Excavation Entrepreneur

Startup lessons from a patient archaeologist

The two words, ‘excavation’ and ‘entrepreneur,’ are most likely to conjure up a construction site with giant yellow excavators. But if you were talking about Stuart Wilson you would be wrong.

Lost Medieval City Beneath the Sod

Stuart Wilson, 37, is a graduate archaeologist-and entrepreneur, though he might not classify himself as such. He was a toll collector when he invested in his passion: archaeological excavation. He followed a conviction that he was on the trail of a long lost major medieval city in Trellech, Wales.

Whereas he might have put a deposit on a home, or bought a sports car, he actually bought a 4.6 acre field-for £32,000 (about $40,000 at current exchange rates). He used his life savings and took out a bank loan to cover the cost. His mother, Barbara, said at the time, “Ah well, if you don’t find anything, it’ll make a nice picnic site.” So he had a risk mitigation plan right from the start!

This field was where he was pretty sure part of the lost city lay, buried beneath the farmland. He was sure enough of his passion that he gave up his job in the toll booth and settled in to demonstrate that his passion was about something real-and important, through digging up the site.

Without formal backers for his enterprise, he invested heavily of his time and energy, and precious little else, except an army of probably as many as 1,000 volunteers from across Europe as well as the locality, over the last eleven years.

The volunteers included archaeology students, who paid a small fee ($61 a day) to participate, as well as people from the surrounding areas. He also raised funds by selling T-shirts and other small scale revenue producing efforts. So convinced was Stuart, that he gave up his full-time job and worked shifts at a betting shop to help fund the project.

A Hidden Manor House

One of the major finds has been the remains of a large medieval manor house. But many other buildings, artifacts and whole streets have been unearthed. Stuart believes that there is much more that will see the light of day.

He was amazed to find that walls were fully intact, and floors, a well, drains, road surfaces, cobbled pavements, entrances, and now a fireplace with a chimney and a courtyard have all been found. Though they have unearthed parts of a street, know where many more exist, since they are still used as roads or tracks.

But now, following massive world-wide media attention, he envisions permanent on-site dig structures, an interpretive centre and recreations of Trellech buildings. His persistence is now paying off and he is dreaming much bigger. What in entrepreneurial terms one might call scaling. Part of the scaling might include a takeover-of more land, surrounding his own plot, since it holds but a fraction of the sprawling lost city.

Entrepreneurial Characteristics

From my own 50 years of living, observing and writing about entrepreneurship, I have come to distill seven characteristics that will almost certainly be present in a person who creates a new venture of any kind. Such a person:

  1. is predisposed to action-“I could have done that, but… “, you’ve heard many people say something similar, they never do;
  2. enjoys investigating & innovating– comments on the idea like, “it’ll never be worth it, because… ” incite finding a solution;
  3. experiences learning as a way of life-rather than shutting up shop and sticking to the known;
  4. tolerates ambiguity-and allows creativity to resolve it, often coming up with innovative solutions to problems;
  5. is a (controlled) risk-taker-will always consider how to deal with the downside;
  6. is able to put vision into practice-the passion has to have an expression in reality;
  7. while remaining very much in the present-to deal with the unexpected rather than being floored by it.

Stuart manifests most of these characteristics and his venture is now maturing. He comments that, “As a result of buying the field, my parents had many years of servitude.” In the case of almost any new venture, friends and family tend to be its best and most patient backers. In Stuart’s case this has certainly been the case, though he has now moved out of home, to a toilet block he converted to a home in the local town of Chepstow.Stuart also suggested that, “When you are a small fish in a big pond, then bigger fish tend to ignore you, leaving you alone.” However, his time of swimming in a ‘Blue Ocean’ where there are few predators, is now ending-as he is discovering.

He knows that he’s beginning to swim in a ‘Red Ocean,’ where a lot of blood is spilled, as competitors fight for prey. His solution like many entrepreneurs faced with that situation, is to become “a much bigger fish to make them think twice about attempting to take a bite.”

Financial Bootstrapping: The Stuart Wilson Example

Much that is written about entrepreneurship assumes that significant amounts of capital are needed. However, the reverse is true for about 99 per cent of new ventures started on a wing and a prayer. Stuart bootstrapped his venture big time. He cobbled together enough revenue and muscle to persist in his endeavor-a bootstrapper par excellence.

It is a particularly interesting example of bootstrapping, in that he did not set up a business, or even a nonprofit to achieve his ends. His venture is an example of something that is happening ever more frequently-and especially in the hands of creative individuals like Stuart, who don’t find that any conventional kind of organization meets their needs, and may not even think that they need a legal structure to change the world, anyway.

Of course, there are many instances in which it becomes necessary to have a formal legal entity. Stuart is now faced with choices that he did not need to confront at the outset. Two things have happened as a result of his efforts. First, he is beginning to gain traction, as the startup jargon calls it. The venture capitalists might call traction ‘evidence of market demand,’ and in Stuart’s case, it is the sheer numbers of people that have become involved with his dig, as a consequence of its revealed importance.

The second thing that has happened, is the notoriety he has been receiving from the world’s press and television media. That kind of public attention has followed disruptive startups in many sectors. When they can no longer contain their success, predators start showing an interest. There have been numerous instances of that happening. One of the more spectacular recent examples was the behemoth Walmart’s acquisition of jet.com-the online retailer.

In the case of the Lost City of Trellech, it is not buyers who may be circling the site, but government bodies or professional associations who may consider that such an important archaeological site cannot be left to what they may consider a maverick, despite his professional degree.

Potential Predator Poses a Problem

Right now, Cadw, the historic monuments arm of the Welsh Government threaten to ‘schedule’ his site. Stuart refuses to accept that they should take control, just as a business founder might fend off a takeover suitor. He has been assured by current officials that things would stay as they are, with him running the show. But he is savvy enough to know that officials come and go, just like management in an acquiring company.

Wanting to reach an accommodation, Stuart has offered to form a Heritage Partnership Agreement with Cadw, so that they can work together, without him losing control. But he’s not leaving it there. He is about to write an open letter to the Welsh Government to bolster public opinion in his favor.

It is not surprising that he has started this one-man lobbying effort, since he now has plans to turn the site into an public attraction. Stuart has submitted plans for an archaeological research centre and camp site to Monmouthshire County Council, signaling the dig site as “a valuable community asset that supports local tourism, hotels and pubs.” To ram the point home, he adds that it’s also, “an important archaeological site as well as a training and educational facility.”

Now that’s scaling, business or otherwise, and Trellech, the Lost City of Wales would inspire any aspiring entrepreneur who lacks big bucks, but dreams big.

Note: Stuart’s dad, Alan, applied for a job in total quality in our company. At his group interview, he demonstrated the quality process by baking a loaf of bread before our eyes in the office, portable oven and all. He got the job and worked with us for several years. Clearly, creativity runs in the family.

William Keyser, a veteran entrepreneur, is Managing Director of Venture Founders LLC: How To Start a Business. Startup Owl offers a wealth of free information and advice to would-be and early stage entrepreneurs.

Will is a veteran entrepreneur with VC experience and he is committed to help business startups to: clarify their business purpose; sharpen their business model; better their business plan; speed their market entry; offer customer value; finance their business right; grow their business strongly; survive their business challenges-more effectively than they might do on their own.

Will taught strategy and entrepreneurship on an MBA program for 7 years and his book, Founders Are Storytellers is available from his website.

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Business Is Business and How to Win the Game

The nature of the world is to find fault with everybody. You have to bear these comments and you have to sail smooth against the rough waves.

Be it a manager, or a CEO, or a club president, nobody could satisfy all.

If he begins on time, He is a tyrant
If he waits for late-comers He is too tolerant
If he requires constant attention He is a despot
If he does not care He makes himself foolish
If he assumes the spokesman’ role He becomes a bore
If he yields He becomes unnecessary
If he calls for silence it is an abuse of power
If he permits disorder He falls in authority
If he is firm He takes himself too seriously
If he is good-natured He does not maintain his rank
If he expounds his own ideas People are perforce against him
If he asks for a choice He is irresolute
If he is dynamic He is worked up
If he remains cautious He is inefficient
If he does everything on his own He is conceited
If he delegates He is lazy
If he is attentive to the ladies He is obsequious
If he is not He is a snob!

I.P. Guillon, Rotary Club of Marmande, France has written the above under the caption The Club President in French. This has been translated in English by Wallace Flint, Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, U.S.A The Rotary Club magazine ‘The Rotarian’ has published it in its July 1982 issue.

Well, let us formulate and plan our own good principles and action plan to achieve our goal.

What is business? There is an internet joke as to how one should win the game of business.

Father: I want you to marry a girl of my choice
Son: I will choose my own bride
Father: But the girl is Bill Gates’ daughter
Son: Well in that case… OK

Next father approaches Bill Gates.

Father: I have a husband for your daughter
Bill Gates: But my daughter is too young to marry!
Father: But this young man is a vice – president of World Bank
Bill Gates: Ah! In that case… OK

Finally father goes to see the president of the World Bank.
Father: I have a young man to be recommended as a vice-president
President: But I already have more vice-presidents than I need!
Father: But this young man is Bill Gates’s son-in-law.
President: Ah! In that case… OK

This is how good business is done.

Manipulate intelligently supply and demand and win the game without harming anybody but to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Keep the secret in your heart and start playing.

GOOD LUCK!

S. Nagarajan has written more than 3000 articles in Tamil in 18 magazines and published 52 books. He is revealing Eastern Secret Wisdom through T.V. Programmes, magazine articles, seminars, courses. He has covered various subjects in his wide range of articles which include Mantras, Yantras, Yoga, Meditation, Astrology, Astronomy, Space Science, Science and Spirituality, Hollywood cinema, Women’s progress, Aura, Significance of Colors, Reincarnation, Divine Geometry, Power of Prayer etc. As an ardent seeker of Truth, he has collected scientific experiments on mantras, mind, Auto suggestion etc. He has written many articles on para psychology also.

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US Real Estate Predictions for 2017

It is with great sadness and generosity that my annual rollout of US. Real Estate predictions can proceed forward. This year will have more of a political bent given that 2016 was all about the politicos and the mental consternation it brought to the American psyche. Most often, real estate predictions are about hard numbers, sales expectations, housing starts, etc., etc., etc. Pretty dry stuff if you’re a normal human being, but if you’re a policy wonk or a real estate broker, it’s a nirvana jubilee. This year I shall call my prescient forecast “Sidney’s Pix Six”.

Millennials (Send in the Millennials)
According to Zillow magazine, “More millennials will become homeowners, driving up the homeownership rate. Millennials are also more racially diverse, so more homeowners will be people of color, reflecting the changing demographics of the United States.” Unless you’re a devout racist, this is probably a good omen. Similar to the saying: Happy wife… happy life. An active housing economy saying is as follows: Happy labor market… happy America.

In addition, the 2017 National Housing Forecast is in lock step with Zillow, with its position that millennials and baby boomers are fully expected to constitute the majority of housing market participants in the coming year. The National Housing Forecast also noted “… that millennials will represent the largest share of buyers at 33 percent, a market ratio that has actually been lowered due, largely in part, to the impending interest rate hike”. In terms of the Mid-West, researchers believe they will lead the pack in aggregate purchases. “This year, average millennial market share in these markets is 42 percent, far higher than the U.S. average of 38 percent.”, said the report.

New home growth connected to Obama job creation
Will new housing starts have been better under Obama or the President-elect. There is varying opinion on that speculation, but here are what some for the pros say. “Buyers of new homes will have to spend more as builders cover the cost of rising construction wages, driven even higher in 2017 by continued labor shortages, which could be worsened by tougher immigration policies under President-elect Trump”, says Dr. Svenja Gudell, the chief economist at Zillow. Furthermore, “A shortage of construction workers as a result may force builders to pay higher wages, costs which are likely to get passed on to buyers in the form of higher new home prices.”

Home Appreciation (The froth on the Top)
Even non-policy wonks like to sip the froth on the top. In real estate terminology, real estate home appreciation is the Eighth Wonder of the world. And according to Zillow, once again they’ve conveyed that sediment in numeric value. However, just like stats inherently lie, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that there’s appreciation (remember, several years ago there’s wasn’t), the bad news is that it will be lower than 2016.

“Home values will grow 3.6 percent in 2017, according to more than 100 economic and housing experts surveyed in the latest Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. National home values had risen 4.8 percent so far in 2016.
—Zillow.com

The good news on this disappointing forecast, is that the slow pace in price growth will be great for home buyers, since a slower market means slightly lower prices. However, some real estate experts refer to this as Phase-two of the post-Recession market. Phase-one having been the boomer-rang of price acceleration after the market had hit dirt bottom. The other 800-pound gorilla expert in the room is Reator.com, which anticipates a 3.9 appreciation rate, compared to Zillow’s 3.6.

Foreign buyers will play a smaller role (No Visa, No Dinero)
Lately, there’s been quite a bit of heightened drama with Number 45, even before he’s signed the lease at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Arguing with world leaders seems to be the new norm, given the tit-for-tat with China, England and others. This raises the question of foreign buyers. The word on the street is that foreign buyers will be a bit more circumspect, since they will now have to consider their own visa and permanent Alien status given the President-elects stance on immigration policies and visa reform. Translated: Hesitant foreign buyers will mean less buying on the home luxury market, a longtime favorite cash bucket for foreign nationals to invest their money in the states.

While Orange is the New Black, Small is the New Big (or vice versa)
Based on facts, not speculation, the median square footage for new homes in 2016 fell downward. That’s a canary in the coal mine event. Meaning it’s not good. The Texas A&M’s Real Estate Center notes there are serval reasons for this present and future shrinkage, which can be attributable to several factors: higher demand for homes close to city centers, the Tiny Home movement (thanks HGTV), and the Come to Jesus Moment of home builders who now realize that poor home buyers can only afford so much square footage. The solution, build smaller homes. Problem solved.

Loan Democracy is Loan Democratization
I have advocated residential mortgage loans that are more user friendly. And that’s just not me, it’s think tank policy wonks as well, since some are pro-business advocates. Translated: Increase the FICO score requirement, but allow buyers and market players (aka small investors), into the game with less money down. According to the Mortgage Credit Availability Index, it’s easier to get a mortgage now than at any time in the past eight years.

Banks may also be more willing to work with borrowers over the next few years as they look to make up for a decline in refinancing business when interest rates go up. “The pendulum has been swinging toward a loosening of the credit box a bit,” says Daren Blomquist, a senior vice president with Attom Data Solutions. “I don’t think we’ll see a reversal of that with the new administration. We’ll likely see an acceleration.
—The Fiscal Times, November 22, 2016

In a nutshell, these are the primary issues of why 2017 will be different in terms of real estate. The reasons are fairly basic and logical. The newly elected president, and his administration have three major policies that are game changers. Think the following: 1) Infrastructure spending, 2) Tax cuts, and 3) Changes to immigration policy. The cause and effect will directly effect new construction starts and mortgage rates.

So there you have it. One hates to be the bearer of bad (and good) news. May we have a propitious year and hope the real estate Gods are open minded to their favorite Son.

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Special Prepping Problem To Consider – Money, Barter and Finances

We are so accustomed to whipping out our plastic cards to pay for everything most people do not carry much money. Think about how much you have on you now. How long would you last without going to back for more cash? Could you fill you tank with gas? Could you buy a week’s worth of groceries? Probably not. How long do you expect to survive in a disaster? You probably would not make it out of the disaster area.

What to Expect

It is also widely expected that in the event of an economic crisis the government would freeze assets, including investments, retirement accounts and bank accounts. They could even go as far as to seize assets after designating certain people as a “domestic terrorist”. Millions of people will suddenly not have access to billions of dollars worth of assets that they were planning on for their retirement or their existence.

Unless there is a total collapse of the US economy, cash will still have some amount of value. You have probably heard that “a dollar won’t buy what it used to”. Well, that may be even more true in a disaster situation. Without government oversight, the essentials of life will become a commodity that goes to the highest bidder. There is no ceiling on how high some essential items will go for.

Scammers and con artist are a real threat after a storm. Merchants will dramatically raise prices and take advantage of the unprepared. Desperate people will do and pay outrageous prices for what they used to obtain for a fraction of the cost. Large amounts of cash will be a requirement in almost every disaster situation.

Another real danger is something called hyperinflation. This is where the value of money is lost daily and possibly hourly. Something that costs $1 can suddenly cost $10 or more. This can suddenly take hold and the economy will run wild in a very negative way. Russia is suffering this now. Food is fast becoming too expensive to buy as wages do not keep up with the inflated prices of food and other key products. Long periods of this type of hyperinflation will collapse an economy and could lead to riots and even war.

Will We Revert Back to the Money of Centuries Ago?

Will we revert back to a barter and trade society? Very possibly. To a hungry person what is more valuable a $100 bill or a can of corn? To a person who is trying to feed their children what is more valuable a bar of gold or a box of macaroni and cheese? In dire circumstances these may be real choices that people will have to make.

It is highly recommended that you store items that could be used for barter. Vacuum sealed jars of macaroni and cheese, powdered milk, flour, spices and medical supplies will all be barter items. I even keep matches as a barter item.

Then there are the skills that will become valuable. Trades of all types will become valuable. Carpenter, medical of any kind, military, woodsmanship, camping and hunting will all be skills that someone will want to barter for. Look now for things that you can do that will be worth trading in a WROL situation.

Jerry D. Wilson has a lifetime of wilderness and outdoors experience to pull from to give quality advice for emergency preparedness.

Mr. Wilson has created a blog and Facebook page to help educate everyone on emergency preparedness and disaster planning. Topics such as home food storage, meals-in-a-jar, water storage and financial planning to name a few.

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From Little Things, Big Things Grow

One recent working day, a full eight-hours to labour, I had a revelation – why do I ask God to hurry those few hours? The truth is we all have components of our lives we would rather hasten or skip. But a bigger, burgeoning truth: hasten or skip anything and we rush to our deaths.

It’s the same with our growth. Too often we’re quick to rush to an outcome like a goal. The problem is we take a short cut to the goal and we compromise our success.

It’s like the moneybox we bought our three-year-old son. We gave it to him with a few coins inside. The next day we let him help clean the car out and told him he could keep the coins he found. He put them inside his portable bank account and shook it. “It’s not full yet. Can I have some more money for my moneybox?” He wasn’t happy that it’s going to take a full year to fill it up.

We wish our lives away – the hard and bad bits, anyway – never realising that these precious seconds we never get back. Yet, God’s Presence is with us and can be experienced anytime. Whether we desire or detest what we do, it’s all fluff compared with reality that’s eternally true.

Good things take time to develop. From little things, big things inevitably grow.

Growth has about it this promise: as slow as it takes to secure, is as sure as it is to stick.

Our time is finite. It’s all we have.

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Multiple Streams of Income Your Ticket to the Four Hours Work Week Holy Grail

In this article, I share a talk with one of my daughters. She is now at her mid-forties and awaking to the fact of not having a saving and investing program working for their future. A situation similar to many other people

She is a hard worker and now is doing well, but getting closer to the reality that stops working will also stop her income

Up to now, she trades working hours for money and nothing yet is set, to keep her present lifestyle, if she quits her job, which demands 9 to 10 working hours daily

Surely, you heard that if you want to get rid of the trap of trading money for working hours, staying on the left side of the Kiyosaki’s quadrant is the wrong place to be.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with a salary, for your work hours, but note that if you want to control the wealth creation process you must move to the right side of the Kiyosaki’s quadrant by being a business owner and investor.

My advice to my daughter was to structure a saving and investment plan. A plan that brings a comfortable retirement and gets back the freedom gone by just working too many hours

The saving and investment plan anchors the creation of multiple streams of income that keep pouring into the bank account no matter if you stop working

The system once set, works like a well-oiled machine, keeping the lifestyle they want for them and the family

As you can imagine, the talk went to a how to subject, and the question was Dad how can I do all it, you are telling me now? Right then, I thanked God for all the things I learn by myself or through others.

My mind went into overdrive mode, and back to my days as a stock market investor, day trader, MLM, farmer, machinery, construction manager, project director.

In addition, traveling and working in countries around the world knowing other cultures and their people besides having a personal passion for improving and being a better person.

Well, enough about me… let me continue with my daughter talk. Hope you find this info useful for you too.

Since I am fond of finding in the books all I want to know about a subject, I told my daughter to read and practice all that is in the book Multiple Streams of Income by Robert G Allen

The book is a primer for those that need to harness the wealth creation process. It covers all corners, walking the reader through many options to learn the concept of seeding money and make it grow and bless you greatly.

The book Multiple Streams of Income sets the basis for changing beliefs about money and help the reader to become a benefactor of many world’s causes that maybe you want to change for building a better world.

The reading of this book teaches you how to earn lifetime multiple income streams; you learn 10 specific ways to earn the extra income streams.

The kind of residual income that flows into your bank account 24 hours a day no matter if you are sleeping or on the beach

In addition, the beauty of this system is that you can do it:

• in a part-time basis

• working from home

• little or none of your money

• few or no employees

• simple proven system that work

Concisely, reading the book expose to the nitty greedy of the wealth creation process. Which teaches the ins and outs of the big money masters of the world.

However, I have not gone into all the strategies that the book explains in detail so that you know what and how to activate them and benefit from the multiple streams of income process 24/7 in your life

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Fixing Meetings With Bought Leads

It’s January and the mass hordes are flocking to the gyms to work off the pounds from Christmas and fulfil their New Years’ Resolutions. We all know by February many would have given up but will still be paying that direct debit gym membership.

We’ve all been there.

Paying good money for no return.

The parallel extends to bought mortgage leads from a marketing agency or an internet company. You often pay substantial amounts for a lead, but do you turn these into appointments. This article will show you how you can maximise your investment and achieve more face to face meetings which you can turn into income.

Open

You must aim to call the lead as soon as it has been received; delay and you’ll lose the impact. Even if it arrived at night, try and at least text that you’ll phone in the morning.

“Hi I’m Paul from ABC, we mortgage specialists. You were online just now and wanted to speak with someone about a mortgage.”

“The reason for my call is to see what we can do to help you and if it’s a good time, I’d like to find out what it is you want to achieve?”

Note, I don’t use the “is it convenient?”, never works.

“is that OK?”

Use plenty of test closes to get the customer nodding and agreeing. Yes tags work will here as well, don’t they?

Explore

This is what we all do well as mortgage advisers. The capability to ask questions. You’re not fact-finding though, you’re exploring the motivation behind the call, seeking the customer’s hot buttons. More than likely they were online doing the ubiquitous researching and they reached a point where they couldn’t research anymore and needed some further help.

Are they looking to consolidate some loans? Are they re-mortgaging? Have they had trouble obtaining mainstream finance? Seek their motivation to contact someone.

Use plenty of verbal assertions and paraphrase. Enable them to talk.

Summarise when they’ve finished and sell the meeting.

Sell the Meeting

“We’ve helped hundreds of people in your position over the last 5 years and are experts in this area. I could ask you some more questions, then I might be able to fix up a meeting with you. We can then discuss some options and show you some new ideas that’ll help you to bring all your loans together under one highly competitive mortgage.”

“How does that sound?”

Remember to test close and don’t come across desperate for the business, note the “I might be able to” much softer. Customers also like to hear the word “options and ideas”. They seriously don’t want to receive advice, believe me, that’s regulator speak not customer speak.

At this junction, you may feel some push-back. Be ready for this. Typically, you’ll get the “send me some literature”. You need to deal with these, so plan your responses. I like to work with the principle of knee jerk reactions. Think about it. When pushed for a decision, all of us react instantly with a “no” – we knee jerk react. It’s built into out DNA.

So, when faced with a typical “I’m not sure” or a “send me literature” merely re-ask what it is you asked for. Make sure you acknowledge what they’ve just said and just state the same request you mad earlier. They’ve now had time to think about it and will be positive.

Regulations and Fee

You’ve got to do this otherwise you’ll have your compliance people down on you like a ton of bricks but do it customer friendly, don’t use regulator speak.

“Have you heard of the Financial Conduct Authority?”

“They look after us to ensure you get sound advice from us and we’re directly regulated with them. That means we can give you access to every bank, building society and lender, many you’ve never heard of, can’t find on the internet and are only able to deal through me.”

Now drop a landmine, in case the customer is inclined to talk to someone else.

“You see if you went direct to your bank, they can only give you options from within their products and many people online also have restricted options, I can look at all the lenders for you”

“Does that sound interesting?” Note another test close. Now comes the crucial part.

“You might be wondering how I earn a living. First, if we meet up, there’s no charge at all for that meeting and if we can help you, we’ll arrange everything, sort out all the online paperwork and forms, talk to all the people we need to. We do that all for you and charge a fee but I can let you know exactly how much that will be when we meet and you can normally add it to the loan so you won’t have to fork out for it upfront.”

Here you may get push back again. Handle it. Re-assert you’ll talk through the amount when you meet. If you need to you can pacify by announcing it’ll be less than £500 but this is dangerous as the customer might start wanting more detail. State the fact that the first meeting is on your dollar so there’s no harm talking.

Fact find

The pure purpose of the next series of questions is to qualify the customer not fact find. You don’t want to go see everyone, you need to check to see that you can help, it’s the type of customer you normally work with, they’re not going to shop around outrageously and they are the type of customer where a fee is quite normal.

“I want to make sure we can help you”

Close

Confirm you can help and fix the meeting.

“Great news, I’m confident I can help you so you don’t need to go anywhere else, shall we fix up a time to talk further?”

Follow this methodology and you’ll be successful with the vast majority of leads and you won’t have that guilty feeling of paying the gym membership every month and avoiding any benefit. But you still might have those extra few pounds on you from Christmas – I know, I have.

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US Real Estate Predictions for 2017

It is with great sadness and generosity that my annual rollout of US. Real Estate predictions can proceed forward. This year will have more of a political bent given that 2016 was all about the politicos and the mental consternation it brought to the American psyche. Most often, real estate predictions are about hard numbers, sales expectations, housing starts, etc., etc., etc. Pretty dry stuff if you’re a normal human being, but if you’re a policy wonk or a real estate broker, it’s a nirvana jubilee. This year I shall call my prescient forecast “Sidney’s Pix Six”.

Millennials (Send in the Millennials)
According to Zillow magazine, “More millennials will become homeowners, driving up the homeownership rate. Millennials are also more racially diverse, so more homeowners will be people of color, reflecting the changing demographics of the United States.” Unless you’re a devout racist, this is probably a good omen. Similar to the saying: Happy wife… happy life. An active housing economy saying is as follows: Happy labor market… happy America.

In addition, the 2017 National Housing Forecast is in lock step with Zillow, with its position that millennials and baby boomers are fully expected to constitute the majority of housing market participants in the coming year. The National Housing Forecast also noted “… that millennials will represent the largest share of buyers at 33 percent, a market ratio that has actually been lowered due, largely in part, to the impending interest rate hike”. In terms of the Mid-West, researchers believe they will lead the pack in aggregate purchases. “This year, average millennial market share in these markets is 42 percent, far higher than the U.S. average of 38 percent.”, said the report.

New home growth connected to Obama job creation
Will new housing starts have been better under Obama or the President-elect. There is varying opinion on that speculation, but here are what some for the pros say. “Buyers of new homes will have to spend more as builders cover the cost of rising construction wages, driven even higher in 2017 by continued labor shortages, which could be worsened by tougher immigration policies under President-elect Trump”, says Dr. Svenja Gudell, the chief economist at Zillow. Furthermore, “A shortage of construction workers as a result may force builders to pay higher wages, costs which are likely to get passed on to buyers in the form of higher new home prices.”

Home Appreciation (The froth on the Top)
Even non-policy wonks like to sip the froth on the top. In real estate terminology, real estate home appreciation is the Eighth Wonder of the world. And according to Zillow, once again they’ve conveyed that sediment in numeric value. However, just like stats inherently lie, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that there’s appreciation (remember, several years ago there’s wasn’t), the bad news is that it will be lower than 2016.

“Home values will grow 3.6 percent in 2017, according to more than 100 economic and housing experts surveyed in the latest Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. National home values had risen 4.8 percent so far in 2016.
—Zillow.com

The good news on this disappointing forecast, is that the slow pace in price growth will be great for home buyers, since a slower market means slightly lower prices. However, some real estate experts refer to this as Phase-two of the post-Recession market. Phase-one having been the boomer-rang of price acceleration after the market had hit dirt bottom. The other 800-pound gorilla expert in the room is Reator.com, which anticipates a 3.9 appreciation rate, compared to Zillow’s 3.6.

Foreign buyers will play a smaller role (No Visa, No Dinero)
Lately, there’s been quite a bit of heightened drama with Number 45, even before he’s signed the lease at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Arguing with world leaders seems to be the new norm, given the tit-for-tat with China, England and others. This raises the question of foreign buyers. The word on the street is that foreign buyers will be a bit more circumspect, since they will now have to consider their own visa and permanent Alien status given the President-elects stance on immigration policies and visa reform. Translated: Hesitant foreign buyers will mean less buying on the home luxury market, a longtime favorite cash bucket for foreign nationals to invest their money in the states.

While Orange is the New Black, Small is the New Big (or vice versa)
Based on facts, not speculation, the median square footage for new homes in 2016 fell downward. That’s a canary in the coal mine event. Meaning it’s not good. The Texas A&M’s Real Estate Center notes there are serval reasons for this present and future shrinkage, which can be attributable to several factors: higher demand for homes close to city centers, the Tiny Home movement (thanks HGTV), and the Come to Jesus Moment of home builders who now realize that poor home buyers can only afford so much square footage. The solution, build smaller homes. Problem solved.

Loan Democracy is Loan Democratization
I have advocated residential mortgage loans that are more user friendly. And that’s just not me, it’s think tank policy wonks as well, since some are pro-business advocates. Translated: Increase the FICO score requirement, but allow buyers and market players (aka small investors), into the game with less money down. According to the Mortgage Credit Availability Index, it’s easier to get a mortgage now than at any time in the past eight years.

Banks may also be more willing to work with borrowers over the next few years as they look to make up for a decline in refinancing business when interest rates go up. “The pendulum has been swinging toward a loosening of the credit box a bit,” says Daren Blomquist, a senior vice president with Attom Data Solutions. “I don’t think we’ll see a reversal of that with the new administration. We’ll likely see an acceleration.
—The Fiscal Times, November 22, 2016

In a nutshell, these are the primary issues of why 2017 will be different in terms of real estate. The reasons are fairly basic and logical. The newly elected president, and his administration have three major policies that are game changers. Think the following: 1) Infrastructure spending, 2) Tax cuts, and 3) Changes to immigration policy. The cause and effect will directly effect new construction starts and mortgage rates.

So there you have it. One hates to be the bearer of bad (and good) news. May we have a propitious year and hope the real estate Gods are open minded to their favorite Son.

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Oddball Pulsars: First They Appear And Then They’re Gone

Pulsars are rapidly rotating baby neutron stars that are born from the funeral pyre of a massive progenitor star that has ended its stellar “life” in the violent, tragic tantrum of a supernova explosion. This final blaze of glory blasted the glowing, shimmering, varicolored outer gaseous layers of the doomed massive star into ambient space–as the core of the now “dead” star collapsed under the relentless crush of its own merciless gravity. Pulsars are dense, highly magnetized, rotating stellar remnants that emit a regular beam of electromagnetic radiation, and have brief rotational periods that hurl their brilliant light out into space with a regularity that is frequently likened to that of a lighthouse beacon on Earth. However, in January 2017, a team of astronomers announced that they have discovered strange pulsar behavior that indicates that a new class of pulsar “oddballs” seem to travel to the beat of a different drum. The study performed at theArecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico revealed a duo of extremely bizarre pulsars that perform a weird “cosmic vanishing act”–sometimes they appear, and then for very long periods of time, they are gone.

It took a great deal of determination on the part of a team of radio astronomers at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank in the UK to recognize the occurrence of the odd behavior of this duo of strange beasts inhabiting the cosmic zoo. The team, led by Dr. Andrew Lyne of the University of Manchester, showed great patience in their careful endeavor to confirm the real existence of these ghostly pulsars, that are invisible most of the time.

Pulsars are approximately 20 miles across, and possess masses equivalent to 500,000 Earths. Their rapid rotation hurls charged particles screeching out from the highly magnetized poles. This results in pulses, which can be received by radio telescopes on Earth.

The Lighthouses Of The Universe

The radiation that pulsars shoot out into the Universe can only be seen when the beam of emission is directly pointing toward Earth, which accounts for the pulsed appearance of emission.

The usually precise periods of pulsars have made them very valuable tools for astronomers to use. Indeed, astronomers have used observations of binary pulsars’ regular pulses to indirectly confirm the existence of gravitational waves–which are ripples in the fabric of Spacetime itself–that were predicted by Albert Einstein in his Theory of General Relativity (1915). In addition, the first exoplanets–alien worlds that belong to the families of stars beyond our own Sun–were discovered circling a pulsar, dubbed PSR B1257+12, by Dr. Aleksander Wolszczan. In fact, certain types of pulsars are just as reliable as atomic clocks in their accuracy in keeping time.

The first pulsar was discovered on November 28, 1967, by Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Dr. Antony Hewish. The astronomers observed pulses separated by 1.33 seconds that originated from the same location in space, and kept sidereal time. In trying to determine explanations for the mysterious pulses, the short period of the pulses eliminated most of the potential astrophysical sources that could account for the strange radiation, such as stars. Furthermore, since the pulses followed sidereal time, it could not be made by intelligent alien beings. At this frustrating point, Dr. Burnell has noted of herself and Dr. Hewish that “we did not really believe that we had picked up signals from another civilization, but obviously the idea had crossed our minds and we had no proof that it was an entirely natural radio emission. It is an interesting problem–if one thinks one may have detected life elsewhere in the Universe, how does one announce the results responsibly?” In spite of this, the two astronomers went on to nickame the mysterious signal LGM-1, for “little green men”. “Little green men” is a playful reference for intelligent alien beings from distant worlds.

It was not until a second mysterious pulsating source was discovered, in a different region of the sky, that the LGM hypothesis was discarded as merely an interesting, and somewhat humorous, diversion from scientific reality. Dr. Burnell’s and Dr. Hewish’s pulsar was later named CP 1919, and is currently known by a number of different designations including PSR 1919+21, PSR B1919+21, and PSR J1921+2153. Even though CP 1919 does emit in radio wavelengths pulsars, in general, have subsequently been determined to emit in visible light, X-ray, and/or gamma ray wavelengths.

The word pulsar first appeared in print in 1968:

An entirely novel kind of star came to light on August 6 last year and was referred to, by astronomers, as LGM (Little Green Men). Now it is thought to be a novel type between a white dwarf and a neutron [star]. The name Pulsar is likely to be given to it.

The existence of these strange and puzzling beasts inhabiting the celestial zoo was first proposed by Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky in 1934, when the two astronomers argued that a dense, small star composed primarily of neutrons could be left in the wreckage of a massive star that had gone supernova. The core of the “dead” massive star–that tragically collapsed under the heavy, heartless, relentless weight of its own crushing gravity–is compressed to the point that its constituent protons and electrons merge together to form neutrons. In a sense, these city-sized stellar relics are really one big atomic nucleus.

Neutron stars may wander through the wilderness of our Cosmos either as lonely, isolated worlds, or as members of a binary system residing in close contact with a still “living” hydrogen-burning main-sequence star (as designated in the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram of Stellar Evolution),or with a kindred stellar corpse similar to itself. Neutron stars have been observed embedded within the hearts of brilliantly colorful, beautiful, and glowing supernova remnants.

A dense newborn pulsar retains most of the angular momentum of its progenitor massive star, and since it has only a small percentage of its progenitor’s radius, it is born with a very high rate of rotation. A beam of radiation is sent forth along the magnetic axis of the pulsar, and it whirls along with the rotation of the newborn neutron star. The magnetic axis of the pulsar is what determines the direction of the electromagnetic beam, with the magnetic axis not necessarily being the same as the rotational axis. It is because of this misalignment that the beam is observed once for every rotation of the neutron star. This is what leads to the “pulsed” nature of its appearance.

In general, there are three distinct classes of pulsars that are currently recognized, based on the source of the power of a pulsar’selectromagnetic radiation:

Rotation-powered pulsars, where the loss of rotational energy of the stellar relic provides its source of power.

-Accretion-powered pulsars, where the gravitational potential energy of matter that is being accreted by the pulsar provides its power. This class contains most (though not all) of X-ray pulsars.

-Magnetars, where the decay of a very powerful magnetic field accounts for the electromagnetic power of the magnetar pulsar.

Even though all three known classes of pulsars are all baby neutron stars, wildly twirling in the exuberance of their infancy, their observable behavior and the underlying physics are very different.

The theory that defines pulsars as rapidly rotating baby neutron stars is widely accepted. However, not everyone is in agreement. As Dr. Werner Becker, of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany, noted in 2006, “The theory of how pulsars emit their radiation is still in its infancy, even after nearly forty years of work.”

Oddball Pulsars: First They Appear And Then They’re Gone

The oddball intermittent pulsars that perform a weird “cosmic vanishing act” represent an unusual and rarely observed population of pulsars, which show two states–one when they pulse like normal pulsars (ON state), and the other when they mysteriously have gone missing, and emit no radio waves whatsoever (OFF state). “They switch instantaneously between the states. They’re ON and then they’re gone, disappearing without any apparent warning,” Dr. Lyne commented in a January 4, 2017 Universities Space Research Association (USRA) Press Release.The USRA is in Columbia, Maryland.

A pulsar study team, consisting of 34 members, used the 7-beam receiver at Arecibo to go on a routine treasure hunt for pulsars in what they refer to as the Pulsar Arecibo L-Band Feed Array (PALFA) Survey. The study team determined that the mysterious duo of recently discovered oddball intermittent pulsars spend the greater part of their existence in the OFF state. A trio of other similar pulsars are also known but, in marked contrast, are mostly ON.

In September 2012, one of the newly detected pulsar oddballs was discovered as it was sending forth unusually brilliant pulses, and it was designated PSR J1929+1357. Of the 169 new pulsars found in this survey, follow-up observations of 50 % of those had been started at Jodrell Bank and this especially bright candidate was confirmed as a pulsar in February 2013 using Jodrell Bank’s 250-foot Lovell Telescope for the second attempt. “During the next 9 months it was observed no fewer than 650 times–100 hours. It was ON on only 5 occasions–just 0.8% of the time,” explained Dr. Benjamin Stappers in the January 4, 2017 USRA Press Release. Dr. Stappers is of the Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics, and a co-author of the research paper describing this discovery.

The most important implication of this study is that the small number of oddball intermittent pulsars, that have been discovered, must represent only the tip of a very large iceberg. In fact, there is the inescapable suggestion that there is an extremely large number of these “vanishing act”pulsars performing their mysterious disappearing act throughout the Universe. The PALFA survey, which is focused on a region of the Milky Way that is visible to the Arecibo radio dish, only covers each position in the survey once. It likely missed more than 130 similar “vanishing act”pulsars–and the one that was discovered just happened to be the only oddball that happened to be ON at the time of observation. In addition, if it were not for the early signals at Jodrell Bank, this oddball pulsar could very easily have been dismissed as a false detection–probably resulting from radio-frequency interference. The PALFA team calculates that there are probably about 3,000 such “vanishing act” pulsars lurking in the survey area that are still unseen–a number that is far greater than the population of “normal” pulsars.

“These disappearing pulsars may far outnumber normal pulsars. In fact, they may redefine what we think of as normal,” Dr. Victoria Kaspi noted in the January 4, 2017 USRA Press Release. Dr. Kaspi is of Mcgill University in Canada and the principal investigator on the PALFA project.

But what accounts for the unusual behavior of these oddball pulsars? Ever since the first pulsars were discovered back in 1967, astronomers have marveled at their remarkable lighthouse-like precision. Indeed, ever since their discovery fifty years ago, pulsars have served as accurate cosmic clocks that tick regularly for millions of years–and their regularity surpasses the ticking of the best laboratory clocks on Earth. However, these mysterious and rare long-term intermittent pulsars are usually invisible. This makes them about as useful as an old alarm clock, kept well-hidden in a box up in the attic, that is covered with layers of accumulated dust. “The explanation of the ON-OFF remains a puzzle. It indicates that the pulsar environment is changing, but just what those changes entail is open to debate,noted Dr. Andrew Seymour in the January 4, 2017USRA Press Release. Dr. Seymour is a USRA postdoc at Arecibo.

Recent observations of these “vanishing act” pulsars apparently indicate that their rotational slow-down rate when OFF is only about 80 percent of the rate when ON. One of the attributes of so-called “normal” pulsars is their pulse rate only slows down very gradually with the passage of time. The PALFA team is considering the possibility that the flow of charged particles, which drive the radio beams traveling from the pulsar, also causes the pulsar to spin down much more rapidly than its more “normal” kin. When OFF, the stream of particles for some reason fails–and, as a result, the spin rate slows down. However, as Dr. Seymour notes in the January 4, 2017 USRA Press Release, there is currently no agreement among astronomers in respect to what triggers the ON-OFF mechanism.

The altering spin rate can be calculated by the number of beats missed during the pulsar’s invisible phases.

PALFA surveys are ongoing, and no one is able to predict if and when more examples of this interesting newly recognized phenomenon will be discovered. Catching another intermittent pulsar in its ON phase is purely a matter of good luck. Is there another invisible pulsar lurking out there ready to unveil its strange long-hidden face–or will it lurk forever swathed in the secretive darkness of the unexplained mysteries of the Universe?

Dr. Lyne hopes that future measurements of PSR J1929+1357 will provide a rare peek into the mysterious physics of the pulsar emission mechanism and the ever-changing spin-down phenomenon.

Dr. Victoria Kaspi presented the results of this study on January 4, 2017, at a press conference held at the American Astronomical Society’swinter meeting in Grapevine, Texas.

Judith E. Braffman-Miller is a writer and astronomer whose articles have been published since 1981 in various magazines, newspapers, and journals. Although she has written on a variety of topics she particularly loves writing about astronomy, because it gives her the opportunity to communicate to others the many wonders of her field. Her first book, “Wisps, Ashes, and Smoke,” will be published soon.

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Money and Wealth Can Be Satisfying, But Only One Way

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10

Money and wealth are a necessary part of human existence; they are the exchange agent in all economies. In ancient times, it was livestock or land. Today, it can be cash or stocks or real estate investments. Essentially, money and wealth are identified not so much by what they are, but by what they represent.

Many people simply think of money as the green notes they hand you at the bank when you make a deposit. But it is so much more. Money and wealth can represent many things, and when you reduce money to its most basic form, it is value.

Understood this way, we realize money is not numbers on a bank statement, or a roll of bills tucked in a drawer, or a piece of paper with the words “Grant Deed”. Money and wealth are all the values those things represent.

The value of money empowers one central, primary condition: security. With money we feel secure, protected from hunger, cold and heat, and lack of control. Every other benefit of money seems to flow from that one state of security. And security should bring satisfaction. Should…

It’s no secret that the world is reeling from its dissatisfaction. Billions and billions of every currency is made, exchanged, and made again daily. Countless millions have far more than they need. Far more. And often the richest people are the ones with the greatest sense of unhappiness.

Why does it seem no one is content?

One of the chilling vanities we find in this life is this: nothing on which we set our hopes to achieve happiness or contentment will bring that condition we hope for. If we love security, we will feel insecure. If we love power, we will feel powerless. If we love influence, we will feel insignificant.

The obsession to gain money and wealth is a perfect illustration of this truth. The important issue here is the word LOVE. It is what we love that affects our satisfaction! Yes, money can bring happiness. Yes, influence can bring satisfaction. Yes, achievement can bring contentment. But how? How not?

Not when we LOVE THOSE THINGS. You see, setting our deepest affection upon anything, any condition, any situation, will ultimately let us down. And this is clearly why Solomon implored us not to foolishly seek those things above all else. Instead, he told us to love God above all else, and then everything fulfills as it was designed to fulfill.

The issue has never been money and wealth or any other thing we can gain. The issue has always been this:

Whatever we love more than God will ultimately bring dissatisfaction.

It’s really not that complicated. I mean, think about it. How to be miserable? Easy. Love things – money, power, influence, pride, achievement, etc… more than God.

How to be happy? Love God more than anything. And how to do that? Put His laws and desires above our own natural desires. The absolute, sure-fire result is peace, security, happiness, fulfillment, and contentment.

And one more question… what does loving God more than anything really look like? Well, that is another post for another day, but for now, we can start by reading His Word. For in the Bible, He tells us exactly what He desires for our life, and

It is Tremendously Satisfying!

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