In 1918, a guy named Ivy Lee was approached by Charles Schwab. Now, when we hear the name Charles Schwab, we might think of the Charles Schwab we know today who invested and traded stocks. But this isn't the same Charles Schwab.
Charles Schwab at that time was one of the most wealthy people in the world. He owned Bethlehem Steel and steel was, of course, a huge deal. So he was a hugely successful entrepreneur.
And so what happened with Ivy Lee and Charles Schwab was Ivy was a consultant — like how we have consultants and coaches today.
Anyway, Schwab came to him and said, "Hey, I want to increase my managers' efficiency and productivity as well as my proficiency and productivity. I want you to give me your best idea. What's it going to cost me?"
So Ivy being a smart salesperson, did a couple of things.
First, he said I'm not going to charge you anything. I'm just going to just give you the idea and then you can pay me what it's worth.
What a beautiful idea! How many of us have that situation where people ask you how much you charge for a commission? And then you jump in and say the number.
But what you should do is use the "Ivy Lee Method" by saying:
"Well, actually you don't pay me anything unless I bring you an offer that you accept, that you like, and that gets all the way to closing. That's the only time I'm paid. My services are free up until closing. So it's a success fee."
What a great way to explain your fee in a different way!
But what was Ivy's idea that he delivered to Schwab? Here was Ivy's idea:
He wanted Schwab and all his managers to write down the six big items they needed to get done the next day every night before they went to bed. Then, when they came to work the next day, Ivy wanted them to organize their lists in order of priority. Then only work on one item until it's finished before moving on to the next item.
Yes, there were going to be distractions and other things that happened. But this was their top priorities for the day.
If they got to the end of the day and they haven't finished them, then they moved those items to the next day and restarted their list of six — putting those unfinished items on the top. And they just continually strived to move through that list of six every single day.
At the end of six months, Schwab came back to Ivy and said, it's been amazing. We've had this amazing, incredible change in our work ethic and productivity. And he wrote Ivy a check at that time. Remember it's still 1918, but Schwab wrote him a check for $25,000.
I don't know what that's worth today, but it's a lot of money. Maybe close to a million dollars or more today. All because Ivy had given him a great idea.
And that's an idea that you can apply to your business today. Because when we talk about time management, we're really talking about priority management, right?
We can't control time. Time is just time. We're just working within the time we have. But what we can control is our focus. And what we're focused on in terms of priorities in our lives and within our business.
I love this concept that we're probably only going to get six things done a day, which has been proven over and over again since Ivy Lee's recommendation.
So think about your priorities for tomorrow.
What are the six things that you need to get done that will have impact on your busy day?
Now you might have 35 things listed, but what are the top six? What are the things that really will have impact? And here's one way I measure that myself personally.
I ask myself:
Will this impact how I live and work a year from now?
If it doesn't it's a second-tier priority, not a first-tier priority.
I hope this helps you think about time management differently. Try it for a week and see if it improves your efficiency.
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