REALITY CHECK – 12 Questions That Will Challenge You and Your Brand

I’ve been talking to a lot of people about the upcoming launch of our new website 939HUB, but I was challenged – hard – by my good friend Richard Abbot from MediaInEducation the other day. He challenged me to answer a specific set of questions related to my services to help me discover my voice for my company, website and brand.

At first, I saw a ton of questions that I wasn’t sure I wanted to answer, but after answering the very first question I soon saw exactly how valuable and powerful completing this exercise would be for the brand that I’m creating with 939 Sign Graphics & Marketing Studios, and I wanted to pass this exercise along to you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’ve had your real estate business for a while – this exercise will help you in so many ways, it’s unbelievable. And it’s way beyond “describe your target audience” although that, of course, is important to know the answer to as well.

I want you to actually sit down for 15 minutes and answer these questions which are listed below. I’m really serious about this.

To help you get started, I challenge you to answer the very first question of this exercise by leaving a comment below. Next Wednesday I will select two random winners for a $100 gift card to shop here at the studio or online at! 

I’ve reworded some of the questions to take my specific brand name out of them. Some of the questions still include “signs and website business” or “sign owner” and are worded specifically for me, but you can get an idea of what the question is asking and re-word it for your own target market. Most of them will probably apply to what you’re doing.

Here are the slightly modified questions I answered below…

Your Brand

  1. What disease does your team or brand cure? (answer this questions, by replying to this email to enter to to win)
  2. Describe the essence of your team or brand in three words.
  3. How will the lives of people in your target clientele be different after engaging with your team?
  4. How will someone in your target clientele know about your team?
  5. How will someone in your target audience feel after his or her first experience visiting your website and self branded blog?
  6. How will someone in your target audience feel after visiting your website and self branded blog consistently for three months?


  1. What do you believe about the real estate businesses?
  2. How do you feel when you are talking with clients?
  3. What impresses you the most about other Realtors?
  4. If you were a home buyer or seller, what would keep you up at night?

Personal Experience 

  1. Describe your first real estate sales experience: feelings, season, timing (5-8 sentences)
  2. What excites you about the opportunities of this summer season in Real Estate?


I hope you didn’t think I would leave you hanging without sharing my own answers to these important questions for my business!

Remember, this is an exercise to get you thinking about the voice of your business and what you know about your target clientele – not just who they are, but how they feel and how you can identify with them. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written.


1. What disease does (939 Sign Graphics & Marketing Studios) cure?

If disease is present there is a breakdown in function and structure. In any industry running a well oiled business and designing amazing signs,logos and websites are completely separate functions. from the business side of running a sign graphics and marketing company, i.e. getting started on the right path (like knowing where to start and what to expect), creating a memorable brand around people’s business, spreading awareness of the brand to customers, and creating a tribe of fans who will actively seek out my brand and spread the word. Owning a business is more than just about the designing and making of awesome signs and killer websites; it’s about the brand and the experience around the business as well. (939 Sign Graphics & Marketing Studios) will cure a few diseases related to all of that. 1) The “I don’t know how to best market and brand my business standpoint” disease, 2) the “I don’t know where to get started and get the best signage,branding and marketing advice possible” disease, and 3) the “There’s no central hub or community where I can connect with other business owners to talk business and share experiences” disease. 

2. Describe the essence of (939 Sign Graphics & Marketing Studios) in three words.

  1. Inspired-interaction.
  2. Community.
  3. Game-changing-trendsetter.

3. How will a Realtor/business owners life be different after engaging (939 Sign Graphics & Marketing Studios)?

A business owner who engages with (939 Sign Graphics and Marketing Studios) will feel like they have a place they can go to for answers, inspiration, and a place where they can feel like they are a part of a community. They will implement strategies they read and hear on the site and in the studio and see results that will increase their business, grow their audience and fan base, and ultimately allow them to make more money. Their life will be easier because (939 Sign Graphics and Marketing Studios) will be the ultimate, top-notch, high-quality resource for everything that has to do with successfully marketing a business, so they don’t have to scramble, guess and hope anymore. They will have more followers on Twitter, Fans on Facebook and more customers. They will be more efficient during their daily routine, and although they will probably continue to be stressed, like any business owner would be – they will be confident in knowing that they are doing the right things to give their business the best chance to succeed. 

4. How will a real estate agent know it’s time to look outside normal circles form marketing and media advice in a changing real estate world?

They will either just be getting started and won’t know how to proceed, or they will have started and are not seeing the results they want. They are struggling to get customers, or even understand what to do next. They see other real estate agents being very busy and wonder – why aren’t people buying and selling with me. 

5. How will a real estate agent feel after his first experience visiting (939 Sign Graphics & Marketing Studios)?

A real estate agent and business owner will say to him or herself, “Yes, this is exactly what I was looking for. I’m going to take this advice and implement it right away.”

6. How will a real estate agent feel after visiting (939 Sign Graphics & Marketing Studios) consistently for three months?

A real estate agent and business owner who has been a part of the (939HUB and 939 Sign Graphics and Marketing Studios) community for a few months will feel like a part of a team and community. They will feel like they can’t get enough and want more strategies, inspiration and instruction from the community. They will feel like their business wouldn’t have grown like it has if it wasn’t for finding (939 HUB and 939 Sign Graphics & Marketing Studios), and they will not think twice about recommending (939 Sign Graphics & Marketing Studios) to any friends and colleagues who want to start or who already own a real estate business. 


1. What do you believe about the real estate businesses?

I believe the real estate business is an exciting venture with many possibilities, but it’s not easy, and I believe (939HUB and 939 SIgn Graphics & Marketing Studios) will make real estate business owners and soon-to-be-agents’ lives easier. 

2.How do you feel when you are talking with clients?

Excited; in a rapidly changing marketing environment their are more effective ways to reach customers then ever before.  The options of how to deliver your brand and the methods for delivering your brand are awesome ways to easily break away from the crowd.

3.What impresses you the most about Realtors?

What impresses me the most is how hard they work and how determined they are to succeed. They work long hours and deal with a lot of stress, but somehow always innovate and make positive situations. I’m also impressed because on the outside, it seems like they are pretty organized. They have systems in place for talking with clients, closing escrows, amongst all of the other things that had to happen before that point of transaction. 

4.If you were a real estate agent, what would keep you up at night?

First and foremost, where the heck am I going to get my next client, and how will I have already created a brand of trust with a perspective client I don’t know? That’s what would keep me up at night more than anything. It seems like nothing is ever guaranteed and I’d always wonder – will I have customers tomorrow. What would also keep me up at night are the possibilities, which I think ever entrepreneur in any space can relate to. In other words, I’d be excited that tomorrow might be a AWESOME day, where I close an escrow and take on two new clients. 



1. Describe your first real estate sales experience: feelings, season, timing (5-8 sentences)

The first real estate experience I can remember was at a doughnut shop in Walnut Creek not to far from my childhood home in Clayton, I was getting ready to purchase my first home. My soon to be home was a townhouse painted light brown with forest green trim. I signed for my first home right their in a doughnut shop on carbon copy papers.  This was my first real estate experience, and I was I was hooked.

I had been looking for a home for about four months, going back and fourth on a condo, town home or continue renting.  My real estate agent looked up at me prior to opening escrow.  Asked me if I was ready to make one best decisions in my life?  We closed escrow 45 days later.

I was handed the keys to my new townhouse, it looked huge to me.  It was two story’s with a sliding glass door out on to a small back yard patio. 

All that work, but I was thrilled.  I went outside to my very own patio and sipped a cold beer.  It was hands down one of my ultimate real estate stories, with a cool breeze and raising real estate values, I sat back and relaxed.

I’ve been consistently involved real estate ever since.

2. What excites you about the opportunities of this coming spring and summer season in Real Estate?

Being my own boss, creating my own success and crafting signs and websites that people can enjoy and that they can’t get anywhere else. To me, the marketing industry in particular is a little like training for a marathon – you get the right equipment, you practice the right amount, and you find the right spot, and you never know – you could hit the big one. You won’t always, and you’ll have days of little to no success, but the next day could be the game-changer, and I think that’s so exciting! 


I’ll be sending personal emails to real estate agents and business owners to introduce the 939HUB brand and hopefully feature a few clients in a round-up post that will go live on 939HUB launch day.

Does marketing your brand take some work? You bet it does! But, as Lewis Howes says:

“The only time greatness comes before hustle is in the dictionary.” 

You gotta put in the work folks, and manually sending emails to get the word out there probably seems like a waste of time to a lot of you, but over and over again I keep hearing about people jump-starting their businesses or getting massive results from sending emails, like Robert Miller from Income Property Investors or Chris Walker from Walker Home Painting Services.

A Revolutionary New Marketing Strategy: Write Content. Email. Click. Send.

In the next update, I’ll share the launch dates for 939HUB as well a launch BBQ at our marketing studio in Walnut Creek.

Happy Friday and I wish you all the best!


Pacific Union Real Estate, “Housing Affordability in the Bay Area is Down”

Thanksgiving is next week,

I hope you have your signs, a frames and riders ordered now!

As my buddies and I began racquet ball practice, housing affordability came up once again.  Our friend Chris, 38 with a family of three, began house hunting in August; his frustration was becoming quite evident.  Working hard to not go to far into deep East County area Chris was trying to find a home in Pleasanton, Dublin or San Ramon.  In his searching, Tracy and further continued to creep into the list of potential houses.  

With all the great holiday events going on it was evident that we’re fortunate to live the San Francisco Bay Area.  Chris didn’t feel the same as he was currently house hunting and exhausted of doing so.

“Yeah, it’s great here.”  Chris lets out with an annoyed sigh.

“San Mateo, San Francisco and Contra Costa are the most expensive counties to buy a home in currently.”  Chris was sighting the blog he read at :

(link to Pacific Union Blog)

Chris was overwhelmed with the mounting task of finding a home that was affordable in Contra Costa County while meeting his families needs.

The proof was in the pudding, prices in The San Francisco Bay Area are going up.  The market of 2008 was looking to be long gone.

What are you experiencing in your specific market?  Do you see the same happening in deep East County or only along the inner perimeters of The Bay Area?  I would love to hear your thoughts about this!


Foreign Investors Slowing Down & San Francisco Real Estate

In a circle of buddies before racquet ball practice someone blurts out that Foreigners are buying all the Real Estate in the Bay Area.  I kind of gawked but remained speechless, I had not read the article by Ann Marie Nugent on her blog :

Local Knowledge..Global Research..The Bay Area Team

After reading the article I was a surprised by the amount of foreign investors her team had been contacted by. 

Are you seeing the same thing in your neighborhoods?  Is this just happening on the 880,680, and 101 corridor’s?  Are your clients foregin investors looking to buy in the Bay Area?  And If so how far out do they look? 

Mountain House, Livermore, Santa Rosa, Gilory?

In reading Ann Marie Nugent’s blog she says “In 2012 Canadians were the top foreign buyers of San Francisco real estate.” 

Is it just the County of San Francisco, or does this include Walnut Creek, Novato, and Pleasanton?

Real Estate Trends with Foreign Investors

I was surprised in reading foreign investors were such an active part of our Bay Area Real Estate Market.  Read Ann Marie Nugent’s blog!
Are you being contacted by multiple foreign investors?
Do you think this is specific to San Francisco County or all the Bay Area Counties?

Bay Area Real Estate

I want to know what you think!  Please leave a comment below.
Thank you very much for reading my blog, and if I’m not making a sign for you I will do my best to respond to your comment right away!

Aerial Photo Provided with permission :

Walnut Creek Real Estate Trends

Over the weekend I stumbled on Sam Benson’s Real Estate Blog

After reading the article:Walnut Creek Real Estate Trends it had some friends of mine buzzing.

If Real Estate in Walnut Creek has bounced back what will this mean for the surrounding cities?  This was  the thought that came up in a conversation over the weekend while at my kid’s swim practice.

In reading Sam Benson’s blog he states “Home sales have been exceeding new inventory for several weeks.” 

Is Sam suggesting that Real Estate is going to continue to rise even through out the winter?

Sam Benson, Walnut Creek Realtor

Sam Benson has some real interesting points and I would be curious for you to read Sam Benson’s blog.


Are you seeing the same trends in your specific city or neighborhood?


Do you think this will be able to persist through winter?


I would love to hear your input as there is so many people saying different things.
Thank you very much for reading, and if I’m not making a sign for you I will do my best to respond to your comment right away!
graph provided by :

The Effect My Kids Have Had on my Business

My two kids Benjamin and Kennedy have changed me, and they’ve changed

my business.

It has been a huge challenge to balance being a parent to little children and being a parent to a business too, but despite the challenges I can definitely say that my kids have made an extremely positive impact on the growth of my business and who I am as a person.

Whether you have kids or not, this is a post about the lessons I’ve learned since becoming a parent and how they apply to my business – and how they might apply to yours too

Being Super Efficient (because I have to)

Before I had kids, I remember having all the time in the world to work on my sign company.  I had stretches of time to really get things done and I didn’t realize just how valuable that time was until my kids were born. Once they entered this world, most of that time was dedicated to them and there was  little time left over to build my business.

Any extra time was typically spent catching up on sleep, and the blocks of time I did have to work on my sign business usually didn’t last longer than a couple of hours at a time without interruptions.Rink Family Halloween

It was a huge struggle at first (although I was blessed with a little bit of flexibility, allowing me take a few minutes off before the birth of each of my children) there were new projects I wanted to begin (our new site:, for a while I felt like I wasn’t getting anything done because I didn’t have as much time as I did before.

I Had a Decision to Make: I could either spend less time with my children so I can work on my sign business, or I could learn to work smarter and efficient with the time I did have to work.

I decided to go for maximum efficiency, and it changed everything. It was then that I realized just how much time I was actually wasting when I was working.

Suddenly I felt bad every time I went to watch some kittens on a YouTube Video or started yet again something that directly was not helping me achieve my goals in business and family.

I realized how important setting goals was, and understanding, even before getting into work-mode, exactly what it was that I wanted to accomplish in the allotted time that I had.

Cutting down the time I did have to work forced me to work smarter, and I’m so thankful I’ve learned how to do that. Even though I have two kids now, I feel like I’m accomplishing much much more than before my two kids!

There are several other productivity tips and strategies that I learned along the way.  I’ll be sharing everything I learned to help me become a more productive person – so look out for that in a later post.

The Importance of Teamwork and Having a Team

I think it would be immeasurably hard for me to raise my children on my own.  They’re very energetic and in spending alone time with just the kids, I’m always completely worn out afterwards. To all you single parents out there, you are amazing – I don’t think I’d able to do all that you do.

With that being said now is a great time to acknowledge my incredible Wife Sara an integral part to the 939Sign team. The most under-rated job in the world is that of a mom. Without my Wife, my kids wouldn’t be as cool (and good looking) as they are and my business wouldn’t be where it’s at today.   Sara is amazing, works much harder than me and is one of the most important reasons why my business has taken off like it has.

When my Wife and I tied the knot we became a team.   When we had kids, our team focus had to change.  Not focusing on us anymore, but our kids.

Having kids has taught us the important of communication within our family team, as well as the idea of how important is it to do what we can to make the other person happy. I’ve taken the same approach with my business.

I wouldn’t be where I’m at today and couldn’t do what I do without the help of other people, and you, the customers of 939 Sign Graphic & Marketing Studios.

Make Better Decisions for My Business

Before I had kids, I wanted to succeed in my goals of living a life by design.

Now that I have kids, I want to succeed so my kids can live a happy, fulfilled life by design.  This puts a whole new spin on the decisions I make in my sign business and why I do what I do.

I try to imagine my kids as adults who are talking about their parents, and I want them to be proud of what I have done and the decisions I have made.  A lot of what I do is the result of thinking about the future of my children – not only what I could do now, but what I can do to give them the most opportunity down the road.       This is the thought that guides me, and I know it’ll ultimately help me better serve my customers too!

Learning to be More Patient

We live in a world of virtually instantaneous results. Do a Google Search for anything and it will tell you that it took 0.10 seconds to complete the search.

Building a business in a world of instanteous results is difficult, because as easy as it is to setup a business these days, results and success are the opposite of instant – it takes a lot of time, hard work and patience to win.

Having kids has forced me to become more patient, because anything that has to do with kids will always take a lot of time, hard work and patience.

“It’s time to go, please put your shoes on!  No, that’s the shoe for your right foot. The other right. ahhhhhhh!

It’s bedtime, what are you doing eating Ice Cream?”

Since having children, I am a lot less stressed about certain aspects of my business, especially the parts that involve waiting for things to happen when it’s not entirely up to me.

Small Wins

The other day, my son pulled out his velcro batman shoes from the closet and placed his shoes on the correct feet! Afterwards, he jumped up and down with excitement shouting, “I did it! I did it! Look Mommy and Daddy, I did it!”

Who in the world celebrates something like putting on your shoes?  Well – my kids do, and watching how excited my son gets over the smallest things as he learns and grows is incredible!

I’ve noticed that when he celebrates these seemingly unimportant events, he keeps pushing himself to try something new, and that’s how I’ve structured how I move forward in my sign business. I take big goals and chop them up into tiny, acheivable milestones and make sure to celebrate after each achievement.  Building the website for 939Sign took nearly a years time, celebrating the little milestone is what made this achievable.

Can you imagine what it would be like to go up to a kid who’s excited tying a shoe or opening a door and say, “that’s not a big deal – anyone can do that.” How much of an impact would a comment like that have on a child’s life? How much would that kind of thinking limit a child’s motivation?

Well, that’s exactly how we treat ourselves a lot of the times. Yes, it would be silly to get extremely excited about the same types of things (like putting on shoes), but when we’re learning something or trying something new, we forget about the learning process and how cool it is to accomplish even the smallest of tasks.

Enjoy the small wins. They keep you motivated and moving towards your goals.

Adapting Quickly is Important

The experience of raising a child is very similar to that of starting a new business for several different reasons. To me that number one reason is that in order to succeed, you need to learn how to adapt.

In the real world, things will never go according to plan.  Plans helps us prepare, but no matter how well you plan, things will change and new situations, problems, and scenarios will arise, and when that happens it’s what you decide that will result in you being closer of further from that 100th house being sold or whatever is your goal.

Even before our son was born, he’s been teaching us how to be flexible.

About four weeks before our son was due, my wife woke me up and told me “it was time”. I don’t remember since I was half asleep, but apparently my initial response “I don’t have the time.”

Then, after she reiterated and I understood exactly what she meant, I freaked out. We didn’t expect all of this to happen so early.

After forgetting the “Ready to Go Hospital Bag” by our apartment front door, we ran back and grabbed it and then we were off. We had to leave Cali (our dog) in the apartment and call one of our friends to come to the hospital to pick up our keys for our apartment, then get Cali and puppysit for a few days.

Since then, our son’s been making the experience of parenthood quite challenging, forcing us to adapt in ways big and small.  But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

The same goes for my experience with business. Things never go 100% according to plan, and many times it’s the things that happen unplanned that turn out even better in the end.

I was worried about the impact my kids would have on my business, however, I can honestly say that they’ve helped me become a better man and smarter businessperson.

I hope you enjoyed this post – something a little different from the 939 Sign posts I’ve been publishing lately, and look out for a new post coming later next week on productivity!

Of the above lessons which one can you relate with the most, and why?   I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Have an awesome week!

No Time as a parent, ahhhh!


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4th of July Fun Facts 

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$218.2 million

The value of fireworks imported from China in 2012, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($227.3 million). U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $11.7 million in 2012, with Israel purchasing more than any other country ($2.5 million).


$3.8 million

In 2012, the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags. The vast majority of this amount ($3.6 million) was for U.S. flags made in China.

Fourth of July Cookouts

5.9 million

Number of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2013. Chances are that the pork hot dogs and sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 20.3 million hogs and pigs. North Carolina (8.9 million) and Minnesota (7.8 million) were also homes to large numbers of pigs.

Source: 1)<>

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