Get me outta here!

The GiG Economy

photo of a woman thinking

In this virtual age many millennials, and boomers get their jobs done on a gig or freelance basis.  Decades ago when I first worked in advertising, many illustrators, creative people worked on a freelance contract.  No benefits.  Now a days, with IT and the internet connecting people across the globe while sitting at their desk, or on their sofa, gigs are done by many different specialties.  Online work portals such as Freelancer, and Upwork (formerly elance and oDesk) have hot IT, Coding, WEB design, as well as sales and marketing, gigs available for those who sign on.  Basically companies will post a job description and freelancers apply and bid for the jobs.  This also enables clients to preview profiles of needed skilled freelancers and invite them privately to apply to a job. Now, while $4 an hour in the Philipines, and parts of Asia will get the job done,  here in the good ol’ USA we need a tad more to get by.

Jobs are categorized by Entry Level, Intermediate, and Expert levels indicating how much the client is willing to pay and what level of skills they will choose.  Healthy competition is always good, it keeps you on your toes.  But, when it comes down to pay levels, if a client really wants an experienced professional with actual big company experience, or key SEO and coding skills they will pay more.

On that note I’ve learned a thing or two over the years from working in-house, and as a freelancer.

Don’t Compromise Your Hourly Fee. Lessons I’ve learned tell me that the only time I will compromise on a fair hourly or monthly project fee is for a legitimate and needy non-profit. When you have to remind your client weekly that you are doing more work than you are getting paid to do because they are changing goals as you go you need to rethink the contract. Let’s say on initial conversations before any agreement was reached for work to begin, you give them advice about the trends in industry and, inside information only an experienced expert like yourself would know. This happens often. You tell them about social media opportunities or industry trade opportunities that you are aware of and perhaps even educate them to their industry insiders, but you have no agreement to do work for them at that point. Then, they say who? If a CEO, Founder or otherwise senior person in a business you are proposing work for doesn’t know what is going on in their own playing field, and you just educated them to that point – the value is priceless. Priceless to you because it tells you that they aren’t into their own industry that pays their bills, and has the exact exposure they need. Priceless to them for showing what industry knowledge is, and how far-reaching it can be, not to mention some possible leads they hadn’t thought about. The real worth of industry knowledge can well be beyond any hourly fee.

For more insight, hope and inspiration in the gig economy and small biz in general check out Barry Moltz podcast on Blog Talk radio – I posted the link below.  He’s written a couple of books – latest being Getting Unstuck check it out at Barry Molz and is a small business expert appearing on TV, having his own podcast on Blog Talk Radio, (Insanity Talk Radio as he calls it) and, business book author. I met him years ago in Stamford, CT at a small business roundtable and find his insight, sense of humor  and messages just the right pick me up.

He gets expert guests, such as this one with Marion McGovern to elaborate on the latest topics that come up in doing business every day.   Small Business Talk Radio

Let me know how it goes and keep gigging!

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This I know to be true…Working in a Competitive Business World

Oprah exacts on “This I know to be true…” and it varies on the topic but the purpose is to speak the truth, or her truth and share with others her knowledge. As a licensed Real Estate Agent I have had the opportunity to meet many people across the financial divide over the past eight years. Some were struggling some were not. Dealing with the public is very different from being in a business to business scenario such as public relations consultant. In that role I’m dealing with business owners, agency personnel who need to get their message out to the world or a part of it. I’m frequently hired to help them make their message, be heard, seen, and increase recognition of their product, service, or brand in a positive way. Media relations, writing, messaging, content, social media and strategy, sometimes planning speaking opportunities too, are key parts to the work I do. I’m paid hourly or upfront in a retainer for monthly based work. I work from a distance most of the time, virtually or remote, and don’t meet my clients in person usually over the phone, Skype or other online conferencing.

As a Realtor I help people buy, sell, market their real estate properties in person. No money is transferred up front. When a home sells, the commission a Realtor gets is paid out of the proceed of the sale. No sale – no pay. You could spend weeks, even months promoting a property or helping people find that ideal home for themselves and they simply walk away from finishing the deal. Many reasons are attributable, but that is part of the job, that’s the truth. It’s not a job for everyone, it’s more competitive than you know, not just with another agency but with colleagues, other independent contractors in your own agency. Some agents are more truthful than others. I’m direct, No B.S. Some rely on volume and persistence in pursuing their next listing. I’m strategic and can get your home in the media at no additional cost – That’s ADDED Value to the buyer and seller. Most days are not like on Million Dollar Listing, especially the price points and commissions. Sometimes the rivalries can be similar but, there are more female agents.

Here are some other truths to being a Realtor:

  1. Recommend and Referrals. Referrals are part of the business. Past happy clients are the best reference.  If Your Relatives, Close friends, Don’t Recommend You, They Undermine Your business. When there are 200 agents to choose from within a 35 mile radius, you are either helping to grow your relatives business or you are hurting it. You basically are saying ” I want this other person to get money, not you, my relative.” Would you do this to your own/sister or brother? Not okay. Referrals and other methods can be used if there’s a personality conflict.
  2. Familiarity Breeds Contempt. Your lifelong Neighbor chooses another agent to sell their home. This hurts. Happens for many reasons, such as: “Well, I know the other agent they live next to my sister.” The other agent doesn’t have a family history with your neighbor, and that may be why the other agent got the job. Sometimes, neighbors may like you, but they don’t want you to know all their finances. Also, the other agent persistently reaches out to them giving them falsehoods about the industry, other agents, and lying to them about the probable sale price of the home. Unethical-Yes. Is that against Realtor ethics -Yes. Happens too often.
  3. Marketing Matters. There are MLS systems throughout the country but if you know how to market off MLS you have a leg up. If you can write, pitch the media on your new listing, or the history of the area a home happens to be in – score more points in servicing your clients. Writing, copy on the listing matters as do photographs. Getting your home into the media, online, print, etc, gets my buyers more value in the home they are looking, certainly gets the seller more eyes looking at it, AND is part of my customer service. Paying for ads that people don’t act on isn’t always winning.
  4. Pricing Matters. I’ve managed $50 million plus at my first job out of college working as a Network Negotiator on a very large account – Proctor and Gamble at what was one of the largest advertising agencies in the world – DMB&B. I never lost $5 of their money and increased their ad values along the way. I can analyze current inventory and price a home correctly. It is up to the owner in the end to agree or not agree. But, if a home doesn’t get offers in 3 months of being listed and the home shows well, no other major obstacles, it is the price.
  5. Be A Professional.  You will need to get along with all kinds of people. If you are not a people person, it’s not the business for you.  Being ethical and following your own integrity is part of any business professional out there-whether you work for yourself or someone else. If your gut is bothered by what you see, hear, speak up and tell the truth. Passive aggressive behavior doesn’t happen in the business world as much as the personal. But, if your business is with the consumer directly prepare to be direct and confront communication traps head on.  Let it go and move forward. Just don’t forget.

The Final Week of CSA Veggies

Well it’s hard to believe but four weeks went by quickly for my free CSA (Community Share Agricultural Project) veggies!  These are all certified organic and were sooo good!  But, for a household of two more than I could eat.  I did get to share with neighbors, work colleagues and that was great to introduce others into the organic vegetable trend.

The best part of the last two weeks were the cantaloupe and watermelon!  So good, sweet and fresh.

If you ever get the chance to try organic vegetables through a food share like this or just from a local farm do it.  You will not regret it.  I even got to try veggies I normally would never buy such as Fennel which tastes like licorice, Japanese Peppers – not hot at all, and of course to have more of my favorites beets, eggplants, lettuce and scallions.  Thanks again to Sang Lee Farms for offering this experience and the Southold Public Library for their monthly raffle.

I WON A FREE 4 Week CSA (what’s a CSA?)

After 8 years of entering a monthly giveaway at my local library (for a $1) I won a four week CSA share.  What’s that?  It’s a veggie share at an organic vegetable farm near where I live.  #SangLeeFarms in Cutchogue, New York is the place to go for fresh #organic veggies.  From June through November they offer a choice pick of veggies, some herbs, and some fruit – cantaloupe and watermelon.  Why was I excited?  Well, to begin with I love fresh veggies and the cost.  If I paid for such a privilege it’s $30-$4o per week or $120 per month.  Now, for those who only buy organic you’d be surprised at the size of these veggies.

csa certificate

So what did I get?  For week one it was two corn, a bunch of scallions or green onions, a bunch of celery, a head of romaine lettuce, a bunch of beets, a white eggplant, tomatoes – heirloom, and something called a bitter melon which is not a melon but a vegetable, and a pint of cherry and grape tomatoes.week one bitter melon csa

Week two was a monsoon!  And, amidst the lightening strikes and torrential downpours, I didn’t take photos.  😦  But fear not I did pick up the veggies and made my way home through flooded streets.  Once inside my home and putting my veggies away I heard my cell phone have an annoying warning signal like you hear on your TV.  It was a tornado warning!  What? Where the heck was I living?  Somewhere in the tropics?  No, just part of New York state – huh?  Truly crazy weather this summer but when it yields great produce isn’t it worth it.  Next time, week three and four.  I know you can’t wait.  But, I did pan fry some grape tomatoes and zucchini from week two.  Aren’t they pretty?

csa stirfry action

 

The Little Tree, a Christmas Story

One day in early December a little girl set out to buy a Christmas tree. She wanted her family to have it for Christmas night. This was a special time in their home where they would decorate the tree together as a family. This year her mom had become ill and the family was not doing all the things they normally did at this time of year including buying a live tree. Sara, the little girl, went out to a few of the tree farms that set up shop during December to sell trees in her town. Trees For U was her first stop. Sara saw many trees but the price tags were expensive. $30, $40, $50 for a tree! Sara had only $10 to spend on this Christmas tree. She walked onto the next tree farm. XMAS TREES, said the sign at the entrance. She saw some smaller trees but their prices were high too. One of the workers on the tree farm came over to her to ask if she was lost. “No”, said Sara, I am looking to buy a tree.” “Great”, said Greg whose name was sewn onto the front of his jacket. “But, I only have ten dollars with me, said Sara, can I buy a tree for ten dollars?” Greg said, “That’s going to be tough. Why are you alone here, doesn’t your family want a tree too?” Sara looked down at the ground and began to feel sad. She told Greg how her mom had been sick this year and the family, her Dad and older brother were not doing the things they normally did at Christmastime. No one was decorating the house or the lawn. No one was playing Christmas music either. She used to dance around the dining room table to all the fun Christmas songs. So she said she decided to make everyone happy by going out on her own to buy the Christmas tree. “It will be a nice surprise”, said Greg. Sara smiled. He took Sara over to what he called a special row of trees. He said every tree in this row was $10. There were signs here that said the trees were much more, in fact, one tree had a $40 price tag on it. “Oh that was yesterday, today is a sale so choose one, and I will help you bring it home,” he said. Sara chose one quite a bit taller than herself but by adult standards it was still a small tree. Greg got Sam, another worker to load the tree onto a truck and he took Sara back to her house with the tree.

“How old are you?” Greg asked. “Eight”, said Sara.
When they arrived at her home her older brother Jim and mother were home and answered the door. At first they did not know what to think. After all, no one had considered buying a tree this year. “Sara, what have you done?” asked her brother Jim who looked surprised. Her mother, who was wearing a bathrobe, looked quite pale, thanked Sam, and offered him some additional money for the tree. “Oh no”, he said, “Sara paid for the tree.”
Sara’s mom helped her children and husband decorate the small tree that night. It brought a smile to everyone to see Sara’s mom helping in the decorating. Sara’s dad and brother could not believe little Sara had shown such independence in finding a tree on her own. “Sara, thank you for caring about everyone so much that you wanted to do this, but please promise me”, her father said, “that you will not go off alone again without me, your mother or brother.” Sara promised. After Christmas, they planted the tree in yard. The next year the tree was even bigger and they needed a tall ladder to put decorations and lights on. People all over the neighborhood got to admire the little tree that Sara had gotten for her family just the year before.christmas tree

THE END.

The Peace Walk – Utah Version

Base of snow canyon from Red Mountain Resort On the way up - Petrified Sanddunes, Snow Canyon National Park

When the stress of your day has gotten to you, fifteen minutes walking outside or if you must inside, can lower your blood pressure and give you a whole new perspective.  My offering is both physical and mental – take a walk.   I try to get out and walk about 2 miles four times a week.  Recently I got to travel to Utah, #RedMountain Resort and Snow Canyon National Park.  A lovely place to take a walk.  I walked from a mile to four miles a day out there.  Sometimes, hiking up petrified sand dunes.  Like stepping stones or paving stones in many ways. You should try it sometime. I call it the peace walk. First written four years ago.

We begin slowly, putting comfortable clothes on, sneakers or walking shoes,

We then migrate to the outdoors.  Gently flex your feet, stretch your calves and feel the tension ease.

We put one foot in front of the other and before you know it we are walking.  Bright sunshine welcomes us.

Breathing takes over where tension had locked.  Easy on the eyes, sights of nature bring us forward,

Birds are flying overhead, the wind is strong but warm, and the gentle waterway is near.

Deer can be seen on the lawns of homes as you pass them by, the pine trees bend in approval back and forth.

Finally we reach the waters edge, minnows still know how to swim, and already I am lighter in spirit and frame of mind.

The land across the water is straight ahead, the wind ripples the water as you gaze forward, breathing calmly.

Peacefully walking, you must try it sometime…

Why God Invented Realtors

Realtors have different roles in different states.  In New York State they are not allowed to write contracts – that is for the lawyers.  In other states, like California, Florida, Realtors do write contracts and money goes into escrow.  Regardless of which state you are in Realtors help people buy and sell real estate but they do so much more.  They help in a crisis, make people happy and sad, and they protect a home like its their own.

On the right path

On the right path

Realtors help people choose a home that maybe just a season, such as a summer rental but they can hold fond memories for a lifetime.  They hold peoples hands and allay their fears of choosing wrong.  They listen to sad financial or family tales that have affected the buyer, renter, seller in setting their choices.  Realtors become friends.

Front 2

Their dream home can be small, large or some where in between.  Everyone has a different dream home.  Sometimes it’s a first home, sometimes it’s a second home.  Sometimes it’s a retirement home.  Some people choose quickly, Realtors like those people best.  Some people take years to decide on a particular home, Realtors like those people least.

Confidante, business person, friend, one who helps fulfills the dream of buying a home -All these terms apply to Realtors.  Some clients are repeaters and others you never see again.  They all have meaning, not just financial, because each deal is a learning experience.

Dream Home

Dream Home