At your grandchild’s soccer game, another spectator spends more time checking his PDA than cheering for his own daughter. At a local bistro, the couple next to you spends more time on their cell phones chatting with their direct reports than they do talking to each other.
Ask Laurie Keenan about such behavior, and she’ll tell you that none of these people are living in the moment. And it’s a subject she knows something about.
As president of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates Inc., Keenan has often straddled that line between personal and professional life. While pushing the company’s 2007 revenue to more than $100 million and managing the franchise’s network of more than 2,100 residential real estate brokerages across North America, she admits to occasionally falling prey to the distractions of her BlackBerry outside of the office.
To combat those urges and find balance, Keenan has adopted a here-and-now philosophy that has her living in the moment, whether with her family at home or her 140 employees at work.
Smart Business spoke with Keenan about how to live in the moment at work by setting and focusing on a clear agenda.
Evolve as you go. [If outside opportunities spring up,] they can become part of the agenda. If it’s a good course, a good decision, let’s go.
Every step you take is enlightening. Of all the things you put forth in the year that you’re going to accomplish, some will have more value than others. If new things come across that make more sense, prioritize and change course.
Look to your consumers to analyze your market. Our market is consumer-driven. From our standpoint in our business, we need to understand how the consumer is thinking, how the consumer is acting and where the consumer is going so that we can be there to engage.
There are lots of places to learn about that. You can read about it in newspapers, you can go online, you can talk to them. Who else knows better what they need? Who else knows better what’s happening? Keep tight with them and understand what their needs and wants and desires are and how it can better serve them.
Obviously, there are lots of sources to figure out what the consumer is doing. There are also all kinds of studies that many of the Internet companies do that give you information on how the consumers are behaving.
Understanding that and trying to interface with where they are is an advantage.
Ask questions. The outcome coming through a collaborative process is a better process and a better product. (If questions) are thought-provoking enough, you’d be surprised at the creativity that results from the other side of the table.
‘Have you thought about this? Have you thought about that? What do you think would be the right choice? What do you think would be a good decision?’
I don’t allow them to dump problems on me. They need to come up with a solution. Often-times in conversation, asking the right questions helps people to think those solutions through.
Listen then speak. Someone once told me that our Creator gave us two ears and one mouth with the expectation that one would listen twice as much as one would talk.
If you want to grow as a leader, you have to spend time hearing from your constituents. You can’t do that if you’re a talker. You can’t hear that way. (Listening) is a characteristic of a good leader. In order to be collaborative, in order to bring people along, in order to get buy-in, in order to really understand, you have to listen, so button it up.
Implement a stated culture. Culture is extraordinarily important. Have clarity around what’s important; demand it of your organization and live it every day. You can’t have a stated culture and not practice culture.
I’ll give you an example. It’s called ‘Don’t talk stink.’ That is a core piece of our culture. We do not talk behind others’ backs. We don’t put others down. We don’t talk in a negative way about our people.
When somebody does, they get called on it.
By having it out there, by having it be a part of the stated culture, everyone works to reinforce it. It’s not just me. You don’t have to be a leader to do that. It’s ingrained in the interactions of all the people of the organization.
We went at it quite purposefully. We brought our leadership team together, and we talked about what it was we believed in and what our culture needed to be. We put it in words, we communicated it and subsequently lived by it, demonstrated it and practiced it. When you do that, it gets ingrained.
Think creatively and devote resources to growth. Get extraordinarily creative about (growth) in terms of how to get there.
If your team is great at implementation but has not tapped into what’s happening in the marketplace, for example, and doesn’t have the savvy to really think about the world in 3.0 terms in opposed to 2.0 or 1.0, then you seek counseling. Find the experts, and realize that you don’t have to be knowledgeable about everything. Surround yourself with the right people who can fill in those gaps for you.
Then, focus your resources to do that. Push your budget. You have to take opportunity where opportunity is. If I’m in a position where I can’t push on the budget, I’ll find something to take out to make it happen. <<
HOW TO REACH: Prudential Real Estate Affiliates Inc., (949) 794-7900