November 14 2008

BIS Show 2008 Video Blog

I spoke with Mike Lyon, author of 'Browsers To Buyers' yesterday and during our conversation he threw out the idea of doing a video blog at the IBS in Las Vegas in January.  I thought it was a fresh idea so I thought I'd give it a whirl.  Here's to you Mike.  

Attendance at the BIS Show, as you might imagine, was leaner compared to past years and the economic and housing news didn’t contribute much to enhancing our optimism.  Times are tough now in California and everyone here feels it.  Spending is down and consumer confidence is low, low.

A bright spot in the conference was the Sales & Marketing Roundtable yesterday (Thursday, Nov. 13th).  This was the first ever BIS Roundtable session.  The Roundtables were dynamic sessions covering a range of topics that are at the forefront of discussions in today’s market.  

I was both an attendee and a moderator along with Cindy Douglas, V.P. of Sales & Marketing - MIRM, from Ponderosa Homes. Ponderosa Homes builds in both Northern California and Southern California. Attendees were encouraged to engage the moderators as well as other attendees in close, interactive discussions relevant to their businesses.  We all had the opportunity to ask questions and share personal experiences in a network setting.

I felt that everyone in the Sales & Marketing roundtable was energized by the fact that we all seemed to connect on several topics.   My feeling is that housing professionals need to feel connected to others facing the same challenges because together, we feel we can survive this market.  Together, we can do it.

Watch a few of those who responded to the roundtable.   I know it's raw, but that's life. Thank you Bobbie, Cindy, and Christy for being brave enough to comment on video. Here is the YouTube video. Make sure to click the 'Watch in high quality' link for the good stuff.

Jim Adams - CEO - New Homes

November 8 2008

Big Builder Show 2008

The best building industry show ever? Check it out. The 2008 Big Builder Show was held Nov. 3-5 at the Gaylord National Resort in Washington, DC. The show was hosted and coordinated by John McManus, Editorial Director of Big Builder Magazine, Jerry Shrair of Boiling Point, and Sarah Yaussi, Executive Editor of Big Builder Magazine.

Personal Opinion Of The Show

As building industry show formats go, this was the most unique and provocative show I have ever attended.  The standard show format includes keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and a networking mixer of some type.  Not this show.

This show pretty much demanded that attendees participate and collaborate.  This was fantastic!  It was so easy to meet and speak with others after the sessions were over because of the session participation.  I personally made more great connections at this show in two days than I have in most 3-4 day shows.

To John McManus, Jerry Shrair, Sarah Yaussi, and anyone else influencing the format of this show, I say thank you.  I can only imagine it had to be quite gutsy (to say the least) to have this show format amid a conservative and historically non-transparent industry.  I applaud you with the utmost respect and admiration.

On a professional level, I felt the show had such a strong value that I will attend the Big Builder Show as long as I'm in the industry. The Show's quality was the best I've attended.  It was obvious that meticulous care went into the planning.  For those who don't know me, trust me when I say I'm not easily impressed.  Here's what I loved about the show's quality:

  1. Dan Ariely, Jerry Shrair, and the roundtable with Ara Hovnanian, Sheryl Palmer, and Jeffery Peterson were all speakers that positively affected my business in a significant way. I have not yet read Dan's book but plan to based on his demostrations to us. The book is called Predictability Irrational.
  2. Gaylord Resort. Awesome atrium, free Internet, and the National Pastime (restaurant) was one of the best places to watch football I've been. The pictures on the website don't do the place justice.
  3. The quality bags given out to attendees (I never keep these). I use this bag to tote around my laptop now instead of the roller I was using.
  4. The pre-show breakfasts.
  5. The cappuccino bar.
  6. The Wii game stations.
  7. All the open bars.
  8. The election party was off the hook.  Located in the Pose Ultra Nightclub in the Gaylord, this party had huge TVs everywhere for us to watch the election, fantastic hors d'oeuvres and dessert bar, a beer tasting bar, a rubik's cube demonstration bar hosted by the world record holder of the 14 sided rubik's cube, and a large ice sculpture the bar tender poured shots off (I won't go into detailed activities regarding this one – oh yeah).

Thank Yous
To Carol Ruiz, author of How To Write A Press Release and the PR company (RedRocketLA) for, thank you for urging my attendance (DC is along way from home) and thank you for the fantastic introductions.  You are exactly what our company needs.  Your level of professionalism and way of doing business is very rare in my experiences.

John McManus, thank you for pulling the trigger on something radically different. I can only imagine it wasn't easy for many different reasons.  The show you put together had a great influence on my business and for that I am grateful. I had a great time to boot.

Sarah Yaussi, you did a fantastic job moderating a very vocal and passionate group of sales and marketing professionals. You were polite, gracious, and professional in an emotional environment – not easy to do.

Show Details (The boring things you probably don't want to read)

The show began with a combination of a keynote speaker  and a Q&A roundtable; same as most shows. A major emphasis of the show was attendee participation and collaboration (very different) leading to discussing opportunities for improved profitability.

However, the second day, Jerry Shrair, CEO of Boiling Point, a leading international innovation and brand consultancy, began the morning by asking a series of questions on several topics.  Topics were divided into:

  1. Purchasing
  2. Operations
  3. Sales & Marketing
  4. Finance
  5. Land and Design

Just a quick comment on Jerry.  I thought Jerry was fantastic for the building industry and for this show. His blueprint for improved profitability was perfect for our industry - even more so in the current economy.  It was glaringly obvious Jerry is a subject matter expert in regards to brand development, team collaboration, and profitability.  Look at the client list. Hard to argue with results.

Jerry handed out 4 pieces of paper and asked everyone to write down opportunities for improved profitability in each of the areas above.  The catch is that you could not write down ideas for your area of expertise.  You had to write down ideas for each of the other areas.  The idea was to give fresh, outside ideas. Jerry then proceeded to troll through the crowd with a microphone and had attendees answer the questions.  This was uncomfortable because, again, the questions were not about topics we knew anything about.

Jerry asked a question about financing, (I know nothing about financing hundreds of millions of dollars), so I put my head down and made sure I made no eye contact.  As you can guess, he called on me.  The first thing I said was that this was not a good question for me.  He told me (over the microphone to 300 people) to give it a shot anyway.  So I did; ugh.  Now no one loves this, but it created an atmosphere of vulnerability, participation, and collaboration – which was a major emphasis of the conference.

As you might imagine, it was easy to make conversation after that because we all had one thing in common – speak to a group of 300 about an idea on a subject we have little to no expertise.

After that opening, we proceeded to our break-out sessions.  I went to the Sales & Marketing session led by Sarah Yaussi.  The session was the typical sit and listen to a speaker.  The format was similar to the opening keynote session.  Sarah directed us to come up with 3 of the best opportunities to increase profitability in sales and marketing.

If you have ever asked open ended questions to a group of people, you know that it can easily become chaotic.  And true to form, our group brought up many things, both on topic and off topic.  We did this about an hour before lunch and about 1.5 hours after lunch.  Attendees to the sales and marketing session were active and passionate participants.

All five groups then reconvened in the main session room and two representatives from each group presented the top three opportunities for profitability to everyone else.  Mike Disler, a former Division President for Ryland Homes presented the sales and marketing opportunities to the rest of the groups. Thank you Mike – whew.

The end of the day concluded with an election party.  Now I've been to lots of parties - they're fun, I buy a few drinks, and chat with a few folks.  This party was awesome (read what I loved about the party above).  Enough said.

Jim Adams – CEO
New Homes

September 4 2008

SNHBA Turn the Tables

The 9th Annual “Turn the Tables” Night

Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, Las Vegas Nevada, September 3rd.  Sarah Cook, Director of Corporate Accounts -New Homes and I attended this event where associate members of the SNHBA gathered to meet builders one-on-one.  It was my pleasure to meet Monica Caruso, SNHBA, Director of Public Affairs and Dr. Joseph A. Pantuso, Environmental and Urban Affairs Specialist in person.  In a short conversation, we talked about New Homes and our relationship with GBI (The Green Building Initiative) and how we can work together to promote Green Building for the SNHBA membership.

Sarah and I were fortunate to meet many shakers, makers and leaders of Southern Nevada’s active and involved home building companies.  Everyone representing these builders was open, and gracious.  Some of these industry leaders included; Robyn of Concordia Homes, Rich Aguirre of Storybook Homes, Melonie Cook of Desertwind Homes,  Sia Howe of Astoria Homes, Duke Meadows of Signature Homes and David McEntire of Amstar Homes.

We felt like this was a fantastic opportunity to share our products and services with the builders and developers of Las Vegas.  We appreciate the SNHBA putting this event together and feel this event was of great value to us and other associate members of the association.  I wish more associations would realize how valuable these are to associate members and put on events just like this one.

Barbara Rossoll
V.P. Marketing
New Homes

June 27 2008

PCBC 2008 Day Four Friday

Teri Shusterman and I went to the closing keynote presented by Tom Peters.  Tom was energetic, animated and articulate. Tom opened with “Just another day in the building industry; oil over $134 /barrel, stock market down 200 and fires in the hills.”

Peters spoke about by putting the passion back into the workplace, by replacing apathy and whining with enthusiasm and commitment, and most importantly, by reinvigorating employees. Innovation is key in uncertain times.  Now is the time to create a "culture of innovation," and becoming a leader of change, not a follower of the same old, tired traditions.

Here are a few of his memorable (for me) statements:

Big mergers are stupid. Big mergers spring naturally from big egos.

Attitude – (his) best 2 years were in Viet Nam; with Navy Seabees; it was a phenomenal environment to be tested.

It doesn’t get any better than this US Grant, Abraham Lincoln and John C Fremont were born for moments like this.  There is no such thing as good-great leader who has not confronted, battered and stumbled through to overcome a catastrophe.

Decency must not be sacrificed in tough time.  Don’t be brutal.  Decency is more important than ever in tough times.

Put the customer second.  Put the person taking care of the customer first.

Painful decisions must be made –make them as gracefully as possible; doing so is the best investment in long term possible.  Your reputation will be shaped by the long memory of how behaved when the fan was covered with yogurt.

Tough decisions mostly affect other people’s families.  You must still make the tough decisions, but the minute they cease to be agonizing resign, you’re not worth saving, you’ve become a mini-Mozilla

Character rules in adverse times.

Now is when investment in relationships pays off –and now is when you pay the full price of not having invested in relationships when  times were good and you didn’t “need to be nice” to others.

Keep good people – if it kills you.

Smaller but really good is a better place to be. (So you’ll be ready to fully participate in the next round of folly when the next Moment of Madness arrives.)

You will be remembered in the long haul for the quality of your work, not the quantity of your work – the quantity part is just your defective ego talking.

Take advantage of tough time to realize that in the long you will be remembered for your humanity and not your net worth – think Tim Russert.  Beloved by the left and the right by his integrity. Every year you should go to one funeral of someone you don’t know.  Bias about us professionally, blend be a decent human being.

If no Excellence, what?  What’s the frigging point, Blind luck? 

The key to a join a command is to make friends.

“Allied commands depend on mutual confidence and this confidence is gained, above all through the development of friendships.” Gen D.D. Eisenhower.

Perhaps his most outstanding ability (at West Point) was the ease with which he made friends and earned the trust of fellow cadets who came from widely varied backgrounds; it was a  quality that would pay great dividends during his future coalition command.

This year’s PCBC was by far one of the most worthwhile, fun, inspiring and educational, one I will long remember.

Barbara Rossoll
V.P. Sales and Marketing
New Homes


June 26 2008

PCBC 2008 Day Three Thursday

I met my long time friends, Teri Shusterman – Colrich Communities, and Deborah Childress – O’Brien Homes for lunch.  It was a great to catch up on our lives, personal and professional.  I was impressed to hear that Deborah and O’Brien Homes won the Grand Award at Nor Cal MAME!   Early evening my friend and SMC board member, Sara Kilburn – Ryan Young Interiors went to a party where I caught up with Steve Ormonde – Focus 360, his associate, Steven Greco, and Shirley Brown – Homebuyers Guide and many more people.  Later Thursday evening I was honored and welcomed to a celebration with Kent Aden – Otay Ranch Company and many fellow BIA San Diego Board members, Steve Doyle – Brookfield Homes, Paul Tryon, CEO San Diego, BIA, and Michael Larson SMC President LA/Ventura and David Rauch – ProTec Building Service mentioning a few.  A big surprise was seeing Dave’s associate George Van Oosbree – who I went to high school with.

Barbara Rossoll
V.P. Sales and Marketing
New Homes

June 25 2008

PCBC 2008 Day Two Wednesday

‘For one week in June, the homebuilding industry professionals gathered to ask the critical questions, to learn and to network. From the educational programs to the extensive product displays, the conversations focused on the core issues driving creativity, productivity and profitability. That’s what drove the dialogue, speakers and exhibits at PCBC® 2008.’

Attending the Opening Breakfast, I joined my SMC San Diego board member, and friend Megan Bristol of PDI and her associate.  Also at my table, I met Leslie Dunham and Eric Armstrong of Fuscoe Engineering from Orange County and San Diego. My brother-in-law, Michael Wolfe works with Fuscoe, small world.  It was great to see Bob Cummings of Barratt American, Lora Heramb of Brookfield Homes (with a broken foot) and Gail Crocenzie from the Otay Ranch Company.

The program began with a local musical group, Glide Ensemble of San Francisco waking us up with infectious rhythm, jazz, blues and spiritual music.  They were fabulous, energetic and joyful.  What a great way to begin a day, a conference with such enthusiasm, joy and hope.

Ken Aden of The Otay Ranch Company and Chair of PCBC led with opening remarks; welcoming a full room of industry professionals.  He shared a story of a recent opportunity where he met and introduced his son to Adrian Gonzales of the San Diego Padres.  He asked Adrian what was the most difficult thing he faced in major league baseball.  Adrian responded that the toughest thing was to work through injuries.  You need to be tough and keep going when you are hurt.  As our industry is facing extraordinary challenges, we need to be tough.  Kent’s theme and direction is that together as an industry and as individuals we have the Power to make changes, move FORWARD with positive attitudes, and SUSTAIN.

Guest speaker Carly Fiorina – “Tough Choices” fabulous! Throughout an extraordinary career, Carly Fiorina has repeatedly defied the odds and blazed new trails. As chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005, she inherited a mandate to transform the legendary but complacent company during the technology industry’s deepest downturn in 25 years. Under her leadership, H-P doubled in revenue, achieved the highest rate of innovation in company history, and integrated the controversial acquisition of Compaq — now acknowledged to be the most successful merger in high-tech history. Today, Fiorina serves as a strategic advisor to government, business and nonprofit organizations. Her memoir, Tough Choices, is an international bestseller translated into 12 languages.

Key points: 

Leadership – see possibilities, essence in people and circumstances and make a positive difference and helping others do the same.

Changes – driving positive change.  A Spanish work ‘carenzia’ it is the spot in the bull ring, where the bull is most comfortable. “It is the spot in the bull ring where the bull returns when he is threatened.  As the bull is threatened more frequently, the more the bull returns to his carenzia again and again.  And although the bull believes he retreats to safety, the more he puts himself in grave danger.  He becomes easier and easier to attack.  We cannot return to our comfort zones.  We cannot retreat to the familiarity of how it used to be.” She also said “our history was not a guarantee of our future.”  History, our past experiences is something we build on as we move forward.  Carly said ‘life heaven, everyone wants to go there but no one wants to die.’   “Change is a season it may look the bleakest but it is the right time for change, to do things differently. Leaders see these opportunities, possibilities and provide a compelling vision.  Act within the season of change.”

Carly made these statements regarding the 21st century.  Ready or not; change is a fact.  It is coming faster than we can imagine.

1) Globalization – it is a new world; any job can go anywhere.  Anybody can play
2) Technology – everything is being transformed; digital bits, bites and mobile; photos, music, blogs, and virtural.
3)  Personal Power – Power is an individual’s choice and it is convenient. Individuals can get any piece of information, anytime, anyplace.  They are able to obtain information to make a decision./  There fact, fiction, experts, gossip puts a level playing field for everyone
4) Perspective – the ability to keep the rest of the world in mind.  Competitors, and peers – what are they doing?

Highest calling, where is the line?  Nothing is worth crossing the line.  Globally there is conflict, disease, terrorism. 

Move forward with equal measure of realistic optimism.  We have the ability to know, and believe, have faith that things will be better.  Nothing is possible without optimism.
Technology allows us to unlock potential for everyone, everywhere.  Technology can unlock more human potential. 

Wednesday afternoon at PCBC I attended the Women’s Council luncheon.  I met my new acquaintance, Leslie Dunham, Terri Everhart of MSI.  The speaker M.J. Ryan, best-selling author, speaker, and former CEO who spoke about Managing Energy for High Performance. In this talk, Ryan talked about the science of resilience, explaining why, to be a truly high performing business woman; you must take care of yourself. She discussed for instance, the relationship between stress, obesity and insomnia, as well as the effects of overexertion on decision-making, positive mood and ability to handle business ups and downs. She shared how to assess you in four domains of wellness and will leave armed with tools to increase performance and sustain lasting positive change.

1) Assess the current situation
2) Adjust what needs to be done

I am involved in a committed life coaching program called 5-5-5.  At 5:15 A.M., 5 days a week I join a conference call led by the amazing Shawna Schuh.  There is a theme for each week; i.e., Humor, focus, goals, forgiveness and a new word to learn.  We are from assorted lifestyles, careers, family situations, from many locations in the country.  Monday morning on my call I noted one of the members, Jeanne Pearl would be attending PCBC.  Through our coach, the incredible Shawna Schuh, I asked for an introduction.  Jeanne and I got in touch with one another and planned and met at the convention center.  Ms. Jeanne Pearl of JW Williams Staffing and I chatted for a little over an hour getting to know one another a little more. 
Jeanne is well known in her circle of influence in northern California.  She is dynamic, genuine, a professional, dedicated, caring, fun.   We found we had a mutual friend, Chip Pearson of the Dahlin Group. Jeanne also introduced me to her friend, and now also mine, Debi Garlic – Warmington Homes.

I met Chip and Jeanne at the first social event Wednesday evening.  They were gracious and fun introducing me to many fabulous industry people.  I met Jonel Jackson and Steve Linton of First Horizon Home Loan Corp., Connie Johnson – Robb & Stucky Interiors, Sean Griffin – Silverstone Communities, Joseph Perkins – HBA President & CEO of Northern California, and Cheryl O’Connor – SummerHill Homes to name a few.  Throughout the evening, I ran into many, friends and colleagues.

Barbara Rossoll
V.P. Sales and Marketing
New Homes

June 24 2008

PCBC 2008 Day One Tuesday

San Francisco Hall of Fame Dinner June 23, 2008.

The San Diego BIA board shared a dinner table to support and honor Mark D. McMillin of McMillin Homes as he and others were being inducted into the 2008 Hall of Fame of the California Homebuilding Foundation.  Mark was inducted 20 years after his father, Corky McMillin was inducted.  Also inducted to the 2008 Hall of Fame were, Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs of Lifescapes International, Inc., Carol Galante- BRIDGE Housing Corp., Donald Jacobs - JZMK Partners, Harlan Lee - Lee Homes, John Martin – Martin & Assoc., Gilbert “Mark” Meyer – Greenbriar Homes Communities, and  Michael Winn – Michael Win Associates.

Mark and his lovely wife C’Ann stopped by to say hello before seating with his brother Scott and his wife.  Others included Liz Ramirez, Sandi Perlotti and the McMillin family.  I was fortunate to sit next to Andrew Murphy, Vice President of BIA San Diego.  Andrew and I had a great conversation about his family and the San Diego BIA current and future challenges and opportunities.  Diversity for many companies seems to be the consensus.

The program, video introduction of the inductees and their speeches were quite moving, and inspirational.   The accomplishments and dedication of these industry professionals to their companies, their communities and the building industry are remarkable and inspiring.

Barbara Rossoll
V.P. Sales and Marketing
New Homes

May 13 2008

Green Home Expo

Green Home Expo – May 8, 2008 – Sacramento Convention Center

The Sacramento Convention Center was a buzz today with the Green Home Expo event.  The convention center floor was filled with booths showcasing products to make your home more efficient and green for the environment.  In addition to the wide array of products there were seminars going on in meeting rooms that talked about how to build “Green Homes”, make your home “Green”, and utilize the power of the sun, and on and on. 

Attending this event was important for me because in my work I do not build homes so I am not as knowledgeable about the requirements to making a home or community “Green”.  On that same note, as an advertiser I want to understand the standards so that when I list a green home community I am sure that it is in fact green according to the California standards. 

I wanted to sit in on the “Marketing and Selling Green Homes” seminar to understand the difference builders are facing when advertising green homes.  This was an interesting seminar that touched on many aspects of the selling process and outlined a definite need to make sure those selling green homes were educated and knowledgeable about the differences and the benefits of this type of home. 

I was running a few minutes behind so by the time I got to the expo the first session had started.  I went in and they were already going through the presentation.  There were maybe 10-15 people in there.  Everything that I heard was geared toward how to sell the homes and market them, not advertise them.  They spoke to the point that the sales people had to have training and the different types of sales offices with fancy videos that they play.  They then showed a video but the overhead wasn't working so they turned around the laptop that they were using and well it was hard to see!  After that they asked for questions and I don't believe anyone asked any.  Most people just got up and left.  I was hoping there would be more ‘how to advertise green homes’ but the content was still excellent.  The presenter was Rochelle Barcellona from The Barcellona Group.  I liked the presentation from Justin Dunning because even though I am not a builder I gained a better understanding of what our clients go through to get these homes to market.  I think we are right on target with the Internet being the best fit for the Green homes because the profile for the Internet shopper and the Green Home buyer is virtually the same.

I also sat in on the seminar, “Cost Effective Green Building”.   This to me was an eye opening look at green homes and the impact they make on the environment and the people who occupy these homes.  As I listened to the presenters what struck me the most was that these homes engineered and designed to be easier on the environment are actually proving to be easier on the owner, as well.  From floor to ceiling and beyond, these homes save energy, water, resources, time and effort.  How often do you turn on the faucet and wait for the hot water to get there?  I know I can usually do something else while I wait.  With the new green standards they have designed a way to use smaller pipes to limit the amount of cold water that is wasted going down the drain before the hot water arrives.   Another feature of these homes is focused on the air quality inside.  Homes are being designed with better filtering systems that not only provide improved air quality, but lessen the dust particles in your home, this means less dusting!  This concept even goes outside the home.  Planting drought resistant plants and limiting the percentage of yard that is covered with grass saves so much water and yard maintenance time.   Less mowing seems like a great trade off!  The list keeps going.  One other important detail shared during the presentation is that a recent study from a builder that built and sold a community of green homes reported no service calls to the home builder.  What a great bonus, better for the environment, the builder, and the consumer.

“Going Green” can mean a lot of things when it comes to your home.   One of the most important things to remember is everyone can have a green home.  Not only are green homes affordable, they are efficient and save time and money.   And who doesn’t want to save a little Green?”

Ruth Kincaid - Executive Assistant to the CEO
New Homes



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