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An ‘Ah Ha’ Moment for HAR Member Ken Brand

He describes himself as “a reformed pyro, real estate psychologist and self-taught social media anthropologist” and now adds author to his resume in the name of helping fellow real estate pros

What do REALTORS® do when they’re not busy showing listings and executing contracts? Some go fishing. Some go shopping. Some choose to travel and others kick back. One HAR member carved out time to write a book about the real estate business for fellow REALTORS®.

Ken Brand, sales manager at Prudential Gary Greene, REALTORS® – The Woodlands/Research Forest, is winning rave reviews for his self-published book Less Blah Blah More Ah Ha: How social savvy real estate agents become trusted, preferred, referred – and rewarded. In her August 2011 review for Reader Views, critic Irene Watson called the book “captivating” and credits Ken with providing “proven approaches and tactics.” She added that “like a well-written novel, the cliff hangers at the end of each chapter don’t allow you to put the book down.”

Houston REALTOR® magazine found it intriguing that a REALTOR® would write a book in the first place. Why now? And why would someone who prides himself on the use of social media as a critical marketing tool resort to a communication vehicle as no-tech as a book to reach out to other real estate professionals? In fact, we were so intrigued that we decided to find out what exactly was going through Ken’s mind when he set out to author this book.

Q: What prompted you to write a book…and to do so now?

A: We’re all fortunate that fate has planted us in Houston, Texas. Even though our state is an economic shining star, compared to markets saturated with foreclosures, short sales and slumping employment, is there any doubt that today, succeeding in the real estate business is harder than ever? It’s painfully hard for two reasons.

First, the last four years have battered and reshaped consumer behavior everywhere. As sales people and citizens, we’re living and working in a radically different cultural environment than four or five years ago. Today we’re all card-carrying members of a trust-starved, impatient, don’t bore me, don’t bull**** me, and definitely-don’t-sell-me society.

Second, the scramble for what skinnier business there is has real estate agents who are “in-it-to-win-it” competing at the keenest levels we’ve ever seen. Or at least the keenest levels I’ve ever seen in the 33 years I’ve been in the business.

These two things have created a painful problem for misguided but well-meaning real estate agents. Most everything a real estate agent is taught about how to sell and succeed is lame, rude and un-smart in today’s trust starved consumer culture. For decades and even now, sales training is based on proven sales techniques and personal marketing strategies that “kicked-ass-and-took-names” during the baby boomer era. Guess what? Shouting, bragging and me-centered selfish selling doesn’t fly these days. People hate it. Instead of attracting, it actually repels. The result is heartbreaking. These unattractive and unproductive behaviors cause real estate agents in Houston and across the country to struggle for relevance, self-respect and success.

So, I wrote the book to share the best of everything I’ve learned from study, observation and experience about earning trust, creating “top-of-mind” awareness, modern human behavior, psychographics, listening, sharing, social savvy and, of course, step-by-step actions and activities that make good things happen fast.

Q: At a time when everyone’s exchanging information online, why did you opt for old-school communication?

A: Publishing a hard copy book about modern social savvy in the hot-mess middle of what most would call “the digital and social media era” seems oxymoronic, except it’s not. Because it’s the dawn of “transmedia,” and the book is available across multiple platforms and media formats. It’s available on Amazon.com in both the familiar printed book and sexy digital eBook formats for the Kindle or an iPad with the Kindle app. I’m also sharing a free chapter a week on my BrandCandid.com blog. So the good news is that everyone can own or read it however they’d like. Also, I wanted to make the book’s transformational thoughts, ideas, insights, action plans and strategies portable and easy to use. I thought jamming it all inside a book was the best way to do that.

Q: What kind of feedback have you gotten so far?

A: I worked on the book evenings and weekends for three years and had no idea what to expect. When I finished, I felt confident that if the reader took what I’m sharing to heart and stretched beyond reading and into the adventure land of sincere action-taking, they could realistically, and as dramatically as they dared, transform their real estate careers. I’m gratified, surprised and humbled by the comments and reviews from my brothers and sisters in the business, and even pros in other sales professions. I’m also grateful for this interview!

Q: What are the three key take-aways from the book?

A: The book leads readers through the three stages of “social savvy success.” In Stage One, the reader discovers the philosophical foundations for becoming more visible, choosable and referable. In short, how to attract opportunity, instead of chase strangers and badger friends. In Chapters 1 to 8, the reader learns precisely what business they are really in; The Two True Secrets to Success; the high-impact dynamics of Top of Mind Awareness and how to earn True Blue Trust.

But it’s not enough just to know what to do. Most fail to get where they’re trying to go because they get in their own way. Stage Two of the book acknowledges and addresses the self-imposed emotional and mental obstacles that stop real estate agents from moving forward. Chapters 9 through 13 cover how to face and consciously conquer subconscious fears; slay self-doubt; why it’s wise to use psychographics to connect with their tribes, networks and niches; what The Golden Rule 2.0 is all about and why they can’t win without it. Of course no modern book would be complete without a chapter on how to ride the social media wave; enhance character-confirmation and become discoverable, findable and sharable (in other words, how to become omnipresent).

Once the reader has learned what behaviors and actions work and how to get out of their own way, it’s time to apply some practical, simple-to-follow ideas that will help them attract, discover, and create new opportunities. Stage Three (Chapters 14 through 23) shares 40 instantly implementable action events that put everything the reader has learned into play. In short, the reader will discover how social savvy real estate agents become trusted, preferred, referred and rewarded.

Ken is one of the featured speakers at HAR’s BIG e event on Thursday, October 13, at the Norris Conference Center where he plans to share a few of his book’s “Ah Ha” strategies. For more information about the event and to register online, go to www.har.com/thebige. Follow Ken on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KenBrand and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/KenBrand.

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