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Op/Ed

Branding doesn’t happen overnight, sometimes you have to give to get

(EDITORIAL) Branding is something that Marie Forleo has seemed to master. However, what works for her might not work for you. Seek out brand authority and maximize business.

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Brand envy

You don’t want Marie Forleo’s branding. I know that is a bold statement to make. “But VANA,” you cry out to me, “She has a beautiful, clean website. Forleo has an amazing program that sells out every time it opens cart. She’s making massive changes for women in their lives and businesses. She’s met Oprah for pete’s sake.”

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Shh my sweet summer child. Worry not for I have what you truly seek.

authority

You don’t want Forleo’s brand because what you seek is to have an expert brand like hers.

What you seek is brand authority.

And the only way you can do it is to blaze forth on your own trail, not by following the path another forged.

How does one just become an expert in their field?

Forleo certainly didn’t just wake up one morning with Oprah on her schedule. It took a solid plan and positioning herself to get there. I’m not here to tell you your work must be hard or easy to be fulfilling, or that the hustle struggle is real or a 4 hour work week is possible.

I am here to tell you if you commit to it, show up for it every damn day, and live your biz with authenticity, you can have your own unique brand authority.

And that is much more satisfying than chasing a grasp of someone else’s.

So without amassing a pile of student debt or credit card loans, how do you become an expert?

use your noggin

Some people say fake it till you make it which works to a certain degree, some people educate themselves in depth. However, knowledge is a resource like anything else, you just have to know how to cultivate it.

People are another fantastic resource (one we not are caring enough for but another post for another time), and knowing how to listen and what to ask is crucial in gaining expert knowledge.

Being a great entrepreneur (and a better human tbh) is 80% listening and 20% asking the right questions.

Another way to achieve this is self-educating. “But Vana,” you tap your foot at me, “If everyone could just teach themselves to do something, why isn’t the world full of entrepreneurs?” And a perfectly valid question.

The reason is time.

Teaching yourself new things as an adult can be difficult and take some time (time you might not have with a 9-5, family, social life, relationships, ANIMALS TO PET, you know life). And until someone makes time turners a reality, becoming an expert entrepreneur is going to require a bit of sacrifice on your part.

gotta give to get

Speaking of sacrifices, let’s talk about the final block in becoming an authority in your industry. Some of you may possibly be reading this and be thinking “I’ve got the best mentor and all of the time in the world but I am still not hitting that expert brand I crave.”

I hear you.

What is required of you is a change of mindset. Some people have to give up time or money (and maybe you already have) but everyone must be willing to sacrifice their old thoughts and habits to make room for new ones.

You got to where you are by doing what you do and thinking how you’re thinking right now.

You’re not gonna grow past that acting and feeling the same way. If you aren’t willing to try new things, you can’t ever discover new ideas. You cannot be an expert without being an innovator.

So what are you willing to sacrifice to make your dreams come true?

Vana is a new, and highly unorthodox agent, making the move from technology and advertising to working in RE. If you ever felt like the awkward new kid in the room, you'll probably relate. Follow her struggles and triumphs of breaking the glass on the industry.

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Op/Ed

Why “The Complete Guide to Not Giving a F**k” is Bulls**t

(EDITORIAL) Having thick skin is great, but a famous blog, “The Complete Guide to Not Giving a F***” misses the point that for most, it’s a carefully choreographed marketing tactic, and a luxury.

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complete guide to not giving af

Warning: cuss words ahead…

One of my favorite pieces ever penned on the web is called The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck by Julien Smith, first published on his personal blog and recently republished on Medium. The piece is well written and argues a point that is so rarely argued effectively – constant worrying about what others think is a prison and you should regain your self-respect by putting less emphasis on every single person in the world’s opinion.

The theory is well founded and is totally true, but the Guide has been shared for years on the web as an excuse to be an asshole, so I’m calling bullshit on the entire Guide. Not on Smith’s words (they’re right and I have emailed them to over 50 people over the years), but on how non-readers are taking it. People skim the story, share it, tag me because I like cuss words and have thick skin, and move on, thinking that Smith meant to tell everyone that they should never care what others think.

First of all, if you’re here, you’re most likely a business professional, right? If so, you typically can’t just puff your chest in this world and act like a dick. Sure, there are people that have made lucrative careers out of being hated, but they work very hard to appeal to other haters and attract like minds, which isn’t exactly not giving a fuck about what others think – that’s the dirty secret of today’s villains, particularly online.

Smith’s point was that developing a thick skin is freeing. And he’s right. But, it’s a process that takes time, and must be carefully choreographed. Constantly lobbing grenades because you’re now a badass who doesn’t care what others think is self-destructive and misses the point.

There is a substantial difference between “not giving a fuck” and letting irrelevant commentary and judgment roll off of your back. Guess what? Not all commentary is irrelevant. Your boss tells you that you suck at something? Better not give her the middle finger or you’re unemployed. A client calls and you’re hostile with them because you don’t have to take their shit? Bye bye, customer.

A now unemployed former Sprint kiosk sales guy comments on your blog that you’re wrong and stupid? Sure, let that roll off of your back. But not the rest. Don’t “not give a fuck” for the sake of not giving a fuck. Don’t be a moron.

Here’s the part where I disagree…

So far, I’ve agreed with Smith, but over the years, and particularly since his editorial was republished, I’ve put a lot of personal thought into why the piece rubs me the wrong way, and I’ve finally figured it out.

I have thick skin. For the most part, people like me. I don’t know why, but people like me – I’m told often that I’m likeable. That’s cool.

I am also well respected in my industry and by my peers. Also cool.

Therefore, my not giving a fuck is a luxury. I’ve already built a personal brand and helped build extremely large communities online and off, so I get to have thick skin because I somehow magically earned it. If some kid signs up for a Twitter account and starts throwing grenades, they’re blown off as a punk turd. If I take to my own airwaves to attack an idea, people listen because I’ve earned an audience. Do you see the difference?

“I get asked a lot how I developed such a thick skin, and the truth is that it took many years and a natural maturation process to realize that not everyone will adore me, and that I can be wrong. A lot.”

I was able to develop a thick skin because I had collected a huge army of supporters over time should I need it, and so I am not often attacked (but when I am, guess what happens??). Let’s be honest, I also have the advantage of being a younger woman, so I get to be a little more brash than my counterparts, and people like that – but that isn’t me not giving a fuck, that’s me being silly for the most part.

I disagree with Smith on his guide, because some people don’t have the luxury of not giving a fuck. It is freeing and something everyone should try, but it does not apply to all situations at all times, and the bizarre truth is that it has to be earned in most situations.

This editorial originally appeared on The American Genius.

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Op/Ed

The rest of the world has caught up to the Realtor way of working constantly

(EDITORIAL) How do you respond to people that complain they’re working at all hours? Just welcome them to the Realtor way of life!

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working fake cellphone mobile devices number

Until you practice real estate, you have no idea how many hours per week that entails, how insanely late or early clients will call with urgent needs, how much you live in your car, and how novel the memories of a 9-5 are.

From the outside, it looks like you can do anything you want when you want, and yes, you have flexibility, but successful agents are seriously devoted to working their tails off. Many sacrifices are made, meals missed, and the idea of a non-working vacation is not usually a reality for practitioners (even when there is an assistant and/or team at play, there’s always something only you can answer).

You’ve changed a shower head in your client’s listing to appease a picky buyer and get the dang closing done, you’ve kept your promise to attend every closing (even on your wedding day (true story, my husband did that secretly)).

The internet has only changed the process, not the number of hours worked.

Technology has made Realtors more efficient, but as a population, you’ve just added more to your plate and worked even harder.

With the advent of smartphones and wifi, other industries have now adopted the same always on pace and mentality, and it occurred to me recently that the entire workforce has now adopted the Realtor method of working all day and figuratively all night.

“So to the rest of the world, I say, welcome to the club!”

Veteran Realtors can tell you that the pace can be grueling, but that the concept of work/life balance isn’t some new wave buzzword-filled theory, no, it’s been the Realtor way for decades upon decades.

So when people complain on Facebook about their boss calling them for some arbitrary reason at 10pm, or complain on Twitter that a customer expected an instant response at 1am, just tell them gently, “Welcome to the Realtor way of life!” because you’ve been adapted since the day your license number was issued!

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Op/Ed

Less sleep, less life. Science says so

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Sleep can be a great thing. In fact, a new study has proven that the more you get the longer your life will be — that’s pretty neat!

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Entrepreneurs, business owners, and freelancers, listen up: sleep is important and you need more of it.

We all know how important sleep is, but we try to ignore it anyway. New research from neurologist Matthew Walker states quite plainly that if you get less than seven hours at night you put yourself at higher risk for Alzheimer’s, dementia, heart attacks, strokes, and several different kinds of cancers. If seven hours feels indulgent, read on.

Walker, a sleep scientist at the University of California, has just written a new book entitled Why We Sleep in which he discusses the biological mechanisms of the processes that allow you to drift off.

Walker also discusses all of the things that our constantly busy and interconnected lives do to disrupt that process.

“First, we electrified the night,” Walker said in a quote to The Guardian. “Light is a profound degrader of our sleep. Second, there is the issue of work: not only the porous borders between when you start and finish, but longer commute times, too. No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead.”

Another thing killing our restfulness at night? Our attitudes towards catching z’s.

Walker said that there is a strange increasing stigma around sleep, and that many consider it “lazy and shameful.”

Considering that so many problems arise from lack of sleep such as impaired functioning, amplified risk of diseases, weight gain, and mental health issues, a more appropriate attitude toward this necessity needs to be taken.

Entrepreneurs and business owners may have a hard time cutting themselves slack whenever choosing their bedtime, but in order to continue to operate at peak efficiency, bedtime must be a priority.

Here are some easy tips from sleep scientists to incorporate in your bedtime routine. First: no all nighters. They totally wreck your ability to function, and make you as cognitively impaired a drunk person.

Secondly, try to set a bedtime alarm every night so you can train your body to have an appropriate slumber pattern, which will help your ease of sleeping in the long run. Another easy tip being super strict about the “no screens” rule before bed, as the light emitted from our devices blocks melatonin (the sleep hormone) from secreting in the brain.

It may be hard to leave that email to another day, but your brain will thank you for it as you drift off to dreamland.

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