Monday Morning Motivation Week of July 22nd

I LOVE starting my week with positive words of wisdom. This week’s are:

We have to get back to the beauty of just being alive in this present moment. ~ Mary McDonnell

Last week I started talking about being present, I talked about my trip out to Phoenix and how I was not being present with my wife, Kathy.

My second thought to paying attention is to remember that our time together is limited.

If there are changes you want to make in your personal or business life, start now. There will never be a better day to begin making improvements than today.

Don’t keep putting off the things that you want to do or should be doing. For example:

  • if you want to start eating more healthy foods, go to the grocery store and buy healthy food, buy supplies to start your own garden
  • If you need to exercise more, go for a walk tonight or find a buddy and work out
  • Is your relationship with your spouse wavering? Spend alone time talking tonight
  • Do you want a new job? Start sending out resumes. Tomorrow is promised to no one

You cannot continue to waste time thinking that you’ll take care of your issues at some later date.

Your family, your career, and your whole life are happening right now. If you don’t take any action to maintain or increase your happiness, life will pass you by. It’s okay to plan for the future, and big decisions should not be taken lightly, but you have to live your life daily without creating regrets.

Monday Morning Motivation Week of July 15th

I LOVE starting my week with positive words of wisdom. This week’s are:

The best way to learn to be present and develop presence is to have the experience of someone you respect and admire being present with and for you. ~ Mark Goulston

As I have mentioned in earlier emails, I was a speaker at IAOA in January. This gathering, our country’s youngest and brightest independent insurance agents, is one of the highlights of my year.

The trip started with our airplane ride to Phoenix. I don’t know what you do on an airplane, but I usually work writing blogs, creating  posts and/or laying out chapters ideas for the book I’m writing.  

Suddenly, I got a look from my wife, Kathy that screamed, “hey, I’m over here, why aren’t we communicating?”  

I put my laptop away, we watched a movie, fell asleep and had a great flight.

The conference is 2 ½ days of presenters and break-out sessions all day. The event is choreographed so that all of the members in attendance get maximum exposure to one another. Kathy spent this time by the pool, visiting the local things to do and working on her hobby.

When the conference was over, we hung out for a couple of days to enjoy the weather, but so did many of the other independent agency owners. And everywhere that we went at the hotel, we ran into each other and started chatting about how we’re doing, what we’re doing and our “secret sauces”. 

One of the agents asked me if I was afraid of sharing my secret sauce.  I replied, “you may already know the sauce, but you still have to cook it.” I borrowed that from a chef friend of mine!

Here are a few of the most common barriers that keep us from being present and mindful:

  • Thinking about the past and the future
  • Multitasking
  • Being in denial
  • Obsessing on thoughts or observations
  • Pushing away thoughts or observations
  • A lack of intention
  • A lack of compassion
  • Judging, analyzing, criticizing or evaluating

Judgment is one of the most common ways that keeps you from being mindful. Whether you are judging your experience as good, bad or ugly, it’s an obstacle to being fully present in the moment. We do this all the time. Everyone does. The way to do it less is to notice it and move your thoughts on and not let judging interfere with your ability to be mindful. It’s ironic isn’t it? You have to be mindful about being mindful.

Try spending a few days noticing all the judgments you make throughout the day: 

  • “What is that lady wearing?” 
  • “Yuck, this food is gross!” 
  • “I should not be the one handling this!” 

Any time you catch yourself playing Judge Judy, notice it, label it as a judgment, and resist the temptation to judge yourself for being judgmental. More irony, right?

Pay Attention!

When I came to this realization, my first thought was paying more attention to Kathy. I know how I feel when people don’t listen to me or pretend like they’re listening to me, so I have to apply the Golden Rule:
Treat her as I want to be treated.

This one is easy because I want to treat my wife better than I want to be treated. There’s an episode of the Cosby show (sorry), “The Dead End Kids Meet Dr. Lotus” when Theo is given great advice from his father. He’s told to repeat these words: “I will pay more attention to my partner.” 

Remember  “Tomorrow isn’t promised, all we have is today.'”
~ Sylvia Solomon

My second thought? Next week!

Monday Morning Motivation Week of July 8

I LOVE starting my week with positive words of wisdom. This week’s are:

“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission – to make the world more open and connected.” ~ Mark Zuckerberg

Last week, I talked about the responsibility of small business owners. Facebook is a good example because it’s where many people spend their day (and nights) scrolling.

There are two primary features:

● Personal Profile (Get over the fact that we, as marketers, need to share with the world ourselves and our families, warts and all! People want to do business with you and not a sanitized version of you.

● Posts 

Profile 

  • What is the One Job of your profile?
  • What is the One Measurement of your profile?

Posts

  • What is the One Job of a specific post?
  • What is the One Measurement of a specific post?

There are of course a variety of post types. You could have a picture, a video and/or a story (includes a picture or a video). You can now add polls and all sorts of things.

But isn’t it easier to think about One Post at a time? A few thoughts:

  • Gathering friends and followers is not the NUMBER ONE job of your profile.
  • Gathering followers is not the job of EVERY post.

For example: A post may have the specific job of featuring a video about the newsletter topic you are writing about tomorrow. You may want to point people to your “link in the profile” where they can sign up to your newsletter.

  1. The post points to the profile.
  2. The profile has the link that points to the page.
  3. The job of the page is to get people to engage with us and sign up for our newsletter.
  4. The job of the newsletter welcome email is to set the stage for what’s to come and on and on.

The real beauty of One Number (and One Job, One Measurement, One Source) is the simplicity. It narrows our focus and aligns our efforts, making it easier to know you’re on the right path (or not).

That’s it for this series! I would LOVE to know what you think of my messages over these last few weeks. Send me an email or connect with me on social media.

Monday Morning Motivation

I LOVE starting my week with positive words of wisdom. This week’s are:

People are in such a hurry to launch their product or business that they seldom look at marketing from a bird’s eye view and they don’t create a systematic plan~ Dave Ramsey

Last week I finished with applying your NUMBER ONE to marketing.

If you’re a small business owner, marketing is your responsibility. You may be of a size where you can outsource to a consultant or delegate the tasks in-house, but ownership of the plan is your responsibility.

We know that you are not a full-time marketing person; you have clients to serve.

Marketing is not your job description. So, we must find a reasonable balance and develop a simple plan so you can consistently take action to keep the marketing ball bouncing.

How much time is reasonable for you to devote to your digital marketing each week?

The only wrong answer is zero.

The right answer will vary. Of course, your expectations for what you can accomplish with marketing need to be in line with the amount of time you’re willing to spend.

BUT…

You don’t need to post every minute of every day to have an impact.

One Job

The concept behind One Job is to help you to narrow your focus to the most important next step. This applies for your website and social media channels.

Each element should have One Job. The job should be simple, and it shouldn’t try to do more than that.

If everything is set to focus on One Job, you can build an entire connected ecosystem focused on serving people at each point along the way.

For example: The primary job of our homepage is to get possible new customers to click on the button to get more information about some of the insurance products that we sell.

There are several elements, but it’s all geared to having them contact us.

The picture of families, cars or homes is professional. The message is that we want you to know what products we insure.

One Measurement

The beauty of One Job is that it narrows what you measure for success. If the message is doing its job well, then my measurement will be based on how many people click through and contact our agency.

Now, there are lots of things to measure, and installing Google Analytics is a must, but let’s be clear on one thing, if Google Analytics tells me that I don’t have very many visitors to our site, specifically our home page, it’s a failing page and effort on my part.

One Source (at a time) – Effort

As you know, you have a ton of different sources for driving traffic to your site. The most often thought of, are your social media platforms and SEO. Let’s pick one.

Facebook. Next week.

Morning Motivation – Week of August 6, 2018

You know that I LOVE to start my week with some positive words of wisdom:

Fear. It’s so easy to get stuck in it, to let it hold you back and keep you from being successful! I have been there many times in my life and I am sure you have also.

Fear holds us back from:

  • Trying new things. It has holds us back from trying something new for lunch or starting a new hobby because we fear we would have a bad experience or fail. And so we stick to our usual routine and choices. It also keeps us from moving from our current job to a potential better job.
  • Asking someone for the sale, what I call your “CTA” (call to action). Because we don’t want to risk being rejected or looking like a fool in the eyes of other people.
  • Living our life’s full potential, the fear has held us in its grip and calmly explained to us that it would be best and most comfortable for us to stay where we are and to do nothing new. Many times we have sadly believed the fear and gotten ourselves stuck in a place where we honestly deep down, didn’t want to be.

The fears we have are based on how we think about things and how we feel about ourselves. Sometimes we don’t think that we can ever measure up to make a big move, and these destructive thought habits can create a lot of fear that is really unnecessary and damaging.

But there are ways to handle these habits when they pop up and to – over time – replace them with healthier habits.

So today I’d like to share with you the first of a few destructive and fear inducing thought habits and what to do instead of letting them roam free in your head.

Fear-Inducing Habit #1: You keep the fear foggy and undefined.

As long as your fear of doing something is foggy and undefined and just floating around in your head it will hold you back and often grow stronger with time.

What to do instead:

Ask yourself this question: what is the worst that could realistically happen? Don’t just take a second or two to answer it. Sit down with a pen and piece of paper. Take time to really think about it and to write out the realistic worst-case scenario.

This will:

  • Bring clarity to what you truly fear.
  • Defuse the fuzzy fears or disaster scenarios that may have been bouncing around in your mind.
  • Help you to realize that you can often bounce back pretty quickly even if the worst-case scenario somehow becomes reality.

Next week, I will talk about the second fear-inducing habit: keeping your fear to yourself.

Carlos

Happy Spring! Do You Keep Waiting For Flowers To Bloom?

I hope that you are as excited as I am about today, today is the first day of Spring!

With all of this winters storms, this day is so much more special.

I know that it is just a date on the calendar, but it gives us reason to hope that the weather will be changing really soon.

I like to start my week with some words of wisdom,

“You’re frustrated because you keep waiting for the blooming of flowers of which you have yet to sow the seeds.” -Steve Maraboli

Do you have a stack of “stuff” that you intend to let go or get to, but never do?
 
I swear that my wife Kathy is the master of getting things done. She hates to see “stuff” stacked up anywhere. It’s a mindset. I have said before, she is super organized, she has a plan and is amazingly detailed on what she wants and does not want. It’s an addiction for her. Our son Matthew is just like Kathy, Jonathan and I are the exact opposites.
 
Stop Letting Things Pile Up
I have a silent little secret. It’s books, specifically the buying of books. I have decided that I am not going to buy any more books until I read (or given away) the ones that I have piled up. I’ve purchased many books thinking that they would be great reads, or that I would get some great ideas from them, but some have not even been looked at.
 
I have started taking notes on all the ideas that I think are useful and want to incorporate into my business and personal life from the books that I am reading. I am using Evernote to keep track of these ideas.  I will work on implementing these new ideas as hard as I work to read the book.
 
I want you to do the same. I bet you’re subscribed to too many newsletters. Unsubscribe from the ones that are not serving you. And I mean MY Monday Morning Message and our connection, too. If you do not find my writing interesting, or useful, click Unsubscribe at the bottom of the email, or unfollow me on Linkedin. It won’t hurt my feelings at all.
 
You see, I am a believer in the philosophy of “out of everyone you meet, 25% will automatically take a liking to you, 25% will automatically hate you and the other 50% is undecided.” I write these messages for the 25% that like me and the 50% that are still undecided.
 
Stop Adding “Stuff” to Your Life
Are you one of those people who has a plan, not really following it, and so you start looking for a new plan? You may be thinking that you’re not the problem in this equation. You are. And I am too, sometimes.
 
Work on ONE plan. Give it all your effort. Execute that plan. THEN, if it’s not working you can abandon it and try another. You are better off having learned from this failure rather than never having tried it.
 
But neither you nor I have permission to think, “Hmm, I’m not actually doing this anyway, so I’ll go find something else to not do.” Give it your 100% or abandon it completely: half-hearted efforts are a total waste of your time. You won’t be helped by doing this… that’s last year’s mentality.
 
One at a Time
Setting habits is like farming – you need to plant the right seed, tend to it, water it, and with the right amount of sun, air, and fertilizer, you will soon be harvesting the benefits of your hard work. You can’t just throw your seeds into the fertile soil of your business and expect them all to sprout. They’ll choke each other out, be encroached on by weeds or be eaten by the birds (your competitors). It’s a waste of time, effort, and treasure!
 
Plant one seed variety at a time. Nurture it. See the results. And then grow.
 
Spring is here
Start cleaning now. Clean out the sources of information you’re no longer using. Clean out the abundance of half-started plans in your world. And work on what resonates with the one goal you need to work on FIRST.
 
It’s time to shut off the spigot of knowledge and ideas and drink what we have poured. Get into a more measured approach. Choose a path and let that guide you forward.
 
If you need some help elevating your business to the next level, I may be able to help. I have worked with some amazing people who needed help, and I have room to coach a couple of local business people. Just reply to this message and we can set up a time to meet so I can learn about you and your business and see if we are a good fit!
 
Have a great week!

Carlos

PS If you or a client, coworker, family member or a friend who would benefit from our high level of attention to service and competitive rates we provided, I would sincerely appreciate your recommendations.Please text our agency at 617-409-0329 or Click here

PPS What I learned today, “What was Leonardo Da Vinci’s real name” Click here to read more.

Frustration sometimes leads to freedom

 

Happy Monday.

I like to start my week with some words of wisdom,

“Deciding what not to do is as important deciding what to do.”
Jessica Jackley

Most of us are in business (mortgage, real estate, insurance, or law business, or are an entrepreneur or solopreneur) are in a unique situation where we can create the exact business model that we want, start the business that makes us a great living, and do what we are really good at and what we love doing.

I’d like to share with you a concept that I have been using in my business: the “Triad of Awesomeness.”

This came about as a result of my “Frustration sometimes leads to freedom.” presentation.

I look at everything that I do in my business, and if it does not fall into these 3 categories, I either eliminate it or find someone else to do it. The categories are:

  • Things that I love to do
  • Things that I do well
  • Things that pay well

Where these 3 overlap – that is where you should focus your efforts on what you should do. If there is only one thing that meets these criteria, that’s even better.

If you working on something that you love and pays well, but you are terrible at it, you will never get the best results.

f you are working on something that pays well, and you are good at it, but you hate doing it, you will burn out.

If you find something that you are good at and love doing but it pays terribly, you will go broke.

So how do you do find something that lies in the middle of the Venn Diagram above? You learn to delegate all of the other things. Think about everything that comes your way and how it will affect your Triad of Awesomeness.

When I am talking to real estate agents and loan partners about low hanging fruit, they all agree that they need to be calling their past clients a few times a year, but some are not doing it because they don’t have the time, and they are not willing to delegate the task. So, I often ask  “Do you think that it’s better to ignore your past customers than to have someone else call on your behalf?”

Think about it: if a task does not fall into that red zone in your Triad of Awesomeness, but your business would suffer without doing it, delegate it – preferably to someone that will do it well, like doing it, and get paid well for it.

(I was recently reached by a VA (virtual assistant) in the Philipines that did customer service work for a travel agency in CA, his position was phased out when the company he was working for, was bought out. If you have ever thought about hiring a VA, reply to this message and I can answer any questions you may have and connect you with him.)

Know that you are LOVED!

Have a great week!

Carlos

The one skill more important to business pros than sales.

I hope that you had a fantastic weekend! As you know, I like to start every week with some words of wisdom:

“The thing that people don’t realize is you want to teach people how to fix things without paying you for it because that builds up leverage, you give up a sale in the beginning, but you get all the sales in the end.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

Over the next five years, there is one skill undeniably more important to the success of all business professionals than sales. Unfortunately, most are not putting in the hard work to improve this skill. That’s where the opportunity lies for us!

What is this important skill, you ask? It’s building relationships. You need to build relationships today to stand out 5, 10, and 20 years from now. Most businesspeople aren’t doing this today, and the writing’s on the wall for them.

We operate in a marketplace where attention rules all, and those who can attract (and keep) the attention win the game. If you are not doing the work today that sets you up to succeed, you will not be able to compete. There will come a day when what you do and offer in the marketplace may be better and cheaper, but it will be as if you don’t exist because you have not built the relationships to get and keep their attention.

If you look at the money being poured into ads everywhere by the big boys – Trulia, Zillow, Rocket Mortgage, and Morgan & Morgan, for example – the money they are spending doesn’t pan out.  They can’t be local like you and me.  It’s not the consumer’s fault that they think that they believe the ‘big boys’ – instead, it’s an opportunity for us to educate them.

I am a believer in content marketing, telling your story, being the local and value provider, and giving without expectation of a return. I truly believe that the organizations that will be in business in the next 5, 10, and 20 years are the ones who are laying the groundwork today.

What does that look like? It means getting your customers’ emails and cell phone numbers. I work with some business people who still do not have their customers’ information! There is no way to compete in a world where your competitors have your customers’ email addresses and cell phone numbers and you don’t.

If you want to stay relevant for the next several years, you had better change your way of doing business. You need to put the content out there in all the ways that your customers are consuming it – video, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

If you don’t like to be in front of the camera, find someone who does. If you don’t like to write, find someone who does (hit reply now and I can connect you with my copy editor, she is amazing and an asset to my business).

“There has never been a time in history to attract attention was so valuable.” –Ryan Hanley

Your story needs to be told whether you are a big huge brand or a mom and pop shop, and no one can tell your story like you can. Your ability to tell your story is as important as your ability to sell your products and service. It’s the only way that you will attract the attention to do business in the new digital marketplace.

In today’s world, ‘losing’ means taking the time to perfect the customer experience. It means thinking about the way people answer your phone. It means making less cold calls and writing blog posts or creating bitesize videos about the questions you hear every day.

The truth is that I don’t know where this is all headed, what I do know is this:

“There is a connected generation and an unconnected generation, every day that goes by the connected generation expands and the unconnected generation shrinks, who are you going to bet your future on?”

Make the conscious decision to tell your story and connect with the expanding consumer group. How will you connect? Podcasts, blogs, video? I don’t know, but taking the time today to start building your brand now is what will help you succeed in the upcoming years and even decades. Attention wins the game, and I want you to come along for this ride. Lose today so we can all win tomorrow.

I will leave you with this final quote:

“If you’re not putting relevant content in relevant places, you don’t exist.” –Gary Vaynerchuk
I implore you to heed this advice. You can thank me five years from now.

Have a question? Need help? Leave a message below and I will work your question into a future message.

Know that you are loved!

C

Be with the ones you love

I’m back in “work mode” after much-needed downtime to recharge my batteries. I enjoyed my time with my family and friends and I am ready to finish out 2017.

I spent Saturday a few weeks ago playing golf with my sons, Jonathan and Matthew. There was a rainy start to the day. We arrived at the clubhouse at 10:30, and about then the skies opened up, so we hung around the Cedar Hill Golf Course for maybe an hour and a half.  It just happened that there was a golf tournament going on and many of the participants were old ‘townie’ friends of mine.  I proudly introduced my buddies to Jon and Matt and we enjoyed Chef Marty Malone’s freshly made chocolate chip cookies (on the house <3) as we waited for a lull in the rain.

Our birthday family tradition has always been that the birthday person got to choose where we went for dinner as a family on their special day. But Jon and Matt are married now, and in their own homes, with busy lives. On normal days, I try to watch what I eat and cook healthy meals at home. Kathy and I don’t spend nearly as much time as we used to with the guys and their wives… so this year when I was asked where I wanted to go for dinner on my birthday I threw everyone a curveball. I said, “I would LOVE to play a round of golf with my family!” (While Kathy and my sons’ spouses were welcome to come and see what golfing is all about, they decided not to).

I started golfing last year, and have come to love everything about the game – the outdoors, a great walk (I always walk the course) with family, friends, and/or business partners, the conversation, and most times we finish our golf game with a cold draft at the clubhouse and discuss how we played, which holes we played well at, and sometimes even the score. So this year I asked Jon and Matt to spend the morning with me on the golf course and to have a simple dinner.  We ended our day at Matthew and Cristiana’s home, they fired up their Uuni pizza oven (what an amazing invention) and we enjoyed being together.  I was in heaven… family, laughs, conversation, and the great outdoors, freshly made pizza and some cold brews (kind of like golf).

As you know, I try to start every week with some words of wisdom:

“Be with the ones you love, and love the ones that love you, ignore everyone else.” -Seth Godin

Although I was away, it was nice to see our businesses continue to run as if I had not left. Jeff Camara (my business partner, operations manager at our company, and rock star insurance professional) kept the momentum going (we are having one of our best years ever). My flexible schedule is the result of my decision that there are much better people who can do what I use to do a lot better. Do what I did – look for great people, build an amazing team around you, and get out of the way and let them take your business to new heights.

There are a few kinks to work out, the MMM stopped (so the telephones got quieter), the face to face meetings stopped, but soon, I will get start them up again, and my Monday morning FROG calls have not been done, but will resume soon (send me a message and I will let you know what FROG stands for and how they can help your business out).

And know that you are loved! As Seth Godin says, It’s your turn (it’s ALWAYS YOUR turn!)

A great big thank you to everyone who sent me the vacation and birthday well wishes! Now go out and have an amazing and awesome week! I hope to see you soon!

Carlos

Going dark to recharge the batteries!

 

Summertime is quickly coming to an end.  I am going dark for a little while.

Kathy and I are headed out of town to refuel. Years ago, we started vacationing “on the shoulder” of seasons, due to the cost, less hustle, and bustle at popular vacation spots.

After many months of doing my best to encourage, inspire and serve, giving many presentations, coaching some amazing business people, and making many new friends, we are taking some time to refresh our batteries.

Doing good for others without doing good for yourself isn’t very good, is it?

This is why you will not be hearing from me for the next few weeks.

So I’m taking this time to regenerate, spend time with friends and loved ones, swim, golf, continue my quest to be better physically fit, read, reflect, and just be a human being versus a human doing. I’ve been at this for a long time (37 years) and hope to be around many, many more years. Vitality is essential for longevity, so I’m protecting mine.

I will also be using my “dark time” to reread some of my favorite books. Try to reshape my thinking, develop my philosophy, and reset my being, so I come back strong in early October so that I can serve you even better.

One of the books that I am re-reading is Questions for the Dalai Lama: Answers on Love, Success, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life. Here is a passage that I felt was worthy to share with you:

 

What did you enjoy reading this summer? Leave a reply below, I would LOVE to know.

Hope all this helps. After all, our world needs more heroes. Why wait for them when you have it in you to become one of them?

In my absence, please remember that Jeff Camara and the Vargas and Vargas Insurance team are always available to help you and your clients with insurance questions, quotes, and any problems you may encounter.  They can be reached by:

Telephone: 617-298-0655
Text: 617-409-0329
Quote team email: quotes@vargasinsurance.com
Service and claim team email: customerservice@vargasinsurance.com 

And know that you are loved! Now go out and have some awesome weeks!

It’s your turn (it’s always your turn)!

C