Can you safely jump off a moving freight train?

In college I had a friend who was very much into hopping freight trains. So much so that he wrote his thesis for his Cultural Anthropology major on the hobo lifestyle… (and if I remember it right, he was the editor of a popular ‘zine for hobos.)

I learned one really valuable lesson from this friend on my first “ride” down the California coast: He showed me how to get off a moving train. You have to wait until it slows down to about 20 mph or slower and then slowly navigate down one of the ladders on the side of a grainer (or any or freight car) until you can “run” along the ground flintstone-style. If you try to just jump off a moving freight train, bad things can happen! But if you first run along the train, then you can get some grip on the ground and run along the train until you can safely let go of the ladder.

I start my 2012 blogging off with this story because for much of 2011, I felt like I was on one hell of a fast moving freight train and there was no chance to safely jump off. Now that 2012 is here, I’m thinking it’s time to take a deep breath, climb down that ladder, get some grip on the ground and welcome in a new year.

With that said, some great things happened in 2011… I traveled more than any other time in my life, starting dating an amazing woman, moved into a new place only blocks from the beach in Santa Monica, started a full-time gig with the most interesting startup in Southern California, and created some crazy good memories with my kids.

Suffice to say 2011 will not be forgotten any time soon.

[Also, thanks to thecoug for the great creative commons photo. It brought back some great memories of catching the trains up to Davenport!]

10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Your Smart Phone

Just walked out of the first Fusion event put on by the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate crew… So much fun!

I had a great time on stage yesterday with Jeff Turner, Gahlord Dewald and Wendy Forsythe talking internet marketing, building online influence, tracking and measuring results and the real value of conversations.

Also got a chance to hear some very inspiring speakers… I had never heard Tom Ferry speak, so that was a real treat… And the final keynote speaker, Keith Ferrazzi, gave an incredible talk on steps to improving business relationships.   (Did I mentioned I also got to hang with so many cool people like Andy Kaufman and Herman of Hermanity! AND that my grandma came out to watch one of my presentations! Again, so much fun!)

My involvement was to give two presentations.  The first on Building Online Influence and the second on 10 Things You didn’t Know You Could do with Your Smartphone.  Both were a lot of fun to give and since I promised the audience I’d share linkes to each of the apps I mentioned in the latter presentation, I thought I’d share them in this post. Enjoy!

Evernote
1. Take voice notes while driving
2. Scan text out of photos
3. Find your parked car

Beluga
4. Use group chat to keep up with your team

CardMunch
5. Accurately scan business cards

Amazon Price Check
6. Comparison shop

Starbucks
7. Pay for coffee

Square
8. Get paid for coffee

BoxCar
9. Get push notification for important emails

MadMimi
10. Build your email list

And I’m always looking to deliver super-informative (and fun!) internet marketing presentations, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you hear of an interesting opportunity!

Hacked at Twenty Ten to Revamp 4realz. Check it out!

Feels like it’s been “WordPress-all-day, Every-day” lately! One of the things I’m most excited about is hosting the WordPress WorkShop at Real Estate Connect in a few weeks!

The Inman team did a fantastic job lining up speakers (Check ’em out: Chris Pearson, Peter Ricci, Reggie Nicolay, Justin LaJoie, Chad Parizman,Todd Carpenter, Niall Kennedy, and Jane Wells! Wow! )… and it made me realize how much I needed to play with WordPress again!

The result: I completely new 4realz.net!

Just some of the things I wanted to accomplish with this new theme include:

  • Really wanted a much cleaner look that didn’t feel overwhelming.   It’s not in my personality to get too simple, but I knew I could do a much better job!
  • I wanted to play with the concept of a WordPress child theme… so I started with Twenty Ten as my “base” so I’d have built in access to some of the more interesting new features!
  • I thought I would focus the homepage on a few key areas that drive the most of my business… i.e. my speaking and consulting.

The result is that after more than a few hours, everything is “working” well enough to write this post (although I’m far from done with what I plan to do!).

Some of the changes I made:

  • The homepage is now a “static” page that uses the Smooth Slider plugin to highlight “featured posts”.  I figure these are probably more relevant to someone who is new to my site.
  • I added a bit about myself to the homepage and filled out a bunch more on a page I call My Story.  This is the part of the page I’m least “sure” of, but I think I like it and I’ll just have to look at the stats to see if others who land on 4realz find it interesting to learn a bit more about me… and the story itself is far from “complete”. I’m hoping to add some more photos and details over the next few days, weeks, and years!  🙂
  • I changed with the operation of the default “header” graphic on the theme. By default, there is no header graphic!  However, it’s really easy for me to use the “set featured image” to add one, although the only place I’ve done that so far is on my speakers page.
  • I added a few things to the footer that I thought people might find interesting… like the Google Voice “call me” button, a twitter feed of @tyr mentions and my latest blog posts.

While I like I’m at a spot where the current theme is an improvement over the last, there are still a few things I’m hoping to do in the near future:

  • Revising the page on Agent Marketing Tools to better reflect my current approach… and in particular, my thoughts on the Agent Business Cycle.
  • Add more header graphics to specific pages
  • Improve how I track conversions on the page… I’ve worked with more than a few clients to use Google Analytics to track conversions, but I’ve never done much beyond adding the GA code to 4realz.  I’m going to change that and play a bit more going forward!
  • (not 100% sure about this one)… I’m thinking of using the new MU-style hosting that’s available with the standard WordPress to host some of the “other” wordpress sites that are currently on my server.  I’m not sure I want to take the time, but Boone Georges sure does make the multisite option look tempting.

In terms of what I learned by hacking away at a WordPress theme…   I was super-impressed with just how easy the entire process was… and, in particular, how easy it was to build a child theme off of twenty ten.  The WordPress team has done an awesome job with the child theme functionality!

If you made it this far in the post, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new theme!  🙂

Most Influential Twitter People In Real Estate

Earlier today I saw Irina Netchaev tweet about how Mike Mueller, Jeff Turner,  Jay Thompson and I were some of her “favs”, so I couldn’t help but be curious what she was referring to… Her link sent me to the type of poll that everyone loves to hate:  A popularity contest where the “community” is able to vote on who are the most important in the real estate industry.

Considering that after at least one day of the poll being live, none of the people have over 16 votes, I think it’s pretty safe to say the results are statistically meaningless and likely to remain that way.

However, it did get me thinking about an update to the 50 most influential real estate people on twitter that caused quite the stir last fall…  After publishing the list, I got to talking with Garron Selliken and Chris Lynch about how M Agents might be able to use such a tool, and so we build a web version of the process and started testing it out with some of the agents.

A couple of agents found some great uses for it including one woman who focuses on Modern Homes in Portland.  She used the tool to quickly identify and begin connecting with people relevant to her niche (i.e. modern homes) by simply identifying a few relevant people interested in the subject and then plugging them into the tool.  And in only a few months of being active on twitter, Marisa has added hundreds of relevant people to her sphere on both a national and local level.

Update to the list!

Now for the real fun… Because it’s so easy, I decided to update the list of most influential real estate people on Twitter.  There’s more discussion on updates to the list below, but without further ado, here’s the update list of the top 100 most influential real estate people on twitter:

Name Twitter Peer Rating
Robert Hahn robhahn 89%
mike simonsen mikesimonsen 88%
Todd Carpenter tcar 88%
Dustin Luther tyr 87%
Jeff Turner respres 87%
Andy Kaufman AndyKaufman 86%
Jay Thompson PhxREguy 86%
Sherry Chris BHGRE_Sherry 86%
Marc Davison 1000wattmarc 85%
Nicole Nicolay nik_nik 84%
Reggie Nicolay ReggieRPR 84%
Stefan Swanepoel Swanepoel 84%
Daniel Rothamel RealEstateZebra 83%
Derek Overbey doverbEy 83%
Drew Meyers drewmeyers 83%
Ginger Wilcox gingerw 83%
Kelley Koehler housechick 83%
David Gibbons DavidGibbons 82%
Mike Mueller MikeMueller 82%
Rudy Bachraty trulia 82%
Brad Nix bnix 81%
Teresa Boardman TBoard 81%
Joseph Ferrara jfsellsius 80%
Stacey Harmon staceyharmon 80%
Wendy Forsythe BHGRE_Wendy 80%
Eric Stegemann EricStegemann 79%
Kris Berg KrisBerg 79%
Pat Kitano pkitano 79%
Ines Hegedus-Garcia ines 78%
jeff corbett JeffX 78%
Jim Duncan JimDuncan 78%
Joel Burslem jburslem 78%
billlublin billlublin 77%
Jeff Bernheisel JBern 77%
Heather Elias LoCoHeather 76%
InmanNews InmanNews 76%
Ken Brand kenbrand 76%
Lani Rosales laniar 76%
Ardell DellaLoggia ARDELLd 75%
Brad Coy bradcoy 75%
Dale Chumbley DaleChumbley 75%
Jim Marks jimmarks 75%
Jason Sandquist JasonSandquist 74%
mlbroadcast mlbroadcast 74%
Benn Rosales BennRosales 73%
Brad C. – Dakno dakno 73%
Mariana Wagner mizzle 72%
Judy Moriarty realestatechick 72%
Maureen Francis MaureenFrancis 72%
Joel McDonald joelrunner 71%
Jonathan Washburn JonWashburn 71%
Kim Wood KimWood 71%
BHG Real Estate BHGRealEstate 70%
Chris Brogan chrisbrogan 70%
Missy Caulk missycaulk 70%
Morgan Brown morganb 70%
Paul Chaney pchaney 70%
Ricardo Bueno Ribeezie 70%
Sara Bonert sbonert 70%
BradAndersohn BradAndersohn 69%
Kristal Kraft KrisTalk 69%
Hilary Marsh hilarymarsh 68%
Kevin Tomlinson miamibeach 68%
Roost Roost 68%
Tom Ferry CoachTomFerry 68%
Kevin Boer kevinboer 67%
Sarah Cooper SarahWV 67%
Zappos.com CEO -Tony zappos 67%
Lori Bee BeeRealty 66%
Susie Blackmon SusieBlackmon 66%
Tony Longo tonylongo 66%
Bobby Carroll Dakno rewebcoach 65%
Dan Green mortgagereports 65%
Loren Nason lorennason 65%
Brian Tercero briantercero 64%
Elaine Hanson ElaineHanson 64%
Maya Sabot Paveza mayaREguru 64%
Nick Bastian RailLife 64%
Rhonda Porter mortgageporter 64%
Ted Mackel RealtorTed 64%
Bob Stewart activebob 63%
Jeremy Blanton jb140 63%
Linsey Planeta linsey 63%
Robert Luna RLuna 63%
Gahlord Dewald gahlord 62%
Gary Vaynerchuk garyvee 62%
Hal Lublin hallublin 62%
Jonathan Miller jonathanmiller 62%
Toby E. Boyce TobyBoyce 62%
Spencer Rascoff spencerrascoff 61%
cindy lin 非誠勿擾 cindylinsf 60%
Monika McGillicuddy monikamcg 60%
Todd Waller toddwaller 60%
Calie Waterhouse cwaterhouse 59%
James Shiner JamesShiner 59%
Jason Farris FresYes 59%
LaurieManny LaurieManny 59%
Rich Jacobson KitsapAgent 59%
Robert (Bob) Watson TopBrokerOC 59%
sarahbandy sarahbandy 59%

The way to think about this list is to read it something like this…  Out of the top 100 people in real estate (as determined by the number of people in real estate following them), 89 are following Rob Hahn.    In other words, instead of using a random sampling of people as most polls do, this list is created by the most influential twitter people in the industry!

One of the more interesting things about the list is that when you get down past the top 50 people, non real estate people like Tony from Zappos, Chris Brogen and Gary Vaynerchuk start showing up… It doesn’t surprise me one bit that a decent percent of the influential people in real estate are following these folks, so it makes good sense.

The weeds

In terms of the web process I developed last fall, we made one improvement when we turned it into a web app…  Instead of using the top 50 people, we made that a variable and I tend to use 100 people as the basis for relevance since the results are much more granular.   And if you missed the discussion on the algorithms used to create this list, check out this post for background.

By the way, if you work in an interesting niche and you’d like to see the most influential people in that niche, I’d happily consider running the web app and sending you the results.  Just to show you how super-simple it is, here’s what the interface looks like:

And I wish I could add a link to the URL so you could run it yourself, but it was built to only handle one process at a time, so it could get ugly if multiple people wanted to play at once.

Talking (and talking…) online marketing in real estate

upcoming conferencesReal estate presentation season is in full swing!

After a great event last week with the Leading RE Companies of the world in Las Vegas, I’m off to Chicago later this week to talk about how to make Social Media Work for You, Atlanta next week to talk about how agents can optimize their lead management strategies… It also looks like I’ll be speaking in Portland, Orange County, and Toronto in the very near future, but those events are all at least two weeks away, so they haven’t hit my radar just yet!

I simply love engaging, challenging and entertaining a live audience… I may not be the best speaker, but I sure do have more fun than most! So if you know of anyone who’s looking for a speaker who can provide valuable education to a group of real estate professionals on developing an online marketing strategy, don’t hesitate to send them my way. While I’ve talked for years on blogging (my first real estate blogging presentation was in May 2006!), my current favorite topics to cover include building a real estate hub and developing a lead management strategy that works.

[Also, I have a super special request to make… About a year ago, I was invited to speak in Burmuda for a Christie’s Great Estate event… That was super cool. Total bonus points if you can get me a paid trip to an exotic location: New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, Paris, the Caribbean, etc… ;)]

And of course, if you’re going to be attending any of my talks, don’t hesitate to reach out and introduce yourself! Far and away the best business contacts I’ve made came after meeting people at conferences!

I spent the evening playing with this si…

I spent the evening playing with this site… and I’m finally at a spot where I feel like I can take a break. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for the night. 🙂

The inspiration for changing things up was pretty simple. I really wanted to play with the power of the P2 theme in terms of real-time updates. In order to really take advantage of the way this theme treats comments, I’m positive I’ll also need to start blogging a bit more, which is a darn good incentive…

I also had some specific functionality I wanted with my P2 install… I wanted a WP plugin that 1) authenticates using either Twitter or FB & 2) allows sending of comments to either Twitter or FB.

My main problem is that the few plugins that could do such a thing (like IntenseDebate) came with their own set of baggage or simply didn’t work within the P2 theme (which I’m extremely fond of playing with!)

The end result was that I installed two plugins that appear to play “well enough” together. The first was Twit Connect and the second was Sociable’s Facebook Connect Plugin.

This way, users *can* use either service to “login” before leaving a comment (as well as no service at all!). And while I never could get the “send to twitter” option from Twit Connect working, you’all will be able to send your comments to Facebook should you choose to.

Anyway, there’s lots more I could talk about… including why I’m so fond of the P2 theme… but I’m going to leave this post somewhat simple… and leave my P2 thoughts until I’ve played around a bit more. If you have any thoughts on the changes (or just want to see how the comments update on-screen in real-time), feel free to leave a comment!

Nothing like an Inman event in NYC!

I’m always get excited before heading out to an Inman event… The team at Inman has always made sure I get some great visibility through speaking and moderating panels, and truth be told, I simply have a blast meeting up with all my real estate friends.

This year is no different, they not only have me speaking about Facebook, but I’m also moderating a technology and media track where I get to host conversations with industry leaders on mobile, wordpress, twitter, and the extendable web (How cool is that???).

But there’s more!

Spinnio Event on InmanThis year, we’re also going to be running Spinnio interviews out of the Inman booth on Wednesday. So far, we’ve got Craig Newmark and Brad Inman confirmed and the Inman team is sure to line up some other great guests over the next few days!

Maybe even cooler, Kris Berg is scheduled to host all the conversations!!! She really is one of my favorite people in the whole world, so I couldn’t be more excited.

What’s up with Spinnio anyway? Why not just live stream the events?

I know I’m a bit biased since Spinnio is my baby, but what excites me (and obviously a few others) about Spinnio events is that they’re meant to get YOU engaged. Using either Facebook chat or Twitter, you get to ask the questions of the guests… You get to banter with them… We’ll be actively monitoring the live streams from both Facebook and Twitter, so getting involved really is simple.

Spinnio really is different. It’s not the usual “live streaming” of interviews or conference sessions. We’re letting you ask the questions of real estate and technology leaders… and all you have to do to take part is to show up at the spinnio event landing page on Inman on Wednesday.

Can’t wait to see you in NYC!

P.S. We’ll be updating this schedule of events as we confirm new guests:

And where have you been???

my workSo, I’ve been pretty silent over here lately, but that’s only because something had to give or I’d go nuts.  But since I’m so darn silent here, I thought it’d be appropriate to let you know where I am active!

My Facebook Page

This is one of the most active communities I have going right now.    This is where I start conversations by sharing links that I find interesting from around the web.  Become a fan of my page follow along!

Ventura County Star and Socially Wired
This is not only one of my favorite consulting projects I’m working on, but also where I’m starting to post all of my “social media” type posts. If you’re interested in talking social media strategy, then join me over at the Socially Wired blog where I not only talk about social media strategy, but I’m describing the progress of implementing a social media strategy at a regional newspaper. As I’m JUST starting to ramp things up there and expecting a lot of posts on using social media to drive business in the very near future!

Rain City Guide
Always my early love, the Seattle community on RCG is as strong as ever. But not only that, I recently teamed up with some folks from M Realty to add a rock’n home search tool to the site. If you haven’t checked out RCG lately, definitely head over there to see how we continue pushing the boundaries of what a local real estate community website can be.

Spinnio

This is my “entertainment” start-up where I’m hosting Facebook conversations with interesting people in the movie industry that’s gotten out of control lately. In the month or so since I launched the tool, I’ve hosted conversations with directors, writers, actors talking about movies like The Stoning of Soraya M, Food Inc and Humpday.

Our next conversation is with Ric O’Barry of The Cove on Tuesday!  Definitely consider joining us and become a fan of the Spinnio Facebook page to get updated about movie events, news and stories!

More?
For you following along at home, here’s a summary of the big projects I’m working on and where you can find me:

And of course, I love to banter on Twitter, but keep your expectations low for anything of value out of me over there!

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook
And I might as well make it easy for you… You can follow along with another of these projects right from this post!

Dustin Luther on Facebook

Rain City Guide on Facebook

Spinnio on Facebook

Where else can you get a great conversation around RE BarCamps and Cougars???

Thanks again to all the people who joined us on today’s radio show.

Lani gave a great overview of this week in real estate and then we quickly dived into a conversation about the status and future of RE BarCamps with people such as Stacey Harman, Matt Fagioli and Todd Carpenter.

Of course, we followed it up with an equally entertaining conversation about cougars. Diane Guercio was instrumental in defining some cougar related items…

Want to be informed about our radio show? Become a fan of our Facebook page and/or follow us on Twitter for regular updates on upcoming shows!

Having way too much fun with Facebook video streaming…

RCG screencapture
I’ve been playing pretty hard with Facebook streaming video this week… including an interesting movie promotion. However, because I’m playing with a new Facebook chat feature through RCG’s Facebook Connect, I decided to post about it over there, so please check out this post on RCG: Live Video Streams on RCG? With Facebook Chat?