When we started Vision Quest Virtual Tours, we had a clearly defined strategy of building a local virtual tour business photographing North Georgia residential real estate virtual tours. Instead, we ended up with a national virtual tour company providing healthcare virtual tours and vacation rental virtual tours to clients all over the country.
Our strategy didn’t fail because we didn’t try hard enough to make it work. Our strategy failed because there was a better path for us that emerged as a result of the obstacles we faced and overcame. We put in all the effort we could but day after day, we were hearing nothing but “No Thank You” as I called Realtors. Our market was hit hard during the housing market collapse and our Realtors weren’t making money and therefore weren’t spending money on marketing. As we continued to contact those Realtors to no avail, we stumbled upon some other business by chance.
We thought that we would do a few vacation rental virtual tours and healthcare virtual tours as a way to make a little extra money while we waited for our North Georgia virtual tour real estate business to take off. What happened instead was that the Healthcare virtual tours and vacation rental virtual tour business skyrocketed and our new strategy became crystal clear. As a matter of fact, residential real estate virtual tours now make up about 5% of our business and healthcare and vacation rentals make up about 85%.
I am a slow runner. No, seriously, I am very slow. I finished my last two races almost dead last. In my first triathlon, I was fourth from the bottom out of over 400 finishers but as I was racing I saw this sign:
Should I choose to focus on where I finished in comparison with the other racers that day, I might become discouraged but it’s also true that I finished faster than every single person who did not finish or did not start the race that day. So basically that puts me in the top 1% based on how I choose to measure myself. I am in an elite category of people who actually showed up to run the race!
Many people like the idea of owning their own business or running a half marathon but how many people actually get out and turn their good ideas into a reality? How many actually make it to the starting line? There are many similarities between getting to the starting line of running a race and running our national virtual tour company using RTV, Inc’s virtual tour technology.
At Vision Quest Virtual Tours, we specialize in behavioral healthcare virtual tours because I have a background in the behavioral health field. In my work with mental health patients, I have met many who hear voices either through psychosis or schizophrenia. To them the voices in their head are absolutely real and no amount of persuasion will convince them otherwise.
This should not surprise the rest of us because we all hear voices in our heads -- the only difference between a “sane” person and a schizophrenic is that we get to choose which voices we listen to. I find that it is very important for me to filter the voices I hear by choosing what I listen to, what thoughts I allow to reside in my mind, what I choose to read and watch on TV and who I allow to speak into my life.
For many years the only tool that I used to measure my fitness was my scale. My entire definition of success was based on whether the number on the scale was lower than it was the last time I weighed. As someone whose weight fluctuates wildly even from day to day, this single measurement yielded much frustration and discouragement. Often even when I would do everything right, my weight would not budge and I would quit whatever latest weight loss fad or fitness program I had started.
As I’ve gotten older (and fatter) I’ve realized that I have got to focus on a bigger picture. I made the decision that I would watch the scale but EVEN IF my weight did not go down, I was going to remain committed to improving my physical fitness. I now have a lengthy list of criteria that measure my success -- how my clothes fit, if I am able to increase the mileage I run or bike, how I feel, and whether I exercised 3 - 5 days a week whether I wanted to or not. EVEN IF I never see the number I hope for on the scale, I will keep going because I have learned to change how I measure success.
Likewise, the single factor that I used to measure my success in my career previously was my income. It wasn’t that I was overly obsessed with money but I am a very competitive person. My line of work is sales and in sales, income is how you keep score. If my career success was measured by income alone, then the "pinnacle" of my career just so happens to be the time in my life when I was most unhappy.
We recently photographed a hotel virtual tour. The owners had several weeks to prepare for the photo shoot and when we arrived, they had chosen their very best rooms for us to shoot. They sent their head housekeeper with us to make sure everything was absolutely perfect. After we delivered the pictures and virtual tour, they wrote back and complained that the pictures made the bed skirt look wrinkled in one of the rooms.
Really, you think it was the camera that did that?
Do you ever wonder where all the hours go? Do you ever get to the end of your day and feel like you have not accomplished anything? Have you ever started a diet or exercise program and become frustrated because you aren’t seeing results?
We’ve all been there, in fact we may go through periods where we feel that way every day. In exercise, there is a concept called the Borg Perceived Exertion Scale which rates the level of physical exertion that is perceived by the person and compares it to the actual exertion as measured by things such as heart rate, calories burned, etc.
The challenge is that often what we perceive to be our level of exertion is not really accurate. Have you ever been to the gym and seen someone who walks around the gym flirting and chatting and never seems to do any actual exercise? You can imagine though that this person goes home and says that they worked out for two hours! If you’ve ever worked in an office environment, you’ve probably seen the same thing! If you have ADHD like I do, you've probably DONE the same thing.
I saw a cartoon on Facebook that said, “If you want me to go running with you, I'm going to need some motivation...Like a clown chasing us with a bloody knife and margaritas waiting on us at the finish line”. This was posted by a friend of mine who swears she could never run a race with me but now I realize that with the proper motivation, I could have her out on the road with me as I train for my half marathon.
When things get tough, it’s extremely important to understand the WHY of what you are doing if you want to find the WILL to continue...
I struggle to find balance in my life so I had the brilliant idea last week that since I had so much to get done, I would set a daily agenda and outline what needed to be done during which hours to successful run our virtual tour business as well as my personal life. Now this may work well for some people but it backfired for me. I had this great calendar set up last week that told me when I would blog and when I would eat and when I would make cold calls and when I would sleep. By the end of the week, I felt like a complete and total failure because I did not stick to the schedule AT ALL!! In retrospect, I actually accomplished a great deal last week but because I did not do it in the hours I had planned to, I felt defeated.
Mark Twain is credited with the quote “Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain” but it was my mentor and business partner who drilled that saying into my mind and made it become a part of my life....
As I sit on my deck overlooking the Mississippi River, there is an American eagle flying overhead. With several large eagle’s nests near our house, it’s not uncommon to see as many as 7 or 8 eagles at a time. There are two huge trees on either side of our house and the eagles often sit in their branches and survey the water below. These birds are a beauty to behold and watching them from just a few feet away on my deck has given me a deeper appreciation for how majestic and complex they are.
There is a well known scripture in the Bible that speaks of “mounting up with wings like eagles.” If you have never seen an eagle “mount up” then you may think this only refers to the eagle floating effortlessly on the wind. In fact, some versions translate the word Hebrew word for mount as “soar with wings like eagles” and that’s probably because most people have only seen an eagle that is already in flight.
But take a look at this slow motion video of an eagle mounting up and the Scripture takes on a different meaning. I’ve seen this many times up close because the eagles don’t like it when I come too close on the deck. There is no way to describe the sound of the power behind those wings as these giant birds take off. The look of determination and extreme focus in their eyes is awe inspiring and really gives new understanding to what it means to “MOUNT with wings like eagles”.
True success rarely happens overnight whether in nature or business. I’ve seen the eagle’s nest with the babies in it - not quite ready to take flight and dependent on their parents for their basic needs. I’ve seen the babies that have recently left the nest and don’t yet have the beautiful white head and tail -- they really don’t stand out much from any other bird of prey.
So often the same thing happens in our every day lives. We see a small business owner whose business seems to run itself, we see an athlete who breaks records running a marathon and doesn’t seem to break a sweat, we see people whose marriages look like a perpetual honeymoon. We compare ourselves to them and think that they must have some special gift we don’t. What we often don’t see in these cases is what these people looked like in the beginning...before they reached a level where the wind picked them up and allowed them to soar effortlessly.
I’ve been there -- When I started running, I could barely run for 60 seconds straight and yet I am now six weeks away from running a half marathon. When we started in virtual tour photography, we couldn’t GIVE our tours away and now we have a thriving national virtual tour business and much of our business comes from referrals and repeat business. The reason that so many people don’t stick to a new venture is that they lack that determination and focus that the eagle has when he first takes off. They assume it was going to be easy at first or on the other hand, they see how hard they have to work in the beginning and assume that it’s always going to be that hard.
What I have never seen is an eagle turn around and come back to the tree and say, “This is too hard”. That is because the eagle knows instinctively that by putting in the initial effort necessary to mount up then eventually he will catch the updrafts and be able to soar to heights that other birds couldn’t even imagine.