A duck and a dream

I had the pleasure of watching arguably the world’s best magician David Copperfield live in Melbourne recently. The magic itself was awesome...

17 reasons you should always carry a book with you

1. As someone who used to spend a lot of time waiting for real estate clients to show up – I know that clients / appointments / people in general are often late...

Reality Television your way to Success

I think I’m one of the only “motivational speakers” (not that I call myself that) who will openly admit that I watch television. I watch bad television too… even… dare I say it… reality television.

Where is the love?!

One of my businesses, Elephant Property, works in the notoriously under appreciated category of residential property management. The old adage in property management...

The power of the word

I’m quite distraught. I was eating my personal trainer approved afternoon snack of 12 almonds (my suggestion of 12 Tim Tams: not approved)...

Friday, December 21, 2007

A cute little card!

A Christmas card that caught my attention in the bunch this year.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Book Review - The Outsider's Edge by Brent D Taylor

The Secret To Success – Outsiders Who Trade?

Don’t read this book if you’re looking for a fast-track recipe to becoming a billionaire. Number 1 – of course it doesn’t exist. Number 2 – it would seem, according to this book that much of what set up these 17 profiled self-made billionaires was set in place during their childhood years. And unfortunately this book won’t serve as a parenting manual either as any good parent should be reticent in providing an upbringing that bares a resemblance to those which our 17 billionaires received.

Do read this book if you’d like to get a bit more an insight into 17 billionaires including the bits we rarely hear in the media – their childhood and family backgrounds. My favourite profiles were those of Australian Frank Lowy, IKEAs Ingvar Kamprad and Ralph Lifshitz… er Lauren.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Goal Collages

When thinking about what you want to achieve in life, how do your goals manifest themselves in your thinking?

Do you see pictures? Hear sounds? Feel the wave of exhilaration?

For me, I tend to visualise pictures of the event happening. I see myself exploring ancient ruins in Egypt or slipping into that divine pair of heels. I picture myself reading the 52 books I want to read in a year or seeing my husband on our 50th wedding anniversary.

If you’re a pretty visual person like I obviously am enjoy the following “Goal Collages” superbly created by a coaching client of mine Brett Withington (personal trainer and business owner extraordinaire: www.jumpfitandpt.com.au).

Some of his goals quite clearly include family holidays, teaching, a new kitchen, cars and getting media coverage for his business.

I love the way he’s got this page laid out with a time frame to achieve his goals (July, 2009). He’s added a bit of humour by cutting his own head out and imposing over a teacher’s and he’s made sure it’s got a great balance with family, relaxation, business and personal goals.

I even took a leaf out of Brett’s album and had this photo taken of something I’d one day like to do – get interviewed by Oprah.

While I’m aware that this photo is NOT of my most flattering angle, it’s a great visual reminder of a goal.

While you may not have access to a wax model of a superstar to meet and you may not be as graphically talented as Brett – any one of us can grab a travel magazine, a photo of us and some scissors and get started on a goal collage right now.

And if playing with scissors, glue and paper feels little childish, why not plan one with your kids this weekend and get a feel for it that way!

Happy collaging

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

I work in real estate and my boss won't train me - what do I do? Paul

Response -

Here's what I would do in this situation:

Check with the real estate institute in my state - most of them have free or low cost training libraries that you can borrow materials from.

Encourage the rest of the agents in your office to, as a group, go to your boss with a plan for establishing a training library in your office that all agents can borrow books, CDs and DVDs.

Go to my boss with a plan for my training development. I'd include things like, what amount of commitment I intended to put in to the training - ie: number of hours a week, what books I'd read, what financial commitment I was prepared to make etc, and what I would like to request of my boss - ie: courses I wanted to attend in the future if I lived up to my commitment, what benefits my boss would receive etc etc.

Make it a negotiation - show that you're prepared to put in the time / effort and show your boss what benefit they will receive.

Training comes in all forms - ask for a coffee with the most successful agent in your office to pick their brain - it's a great way to train yourself.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Book Review - The Highly Effective Marketing Plan by Peter Knight

Visually appealing, mentally stimulating
I really enjoyed Peter Knight’s “HEMP”. After meeting the author recently I was pleasantly surprised to see that the personality that so amply oozes from him in person is readily apparent in the book as well. It’s quirky, straight to the point and is dotted with fabulous visual examples of all of the concepts Peter discusses. The Redcup examples tie everything together nicely. Perfect for anyone wanting to create a no-nonsense, no-jargon, easy to follow marketing plan.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Book Review - How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The message still rings true.
I found this book somewhat hard going at times, mostly due to the fact that the way books are written certainly has changed a little from when HTWF was first published in 1936! That aside, even though this wasn’t a quick page turner for me I always found myself compelled to go back and devour just one more chapter. The information in the book is simple (so simple most people don’t do it!) and it is just as relevant and insightful today as it would have been back in the 30’s.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, December 10, 2007

Thank you Alex P. Keaton

Thank you Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox’s fictional Family Ties character) for showing me that it’s ok to carry a briefcase before you’re even old enough to get a proper job!

Thank you Alex P. Keaton for showing me that wanting to rule the world before I could rule a straight line wasn’t completely bizzare.

Thank you to the writers of the character Alex P. Keaton for giving a young aspiring business person (me!) a multi-dimensional, completely flawed and yet totally fascinating character to watch on family television. He was my pin up boy – but not in the traditional sense!

Things you may not know about Alex P. Keaton:
• Producers originally wanted Mathew Broderick (aka Ferris Beuller) for the role!
• Michael J. Fox adlibbed the “P” in Alex P. Keaton in his audition
• According to a Spin City episode, Alex P. Keaton eventually went on to become a republican senator for Ohio
• Michael J. Fox almost didn’t get the role because one of the TV execs found it hard to believe that his tall onscreen parents would have just a short son

Great Alex. P. Keaton moments

Alex P. Keaton: [Referring to a current infatuation] Of all the Basic Applied Economic Principles of Capitalism in the Post-Industrial Era Seminars in the world, you had to walk into mine.

Alex P. Keaton: Mallory, someone stupid called... sometime today... about something trivial.
Mallory Keaton: Alex you know that could be any one of my friends.

Alex P. Keaton: Remember when we were kids and I run you over with my bicycle?
Erwin 'Skippy' Handleman: Yes.
Alex P. Keaton: I have a car now.

Mallory Keaton: Dad, Alex, this is Jamie Carter.
Alex P. Keaton: Aaaaah!
[jumps into his father's arms]
Steven Keaton: It's okay, Alex. She said Jamie, not Jimmy.

For more check out: http://imdb.com/title/tt0083413/quotes

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

See Mum, You can Learn Stuff from Television!

Its Christmas time and Homer Simpson realises all too late that he’s (yet again) forgotten to get his loving wife Marge a present. Despite frantic and fervent attempts at the last minute, Homer is still empty handed at the all important present giving moment.

Feeling guilty and dejected, Homer opens his present from Marge only to find that below the wrapping paper is another round of wrapping paper, addressed with a card that says “To Marge”.

You guessed it, Marge knew that Homer would forget her present and so she got him the best present she could possibly have given at that time, a present for him to give to her. Smiles all round… and fade out.

As the Christmas buying frenzy approaches, I like to take the lesson from The Simpsons into my business. How can I anticipate my customer’s needs in a similar way to the way Marge anticipated Homer’s so brilliantly?

Whether you’re the hairdresser who calls a client a week after selling them a hair straightener (just to see how they’re going with it), the real estate agent who forwards their clients a list of local services (when they move to a new area) or the doctor who calls a long term patient a week after placing them on a new medication (just to check on them), we all have the ability to anticipate needs and in doing so provide moments in our own businesses where there are smiles all round and… fade out.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Do Uni Dropouts Rule the World?

As I’ve written about a number of times in both of my books – I’m a university dropout. I consider myself a life long learner and yet at age 28, despite attending uni on and off since I was 17 I’m still yet to get that all important piece of paper.

As an entrepreneur, I don’t desperately need a degree to enhance my career prospects, however I find it strangely fascinating that a small but persistent part of me still wants a degree. I don’t know whether it’s to fulfil some distant childhood ambition or if I just want to wear the long black gown and fancy hat!

When I look through the list of my business role models however, I’m comforted to see so many who are also in the dropout category: Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founders), Ray Kroc (The man who took McDonalds to the world), Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Richard Branson, Larry Eillison (Oracle founder), Michael Dell, David Geffen (Dreamworks co-founder), Ted Turner (media giant), Blake Ross (Firefox co-creator) and Sean Parker (Napster co-founder). Not a lot of women on that list – but for the time being I’m happy to have my name in the same category – so long as I stick to my goal of being a life long learner.

Steve Jobs (Apple & Pixar co-founder) is a name glaringly missing from the above list. Having just finished reading iCon – a book all about Steve, I found his dropout story one of the most fascinating I’ve read. He dropped out after his first semester, managed to get a refund on the fees his parents had paid and still somehow managed to keep living on campus – only now he was attending the classes he was actually interested in (and not paying!). To learn more, check out the following:

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, December 7, 2007

Book Review - McDonald's - Behind The Arches

An Oldie But A Goodie

Most of us have heard the name of Ray Kroc, but to get an in depth look at the other key players (like June Martino) in McDonalds history is fabulously entertaining. I found myself quoting McDonalds trivia tit bits obsessively after reading this book. Did you know Ronald is actually Donald McDonald in Japan? Do you know why McDonalds in Germany serve beer? Do you know how much Kroc paid the McDonalds brothers for the operation? If you're a fan of this systems driven organisation and want an in depth year by year breakdown of it's history - grab a copy.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Cards – A waste of your time? Probably! Unless…

As I write this I’ve just received my first Christmas card of the season. It’s from a fabulous lady called Namita I met maybe 3 years ago in Darwin, Australia and she’s a prime example of how to ensure your Christmas cards aren’t a waste of time.

What can we learn from Namita:

1. Leader of the pack

Namita’s card arrived first. I remember the first card. I do not always remember the 200th card arriving on the 19th of December. When do you send your cards out? Are you first, or are you mixed in with the blur.

Tiny tip: set a diary note for the 14th of November, 2008 (recurring each year) to remind you to prepare and send out your cards so that you can be first next year.

2. The thought and care was obvious

Namita’s message inside the card was personalised and thoughtful. As a speaker and as someone who loves to give out a lot of business cards over the year I tend to get a lot of Christmas cards. This is lovely, but it also is a huge opportunity for me to see the absolute worst trends in sending out Christmas cards.

My least favourite Christmas card mistakes include:
• The card with a stock standard, small un-personalised message (c’mon - why bother?)
• The card with only a scrawled signature or even worse, just a stapled business card (puh-leese!)
• The message obviously written by an assistant or someone other than the person sending it

3. She’s a savvy business woman

Namita has just launched a new business: http://kidimpressions.com/ and she took the opportunity to send a letter about it, a brochure and to offer me a holiday gift of my own book! She doesn’t know it, but I usually get a personalised book for newborns – and I had been using one of her competitors up until now. Not anymore!

Tiny tip: A little gift that promotes your business is ideal – but also consider small items that will give a big bang for a buck. One of my favourites is a scratchy lotto ticket, sure most people won’t win up big time – but imagine if someone were win $10,000 – how much favourable word of mouth would you get then! (In fact – I’d give you great word of mouth if I won $10!)

4. Rocking the database

Namita also took the opportunity to congratulate me on my second wedding anniversary (this girl obviously knows how to database like a rockstar).

Tiny tip: Whenever anyone mentions a birthday, anniversary or significant event, jot it down, put it in your phone and database it. It’s a small effort but one most people won’t make.

Challenge for the week: See how many extra special dates (birthdays etc) you can gather for your database this week. My favourite tips include sneaking peeks at people’s licences when checking onto planes, showing ID etc (thanks to my mentor Glen for this one!) and asking what star sign people are and working from there. You can be a bit cheeky with it or alternatively – you can just ask people!

So Namita get’s an A+ on my Christmas card experience with her. To follow are some of the other tips I’ve learnt over the years.

5. Remember not everyone celebrates Christmas

I like a “Seasons Greetings” card myself purely for this reason.

6. Do them as you go

If the idea of hand writing all those Christmas cards at once is about as appealing as licking the underbelly of a sheep, consider writing them throughout the year. Real estate agents for example could write the cards as soon as a property they’ve sold settles when they add that client to their database. The Christmas card can then be thrown in a box and hey presto – when November comes around half your work may already be done.

7. Don’t rely on your brain

I have a category in my database which tells me who I need to send Christmas cards to. When I add someone to my database I decide if they’re getting a Christmas card and categorise them appropriately. It means come November, my cards are a no brainer. I print off my list, remove anyone, add any last minute people and write away to my heart’s content. And don’t think you need a database to do this – just keep a list as you write out this year’s along with addresses and I promise you, next year you’ll find it all the easier.

So there you go, 7 simple steps which, if implemented correctly, will make all that time, effort and stationery worthwhile. If you want to practice – I love a Christmas card: Kirsty Dunphey, PO BOX 7713, Launceston, TAS, 7250. Pop in a note if you’d like some feedback on your card!

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 5 comments

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Babelfish me Baby – It’s a Global World in which we Live!

In my early days managing my real estate agency we used to have a client who was an Aussie ex pat living in South America. He once signed off an email to me with “adios” (Spanish for goodbye). Not wanting to be outdone, I started my next email to him with the only Spanish word I knew that wasn’t a type of food - “hola” (hello).

My client was impressed and let me know this in his next email. It was then that I got my courage up and found a great little way of making myself stand out on every email I sent to a global client from then onwards. I found Babelfish.

A Babel fish is a fictional species from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that can instantly translate any language into another. In my client service world however, Babelfish http://babelfish.altavista.com/ is the niftiest little online translator, brought to the world by search engine Altavista (the search engine that was all the rage before googling became a verb).

After catching my own Babel fish I took to writing a basic sentence in the foreign language of my client on each email.

Grazie per il vostro tempo e spero di comunicare presto. - Italian
(Thank you for your time and I hope to talk soon.)

Je vous souhaite chaque succès avec la vente de votre maison. - French
(I wish you every success with the sale of your home.)

One sentence, as simple as these examples above, was often enough to set me ahead my competition when pitching for work and almost always gave my client a nice warm fuzzy.

I only had one client who ever decided to write back to me completely in the foreign language (!) and we had a joint laugh together when I explained how I used Babelfish to assist me with foreign clients. The client was most impressed.

I typically use Babelfish when dealing with global clients, but there’s nothing to stop you using it to help you with local clients who may have English as a second language. If you’re going to take it one step further there are many online and local translation services who can perfectly translate your business letter or proposal into the language required for a relatively small fee (when you consider the potential impact). Tiny tip: I usually recommend translation services instead of Babelfish when the content is long or complicated, after all Babelfish is a simple online tool and the nuances of your content may not always be perfectly translated.

For a simple way to make you stand out on a global level with just seconds of effort – I couldn’t recommend Babelfish more!

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Blame or Action? The choice is yours.

Action exercise for today:

Get out a shiny piece of blank A4 paper.

On that piece of paper write at the top My Definition of Success.

Write under that everything you will have achieved, everything you will possess (skills, belongings, everything) and everything that you will be when you’re a success.

Then get out another shiny piece of blank A4.

At the top of this page write Why I haven’t yet achieved Success.

On this page write every reason you can think of that spells out why you haven’t yet achieved your definition of success.

If you’ve got nothing to write – because you’ve already achieved your idea of success – rock on! Go grab an ice cream. For the rest of us (me included) get writing!

If you’re actually going to do the exercise, don’t read further until you’ve completed writing both of these sheets.

Done in one way this second sheet detailing the “Why” can be like an action plan for your life. Examples of reasons why might be similar to these:
• I don’t read enough books
• I haven’t been associating with people who are achieving the level of success I want
• I haven’t gone out and done X
• I don’t have my goals clearly written out

When this sheet is an action plan for your life – each one of these reasons will be items you can do, or change (if you choose to). With this type of list – success is merely a matter of doing what’s on the list (if you’ve identified your “why” properly).

Done in another way, this sheet could turn out to be a litany of blame:
• I don’t get paid enough at work
• My parents didn’t have money when we were growing up
• I’m not tall / pretty / whatever enough

When done in this way – you’re saying that your success is determined by other people and by things you can’t change.

I know for my way of thinking - I’d like to know that my personal success is determined by my actions, beliefs and associations. The books I read, the people I network with and model myself on and the choices I make determine my success.

I’ll let others play the blame game – but not me, what about you?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Fire Damage To Your Customer Service

Ladies… prepare to get jealous. I’m married – to a fire fighter. And yes, he looks spunky in his uniform and yes, this morning he came home with video footage of a huge fire he was in last night and yes, sometimes I imagine him as Mr. August in a fire fighter’s calendar (too much information?).

So I’m married to a fire fighter who is this amazing creature. He’s very different to me and yet very similar all at the same time. We’re similar in our values and beliefs and we’re different in… nearly ever other way!

One striking difference is that he’s more of the strong silent type whereas I’ll often talk to the wall if that’s my only option. After having been married now for almost two years, I’m starting to learn that when someone who doesn’t speak much chooses to break their silence – I should choose to listen, it’s usually important stuff.

One morning over breakfast my fire fighter looked me lovingly in the eyes and said “Kirsty…” I looked into his eyes and with anticipation said “yes honey”. The romance in the air was palpable… until he said “Do you know where most people die in a house fire?”

The Mills and Boon moment was broken, but I was still interested in the question. I mean, surely most people know in a fire to get low and get out of the house! My fire fighter told me that yes, most people do know to get low. They do so and then crawl to their front door – and then when they reach their front door they… stand up to open the door. And that’s sadly where many people die, right at their own front door because when they stand up, they’re in the smoke and that’s when they’re in trouble.

Now this isn’t just meant to be a fire safety lesson (although I’d love it if you could remember not to stand up in a fire!) It struck me when my fire fighter was recounting this gory fact that many businesses conduct our customer service in this same manner. We do the right thing up until the end and then BAM – we stand up (or stop doing the right thing) right when it’s vital for us to persist.

A few days ago a good friend of mine told me of a real estate agent who did a remarkable job finding them a great property to buy. He serviced them exceptionally well the entire way through… until the contract was signed. Then she never heard from the agent again.

The agent, thinking his big pay day was secured, thought the relationship was over and didn’t even contact my friend on the day her property settled.

What this agent needed to know was that with some ongoing service, his pay day may never have been over! I hope the agent wouldn’t be surprised to know that his name wasn’t mentioned when my friend was asked to refer a real estate professional earlier this week.

In stopping the service early this real estate agent’s head hit the smoke right at their front door. Will you escape the fire by doing the right thing the entire way through or will your customer service be fire damaged?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

Thursday, November 8, 2007

21 Tips to get the most out of Renting

In many parts of the world including the Australian state of Victoria, where I have two of my rental properties, rental property demand is at a massive high at the time of writing this article.

For people renting residential properties this can mean consistent rent increases for those already in properties and a shortage of properties on the market available to rent.

In this the following three article series I’ll address the following topics from my own experience as a tenant, a real estate business owner, a property manager and as a property investor.

1. How to make yourself the most desirable tenant when looking to rent a property
2. How to negotiate the lowest price for your desired rental property
3. How to keep rental increases to a minimum once you’re in a rental property

Notes, the following terms are interchangeable:
• Renter / tenant
• Landlord / property investor / property owner

Part 1

As a renter or tenant, here are some ways you can make yourself more attractive to the property owner or property manager when you’re looking for a property:

• If you’ve rented a property before, always ask to get a reference in writing from your previous landlord or (even better) from the property manager who you rented through. I say that a reference from a property manager is better than one from a private landlord in that it’s harder to fake a reference from a legitimate real estate company. The best rental references discuss the condition you kept the property in while you were living there, the condition it was in when you left and your consistency in paying your rent on time. Best of all is the final line where your property manager (hopefully) states that they would love to rent to you at again at any time in the future.
• If you have a pet be prepared that many investors may not even want to consider you for their property, however written pet references (note multiple if you can!) from previous landlords or property managers will speak highly for your case. Also – if your pet is small or presents well, a photograph attached to your application doesn’t hurt.
• In some areas (not Tasmania where the bulk of my rental properties are) you are able to pay a voluntary increased bond or “pet bond” to further guarantee that your pet will provide no long term damage. Offering to do this is a good sign of your intentions to a property owner.
• If you’re young sadly at times this can make you as undesirable as a Doberman dog! I know this personally from renting while I was 17 years old at University. To overcome this, attach with your application a few written referees from the most responsible adults you can find (teachers, employers etc). Remember here that putting down your parents or relatives as references doesn’t really hold that much sway as they’re obviously going to be biased!
• Why do I keep going on about written references? For one, they look good but for two, they save a property manager some of their valuable time. If a property manager has ten applications to check and yours is partly done because of the written references – you can come across as a more appealing tenant to the time poor property manager.
• If you really want a property and believe there is going to be competition or you simply think that the property is good value or will be hard to find again, consider offering $5 a week (or any amount you like) more in rental. This obviously isn’t going to be the answer for everyone, but is an option. (More on how to get the rental down in part II!).
• Present well when you inspect a rental property. A property manager or property owner only has limited information to go on when deciding which tenant to chose. One of the things that will be a factor (regardless of whether they admit it or not) will be your presentation and the first impression you make at the inspection.
• Remember that property managers may look to see how well you take care of your car as an indication to see how well you’ll take care of the property (NB. McDonalds wrappers all through the car – not a good sign!)
• Ask the person in charge of renting the property if there is anything you can do to make your application more desirable to the property owner. Examples of this may be: length of lease, gardening, presence of pets, supply of references / guarantors etc.
• Where possible I always recommend that if you’re unsuccessful at getting a rental property that you ask why. For anti-discrimination reasons you may not find out, but it never hurts to ask the question because it could lead to you being more successful next time.
• When you do apply for a rental property, have everything ready in advance. If the property manager has five applications to check and yours is incomplete it’ll go to the bottom of the list! A great idea is to have all the information photocopied and ready to hand over including credit checks, references, photo identification, birth certificate etc.

Part 2

In this day and age in many areas it can be difficult but not impossible to negotiate on the rental of a property. In your area there may be a high vacancy rate which puts you as the potential tenant at an advantage.

Here are some ways to negotiate when you rent. This may be to either attempt to save money on the rental price or to maximise your chances of being the number one picked tenant.
• Ask what length of lease the landlord would prefer and then submit your application with that lease length. Asking to see if the landlord wants a long term tenant gives you the advantage of being able to offer a 2 year lease instead of 12 months (if it suits you) which may put you one step ahead of the other applicants who haven’t thought of this.
• If gardening is included in the rental amount, offer to do your own gardening and provide (yes, you guessed it) a written reference to say how immaculately you maintained your last garden.
• Being ready to take the property immediately may put you in a position where you can negotiate more easily. To a property investor, any vacancy means a zero percent return, so if you’re ready to move in tomorrow – sensational! Consider stating that you will take the property immediately even if you don’t need it for a few days to put you in a stronger negotiating position and gives you a little breathing room to move in!
• I once bought a property specifically for one set of tenants because they offered to pay 6 months rent up front. It was a great bargaining chip for them because, as a property investor, it was money straight off my mortgage. This can be used as a negotiation strategy for any tenant (who has the funds at hand) and while you may not pay 6 months rent up front, two identical applications from tenants can be quickly separated if one wants to pay say 12 weeks rent up front instead of 4 weeks.
And don’t forget to go through part 1 and make sure that you present as the most desirable tenant!

Part 3

Of course most property investors want to maximise their return on a property, ie: they want to get as much money as they possibly can. However, it’s not rocket science to figure out that most of us also want to attract and retain a quality tenant and some investors will sacrifice some of the higher end of their return to do so.

If you’re in a property, here’s a way to make yourself a more valuable tenant and to try and avoid some of the rent rises:
• Be a long term renter. I know as an investor myself – I’m the most lenient on rental increases to tenants who have been in the properties the longest.
• Be nice to your property manager (they have a lot of sway as to whether an owner renews leases or increases rent and to how much!)
• Keep the home in great condition on rental inspection date. Working in property management through my real estate career I can’t believe the condition some tenants leave their properties in on rental inspection date. While I’m certainly no Miss. Neat and Tidy every day at my own house – on those 2 - 4 days a year, make an effort and it won’t go unnoticed.
• Be a problem free tenant. Most investors I know will be far more likely to extend a lease to a tenant (and sometimes without a rent increase if the rent is consistently paid on time).
• Don’t be a “difficult” tenant. Now this sounds a lot like the above, but a difficult tenant to a property manager can mean a whole swarm of things. Some of my big “no-nos” are as follows:
o calling up about “emergency” maintenance at 2.00am when it’s just a broken cupboard handle (extreme example, but trust me it has happened)
o making it difficult for trades people to access a property to complete maintenance
o insisting on being present for routine inspections (yes, we know it’s your home, but when a property manager has 20 inspections to do in a morning coordinating each one personally is impossible!)
• Where possible (and appropriate), treat the property like it’s your own. Don’t get on the phone complaining about every loose washer or blown light bulb. Just let your property manager know on the next routine inspection if you’ve replaced anything minor like this. (NB. Before even considering attempting anything major, even if it’s in an attempt to help, call the property manager or owner first)

Most of what is written in this three part series is common sense. For new renters and those looking to capitalise upon their renting experience I hope you’ve found one or two tips to help you on your way! Good luck with your renting experience.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Knee-d some goal setting pain?

Goal setting can be a painful process.

As I write this, my lower thigh is bunched and labouring under thick sticky tape which is pushing my iliotibial band in a direction it just doesn’t want to go. Earlier this morning for the third time in as many weeks a lovely lady with a deceptively sweet smile massaged the area sending bolts of red hot poker like pain shooting down my side and then she also stuck a few acupuncture needles in (just for good measure).

Yes indeed, this is what goal setting has done to me.

Each year for the past four years I’ve set myself the goal of running the Burnie 10, a 10 kilometre road race here in Tasmania, in under an hour.

Problems with this scenario:
1. I’m not a runner. The 2 kilometre race I ran in last year scared me!
2. Each and every year in my lead up training I’ve injured myself in some way (back, knee, ankle) causing me to drop out just before the race.

I vowed that 2007 would be my year - despite my lack of running prowess and well, my coordination if I’m being honest. And then four weeks out from race day, my knee started to ache during a training session. Despite rest, physio visits, a week at a health retreat and sooo many knee specific exercises the knee pain worsened and I was pretty much unable to run for three weeks prior to the race.

Race day arrived and my knee was beautiful… until the 2km mark when it started to ache and cause me pain. I pushed through it. At 3km I shed a surreptitious little tear because the pain was so great. I thought about stopping so many times, but I knew if I did I’d be back in the same spot again the next year, trying to achieve this goal that had eluded me for so long.

I kicked through the pain and pushed on. At the 6km mark (which was my previous mark for most distance run without stopping) I kept going, no walking for me. At 8km, despite the pain, I actually was able to speed up.

As I crossed the finish line I felt a lot of knee pain, but also a lot of personal satisfaction. The time read 1:01:40 – I was at first dejected, but then elated when I realised I didn’t cross the finish line when the starting gun went off, but over 2 minutes later, leaving me with an eventual time of 59:14.

And now – I’m dealing with the knee pain that follows from pushing an injury a little too far. But every time I feel a little twinge in my knee – it reminds of me of the goal that I’ve finally achieved.

My 10 kilometre race run involved so many of the same steps that I’ve needed to achieve goals in my business life:

Know your weaknesses and plan to minimise them

In my race preparation I knew that there was going to be at least one large obstacle (my knee injury) so I did everything possible to mitigate the effect this would have (I went to my sweet smiling physio, I trained specifically to avoid the injury with my fabulous personal trainer and I rested the knee as much as I could).

In my business career, when I first started selling real estate I was a baby faced 19 year old. To mitigate the effect this could have had on my ability to succeed I took every course and read everything I possibly could, what I didn’t have in experience I made up in knowledge.

Know when to take the more difficult option

When I wanted to give up (and walk) I pushed on, knowing that what I was striving for (the achievement of a four year goal) was more important than the pain in this case. Now I’m not saying that you should always exercise with injury and tough it out – but in this case, it was the right decision for me to do this.

In my business right before I opened my own real estate agency at 21, I had an opportunity to stay overseas, travel, see the world and take the easy option out. We all will be confronted with difficult choices in our working and personal lives. Taking the tougher option at the right time can open amazing doors.

Written goals are vital

Each day next to my head at my desk I had my training program which I would tick items off daily. At the bottom of my training sheet written clearly was my goal time – 59:00. I finished only seconds off despite my knee.

I write down my goals (personal and business) and I check them weekly – sometimes more often when the time frame is pressing. Three years ago I wrote down that I wanted to speak at NAR (the world’s largest real estate conference.) I have studied that goal so often and I fly out to Las Vegas to do just that on Friday.

Whatever your goal, whatever your personal challenge – I wish you every success!

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

These are a few of my favourite things… lately anyway

Where: www.joesgoals.com
What is it: Online super simple goal tracking site.
Why I love it: It’s free, it’s very visual and it’s so intuitively easy! Check it out yourself.

Where: www.springwise.com
What is it: If it’s cool and new – they write about it here
Why I love it: Check out this story: http://www.springwise.com/weekly/2007-10-25.htm#sas to see what I mean. It’s perfect if you’re a blog writer wanting content, an entrepreneur wanting ideas or if you just want to kill 15 minutes reading about everything from gyms where kids exercise with video games to vending machines for prescription drugs.

Where: www.threadless.com
What is it: Artists submit t-shirt designs, the public vote and then the most popular ones get printed and sold
Why I love it: I’m a huge t-shirt and hoody fan and the designs on this site are tdf (to die for!)

Where: www.reallysold.com
What is it: An online site to assist real estate agents in writing amazing advertisements for their properties
Why I love it: Because if I see another advert with the heading “This won’t last” or “Affordable 3 bedroom home” I may choke on my own vomit!
Why I’m biased: Because it’s my company!

Where: www.allaboutolive.com.au
What is it: Olive was born in 1899 and she blobs… ok – she blogs, but sometimes she calls it a blob – too cute!
Why I love it: How old is too old to blog? If 107 isn’t – then you’ve got no excuse!

Check out some of my other recommendations (perhaps a little more on the serious side) here: www.kirstydunphey.com/recommendations.html

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

“Efficient kitchen = Too small to fit two adults” –don’t let your real estate advertising miss the mark

I once went online to view the ad for one of my vacant rental properties. After reading the advertisement three or four times I realised something quite stunning. After no less than 12 years experience working in real estate, owning my own real estate businesses, selling and renting real estate and having had investment properties for over 8 years… I didn’t understand half of what was being said on my own advertisement! My property manager had crammed in more LUG, BIR, WIR and XYZ’s than you could fit jelly beans in the Grand Canyon! I immediately thought, if I can’t understand this – what hope does the average consumer?

Real estate advertising mistake number 1. Over use of abbreviations on the internet! This isn’t print advertising and space is not sold per word – live it up and really sell your properties, for sale or rent – please!

To follow is an excerpt from a Barbara (aka real estate giant from NYC, author of my favourite business book of 2006 – If you don't have big breasts, put ribbons on your pigtails) Corcoran article.

The most misleading words in real estate (and what they really mean)
1. Cozy (too small)
2. Charming (too old)
3. Original condition (appliances are 50 years old)
4. Needs TLC (it’s a dump)
5. Conveniently located (noisy)
6. Desirable neighborhood (this little house has been way overpriced because the neighborhood has some snob appeal)
7. Efficient kitchen (too small to fit two adults)
8. One-car garage (you can drive your Chevy in, but can’t get out)
9. Peek at the park/river/mountains (if you angle your mirror just so)
10. Useable land (no trees)
11. Beachfront steal (no hurricane insurance available at any price)
12. Country living (too far from anywhere to drive to work)
13. Must see inside (outside is ugly)
14. Unique (hard to sell)
15. Just available (previous owner just died on the premises, hope you don’t mind)
(read the full article here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20215090/)

Real estate advertising mistake number 2. Over use of over used words!

Just 5 minutes ago I did a search for properties for sale in my home suburb with these less than staggering results as the headings for properties:

So Close to Town
Peaceful and private location
Affordable 4 bedroom home
Investment opportunity
And some with the fabulously creative heading of just the suburb!!!

C’mon real estate agents – let’s provide a bit more value for money in terms of the advertisements we provide! Using www.reallysold.com (the ultimate online tool for creating real estate advertisements – which I created to help real estate agents avoid advertising mistakes) what about these substitutes:

A hop, skip and a jump to… well… everything!
Been saving for a rainy day? It’s pouring right here, right now!
Is this how Donald Trump got started?
To each his own… bathroom that is!
A winner for a beginner…

Real estate advertising mistake number 3. Using headings that a four year old could have written! According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in the United States, the headline is the most important thing in writing a successful ad – use this one chance to really make the most of your advertisement.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Awards programs – do they really mean anything?

I’m happy to admit it – I’m an awards junkie. I’ll submit my application to any awards program I even vaguely qualify to enter. I’ve had a good amount of success too in the Telstra Business Women’s awards, BRW Fast 100, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards and the Young Australian of the Year awards.

But does it actually mean anything? Does the fact that I won Young Business Woman of the Year mean that I was the best business woman in the country that year under 31? Of course not! But it does mean the following:

• The free publicity I got from that awards program was amazing. Cover of BRW magazine, The Today Show, speaking jobs and more.
• The networks and connections I made will last a life time. Meeting other business women like Julia Ross and Dr. Judith Slocombe was my equivalent of meeting Brad Pitt.
• My team and family got to go to sensational lunches and dinners where they got to have a blast and network.
• The preparation of an awards program application is one of the most cathartic things a business person can do! It’s a business plan, goal setting and review exercise in one.

If you enter and you don’t win – you’re in no worse position than you were before – in fact you’re in a better one because you’ve had the opportunity to reap the above benefits.

Get out there and enter an awards program today! We just entered one this morning for best online blog of all things.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

A perfectionist? Who me? No way!

“I’m a perfectionist” is the most common answer I receive when asking people to name one of their weaknesses. In thinking back to my own experiences interviewing for jobs, I think I even used it once or twice myself!

I believe people like to list perfectionism as a weakness because it sounds like it could be a strength as well. After all – who doesn’t want things to be done perfectly?

I don’t! I’m not a perfectionist and I’m darn proud of it.

In high school one of my favourite subjects was mathematics. I was even offered a scholarship for University to study pure maths (I know – riveting stuff!) The reason I liked maths so much was that it was possible to turn in a perfect exam and get 100%. I like perfection, I liked getting 100% or striving to. And yet, I still say I’m not a perfectionist. So how does that work?

Well – in maths, there’s typically a right answer and everything else is wrong. In the world of numbers and formulas perfection is possible. In the real world however, most of us don’t deal in realms where perfection is attainable or even measurable.

How does an author measure that they’ve written the “perfect” book?

How does a waitress know they’ve made the “perfect” skim cappuccino?

How does a hairdresser know they’ve given someone a “perfect” hair cut?

How does a business owner know they’ve managed their staff in the “perfect” way?

You can strive for perfection all you like, but in my experience the strive for perfection:

• Leads to procrastination
• Leads to not doing something
• Leads to something taking so long that your competitive advantage is gone
• Is often an excuse to procrastinate!
• Is often a myth and what you’re really feeling is fear of failure (so you put it off and off and off under the banner of “I’m getting it perfect”)

In short – perfection in the real world is, for the better part of time, a myth. Kick ass is possible, awesome is possible, quality is possible – but not perfection.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

John Ilhan – nothing crazy about him!

I’m often asked by aspiring business people what I believe to be the one key thing they can do to ensure their business success. Without fail I almost always say that I feel making a commitment to becoming a life long learner is the only way to stay at the top of your game.

I often suggest they find someone that inspires them and take them out for coffee or ask them some questions or read their book. Sometimes this scares people a little bit. Their comments to me of “what if the person says they don’t have time, or they won’t answer my questions” is usually met by me saying “well then you’re in no worse place than you started are you?”.

One thing I’ve overwhelmingly found in my quest for knowledge however, is that if you approach them correctly and with respect, the most successful business people are often the most approachable and generous.

I certainly found this to be true with one of my business mentors, John Ilhan, who I was saddened to hear passed away this week at the age of only 42. Not only has Australia lost one of its most innovative entrepreneurial icons – it’s also lost a bloody nice guy.

I met John at an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year event in 2005. I was almost speechless at meeting him, but was even more blown away by the fact that he took about 30 minutes of his time that night to share his thoughts about business with me. He gave me ideas, guidance and encouragement.

His generosity didn’t end there however. John agreed to come down to Tasmania to speak to hundreds of Launceston business people at my request (which I sent fully expecting a no). He spoke on stage for around an hour, shared what he knew, made a sizeable donation to the charity we were supporting and also took another half an hour to speak with me about my business goals and aspirations.

I know from my experiences with John was that he loved his family, that he was an inspirational business person and that he was happy and eager to share what he had learnt. John Ilhan the business person made the pages of BRW and thorough his business he’s left an amazing legacy. If other people’s personal experiences with John are anything like mine, the impact he’s made by generously sharing his knowledge has left just as important a legacy.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

How to become a Rock Star Boss when your key staff members go on the road…

This next statement should come as no surprise to you: When you employ someone – eventually they’re going to want to go on annual leave.

Knowing that, why do so many small – medium business owners and managers plan so poorly for this time?

To become rock-star-esque in this area, here’s a few easy to implement tips:

Aim: To become more rock star like every time a staff member goes on holidays

Tiny Tips:
• Find out where your staff member is staying and organise for a bottle of bubbly to be sent to their room with a card from the team wishing them a great vacation.
• About half way through their time off, send them a text message reading something like this: “Hi Tim, We all hope you’re having a great time away. Just wanted to let you know we miss you! Don’t write back, just keep on enjoying yourselves – Jane”
• If the staff member is staying at home for their annual leave – have the office send them a postcard saying “Wish you weren’t here!” with a signature from everyone in the office.
• A little note on the desk or a chocolate bar with a welcome back message on the morning the staff member arrives back is always a nice treat. Diarise to do this the night before (so much easier than running around the morning of).

Now – am I suggesting that you do each one of these things every time your staff go on holidays? No way! You’ll look more like a desperate groupie than a rock star boss. Pick one, be creative and rock on.

Aim: To never need to call / text / email your staff (about work related matters) when they’re on vacation

This one will take practice but it should be something you strive for the following reasons:
• If you’re business can’t run without this key person while they’re on 2 weeks leave, what would it be like if they weren’t working for you all together?
• Also – you don’t generate good will with your staff member’s family if they’re constantly having their holiday interrupted with a 1001 work “emergencies”.
• If your staff member doesn’t actually leave work, because you won’t let them virtually through text and email, they don’t get the restorative benefits of going on leave in the first place and you get a crazy, stressed out staff member with a cranky family.

• Set an office policy of “no contact on holidays” and make sure that all staff are aware of it (it’s not good for you to follow this procedure only to find their counterpart has been burning up the holidaying staff member’s blackberry all morning).
• Formulate a comprehensive checklist that covers everything that could foreseeably crop up and make sure it’s done prior to the staff member going on holiday.
• Recognise that there probably will be other things that arise during that staff member’s absence, but encourage your other staff members to fix the problems themselves (they’ll be far more keen to knowing that the same courtesy will apply to them when they’re on holidays)
• If the staff member has a work mobile phone – keep it at the office during their vacation time.
• Set up an “out of office” auto reply that lets email contacts know who the alternate contact in the office is.
• This one is the most important if you want this to really work. Your staff member can’t come back from their holidays, rested, refreshed, relaxed and walk back into chaos with the finger of blame pointed at them because they “were not able to be called”.

Good luck on your journey rock star bosses!

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

The bucket list – how excited am I!

I’ve rarely been so excited to see a new movie as am I for the upcoming “The Bucket List” featuring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. In short, it’s about two guys with terminal illnesses who head off to achieve everything on their “Bucket List” – ie: the list of the things you want to do before you… you guessed it… kick the bucket!

I’ve had a Bucket List (without calling it that) for years and I hope this movie encourages everyone to develop their own and to start ticking things off now (without waiting for old age to catch up to them first!)

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, October 19, 2007

The election campaign has started high tech!

I'm pretty new to facebook having only been an addict, err I mean, a member now for a few months. I'm past logging in every day to see who has tried to turn me into a vampire, but I still get excited when someone sends me a friend request. That is until I received what I considered a bizarre friend request the other day. It was from one of my local politicians! Is this what political campaigning has now come to? This politician who wants to be my "friend" - isn't someone I'd call a friend in reality. I know of this person, but that's about it. Talk about an interesting twist to the election campaign!

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Winning By Jack Welch With Suzy Welch

Winning = Winner

Not only do I think every person with any form of staff management in their job makeup should read this book… I also think anyone who works with anyone else (yes I mean you & him & all of them) should read the chapter on candor. Brilliant stuff.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Book Review - iCon - Steve Jobs The Greatest Second Act In The History Of Business By Jeffrey S. Young & William L. Simon

Oooh the things I didn’t know!

I’ve owned two ipods, my dad was the first person on our street with a Mac in the 80’s and my best friend is pressuring me to buy a new Apple computer… oh yeah and I knew the names of the two Steve’s of Apple… that was about the extent of my Apple knowledge prior to reading this book. However, I didn’t need to know any more to be unable to put this book down until finished. The more I read about Steve Jobs, the more I wanted to know about him. My only distraction from being utterly entranced by this book was the same as with Disney Wars *link book*, so many names to keep track of! Nerd or not, if you want insight into one of the most influential leaders of our time - grab a copy.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Book Reveiw - The Dip - The Extraordinary Benefits Of Knowing When To Quit (And When To Stick) By Seth Godin

Tiny and Tantalizing

Seth Godin is a marvel and I’ve always enjoyed his unique insight. The Dip may be one of his more controversial numbers though, going against the age old anti-quitting tradition! For me, this book helped me make sense of a number of decisions I’ve made in the past, but had trouble justifying. It’s a breeze to read – but read it twice to get the full dip-ly goodness!

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Book Review - You Inc. By John McGrath

A concept brilliant in its simplicity

I've always thought that a book has the power to change your life if it gives you even just one idea that you can take away, twist and incorporate into your life. That idea for me in You Inc was when John talks about a fabulous restaurant he once ate at. The restaurant took the time to actually call its clientele the day after they had dined to get feedback and ensure that they'd had a great time and meal. How did they get their phone numbers? Well they already had them from their reservations list. I loved this concept, it's simple, but brilliant. Most restaurants get phone numbers of people who make reservations and then do nothing with them! I've never had a call after dining at a restaurant and I know the impact it would have on me to receive that call. It made me want to run out and twist this idea into my own business (not a restaurant) straight away.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Book Review - Women's Ventures, Women's Visions By Shoshana Alexander

1997 – how much has changed!

I picked up this book in a $2 bargain box in Texas. I dare say it wasn’t a cheapie because of the content (I really enjoyed it) but more because it was released in 1997. Due to its age - two things stood out to me so clearly. Firstly, there was no mention of the internet. Not one, and not a website or email address on the contributors contact page - now what a great lesson in how much has changed in just ten years. Secondly, so many of the women profiled spoke of the glass ceilings they had hit due to being women. It made me feel very encouraged to compare this with my own talks with fabulous women in business today where the incidents of “boys clubs” are far less.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Book Review - I Want What She's Having By Naomi Simson

Pleasurable and though provoking.

Naomi’s book did three things for me. It served as an amazing advertisement into her business. It told me of her story (although I really wanted to hear more real life examples in the book). I want what she’s having also gave me some great take homes I could incorporate into my business in a completely different industry. To top it odd the book is gorgeous - a real coffee table piece.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, October 15, 2007

Everyone needs a … Matt

I remember the moment clearly. About a decade ago, my childhood friend Matt sat patiently trying to explain to me that I would love mobile phone text messages if I just gave them a chance.

With my goldfish like attention span dominating my vision that day I spat back at my good friend that I would not love text messaging, that I would certainly never need to text message and that I did not want to hear anything further on the subject.

Fast forward to today and not only do I conduct business via text messaging, it’s a vital tool for me socially – in fact I even hate speaking on the phone these days I like to text so much. To top it off, without text messaging, the courtship between my husband and I probably wouldn’t have progressed farther than our first hello!

It was in the next few years after my texting habit took hold I realised that, if you’re like me and not on cutting edge of what is about to be cool, you need a “Matt” in your life.

Your “Matt” will be that person who is right on the edge of the latest technology, who knows what’s about to be cool before the masses do and who is generous enough to share that knowledge with you.

My Matt was the one who introduced me to my laptop (and my husband and brother’s to theirs), ipods, blogging, podcasting, facebook, skype, feedburner and so much more! Matt has also asked that I mention that he is working on edging me towards a mac as my new computer.

If you’re not on the edge (as I’m not), how can you find someone who’s out there to advise you?

If you’re a business looking to tap into that edge, how can you find ways to start influencing those “Matt” people who see the next trends before they happen?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Crashed and burned and would gladly do it again!

I remember fondly a job interview I once crashed and burned at. It was for a marketing manager at a local vineyard and restaurant.

I clearly remember telling the interviewer that in my opinion marketing encompassed everything from the corporate communications right down to making sure that each fork was polished in the restaurant and laid out exactly in line.

He was not impressed by my response and I knew it as soon as the words had left my mouth.

Knowing this, I wouldn’t change a thing if I were going for the same job today.

I think too many people hear marketing and instantly think “advertising”. To me, marketing embraces so much more that just what we traditionally know as advertising.

After all – aren’t you advertising (or presenting an image of) your company in some way every time your phones are answered? Each time a visitor clicks into your web site or receives an email from someone on your team? Don’t your uniforms and the design of your workspace also convey a message?

You can have a world class advertising or marketing campaign running on every media known to man – but the average customer will still listen carefully when they’re told that there were two hairs in their cappuccino, that the toilets were filthy or that they were snarled at when they turned up for their appointment.

If you’re going to spend the big bucks on marketing, make sure it’s not wasted by spending some time on the other aspects of marketing.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Reality Television Your Way to Success

I think I’m one of the only “motivational speakers” (not that I call myself that) who will openly admit that I watch television. I watch bad television too… even… dare I say it… reality television. I like it! It’s an escape for me and a way to relax and while I certainly don’t recommend you waste every minute of your life watching the box, I’m not going to condemn it as to do so would be highly hypocritical.

What I will say though, is even when you’re watching the dodgiest television out there – you can still learn from it!

The following is an excerpt from my new book Retired at 27, If I can do it anyone can and is meant to be a bit of fun. Read it with your tongue well and truly wedged in your cheek.

I like to play a bit of a game when I meet really successful people for the first time. I like to see in which of my reality television categories they fit. I’m yet to meet a really successful person who doesn’t seem to obviously slot into one of the categories I’ve identified here.

Pick the most successful individuals you know personally and read through this list to figure out which “reality success profile(s)” they fit…

“Born with it” categories
This group is those people who are created with innate gifts. They’re blessed with certain characteristics that make them ideally suited (almost from birth it would seem) to rising to success.

Next Top Model
Look out for: Charm and beauty
These are our beauty queens (and kings). They have significant looks and/or charm and they know how to use them to their best effect. Sometimes, but not always, the most ethical of characters, they do what has to be done to get what they want and are happy to utilise their natural talents.

The Osbournes
Look out for: The silver platter
Born into wealth and/or power, you’ll find this individual fits into either the group handed everything but not quite knowing what to do with it or, in some rare and spectacular cases, taking what’s been given and expanding it beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

So You Think You Can Dance
Look out for: Natural talent
These individuals have been blessed with a mind and talent that is simply built for success, often making their achievement seem almost predestined. Also like the dancers on the show, they have put in the hard yards to hone their skills and ability to create their success.

“Anyone can” categories
The best thing about this group is that any of us can aspire to be here. These are all learned skills that anyone can master if you dedicate yourself to the pursuit.

Dancing with the Stars
Look out for: Don’t even try – you won’t see them coming
These people are the chameleons of any workplace. Change doesn’t faze them as they can adapt to any situation. Flexibility is their middle name and they have no fear of constantly picking up more skills to add to their repertoire. Most importantly – they’re willing to fall over and over and still get up and keep trying.

Amazing Race
Look out for: Team spirit and work ethic
These people are well loved, with a loyal following in any workplace. They have mastered the art of teamwork and understand the true meaning of the synergy concept (1 + 1 = 3). They’re also willing to put in the hard yards and go the extra mile, past any route markers or detours, to get to the final destination.

Look out for: Volume and confidence
Look out for the person at your next meeting who demands to be noticed. They speak up, they’re confident and they’re loud (with purpose, rather than loud for loud’s sake). Everyone knows them or knows of them and they’re present even when they’re not in the room. They produce high volume in thoughts, ideas and results.

Look out for: The diplomat
These are the master negotiators and deal makers who have wangled and wrung every last upward movement within an organisation that they can. You can hate them if you want, and/or you can learn from them. Listen to how persuasive they can be – they didn’t get here by accident.

Look out for: An axe in your back
Here’s our dodgy category. Even though I love this show, you only have to watch it for one season to realise that it’s rare for someone to compete successfully on the show while upholding any semblance of the ethics they might display in the outside world. If you know someone willing to do anything to get ahead, including playing dirty, then Survivor is definitely their category.

In considering your own personal success, which category or categories would you most like to fit into?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, October 4, 2007

What’s In A Signature?

I’ve just had a “celebrity moment”. Janine Allis the founder of Boost Juice just emailed me to thank me for sending her a copy of my new book. I’m a huge fan of Janine and the company she has founded. The fact that she took time to personally contact me just made her stock go even further up!

I love to learn from other successful business people and I think, if we keep our eyes open, we can do so all the time. In receiving Janine’s email my eyes were drawn to her email signature which, in addition to all the standard info (website, phone, address etc) also had the following:

My #1 Boost? : the raspberries relief. YUM!
What you’re reading? ; Nineteen minutes
What I love to do? : sit cuddling my boys
My football team : Go the Hawks !!!

Another successful entrepreneur I know, Lara Fletcher, founder of www.mocks.com.au has the following at the bottom of her email:

Favourite Mock: Cherries, although closely followed by Gelato

I feel like my signature is a bit underdone – being that I just have my favourite motivational quote on mine! I’m missing a marketing opportunity and I’m missing an opportunity to look like a real human being with a personality!!

Not to worry though – I love what these two fabulous entrepreneurs have done – so I’m making it my own and changing my signature right now. What about you?

Here’s what my new one also now includes:

Favourite Quote of the Moment: "Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win." Jonathan Kozel

Favourite advertisement heading from www.reallysold.com: Captain Kirk (Would love to explore this vast space)

Latest Book Out: Retired at 27, If I can do it anyone can – get it at www.unleashedknowledge.com

Currently loving: Spaghetti and Lance Armstrong’s books

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Work Smart – I Don’t Think So!

If I hear one more success story spout the advice – “work smart, not hard” to a wanna-be entrepreneur I might scream. To everyone out there reading this: if you want to start your own business, in my opinion this is the WORST advice you can take.

Starting a small business in Australia, the odds are against you. If you start out with the plan to “work smart, not hard” I believe those odds will skyrocket in a not so positive direction.

When you start your own business it will be fuelled by your passion, your sweat, your desire, your hard work. Am I saying “don’t work smart”? Of course not! I’m speaking from experience and saying that if you think you can ONLY work smart at the beginning I think you’ll be in for a rude shock.

To me the path to success for a new entrepreneur goes like this:

Start: Work hard, hard, hard
Next:Keep working hard, hard, hard and once you have somewhat of a clue, start to incorporate the “smart”
Later:This is when you can look to eliminate as much of the hard as you can by being the smartest cookie in the packet – but it doesn’t come immediately.

Please don’t start a business unless you’re prepared for the “hard” – but always be on the lookout to incorporate the “smart” as you go along.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

When will financial literacy be a core school subject?

We leave high school knowing how to calculate what “x” is given “y” and “z” and that “i” comes before “e” except after “c” and yet most high school leavers are never taught the simple ABCs of financial literacy including how to budget, how to responsibly use credit cards and how to set up an investment or savings plan.

In a study by the Financial Literacy Foundation of Australia titled Financial Literacy: Australians Understanding Money of the 7500 people surveyed 84% of the young people stated that it was important to learn about budgeting. Sadly (and perhaps the reason why this isn’t taught in most high schools) only 57% of adults voiced the same opinion.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

The power of the word

I’m quite distraught. I was eating my personal trainer approved afternoon snack of 12 almonds (my suggestion of 12 Tim Tams: not approved) when I got a lovely crunchy surprise in my mashed up almond mix. Part of a rear tooth had dislodged and was busily working its way towards my small intestine.

Having my wisdom teeth stitches “accidentally” left in for about 2 weeks too long has left me with a justified fear of going in to see the man with the drill. Not to be deterred I picked up the phone and was told by the monotone receptionist: “you won’t be getting in for at least 4 weeks”.

Now note this was not “our next vacancy is in 4 weeks” or “I’m really sorry, barring dental emergencies we won’t be able to fit you in for 4 weeks” this was simply “you won’t be getting in for at least 4 weeks”.

The front face of this business, the director of customer relations and the person I think is responsible for calming irrational odontophobics like me (yes, that’s the word for those who fear the dentist) had actually somewhat alleviated my fear... by replacing it with indignation!

In your business or in your workplace does your front face realise the power of the word? Do you? Perhaps take a leaf out of my hair dresser's book – they answer every phone call with “Thank you for calling Bladerunner. How can I make your day today?” It’s a bit zany, it makes them laugh and it makes me smile.

The power of the word can invoke rage, or cultivate a fan – what do the words at your business do?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

The Seven Deadly Sins of Credit Cards

I remember the day my first credit card arrived in the mail. A rush of both terror and excitement made its way through me. Terror because I had watched both of my parents go bankrupt due, in part, to overuse and misuse of credit cards. Excitement – because I had a plan. I was going to avoid the seven deadly sins of credit cards and use mine powerfully and thoughtfully.

Can you avoid the following seven deadly sins?

Don’t get angry when your monthly credit card statement is spiralling out of control! Make a commitment to only spend on your credit card that which you can afford to repay in full each month. The interest on credit cards is what can kill you, and paying off the monthly minimum will leave you hand cuffed to your card forever! Get your credit card under control and remember “credit” does not mean “free money”.

Just because you see a new credit card that comes in pink to match your shoes does not mean you need to get it! I recommend only one extra “emergency” credit card – if you’re responsible enough to NOT use it! “Emergencies” does not mean the new XBOX being pre-released! Keep it for emergencies such as medical emergencies or another credit card being denied when you’re travelling overseas due to your credit card company suspecting theft. Also make sure your emergency credit card has no annual fee.

Wo-hoo your credit card company has just offered you another limit increase! STOP! Consider the following:
• Each time you get a limit increase it will affect your overall borrowing ability (the higher your credit card limits the lower your borrowing power for assets like a house!)
• The higher your limit the more someone has access to if you’re the unfortunate recipient of identity fraud
• Banks quite often offer limit increases to people who cannot sustain more debt
• Do you really need the increase or are you just excited you’ve been offered it

Paying off your credit card with another credit card is not the answer! As soon as you withdraw cash from most credit cards, you start paying interest immediately (in most cases). The only time I recommend you consider this option is when transferring the balance of your credit card to another. Then destroy the old credit card! Use the interest free period on the new card (often up to 6 months on a transferred balance) to help completely pay off your credit card debt.

Do you have a shopping problem? There are many great techniques for not overdoing the product envy, here are just a few:
• Put your credit card in a glass of water and freeze it. Commit to not buying anything until the water has melted (no microwaves!) and you’ve had time to fully consider the purchase
• Get a low limit on your card (preferably one that doesn’t have a limit high enough to afford the new Manolos!)
• Limit your online shopping to funds you’ve earned in your paypal account (that’s right – ebay your old stuff before you buy new stuff!)

How many is too many credit cards? This is, of course, an individual topic. For me – I have a personal card and a business card and I look for features such as low annual fees, high points for frequent flyer programs and long interest free periods. Importantly, I still stick to my rule of paying off each card in full before interest is due. A great option for someone who isn’t sure whether they’re ready for a credit card yet is to get a charge card – where you have to put the money into the card before you spend it!

If you feel that your credit card situation is beyond your control. Call your bank or financial institution and organise a time to sit down with one of their staff to organise a payment schedule. The banks have a vested interest in you continuing to attempt payment and can be quite flexible in how they make arrangements for your payment – all you gotta do is swallow your pride and ask!

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, September 24, 2007

What's on your list?

I'm passionate about lists.

I'm passionate about goals.

Knowing that can you even imagine how passionate I am about my list of goals?! They sit in a box by my desk and each week I add to them. I add to the things I want to do before I leave this earth.

I found this great video online at: http://www.goals-2-go.com/ showing one person's goal list and what they've done with it. Enjoy!

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, September 21, 2007

Don’t think the whole world knows what you do

I just received yet another text message from a company I have no recollection of. The text read “Garments ready for collection at XYZcompany”.

The first time I got this message I had no idea who XYZcompany (of course not their real name) were and only figured it out after the second text by asking random questions of a workmate.

Were they my dry cleaner? Were they a repair shop I’d ordered alterations at? Were they a clothes store? I literally had no idea and their text message gave me no clues.

When you’re sending out correspondence from your company – please don’t assume that people will remember your company name. It’s easy to get tunnel vision with this sort of communication thinking that if someone has used your company’s services they’ll instantly recall the name – but trust me – they may not. Why risk the frustration?

This message would have hit its target first time up if they’d simply said: “Garments ready for collection at XYZcompany uniforms, ph: 6355 5555, 123 Smith Street”.

PS – we just went and picked up our “garments” – and they’re fabulous!

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

10 Reasons A Pirate Should Be Your Entrepreneurial Role Model

Bring on September 19 - International Talk Like a Pirate Day! In honour of Johnny Depp, ITLAP Day, and the frivolities that go along with it, let’s talk about why you should forgo traditional entrepreneurial role models for the mighty pirate!

The English word pirate is derived ultimately from the Greek word peira meaning “attempt, experience”, or more implicitly "to find luck on the sea". Let’s see how much we can improve your entrepreneurial experience and find you some luck in the sea of business opportunities!

1. Get a parrot on your shoulder
The parrot on your shoulder can represent two things:
i) Your conscience. Every entrepreneur has moments in time where the easier option does not always represent the right option. Remember the parrot on your shoulder is there to guide you.
ii) Your mentor. The voice of guidance from someone who’s been there and done it. Get the right parrot (or mentor) and you’ll skyrocket to greater heights.

2. The eye patch
An entrepreneur needs to have selective vision. They need to be able to block out distractions and zone in on opportunities. Develop your own figurative eye patch by honing in on what you want to focus on – and making the rest walk the plank.

3. The funky pirate wear and the eye liner
An entrepreneur stands out from the crowd. Whether it’s John McGrath, Sydney real estate agent extraordinaire pioneering the no tie business look or Sergey Brin, google co-founder, wearing jeans and a t-shirt while giving a keynote to 10,000 people, entrepreneurs don’t feel the need to conform to outdated business standards. Most wildly successful entrepreneurs are there because they don’t conform in their businesses. They’re edgy and they try new things in their businesses, which quite often spills over into their outerwear and can make them easy to identify.

4. Any weather – Any time
A pirate’s ship and crew carry them through the roughest storms making them mobile, flexible and able to deal with a multitude of circumstances – just like the ultimate entrepreneur.

5. Live and die by the team
No pirate ever managed to crew an entire ship on their own and no successful entrepreneur ever got there without their own crew of motivated, engaged, talented individuals. In the boardroom as on the ocean – the undeserving leader will face a mutiny.

6. The bicorne hat
The entrepreneur needs to be a master of wearing many hats – even if they look as ridiculous as the Napoleon-esque bicorne hat! As an entrepreneur you’ll need to be motivator, innovator, initial implementer and so much more.

7. The peg leg
The pirate manages to swashbuckle all over the world on slippery decks, in rising oceans and with a peg leg no less! As entrepreneurs we all have our own disabilities. Perhaps you don’t have a formal education, perhaps you were poor growing up, perhaps your technology skills aren’t up to scratch. Be like a pirate and get over it! Whatever your peg leg is, compensate for it and move on!

8. The hook
If there’s one thing we all associate with pirates it’s a hook. As an entrepreneur you’ll need to be able to develop an amazing hook. You’ll need a hook to get people on board with your idea, you’ll need a hook to get investors or the bank interested, you’ll need a hook to get your customers frothing at the mouth for your product or service. If Johnny Depp was the hook for Pirates of the Caribbean – do you have a hook of that calibre for your entrepreneurial passion?

9. The treasure chest
Pirates are single minded in their search for treasure. They know what their treasure is and they have a map on how to get there. What is treasure for you? Is it the chest of gold, is it seeing your product in the market, is it having a crew who love coming to work each day? Know your treasure chest – your goal, and then set about developing a map for how to get there.

10. They just arrrrr
Pirates don’t need to define themselves as pirates. You look at them, you know it. Their crew knows it. They know it. Same thing goes for an entrepreneur. Like the passion for the sea – the passion for entrepreneurialism is in your blood. Your heart rate rises at the thought of a new business idea, your brain races and you can’t wait to hoist your colours up the flag pole and set sail on a new adventure.

And for some fun – try out this online English to Pirate translator: http://www.talklikeapirateday.com/translate/index.php

Arrr, t' your ongoin' success Gar – Kirsty

By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Appropriately Funny or Inappropriately Crude?

My project director Megan commented on a chalk board she’d seen at the front of a place of business today.

The quote on it read:
“If quizzes are quizzical, then what are tests?”

I giggled wildly when she told me this. Her question to me though, was did I feel this was appropriate material to be displayed in front of a respectable business?

It’s a hard one to answer! On the plus side:
• It made me chuckle
• I remember the business a little more now than I did previously
• It lets me know a little about the personality of the shop owner
• It makes me more likely to check out their chalk board next time I walk past
• It made enough of an impact on Megan that she mentioned it (word of mouth)

On the negative side, I’m sure some people might get offended by the joke. I wasn’t offended, I had my chuckle and I’m sure I will again next time I enter this shop!

Not too many things in life are ever completely black and white – but in this case all the positives could be gained without fear of the negative if the joke / saying choice were a little more PG rated.

Here’s some to consider if you’re thinking of doing something like this to put some laughter into someone’s day and hopefully get them talking about your business in a positive way!

Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They're about to announce the lottery numbers. - Homer Simpson

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Last night I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky and I thought to myself, where the heck is the ceiling.

Energizer Bunny arrested, charged with battery.

Keep smiling – and making others smile!

Be memorable!

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Hrm... this got me thinking...

I was kicking back today reading “Make a name for yourself” by Scott Ginsberg (aka That guy who wears a nametag 24/7). Great book – lots of neat, easy to implement ideas.

But then I just read this one part where Scott encourages you to complete the sentence… “To me happiness is…”

Hrrm… I was stumped! Now I fully believe that you attract what you focus on, but here I was unable to answer that question easily! I thought to myself, "How can I be attracting happiness if I can’t even define it!".

It was a great lesson for me to sit down and run through the possibilities…

Here are some earlier drafts:

To me happiness is…
being in the company of amazing people
achieving my goals
anything that makes me smile
not answering this stupid question because I can’t answer it!!!!
cupcakes, daffodils and a good night’s sleep
feeling a sense of accomplishment

I wasn’t happy with any of these responses and it took me about a day before I came up with one I was happy with.

So let me leave you with some wise words from Scott Ginsberg…

1. Figure out how you would complete to following sentence: “To me, happiness is ______________.”
2. Make sure the answer doesn’t hurt anybody, including yourself.
3. Guard it with your life.
4. Commence happiness.

And if you want to know what my eventual answer was – email me: http://www.kirstydunphey.com/contact.html and tell me your answer!

By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A simple difference is all it takes

I was in full multi-tasking glory; typing, skyping and emailing, when I called my hairdresser the other day. I was calling to make a simple appointment and was (obviously) not paying full attention to the call.

The answer to my ringing phone was “Welcome to Bladerunner, how can I make your day today?”

How can they make my day today?

I can’t remember ever having been asked how someone could make my day on the phone. It was unexpected, different and it got my attention.

I had an instant shift from multi-tasking maniac to a smiling fan and all it took was a change in the way they answered their phone.

What could you subtly change about the way you to do business to have this same effect?

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, July 30, 2007

Take me - but then thank me!

What’s easier: marketing, advertising or cold calling to get a new client or having a new client call you directly? Most people would intuitively and correctly say – having the client call directly. What could be more simple than having the business walk right up to you and say “take me!”.

The next vital steps when a potential client calls you directly should be:

1. Ask how they found out about you. Many times these people will have been referred by someone to you. The referrer could be a previous happy client, a friend, a family member or simply someone in your sphere.

2. Acknowledge the referral. I don’t particularly care how you do this, just make sure you do it and do it immediately! If someone has taken the time to favourably speak about you to someone then the least you can do is pick up the phone and say thank you. Perhaps you might send a thank you card. If the referral warrants it – maybe a small token of your appreciation like a gift.

Take real estate agents for example, a referral of a client to them can mean thousands of dollars. Don’t be the person who doesn’t bother to find out where the referral came from. Even worse, don’t be the person who knows but does not acknowledge it.

The call you should always try and avoid is the one where a referrer has to ask you if you received their referral. It’s insulting to the person who referred the client that you haven’t thanked them and it’s no way to ensure they’ll continue speaking in such glowing terms about you!

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Beer o’clock review

It’s the end of the week... Ahh... a sigh of relief escapes your lips. The temptation for it to be “beer o’clock” (Australianism for knock off time on Friday) at 2.00pm or to continue Friday lunch into Friday after work drinks is strong.

Consider taking 5 minutes before you finish on a Friday to ask yourself these simple questions...

Looking back at the week that has been:

1. What is one mistake I’ve made and why won’t I repeat it (ie: what have I changed, what system have I put in place)

2. What is one achievement I’m really proud of

3. What is one area/task/job in which I could have done better

4. What did I learn this week

5. What goal did I get closer to achieving this week

5 simple questions: commit to asking them weekly and you’ll commit to weekly improvement.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

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