Holiday Gift Guide

Giftwrapped by nature

Christmas season is upon us!  Have you started shopping for Christmas presents yet?   Or for those early birds out there, are you finished with gift wrapping duties?  Check your lists again, you might have missed a couple of people to give presents to.  In light of this season of merriment, I have put together a holiday gift guide.  You might find some of these suggestions useful if you are still looking around.

Drone with Camera

Drone with Camera

Drones have certainly stepped up the tech ladder as one of the best gadgets that you can purchase for yourself or give as a truly memorable and useful present.  Many of us have at least one friend or family member who would enjoy playing with a drone – especially those with cameras on them.  Here’s a list of the best drones to give as holiday presents, as well as some tips on making sure that you make the right purchase for your budget.

Cozy Slippers


Cozy and comfy, you can never go wrong with shopping for slippers as some of your holiday presents.  It’s actually an all-occasion gift idea, so it’s definitely goof-proof!  Try sprucing them up with little stocking stuffers inside.  A winter nail color, a peppermint lip balm, or some hand creams for women, or earbuds and a pair of trendy socks for men.  Wrap them up with a festive bow, and you’re good to go!

Local Gift Finds

Shop Local

Is there an artisan fair in your area for Christmas?  Discover unique gifts, support the arts and have a unique shopping experience.  Get out of the malls and see what else is out there.  Shop at Etsy this year instead of Amazon.

Audible Subscription

A Subscription to Audible for Audio Books

Give the gift of knowledge, entertainment, and possibly a new past time.  A list of your favorite podcasts along with the gift.  Earbuds or an assortment of teas to enjoy over the holidays are some great picks.  Maybe include a few of my favorite podcasts on your list – TedX Radio Hour, Hidden Brain and Revisionist History by Malcome Gladwell.

Unique Christmas Ornaments

Just the right Christmas Ornament

While this might not be a “main gift” idea – probably a really good stocking stuffer, it definitely shows how much of a thoughtful person you are.  There are random Christmas ornaments that you see in a store, craft shop, or even in a thrift store that will really remind you of someone or something.  There are some that evokes a memorable moment in their life, and some that you just know will be something that everyone would love to receive and hang on their trees.  Someone gave me a precious one the year my mom died.  What a sweet gift it was.  And I bought one this year that has the TN Flag stars on it to remind me of my home state!

Gift Cards as Christmas gifts

Gift Cards

You can’t argue with the fact that gift cards are a foolproof gift idea.  Yes, it might seem a little bit impersonal, BUT there are just people who are really hard to shop presents for!  So why not find out some of their favorite places to shop at, or maybe a place where you know everyone will definitely shop at.

Can you buy gift cards for others and get a benefit for yourself?  Many places give you a $20 card if you buy $100 in Cards, or some combination of “Buy for them-Get for You” discount.  Gift cards are really an easy way to get out of a rut if you don’t know what to give someone for Christmas.  It’s also a good idea to beware of stores that you should skip when it comes to gift cards.  Mostly because their gift card rules and fees will just take away that Holiday cheer right out of you.  Here are 5 of the worst retail gift card rules and fees that you should avoid.  The best situation if you are the recipient of a gift card is to use it sooner than later!

I hope this season will be fun and cheerful for you.  Look for ways to make your own cheer!  I confess I did take advantage of a few black Friday deals for myself!

Happy Holidays




The 95/5 Principle and How it Affects Our Lives

What is the 95/5 Principle? Well, I made it up.  It is something I observe in life.  I briefly explained the 95/5 principle in my previous blog post (it is below).  As a quick reminder, that is when we make a decision based on how we live in or use that item or space 5% of the time.  It is when we choose to do something because it is only inconvenient 5% of the time.  Or maybe we buy it because we love it despite the narrowness of the actual use.  Let me give you a simple example.  How many of you give 2 ft. of pantry space to a turkey roasting pan, and how often do you roast a turkey?  That is the 95/5 principle, (I know that is a 99/1 item but I am big picture thinker.).

I saw this in my own life recently.  My husband and I have traditionally entertained quite a bit and traveled several times a year.  As a result of that, we never had a dog.  We like dogs well enough, but I wear black too often to want to frequently play with other’s dogs who can’t look at me without shedding.  So, though I manage and enjoy dogs, they were never much part of my life.

As a speaker, I travel a lot, and my husband deals with some pain issues related to his back.  Being in pain alone is a challenging combination.  So after much consideration, we got a goldendoodle puppy (they don’t shed ?).  Now that we have had him for 8 months, we have observed a few things – we travel together less – we expected this, and when it comes to company, I have learned that some people like dogs less than I ever did.  I value those people.  So taking care of the dog with company requires a bit more work on our side.  And a bit of inconvenience and crate time on his part.

I realized that the 95/5 principle was intact here.  We got the dog for the 95% of the time it is just the one or two of us at home.  And we work through the adaptations we have made for the 5% of the time he is a challenge.  Cats are the same.  Some people are allergic to them.  So we made the decision for the majority of our life even though there is some inconvenience as well.  The benefits began to overrule the challenges.

How does this apply to your life?  Is it the right decision for the right dreams?  Are you putting off a good decision because of a small inconvenience?  Are you letting the 5% rule your life?  And is that okay with you?  Sometimes it will be and sometimes we should reconsider.  I wish you peace as you make decisions in your life.

5 Basic Systems Changes for Busy Agents

Real Estate agents have to do many things that require a varied skill set.  And some of the things we need to do are not difficult to do, but require time.  When we are busy, what are some of the easiest things to turn into a system where we can get some help?

  1. Use autoresponders on your email when you know you will be unable to respond in a timely manner. And leave a specific daily voicemail message if you know you will not be able to return calls during the day.  Manage expectations of those trying to contact you.
  2. Hire a service you can use when you need them.  Look for someone in your area who can install signs, make keys, deliver flyers and let in vendors.  If there is no one who can do that, maybe that is a business idea for someone in your office.   Do you have a teenager who needs money or needs to fundraise for a trip or sport?  Make sure they are reliable.
  3. Work with the same title company as much as possible.  When you only have to call one place to check up on all your closings, that saves time.  Also, make sure this company is large enough to be efficient when you or your main processor is out of town.  Do they have backup help to make sure your clients get great service? Are they a reliable part of your successful team?
  4. Set up an email system to send out to your clients – one for buyers and one for sellers – during the contract to close period.  Send them a general email with what to expect that week for the transaction.  Make sure the time frames are clearly described in it.  Start with a template and modify it as necessary.
  5. Set clear working hours and only violate that boundary for specific reasons – like contract negotiations.  Keep your non-work hours for other things.  And if you don’t have enough time to do it all, we need to discuss moving into another layer of systems.

Start with those that are easy, simple and free or nearly so.   Once you have improved some systems, the next level of systems changes will come easier.  And when you need an assistant, the systems for them to use will be in place already.  Keep improving your business for your life.