Managing Gifting Expectations

Expectation management depends on your relationship with the stakeholder.

Vanderbilt University researchers found that the appreciation of a gift is directly related to the quality of a gift wrapping job. (link in comments)

The explicit takeaway is good to note for the holiday gift giving season, but it is instructive on how you present yourself to potential and existing customers.

Consider my example from being in the capital business.

I dress up whenever I have an opportunity to meet with a new capital provider – investor or lender. I wear all my slim fit clothing and bring my most professional presentation.

If it’s a phone call, I send a user-friendly dial-in with one click to connect via mobile phone.

In both cases, I send an Outlook calendar invite with my information first so my name shows up on their calendar. For example, John Wijtenburg (InSite Group) // Prospect Name (Prospect Company) – Introduction.

All communication will follow a similar set of intensively polished interactions until we have a good rapport.

After that, the gloves are off.

Emails become short and sweet. Phone calls turn to text messages. I leave the suit jacket behind. And so on.

Relaxing my approach loosens our conversation, which allows both parties to be more vulnerable.

Get Past the Gratitude Platitude

“Develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’. Say thank you to everyone you meet for everything they do for you.” – Brian Tracy

Lots of talk about gratitude lately. It’s becoming the platitude of gratitude.

The easiest way to get through the noise is to say thanks in every interaction until it becomes an inseparable part of you.

Values Stick with You

You learned everything you need to know about life and business before learning to drive.

Beyond that, it’s just an iterative process of optimizing.

I’m raising two curious, engaged boys under seven years old, and everyday, they surprise me with concepts that I wish I would see more of in my adult world.

My values are simple – curiosity, generosity, empowerment, and love (not necessarily in that order). This applies to everything I do. Moreover, I find that focusing on these attracts more of everything and deviating depletes everything.

I love Thanksgiving week because the slower pace gives me time to really focus. I focus on the areas where I’m not applying my values to their fullest potential.

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone. Go out and make a difference in your life and the lives of those you love.

10 Ideas for Veterans Day

  1. Learn more about a veteran in your life
  2. Thank a veteran that you’re close to
  3. Thank a veteran every time you notice their insignia
  4. Learn more about the military family and how you can support them
  5. Find an attend a parade
  6. Raise awareness among your peers on the mental and physical health challenges facing veterans
  7. Execute on an idea to support active duty military at your place of work
  8. Create a policy to look out for veterans and first responders in the recruiting process
  9. Teach your children about patriotism and sacrifice
  10. Post on social media one thing in this country that you are grateful for and tag a veteran

There are so many more, but you get the point. We can all do more than deliver a stream of platitudes.

On Tuna Fish and Advertising

I was struck by an epiphany looking at the canned meat section of the supermarket this weekend.

There are 2-3 brands that are all pretty indistinguishable. The cans that you easily reach for are down by your knees. The specialty fish and tuna in a vacuum bag are at eye level.

I’ve known for a long time about supermarket shelf real estate a la the cereal aisle, but it was interesting to see this play out in such a small specialty. The brands essentially compete with themselves between cans and higher margin packages.

It also made me think about the Walmart and Amazon models. They built major brands on the strength of their margin strategy. At scale, Amazon Prime generates tremendous revenue, but they lose money on each new customer.

That said, the lifetime value of a Prime membership is worth much more than that short term loss. They pull you in and build loyalty with prepaid shipping and upsell services, like video and music.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to play the margin game in real estate syndication. This way I can spend more than my competitors at the top and middle of the funnel.

Major Hotel Stakeholders

“Who does what” is the first thing to learn about investing in hotels.

Investment-level hotel stakeholders are:

   ~ Owner – packages the deal

   ~ Operator – runs the hotel

   ~ Brand – provides distribution and enforces quality standards

Sometimes, these are all combined into one. Most often, they’re all separate, the brand also operates, or the operator has some ownership stake.

Big brands actually own very few hotels. (Marriott only owns 12)

They’re sales and marketing engines that deliver their most value in franchising / licensing their brand.

Homo Economicus at Work

The economic man (homo economicus) is a rational decision maker with complete information. It’s easy to write academic papers when you don’t have limitations of irrationality or information asymmetry, but it doesn’t really reflect reality.

Enter the information age.

Smartphones, Google, social networks, deep web apps, artificial and assisted intelligence, big data, and so much more created an ecosystem that empowers us, individually, with more complete information than ever throughout history.

Enhanced connectivity further removed each individual from industrial age social structures, thus enabling the contract economy.

Therefore, we are exponentially closer to the academic model of a rational economic decision maker than we were just 10 years ago. This may be why it’s so hard for the talking heads to explain or predict economic movements in the prior cycle.

6 Step Content Creation Playbook

Six easy steps to efficient content production:

     1. Set aside 60-180 minutes

     2. Write down 100 content ideas, e.g., what to include in your database, how to connect with hotel owners, etc.

     3. Rank order the ideas

     4. Write an article about the top 10

     5. Write an email to your list about the next 52

     6. Create social media content for the remaining 38

Expose Yourself

The best thing I ever did for my confidence was…

Writing a blog.

I started writing commercially in college with a book called Graduate Rich. I self-published and sold one copy. After that, I didn’t really publish much of anything. Then, I became a hotel broker.

I needed a way to raise my profile and prove my knowledge and expertise. Someone suggested a blog, and I obliged.

I spent long hours setting up WordPress, designing my brand, and choosing graphics. Still, publishing was the hardest part of starting a blog.

Nobody wants to to be judged. We avoid the limelight like the plague because we can be revealed as the fraud that we are. And then I discovered a very important fact of life.

Nobody cares about your content!

It was crickets for weeks as I waited for readers to show up. I even promoted some content on LinkedIn and Facebook. Still, nobody showed up.

Then, I realized that I just need to deliver value and be patient.

This year, I started to gain traction. More importantly, I started hearing from my readers that my content is helping them.