This true story below shared by Sharon Cauthen.
“A single mother recently fell ill and went to Urgent Care with a sore throat, headache, and a fever of 101.5 degrees. The busy doctor ran covid & flu tests (both negative), looked at her throat, and said, “Your throat looks fine so that’s not bothering you, right?” The patient replied, “Yes. It is very painful, so much so that swallowing is difficult. It’s why I came in.” The doctor sent her home with instructions to take Tylenol for the fever.
After a very pain-filled night, she felt much worse. So much so that driving felt almost impossible, so she tried her tele-med option. That doctor said, “I’m sorry but I can’t see your throat well enough to make a diagnosis. Call back if you need anything else.” and the call ended. Again, she crawled into bed feeling defeated – in tears and in pain – not sure what to do next.
Later that day, she went back to the same Urgent Care. She could barely sit up and curled into the fetal position on the exam table. A different and very kind doctor took one look at her, listened to her story, and said, “I can see that you are very sick and in obvious pain and we are going to figure it out and help you get better.” Tears streamed down her fever-reddened face. A positive strep test, a steroid shot, and a strong antibiotic later — She started the road to recovery. But before the shot and antibiotics ever entered her body, she could feel the relief of having been heard – at last.”
It is not my goal that this conversation devolves into a healthcare system argument. Because this isn’t about politics, insurance, access to healthcare, or over-capacity medical staff. Those are important topics for another day. At its core, this story represents a simple failure to listen.
Over the last several years (and in all its iterations), the Multifamily Collective has been ringing the bell on the topic of human-centricity. The need to see, hear and understand the people who work with us. Team members are people first with all the multifaceted needs that come with the species. If you live and breathe a human-centric culture, you will inevitably experience a team member exhibiting the hallmarks of distress.
The thing that people in pain, be it emotional or physical, need more than anything is for someone to listen and validate that what they are experiencing is real and acknowledge that it is hard. Being an empathetic listener is key to helping someone feel heard.
The ability to listen is a superpower that each of us can improve with dedicated practice.
I encourage you to do the work and to develop your skills in how you engage in empathetic listening – not just hearing but truly seeking to understand. I am guilty, too, of being distracted by a full calendar and other pressing issues but how I engage with a person in distress in front of me is one of the most important measures of my humanity and my leadership.
Do you have tips that help you remember to listen intently with compassion before offering a response? Please share them with us!
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One Weird & Wonderful
I don’t spend much time in front of the television, but my friend encouraged me to watch the show Chopped. Four chefs competing for the prize, a mystery basket of ingredients, and the added constraint of an incredibly short clock. Oh, and three elite culinary judges to decide their fate. I felt stressed just watching it! (Maybe it’s not entirely different than some days in the life of a multifamily manager?) The thing that struck me most was just how each chef interpreted the ingredients and, using their unique experience and preferences, turned out dishes that bore little resemblance to their competitor’s plates.
There’s a metaphor there. Not to oversimplify (or complicate) things, but it feels a lot like life.
Lately, I’ve given some thought to this one weird wonderful life we each get on this earth. I use the term weird in the best possible way. We are all a little weird and that is part of what makes life and relationships interesting – just like an unexpected ingredient in a dish that surprises the taste buds. Okay – back to my analogy.
Although we start life with many of the same ingredients, every person has their own mystery basket of unique attributes and challenges. We are the chef in this scenario – we can choose how to craft a life that brings us fulfillment and enriches the lives of others by using the ingredients at our disposal.
When asked “What do you do?” people tend to define themselves by current or aspirational career goals. It’s rare for anyone to reply to that question with anything other than career or education. Maybe we should consider surprising with an answer that speaks to who we are as individual humans not in terms of career. It is good to be enthusiastic about your career, after all a significant percentage of your hours are spent at work. But life gets off kilter when work takes precedence over everything else.
It is up to us to find the balance.
When creating your one unique life, consider doing your prep work. Sit with your thoughts and meditate on some deep questions.
- Who are you? For three short words, this is a HUGE question. Who are you in relation to your many roles and responsibilities? Personal relationships? Your attributes? Your foundation? Your core.
- What do you believe? This dives into personal beliefs around matters of faith or spirituality. In worldview. In connectivity to others in your life. And in consideration for the humans who share this planet and all its resources with you.
- What do you hope for? Growth? Relationships? Ambition? Travel? Restoration? Health? Experiences? What is your deep longing?
- How do you want to be remembered? When your one weird wonderful life in this world is done, what do you want those left behind to remember about you? What stories will they tell?
One final question – What are you going to do about it?
Gather ’round everyone and share your weird and wonderful life stories with us.
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I am a runner. It is my go-to form of exercise and allows me to stay fit while enjoying time to clear my head. We just sold our house and with it, my well-worn run route. I am a creature of habit which serves me well in many ways but there is a downside. As with any form of exercise, there comes a point when it no longer challenges you.
Enter – the trail runs.
I am now doing trail runs and in short order, I found that my stamina when running on the more difficult trails is different from my regular daily runs. My intention is to build up until I can run the trail without pausing to catch my breath. I’m not there yet. It takes time and repetition.
Whatever your preferred form of physical activity, there is a general measurement of recovery. How long can you engage in exercise before you need to stop and restore your breathing? Once you pause, how long does it take to recover? That length of time is your recovery measurement and with consistent effort and repetitions, your recovery time will shrink. That is my goal with the trail runs and I am confident that I will get there. For now, however, when I need to stop to catch my breath, I walk back down the trail until my breathing is normal, then resume the run. I believe this method is more than a penalty – it is the path that will enable me to run the entire trail without stopping.
What does this have to do with business? We are in a constant state of change. People and businesses are either growing or decaying. We tend to resist change, but it is inevitable.
Our industry in the crux of change. The technology we have used for the past decade or more is rapidly become obsolete. The same can be said of our business models. For those of us who have been in the multifamily space for a while, it is staggering how much we have evolved. We used to use pegboards and carbon paper for rent collections, receipts, rent rolls, and more! We have come a long way but there is a new trail in front of us and we either go all in to figure it out or we resist and find ourselves out of the race entirely.
Learning new technology is daunting at first and you may need to pause and catch your breath. That’s okay. When you’re ready, take a deep breath, square your shoulders, and lean in to the changes. Find your resources, your tools for learning, and your cohort of others who are doing same thing. Avoid complaining or spending too much time with the naysayers because they are slowing you down. Instead, sit in the front row and absorb everything you can.
Do the reps. Make mistakes and try again. Become a force for good change and before you know it, you will run the trail without stopping to catch your breath.
Podcasts have been around for a couple of decades, and you can find a podcast for every imaginable topic or area of interest – and in my opinion, the world is better off for it. Podcasts are egalitarian in that, with a few tools and a lot of grit, just about anyone with something interesting to say can find an audience for it.
If you listen to the Multifamily Collective daily vlog, you might have heard my take on “The Perfect Length of a Podcast” *(hint: I’m not a fan of this concept). As a podcasting veteran over the last six or seven years, I take issue with self-proclaimed experts putting guardrails on the creativity of the masses.
If you want to create a podcast or any other content, my encouragement to you is to just – start. Make a commitment to producing content on a regular schedule. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Make mistakes. Screw up. Dust yourself off and do it again. Your audience will find you and when they do, the thing I believe they want most – more than a highly polished and edited script – is the authentic you.
As far as the perfect podcast length discussion goes, I listen to audiobooks and podcasts as I drive around (and when I run) and for me, this much is true: if the content is compelling, I never notice the time. I’ve heard two-hour long podcasts that kept me engaged for the duration. On the other hand, I’ve listened to much shorter ones that were far less interesting.
On the Multifamily Collective platform, you will find daily vlogs that are 2-4 minutes long – bite-sized bits of encouragement and knowledge to start the day. Our Collective Conversations interview series are usually an hour or so – plus/minus. Some guests are so fascinating that we could have talked for much longer. Other episodes are shorter to accommodate the guest’s schedule. Oh – and we don’t edit our episodes. With very rare exceptions, all video content at the Multifamily Collective is an ‘all-in-one’ practice. It keeps us authentic, and the bloopers are (hopefully) part of the charm. Hats off to Gary Vaynerchuk who inspired our no-edit style.
If you go back to my very first Apartment Hacker video in 2016, you will find this: I resolved to Read Less and Do More, I worked at Mills Properties, and my hair was mysteriously much darker than it is today. As I reflect back over the years, there were many times when it would have been easier to stop, when the audience was quiet, and the time seemed hard to come by, and even when there were some naysayers about the whole thing. I am not declaring myself to be the expert on podcasting but if I were to leave others with one note that ensures success beyond just about any other guidance, it’s this: Don’t quit. It’s that simple and that hard. Do it as a regular practice even when it feels like no one cares at all. Do it anyway. It is in the doing that you learn and get better.
Finally, I will take this moment to say thank you to everyone who supported me through the years, who listened, who came on the show, and who believed in me. I owe you a cup of coffee and a ton of gratitude.
Who do you want to see on a future Collective Conversations episode? Please send your ideas to email@example.com
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