Lessons I learned in the middle of nowhere – change

Schellbourne Stands out

Shellbourne-ChangeDuring the month of July I had the opportunity to visit 5 states in the South West. On a drive into Idaho,  my father and I drove for what seems like an eternity, from the most southern point of Nevada to the Northern border of the state. During the 600 miles or so the scenery did not change much on the two lane highway. There were mountains and desert as far as the eye could see. Then there it was, a large 10 foot metal structure shaped like the state of Nevada and another 25 foot metal cowboy on a horse calling out my name.

Although the background was the same, the foreground stood out like a 25 foot metal horse in the middle of the desert. The stop was educational and interesting as we learned about the importance of this location in the mid 1800’s.

As we drove off I began to wonder how this once important location became obsolete. Time and technological advances in communication improved and one day Schellbourne was no longer what it once was. I thought of my business and my clients businesses and how we can avoid becoming “Schellbourened”.

Change starts with me

One of the things I am very proud of is knowing when it is time to make switch. When I started Pritzer, the initial service offering was not website design. During the first week of Pritzer’s existence, I was cold calling and twice I was asked if we designed websites. Twice I said no. The third time I was asked if we designed websites my answer was “Yes. Let’s talk about what you are looking for in your new website”. I then made sure I surrounded myself with designers who could help me deliver.

People wanted to work with me but they were not interested in the service I was offering so I made the switch to give them what they were asking for. This opened the door to working with clients all over the country and helped me establish Pritzer in major markets.

During the last 7 years there have been many times when I’ve had to make changes in how to prepare for the future. In 2012 I wanted an animated video for Pritzer, I looked at hiring a firm to do it. During the process I talked to a lot of talented animators but none of them looked at my project from a marketer’s perspective. I decided that it made sense to bring it in-house and brought on an animator. From that point forward we have been offering animated business videos or explainer videos as a service and the endevour has been extremely successful. Because of my initial experience looking for an animator, I make sure that we not only deliver great looking videos but that we produce videos that deliver results.

By making changes Pritzer has remained relevant and avoided becoming obsolete. There are many stories of many business owners who were not willing or able to make a change and are now out of business.

Who Moved My Cheese: Change

Change is hard and change can be scary. There is a great book entitled “Who Moved My Cheese” that deals with change and how we resist change. It is a simple but very helpful read and I highly recommend it. The book introduces us to 4 characters, two mice and two men who live in a maze. The cheese represents our wants and needs and in the book the character’s lives revolve around finding the cheese or dwelling on when they had the cheese. The mice characters take notice of when their cheese supply is running low and begin to head out into the maze looking for new cheese. This way when their initial cheese runs out, they will be ready with a new stock pile of cheese.

The two men are comfortable in their large supply. So much so that they don’t notice their supply is beginning to dwindle and eventually it is all gone. Because they didn’t prepare they are now without any cheese and without a plan. They hang around their nonexistent cheese supply hoping it comes back and reminisce on when they had a lot of cheese.

Eventually, one of the men characters goes out in search of new cheese. Although scared and uncertain he heads out into the unknown eventually finding a new supply. The fate of the one character who stayed behind is unknown and up to the reader to conclude in our own minds what happened to him.

I read this book for the first time in 1999 and I make it a point to read it at least once a year to remind myself to keep looking for my cheese and to not become complacent with my immediate results.

The Real Estates Cheese

As we are all aware, there was a huge meltdown in the real estate and mortgage markets in 2008. Millions of people were affected and thousands of people in the real estate and mortgage industry were left without work. Many of my friends in the industry fled to new markets  and thrived while others hung around dwelling and hoping things would go back to they were without making change to how they approached the new market.

Many real estate and mortgage professionals who stayed made a very comfortable living. They learned the new market, made changes to their business plan and succeeded. But there were others who hung around talking about how much money they once made and kept going into their offices waiting for the phone to ring like it used to when their cheese was abundant.

The fear of change was in the air, not only in real estate and mortgage but in all industries. So what happened during this time? The reality that change was a necessity became clear.

Now that the markets are slowly but surely bouncing back (if temporary or permanent remains to be seen) we are starting to see the real estate fliers at or homes and mortgage commercials on TV beginning to come back. The pros that withstood the storm had enough reserved to start marketing again. The ones who starved during these times are hoping to jump back in and cash in temporarily once again.

Schellbourne Again

Driving 26 hours over a 5 day span allows for a lot of thinking to take place. Here is what came out of my Shcellbourne experience:

  • Standing out in a sea (or desert) of sameness is a very good thing
  • Change is necessary to stay relevant
  • Pay attention to my client’s needs
  • A rest stop with clean bathrooms in the middle of the desert is a welcomed surprise

I encourage you to keep your eyes open to new opportunities within your business. Pay attention to your client’s needs and don’t be afraid to make a change even if it means that you may fail. And if you are driving on highway 93 in Nevada, stop in Schellbourne and look around at what once was but no longer is.

Good Selling

Byron G. Torres


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