S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Smart Achievers

You may have read about the importance of setting goals in my earlier blog entry, but today I wanted to make a special point about why it’s smart to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. It makes all the difference in terms of accomplishing your dreams.

What are S.M.A.R.T. goals?

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for a popular approach to goal setting that helps ensure that you have the right targets to shoot for and a feasible way of hitting your mark. The acronym stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Specific

Make sure that your goals have a specific outcome in mind. It is not enough to just say, “I’d like to be healthier,” because that is too broad and could include too many things to actually move the needle forward on your vision. It leaves too much grey area in terms of whether the goal was met or not.

Instead, state what you will specifically do to get healthier. Leave no room for in-betweens about what will be undertaken to achieve your goal. A better approach would be to identify exactly how you will be healthier. “I will exercise.” “I will eat healthier foods.”

Specific goals help you home in your vision in a clear way.

Measurable

Following up with specificity, make sure that your goals are measurable and can be tracked. If you cannot measure a goal, there is still too much ambiguity surrounding the end-result to actually matter.

To make goals measurable, include a quantitative aspect that is either achieved or not. Going along with the above example, “I’d like to be healthier,” should instead look more like, “I will jog around Kansas City to lose 10 pounds.”

Now we have a specific course of action and a measurable outcome.

Attainable

It can be easy to set unattainable goals when we are feeling our best or are coming off of a massive win. We want to keep the momentum going and declare that “this year is my year!” And while this is a noble thing and is exciting in the moment – it may not leave us better off when actually setting goals for the quarter/year.

Goals should challenge us to move forward, but they have to be attainable. Make sure your goals are within the realm of possibility; otherwise, you are setting yourself up for failure when you are actually trying to do your best.

Relevant

Another problem we run into is setting irrelevant goals that hold no real outcome on our lives. This can happen when we want to do too much at once, or we’re looking for an easy win that doesn’t really contribute to realizing our dreams.

Make sure your goals are relevant and work with other goals that you may have set. Furthermore, they should matter and provide tangible value to your wellbeing – professionally or personally.

It does no good to set a frivolous goal for all of your effort. Tailor them to improve your life as something worthwhile. For example, losing 10 pounds is worthwhile because it improves many other factors of your life and is a great start to a journey of overall improved health. It is also an attainable goal that can be expanded on with progress.

Timely

Lastly, goals should fit within a defined timetable. By including a time measurement to the goal, it comes with a sense of accountability. This keeps you on-track and helps ensure success from your efforts.

Without a time component to a goal, it can be too easy to push off into the future. What is the point of setting a goal if you never really accomplish it or hold yourself to any sort of expectation? Add a timetable to the goal, while also making sure that it is still attainable.

“I will jog around Kansas City to lose 10 pounds in three months.”

End Result

When we sit down to map out goals, it is easy to fall into the trap of idealistic optimism and to shoot for the stars. This is a good thing, but as we’ve seen, it isn’t necessarily the smartest way to go about mapping out your plans.

“I would like to be healthier,” is a goal that is not specific, is not measurable, and has no timetable to judge it by.

“I will jog around Kansas City to lose 10 pounds in three months,” is a much stronger goal as it has a specific outcome, is measurable, and sets a time limit to keep things moving in the forward direction. It is also an attainable goal that has relevance to one’s life.

The end result of applying the S.M.A.R.T. system is an improved chance of taking your dreams and turning them into a reality. Make sure to incorporate this method into your goal setting to be more productive with your time.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

Tips for Being More Productive (Part 1)

The modern world is a busy place. Reviewing memos, catching flights, attending meetings, reading endless e-mails – it adds up to a lot. We’re all looking for ways to make the workday more productive and to accomplish more of our goals in practical ways.

Today, I’d like to share some of my personal tips and advice for staying productive and keeping your edge in this busy environment.

1.) Keep Track of Your Time

Sometimes it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all of the tasks on your radar. Maybe you start out each day with focus and the intention to mark off everything on your to-do list, but at the end of the day, you still have many items left undone.

If this scenario seems familiar to you, you should consider keeping a daily timesheet to keep track of your time. Keeping track of how you spend your time allows you to get an assessment of your activity and identify patterns of behavior that aren’t as productive as they could be.

You can use a manual sheet or digital excel sheet and block off the hours of the day. Use intervals of 15 minutes to prevent things from becoming overly complicated. Track your time for a whole week to gather enough data, then review the week to identify how you spent your time. If you use a digital timesheet, you can place the information into graphs for easy comparison and additional details.

After a week or two, you will be surprised how much of your day is spent on activities that are relatively unimportant or could be delegated to free up more of your valuable attention. From here, you can make adjustments as needed to improve your performance.

2.) Set Goals, Big and Small

Sometimes we can feel that we are grinding away, but we don’t necessarily have a clear direction of where we’re going or what we would like to accomplish with our time. This is where setting goals becomes an important part of your life.

Whether in business or in life, every highly productive person takes the time to analyze where they are in a general sense, where they would like to be and what it would take to get there. Then, they formulate a plan to achieve specific actions that will move them closer to their end goal.

You too can take advantage of this approach by taking an inventory of where you are, and by setting goals on a small scope (week-by-week) to large (quarterly or yearly). This process will naturally keep you on track toward achieving your dreams.

3.) Avoid Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking is an ability that has become increasingly in demand in our hyper-connected, rapid-paced world. And while it is certainly a skill that can come in handy, it is far from perfect when it measures up to applied focus.

Multi-tasking is the act of performing multiple tasks at one time. This is useful in situations where you are performing low-level tasks that do not require a lot of brain power and just need to be checked off.

The bad news is that multi-tasking is widely ineffective when it comes to more complex tasks and can actually cause you to be less productive in the long-term. That’s because when someone is “multi-tasking,” they’re really just switching between tasks at a rapid rate – cutting down the level of detail and attention that they apply to any given task.

This is the opposite of productive. Instead of taking this approach, you should focus on one individual task at a time and complete them in order from most important to least. This will ensure that you are giving the fullest level of attention to your work and actually free up time as you knock them out one-by-one.

4.) Develop a Passion for Reading

It has been well-established that reading is an important habit to develop for long-term success. It is a fundamental characteristic of successful people in today’s world, from CEOs to philosophers. In fact, legendary investor Warren Buffett is famous for his advocacy of reading, recommending that everyone should read at least 500 pages per day.

Why is it so important to read?

Reading is one of the most powerful tools available to educate oneself and gain the direct insights and knowledge of others. It allows the reader to absorb a lifetime of information on any given subject over a period of hours. Books are a tremendous resource for anyone continuing their educational efforts and advancing their skillset and knowledge base, especially in the business world.

It has also been scientifically proven that reading improves memory and can train the brain for increased focus, making reading a great activity to keep the brain working optimally.

In addition to the immense educational value provided – reading is a fun activity and can be a crucial tool for anyone looking to be more productive.

Onward and Upward

So, there you have it – a handful of productivity tips that will hopefully take your days to the next level in terms of what you can accomplish. If you’re interested in learning even more ways to be productive, check out some of my additional tips, here.

Also, feel free to leave your own tips in the comments section below.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

The Kansas City Royals are Being Sold: What Could This Mean for the Franchise?

Kansas City Royals always brings the heat

My wife and I are long-time fans of the Kansas City Royals, and we try to hit a home game whenever we can; it’s one of our favorite family pastimes. Currently, the Royals are sitting 4th overall in the MLB’s American League Central (AL Cent), but their performance isn’t the only thing fans are talking about and sportscasters are reporting on.

After much speculation, it’s been confirmed that the Kansas City Royals are being sold to local businessman John Sherman, for $1 billion. The official announcement was made by the Royals’ current owner David Glass and his family on August 30th. While Glass explained to Kansas City fans how difficult this decision was to make, there are high hopes that John Sherman will make an excellent addition to the team.

A season-ticket holder, minority owner of the Cleveland Indians, and Kansas City native, John Sherman will be the third owner of the franchise since it was founded in 1969 by Ewing Kauffman. While the prospect of new ownership is daunting to fans, teammates, and management, John Sherman is certainly the right man for the job. This change in ownership could mean a whole new ball game for the Royals, and one that exudes success.

I believe that Sherman will truly be an asset to the Royals, as his experience speaks for itself. As a former minority owner of the Cleveland Indians, Sherman has seen the operations of major league baseball–he knows how the system works and the types of strategies that will evoke prosperity for the team and the franchise as a whole. However, there has been some speculation that Dayton Moore steps away from the general manager’s office while Ned Yost might also make an abrupt departure.

We can only wait to see what the final outcome will be, but it’s important to keep in mind that the Royals have always been a strong and stable franchise–more than any other franchise within the last decade. As a long-time fan, I have hope that this new deal will bring forth a new era for the Kansas City Royals.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

A Brief History of Kansas City

Some people call it “Paris of the Plains,” – others call it the BBQ Capital of the World – or simply K.C. There are a lot of different names for Kansas City, Missouri but I just call it home.

From its early days as a settlement for traders and trappers, Kansas City has been a burgeoning center piece in the American story. Today, the metro area is home to over 2 million people, and is a major business sector and logistical hub in the heartland of the country.

Allow me to give you a short history of this great city.

Founding and Early Days

Kansas City became famous as a waypoint for traders, trappers and pioneers making their way westward.

The area around Kansas City was initially inhabited by Native American tribes (primarily the Kansa Indians and the Shawnee tribe) in its early days before its development by French traders and Missouri’s later inclusion into the United States.

Kansas City itself was founded heavily by the activity of settlers and pioneers who made their way along the Kansas and Missouri Rivers – scouting out the land in search of animals, farmland and strategic points for traders. A prominent merchant and missionary named John Calvin McCoy opened up a store for fellow travelers, sprouting neighboring settlements and what would eventually become Kansas City.

By mid-century, Kansas City had emerged as a key port along the Missouri River, and had established itself as a primary point of interest for travelers as the great westward expansion was underway. The budding town was eventually incorporated into Missouri, although half of the metro still remains in Kansas state to this day.

The Boom

In the late 1800’s to mid 1900’s, Kansas City went through a boom. Due to its prime location as a crossroads to the west, the city became a destination for travelers and newly arrived citizens which brought in some of its most defining qualities.

In 1881, the state of Kansas enacted prohibition laws for its residents – barring the consumption and selling of alcohol. Luckily for those residents located on the western side of the Kansas River, they could get a drink just over the bridge in Missouri where alcohol was still legal. This created a boom in taverns and saloons throughout Kansas City (especially along our famous 12th street.)

The explosion of profitability from these saloons brought in other forms of business (banks, manufacturing, hotels, etc.) and led to the expansion of Kansas City’s influence. The city soon gave birth to its own distinct form of Jazz, as well as placing itself on the map for the world’s best BBQ.

Current Day

Kansas City, Missouri

After the mid-1900’s Kansas City continued to develop along with the rest of the United States. Population growth has continued to climb as the city remains an attractive site for businesses, young professionals and families in the Midwest.

Today, we are the country’s 29th most populous metro area. We are home to a multitude of fabulous schools and universities. We enjoy a multitude of sports teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals – and yes, our BBQ is still number one.

We have more boulevards than Paris, filled with places to see and things to do. If you should be so lucky to find yourself in this part of the country, make sure to visit some of our most notable locations, like the National WWI Museum and Memorial or the famous Union Station.

Until next time.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

3 New Technologies in Real Estate

It’s no secret that I am a real estate enthusiast – not just in my work with Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) here in Kansas City, but also as a hobbyist.

I love learning about the latest trends and seeing where the market is going at any given time, and you can learn a lot by observing industry changes on a macro scale. Like all fields of business, real estate is constantly shifting with the times and the last place you want to end up is behind the curve.

Plus, it’s just incredibly interesting to see how the latest tech is being used for the benefit of the owner and seeker. Every year it seems like there is something new that comes out to potentially revolutionize the industry.

Today, I thought I’d share some of the most exciting things to keep an eye on in the next year.

1.) Virtual and Augment Reality

Virtual reality (or VR) used to be a fantasy of the not-so-distant past. I remember several various attempts at producing a viable concept throughout the 80’s and 90’s, but it seems is if the tech has finally arrived.

Maybe you’ve seen the demos at your local mall, or maybe you’re living an alternate life in the comfort of your home – at either rate, VR is an emerging technology that could revolutionize real estate as we know it.

From experiencing a virtual tour of your place prior to move-in, or seeing your dream home before building – there are several attractive possibilities for this tool. Sure, there are some digital programs out there that let you play around with various design concepts, but imagine a fully realized creative platform that lets you see the end product before your very eyes.

Property owners and builders can host instant and always-available walk-throughs for prospective buyers. And buyers will be able to plan for their future by knowing how their home will look and feel once they move in. This also opens the door to interior/exterior design.

2.) Drone Photography

Drones came onto the scene just a few short years ago and multiple industries quickly found use for flying tech. In real estate, the drone has been adapted primarily to be used for photography and video recording that would have been impossible in the past.

There are some amazing feats being accomplished with drone photography, from a bird’s eye view of the property or neighborhood, to gliding through open rooms. Check out this amazing video, shot with a drone equipped with slow-motion capture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrlusuwPvcs

These little machines are controlled by manual or digital remotes and can go upwards of 400 feet – getting amazing footage of land properties or homes for sale. Some drones can be outfitted with expensive, HD cameras that capture hyper-detailed images/video. A professional level drone can cost anywhere between a couple hundred dollars and several thousand – depending on what specs or quality is needed.

This new tech is certainly a game changer for owners trying to showcase their properties, but it will also open up a whole area for business. Costing a couple hundred dollars per flight – drone pilots can make good money, while also offering a fair price for stellar photos.

3.) Improved Data and Platforms

Since the arrival of platforms like Zillow or Realtor.com, buying and selling platforms have completely changed the real estate business. Having properties listed on these platforms has never been more important and can mean the difference between success and failure.

For buyers and sellers alike, it’s important to tap into the massive market looking for specific requirements.  One of the great features of these various platforms is the ability to nail down the exact specifications that home buyers are looking for – allowing them to sort through thousands of listings to compare the most suitable matches.

Gone are the days of “searching and hoping” to find a home that you can tolerate. Now, you can get the home of your dreams curated to your profile and neatly organized by filter options. This dramatically cuts down on the need for a third-party, and will continue to do so as personalized algorithms become more advanced.

These are just a few of the latest technological developments in real estate. It will be interesting to see how these develop and what other advancements come into the fold, but I would choose these as the big winners in innovation.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

Musings on Greek Mythology

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with the concept and details of Greek Mythology and how they directly reflect the values of the ancient societies that they were crafted from. In a way, these mythic tales about various gods and goddesses are really stories about the people of Greece as they fostered the greatest society that the earth has ever seen.

Greek mythology dates back to the 8th century B.C. and while the stories themselves are interesting and fun to read, if you take a closer look, there’s a lot to be gleaned from their origins.

For example, we’re all familiar with Hades – the underworld – where souls go after death and where their ruler (also named Hades) reigned supreme. The creation of this fictional land of the dead indicates that the Greeks held a developed concept of life after death and believed that there were powerful supernatural beings that exist beyond man’s knowledge.

Another interesting insight into the Greek culture is highlighted through the deity Dionysus, the god of wine, theater and celebration. He was “the social god.” It’s curious to think of how important these aspects were to a people who lived so long ago without the conveniences of modern technology. I guess partying and the pursuit of joy is as old as time.

It’s also intriguing that the gods/goddesses in Greek mythology are flawed and have their own distinct personalities that leave them open to error; whereas religious figures in modern beliefs are examples of perfection and holiness.

It makes one thing about how drastically different the ancient Greeks thought about the world compared with our views and understandings today. And yet, what amazes me is that many of the same themes and thoughts that originated from their society still persist all over the world today.

These themes add a human element to the Greek myths and highlight the unescapable qualities of human nature. While Greek gods were certainly flawed, notions of good and evil and of consequences still resonate within every culture on the planet. Later on, the Greeks would also lay the foundations for Western philosophy with great thinkers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

Whether it’s the ancient Greek myths or the classic epics of Homer, we can learn a lot about ancient man (and ourselves) through these stories. I would highly recommend anyone to spend a little time to explore this vast area of knowledge.

I think you will find the works to be enriching as well as a lot of fun!

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

Cost-Effective Ways to Make Your Home Eco-Friendly

It’s essential that we give back to our environment in any way we can, and at Eighteen Capital Group, we do this by incorporating cutting-edge “green” technologies in all of our managed properties. Sustainability is key to the preservation of our ecosystem, and we can practice this in a multitude of ways. Homes that exude eco-friendly qualities will not only give back to our environment, but they can also save you money in the long-run–certainly a win-win in my book.

In an effort to make our homes environmentally conscious, here are a few excellent and cost-effective upgrades you can make:

  • Install a Smart Meter: One of the biggest culprits of energy consumption in your home is your heating system. Especially true during the cold winter months, your heating system uses an exorbitant amount of energy and money. To solve this problem, you may want to consider installing a smart meter. Smart meters can be programmed for maximum efficiency, they are an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint, and they will save you money on your next energy bill.
  • Energy Efficient Light Bulbs: Cheap and easy to find, energy-efficient light bulbs are another sure-fire way to promote sustainability in your home. These bulbs use less electricity while lasting much longer than the average bulb.
  • Window Treatments: While natural light can add the perfect aesthetic to a home, too much natural light can make your house a bit warmer, requiring your air conditioning system to work hard to keep your house cool. In turn, this can cause significant increases in your energy bill at the end of the month. To solve this problem, consider the various window treatments you can invest in for your home. From glass tints to curtains, there are many cost-effective options to keep the temperature of your house regulated properly.
  • Low Flow Shower Heads: Long, hot showers can lead to wasted water and energy. Luckily, low-flow shower heads are the perfect solution for individuals who enjoy 10-15 minutes of peace in the shower but don’t want to waste money and water. Low flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40% or more. These shower heads exude sustainability by reducing water consumption while decreasing your water bill at the same time.

While these are only a few small examples, there are a multitude of ways to practice sustainability in your home. This is a practice we take very serious throughout Eighteen Capital Group and in my own home. How do you practice sustainability in your home?

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri (Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group)