buying behavior” and Don tackles a lot of that here in his blog http://mindmulch.net/topics/behavioralchange/
Great poker players have the ability to read players and recognize their tells. Great salespeople have the ability to recognize “tells” that indicate where the buyer’s level of interest is and when, or if, they will be in a position to buy. If you play poker, these tips might be useful.
1) You always need to be one-step ahead of your prospects and leading them to the next stage in their buying process. Right? Poker is very similar in the way they bet pre flop to the river. Often, betting is just a tool used for the purpose of gaining information as cheaply as possible. In sales, asking good, relevant questions to get information might be quicker and more effective than always talking about product features and discounts and price. You always have to be trying to provide the correct information or getting the correct information at the correct time and always anticipating a challenge. Your prospects are always analyzing risk. You are never viewed as 0%. Credibility, setting objectives and being prepared reduces it.
2) When you think you are ahead and have the advantage…shut up and stop overselling. Poker players call this value betting – getting the most value you can get from a hand..without getting the other person to fold when you have the hand won. That’s exactly what happens during sales interactions. You oversell at the end and get the prospect to lose interest and fold his hand rather than piquing his interest long enough to see what you are “holding.” Since buyers are more informed and more educated, how do consultants and salesman redesign their methodology? How do we keep interest without scaring prospects away with too much information and hold their attention long enough to see the hand through. Sales and marketing departments call this engagement.
3) Tilt – “negative emotions a player might feel after a “bad beat ” ( losing with AA) Take personal responsibility for our actions, and give credit where it is due. Players who tilt regularly tend to blame their losses on bad luck, superstition and other outside influences. Poker players and salesman should also analyze their bad beats afterwards in terms of how they played the hand. Poker is a game of skill, instinct, bet management and knowing the odds of the hands dealt to you. There are both good and bad plays. Tough choices and easy plays. Some right, some wrong. Move on and learn. What have you learned from your losses? What have you learned when prospects said no?
4) The Grind- “Grind out; to play tightly and win consistently; playing in a manner that minimizes variance, lots of folding”
If you were a hiring sales manager of a start up company that just got launched with funding and your focus was to hire and train 1 salesmen from 10 applicants and you have identified 2 of them as your top candidates. Both, have a good work ethic, the drive to make $$ and healthy work history. It’s comes down to your people skills. You really want someone to stay long term and get this thing off the ground. It’s a unique product and you need someone quick and agile.
The 1st applicant 1) Smart, really good at interviewing, had high marks and an impressive track record and just said, ” all the right things ” and was highly confident. 2) The 2nd applicant, was a rags to riches story, who told you about his struggle to get to where he was today. He was very modest and didn’t really “sell” his best traits to you. But, you empathized with his story.
Most people would pick “applicant A” …. Great, impressive interviews convert into job offers. Hiring sales managers want to be “sold” on why they should hire you. But, maybe you as the manager is an experienced poker player thinks that “applicant A “, although experienced and achieved a lot indicates he may not be the most trainable and might find it difficult to adapt to new products or approaches. Maybe he did most of the talking…you thought that was a sign of arrogance or deceptiveness. Applicant B said less, but he was more direct and relevant. His background was not as impressive but he’s familiar with “rolling up his sleeves,” and the job role may require “start up” work that is less glamorous. So, who would most likely stay long term and grind it out? Who would most likely be more hungry and eager to learn? Who would you pick?
I truly feel the disciplines of poker and sales are interchangeable. As sales and marketing and buying behavior changes, the fundamentals of poker won’t. Even though the bubble of marketing and poker are at its height, if you love the chase, the thrill , the game, the hunt…humanizing a sales call or interaction will never get old and the room for improvement will always be continuous.
The sales funnel is filled with few Aces and Kings, some mediocre cards and lots of weak hands. When we are all looking to get pocket Aces on every sales opportunity, what kind of character, ethic and skill do we need developed to maximize our expectations on every given hand when we don’t get Aces?
Here is a great example of how an experienced salesman Dave Greco, The SalesPreneur failed to read the Sharks on Shark Tank.
The overview- http://abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank/episode-detail/episode-307/917608?page=2 and here is my buddy Kelley Robertson’s take on an episode of Shark Tank.” http://fearless-selling.ca/tag/shark-tank/