The Julie Pogue Properties Louisville KY Real Estate Blog

Buzzard Psychology

This is graduation time.  I would like to relate to you, in an abbreviated format, a commencement address given by Professor Patricia Limerick at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

She starts out by talking about the American West writer Larry McMurtry's collection of essays titled, In a Narrow Grave.  There was one unforgettable essay on the challenge of persuading people to break out of habits of timidity, caution, conformity and unnecessary fear.

The essay was conveying the odd process of watching his book, Horseman, Pass By being turned into the movie Hud.  He arrived at the Texas Panhandle a week or so after filming had started, and he was particularly anxious to learn how the buzzard scene had gone.  In that scene, Paul Newman was to ride up and discover a dead cow, look up a tree branch lined with buzzards and, in his distress over the loss of the cow, fire his guns at one of the buzzards.  At that moment, all the other buzzards were supposed to fly away into the blue Panhandle sky.  But when McMurtry asked the people how the buzzard scene had gone, all he got were stricken looks.

The first problem, it turned out, had to do with the quality of the available local buzzards--who proved to be an excessively scruffy group! This was, after all, quite a version of a casting call--you put out dead meat, and you see who shows up! But these first arrivals were ratty and thin and badly feathered.  And so, more appealing, more photogenic buzzards had to be flown in from some distance and at considerable expense.  

Then came the second problem: how to keep the buzzards sitting on the tree branch it was time for the cue to fly.  That seemed easy.  Wire their feet to the branch and then, after Paul Newman fires his gun, pull the wire releasing their feet, thus allowing them to take off.

But as McMurtry said in an important and memorable phrase, the film makers had not reckoned with the 'psychology of buzzards.'  With their feet wired, the buzzards did not have enough mobility to fly.  But they did have enough mobility to pitch forward.  So that's what they did; with their feet wired, they tried to fly, pitched forward and hung upside down from the dead branch with wings flapping.  The buzzard circulatory system does not work upside down, and so, after a moment or two of flapping, the buzzards passed out.

Twelve buzzards, hanging upside down from a tree branch? This was not what Hollywood wanted from the West, but this is what Hollywood had produced!

And then we get to the second stage of buzzard psychology.  After six or seven episodes of pitching forward, passing out, being revived, being replaced on the branch and pitching forward again, the buzzards gave up.  Now, when you pulled the wire and released their feet, they sat there, saying in clear, nonverbal terms: 'No way.  We tried that before.  It did not work.  And we have absolutely no interest in trying it again.'  It was a big mess; Larry McMurtry got a wonderful story out of it, and Professor Limerick got the best possible parable about the workings of habit and timidity.

So, how does the parable apply? I bet you can figure this one out!
In any and all disciplines, one important reason to go to school and get a degree is to have your feet wired to the branch.  There is nothing wrong with this process.  Educated people truly should have some common ground, share some background assumptions and hold some similar habits of mind.  Agreeing on some common standards make for clear expression and reasoned discourse.  Education gives you, quite literally, 'your footing.'

And yet, in the process of getting your feet wired, you will have some awkward moments which include the intellectual equivalent of pitching forward and hanging upside down.  That experience--especially if you perform it in a public place like a classroom, maybe asking an ill-informed question in front of many of your peers, provides no pleasure.  Even doing it in private is considerably short of fun; maybe some of you have had that memorable experience of writing a paper ringing with conviction and right-minded emotion, and getting it back with a painful, reproachful one-word comment in red, 'Evidence?'

One or two rounds of that humiliation and the world can begin to seem like a very treacherous place.  Under those circumstances, it can indeed seem to be the choice of wisdom, to sit quietly on the branch, to sit without even the thought of flying, since even the thought might be sufficient to tilt the balance and set off another round of flapping, fainting and embarrassment.   

And yet, to a surprising degree, the world is about to present you with many occasions in which the wire will be truly pulled.  After several rounds of the 'dead tree branch' experience, it is a little hard to believe this could happen, but, in fact, the wire will get pulled; your feet will end up free; you will end up with choices and opportunities to get off dead tree branches and go places.

Yet, by then, for way too many people, the second stage of buzzard psychology has taken hold, and they refuse to fly.  The wire is pulled and yet the buzzards sit there, hunched and grumpy.  If they see other buzzards take off from the branch, it is very unlikely that they will say, 'Why, that is certainly and inspiration! Why don't we try that ourselves?' On the contrary, the response is more likely to be, 'Well how come THOSE buzzards get to fly? Someone ought to make sure they get escorted back to this branch and instructed to stay in their place!'

So now you have heard the story I would like you to remember and share with the graduates in your sphere of influence.  Here, with no subtlety, is the point of the parable: You have freedom.  You have choice.  Use it! Encourage others to get off the branch.  Do put a little time and attention into looking where you are going, but then glide.  Catch updrafts.  Soar!

Happy Graduation to you and yours! Have a great week, everyone!


Ben Franklin's Advice

Ben Franklin is attributed to the saying, 'Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.' I was thinking of this after having a conversation with several of my respected colleagues.  

While it is very common to deal with unrealistic sellers' expectations reflecting markets past, we are now seeing more and more of first time buyers making unrealistic low-ball offers amounting to discounts of up to 40% on well maintained properties that are COMPETITIVELY priced for our current LOCAL market!

Or, we encounter the buyers that constantly insist on looking at properties that are way beyond their means.  They are pre-qualified for $500,000 and truly believe they will be able to purchase a $1,000,000 home for half the price, despite what might be our very best efforts to explain the facts to them with current comps in hand.  And, they get quite offended when their low-ball offer is completely ignored by the sellers many times blaming lack of response on their agents.

And all of this, because they keep hearing from the national media and pundits that housing prices have to fall even further, for whatever reasons...or, at a local cocktail party what great deals 'so and so' is getting on their ever-growing real estate portfolio! Hence, my reference to Ben Franklin's advice.

As real estate professionals we are bound by duty to put these offers through and almost every time they'll go nowhere, with no counter offer or any other response leaving us cringing at the thought of what other seasoned agents may be thinking and eventually we lose our disappointed, unrealistic buyers unless we finally succeed in educating them regarding our local real estate market.  

I pledge to always take the time to educate you about your target market and your ability to purchase before you start looking at your first property.  That is my job as a real estate professional.  You should expect no less of any other real estate professional.

Have a terrific week and keep dry! 


Who's Got Your Back?

Not long ago, I read a very good book by Keith Ferrazzi titled Who's Got Your Back? Now it is fairly self-evident that there's a lot of value in building particularly strong relationships with a small group of people.  These are people you trust and who trust you, who are wise, insightful and are willing to spend significant time with you because you make each other better.  Mentors, advisors, friends--all of those titles apply.  Most people are lucky if they find a  handful of such people in their lives.  

Finding and cultivating this inner circle is what Who's Got Your Back? focuses on.  I am a huge believer in the power of mentors.  I've worked hard cultivating mentors for myself and being for others in need.  According to a 2006 study in American Sociological Review, the average person has only two confidants, and 25% of people have none at all! In an ever more complex world, confidants and advisors are more than ever before--yet people have fewer of them.  

Ferazzi makes the case for how valuable 'lifeline' relationships are, focusing on ways that such relationships are critical.  He then talks about four m ind-sets--more like traits, actually--that when cultivated; provide the foundation for building such 'lifeline' relationships.  They include generosity, vulnerability, candor and accountability.  These four traits need to be in both mentor and receiver in order for the relationship to succeed.  Otherwise bouncing ideas freely, receiving criticism and truly growing as a person in your ideas and goals will not weather a long-term relationship.  He also goes on to teach you how to build your dream team and make it your life.  

To put it simply, I loved this book.  The material in it applies well to virtually everyone, particularly people who may need that extra push.  What appeals to me is that everything is underscored with giving of one's self.  Paying it forward is a strategy that has never, ever failed me in life.  This one is already o n my re-read list.  I plan to let the contents of it sink in for a while, then give it another read-through in a few months.

You can be sure that I will have your back as I represent you in your real estate transactions.  It is a philosophy that has built my business into the success that it is today!

I hope everyone has a terrific week! 


The Value of Good PeopleBrian Just, Century Mortgage Company

I think that everyone would agree that surrounding yourself with good people is one of the best ways to assure that your business runs smoothly and everyone's expectations are met.

I'd like to tell you a little bit about one gentleman that we count on to make sure our clients are getting the best lending products available for their needs.  His name is Brian Just and he is a loan officer with Century Mortgage Company.

Brian has been with Century Mortgage for fourteen years.  Prior to joining Century Mortgage, he obtained a marketing degree from the University of Louisville and has had management experience with United Parcel Service.

Brian has consistently been a top producer with Century Mortgage and has a long list of satisfied clients.  He is extremely professional and confidential.  He stays up to date on all the latest lending products.  He is thorough in his explanations and gets our clients to the closing table in a timely manner.  He works the way we like to work---in a professional, personal and accessible manner.

We can count on him to take good care of our customers and he is one of our top 'go to' guys for our customer's lending needs.  We are very thankful to have such an excellent professional partner like Brian. 

Brian Just, Loan Officer

Century Mortgage Company


Have a terrific week!