Wildfire Resources : What You Need To Know

It’s not too late to save your home from a wildfire. 

This week I want to take a minute to tell you about a topic which is very important to me. 

I grew up in an area that was extremely prone to wildfires.  Steep cliffs fell to a narrow canyon, at the bottom of which was a creek that ultimately fed into the Pacific Ocean.  When the conditions were “just right”,  wildfires would move swiftly and uncontrollably all the way to the beach.  And our home sat directly in that path.  This was a pattern that has been repeating every 30 to 75 years, beginning long before my great grandfather bought the land in 1924.  

I was raised to be respectful of the environment.  I was taught that we were the visitors on the land where we live.   With fire a constant risk, my family thoughtfully built our home and landscaped the property in harmony with our natural surroundings, and to harden it in advance of the eventual coming fire. It’s with this knowledge and personal experience that I can appreciate the fear that people feel about wildfires.   

But what if I told you that despite climate change, you can still secure your home against wildfires.  With proper planning, you can live in synergy with nature, and your home and property can survive a future wildfire. 

It takes knowledge and work, but it can be done.  

Below I’ve highlighted some of the best resources I’ve found that can teach the average homeowner how to protect their home.  You’ll have to provide the sweat equity.  

National Fire Situational Awareness 

The key to surviving a wildfire is advance warning.  By keeping an eye on this website, especially during times of the year which are prone to fires, and watching wind patterns, you can anticipate fires long before they reach your home. 


Cal Fire

Cal Fire offers a similar map, with more detail per incident but fewer incidents.   



Offers specific advice on how to harden your home for wildfires. 

A Homeowner’s Guide to Fire and Watershed Management

This is the guide that my grandfather used as the foundation for hardening our homestead. 


I hope that you’ll find these resources as valuable as we have.  If so, let me know!

Re-Evaluating Your Business Today

Change can be challenging for any business.  And as any business owner knows, the past few months have been challenging for almost all businesses as consumers – whether by choice or mandate –  dramatically change their behaviors. 

Many businesses are trying to redefine themselves in our new reality.  Brick and mortar retail stores already under pressure from the pre-pandemic shift to online (which has only been exacerbated in recent months), movie theaters, restaurants, hair salons, and many more similar businesses that rely on in person consumer interactions have been negatively impacted. 

Alternatively, other businesses that support the new “stay at home” society are benefitting from our recent global shift in consumer behavior.  Examples of these are in-home streaming media, at home fitness, food delivery, shipping services and shipping materials, construction (to build outdoor dining spaces and compliant plastic barriers).  

Whether you’re benefiting from or negatively impacted by these changes, chances are that you’ll need to pivot in some way to react to our new reality.  

There are a few techniques you can follow that will make this process much easier, and improve the chances that your business will come out on the other side stronger than it was before. 

The first thing I recommend doing is to (re)evaluate your business.  At its core, what made your pre-pandemic business successful.  Beyond your products and services, what made your business successful?  Was it your ability to distribute products?  Your industry specific expertise?   What is your “superpower”?

How think about your clients’ needs in light of today’s reality.  How have they changed recently?  What are their pain points, and where do your skills and services best align to service those pain points?

Your solution for future success lies in the intersection between those two areas.  Let me give you a real-life example:

A friend and colleague had built up a success multimillion dollar business providing notable Fortune 100 travel and entertainment companies with children’s toys.  When those businesses temporarily closed their doors, his business dried up.   Reflecting upon his company’s “superpower”, he recognized that the steps he took to import certified child safe toys were very similar to the steps needed to bring in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  

Leveraging the reputation he’d built for delivering quality goods on time, and his experience dealing with strict product regulations, he successfully pivoted his business from delivering children’s toys to PPE products.   This is a perfect example of recognizing your core strengths and the changing needs of your clients, and refocusing your efforts to serve an immediate need.  

How are you adapting to these changes?  I want to hear your success stories … and your challenges! 

The Gamification Of Travel

Over the past decade, I’ve been somewhat of a road warrior.  I traveled coast to coast in the United States at least every two weeks, if not weekly, and made at least two trips to Europe annually.   I traveled so much that most years I held top tier statuses at my preferred airline and hotel.  Some months I’d spend more nights sleeping in a hotel than in my own bed.  The valet parkers at the airport knew me by name.  

It took a pandemic to make me realize how addicted I was to travel rewards, and how much I was sacrificing because of my addiction.  

How did this happen? 

Just like scientists in a lab, the travel industry has gamified travel.  

Airlines have been using preferred treatment to train me to book their brand when I travel.  My earned status opened a velvet rope to amenities like private security checkpoints, priority boarding, and gate to gate private shuttles.   While you were stuck in coach wondering why they gate checked your luggage, I was comfortably in first class with my bottomless complimentary drinks, a warm meal,  and my (much larger) bag safely in the overhead compartment above me.  

Hotels bought my loyalty with early check ins, late check outs, free upgrades to suites (that would have otherwise gone empty), and tokens waiting in my room (wine, chocolate, etc.) with handwritten notes of gratitude on cards.  

Even rental car companies offered me upgrades and points towards free days.  

And all of this had the proven effect of encouraging me to travel more.  In fact, the incentive programs work so well at encouraging brand loyalty and excessive travel that now almost every travel related company offers some type of reward program. 

It all starts with the first upgrade. 

One day you’re sitting in coach, waiting for the plane door to close so that you can get to your next city.  Suddenly the gate agent appears, calls you by name, and invites you to join the passengers in first class.   You’ve been chosen.  You’ve arrived.  And as Seinfeld noted, once you’ve been in first class, you can never go back to coach. 

You research all of the travel programs, asking your friends which they think is the best before choosing a preferred airline and hotel where you’ll focus all of your travel dollars.  You sign up for their points programs and maybe even get their affiliated credit card to maximize your efforts.  You start to engineer your business trips around earning points – constantly trying to figure out how you can schedule your work trips to earn the most points.  

Then you realize that these rewards programs offer points accelerators based upon your status; the higher your status, the more bonus points you earn for a mile flown or a nights stay.  Now they have you hooked.   

Each year they raise the bar to achieve each status tier.  You have to travel further, and spend more money.  The accelerators make it easier for those who already hold top tier status to continue to achieve that status, creating an ever expanding divide between Diamond and Gold.  

And now they have you hooked. 

Stop traveling and you lose all of the complimentary perks.  Once you lose the status, you lose the points accelerators and it becomes that much harder to get back to the pinnacle of status.  

But at what cost?

In some ways I cannot quantify the cost.  Those hours in airports and on planes, the long nights in hotel rooms, and the endless hours of driving … they didn’t make me any happier.  

I’d tell myself that it was worth it.  If I couldn’t use the points, I’d share the wealth.  I’d often shower friends and family with free trips paid with points I would never use.

I wore my preferred status like a badge of honor.  I calculated trip miles and hotels stays, flying the furthest routes to earn the most miles, switching hotels every night to get “first night bonus points” when offered.  

Let’s be honest, excessive travel isn’t good for your body.  We spend a tremendous amount of time sitting, and the eating habits that most of us maintain “on the road” are less than desirable.   

The saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is only true up to a point, and that’s usually about the time the other person realizes that they enjoy their life more without you than with you.  

And if you believe like I do that your most valuable asset is time, then you’ll also agree that your time is too valuable to sell it to someone else in exchange for preferential treatment.  That is, after all, what we are doing when we travel to earn points; we are exchanging our time (on a plane, in a hotel room, or generally on the road) for free perks.   Time that you could be spending with the people you love, doing the things that you like to do, all while building the life you want to live.  

A new beginning. 

Like most people, I haven’t been able to travel as much over the past few months.  And during that time, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been sacrificing everything that I love and appreciate all just to earn travel status.   Through my work travel over the past ten plus year I’ve put at risk my health, my relationships, and my own happiness.  

Now is the time to make a positive change.  I’ve committed to only traveling for work when I absolutely must.  If we’ve learned anything during this pandemic is that most things can be done remotely.  I’m going to take full advantage of the comfort level most of my colleagues and clients have gained with tools like video conferencing.

For those times when I must travel I’ll be focused on having the best possible trip in the shortest amount of time, rather than maximizing my point acquisition.   Since I won’t be brand loyal, I can shop for more convenient (and cost effective) flights and hotels without sacrificing quality.  This doesn’t mean that I’ve sworn off points.  Rather, I’ve decided not to let points and other travel rewards dictate my life. 

The reward for this activity is handsome.  I’m more productive in a focused environment, so I expect that I’ll be able to continue the amazing business success that I’ve had during this pandemic.   I’ll also have more time to dedicate myself to my relationship, my full time job, my side hustles, and my passion hobbies.  My relationship with my fiancé will most certainly be better.  And I’ll be healthier – working out more and eating fresh, well prepared food instead of processed restaurant meals. 

Will it work?  I don’t know.  I’ll send you a postcard, and let you know how it’s going.  

Adapting Your Cross Channel Marketing

Recently a respected colleague and long time friend reached out to me with a question: “How do I market to current and prospective customers more effectively, given the current environment?”. 

This is a great question.  With all of the changes in the economy due to the global event this year, not only has consumer behavior changed but so has business behavior. His question exemplifies a proactive pivot approach that I support.  When business and economic norms take dramatic shifts, business owners must shift too.  As I’ll discuss in a coming post, when faced with dramatic shifts in the state of your business, taking a thoughtful yet aggressive data based approach to the solution is the best way to ensure the survival of your business.  

To be fair, there are many ways to answer his question.  One of my favorite techniques, which is overlooked by many businesses, is to leverage email campaigns in conjunction with a paid retargeting campaign in social media. 

A study by Facebook and Salesforce (https://www.facebook.com/business/news/email-and-facebook-ads) showed that by executing an email campaign in conjunction with a social media campaign improved the sales conversions by 22%, and extended the exposure of the campaign (the “reach”) by 77%.  

While this study was done in 2014, the core tenets are just as viable today.  In the case study above, you can naturally substitute “Facebook” with any other social network (LinkedIn, for example).  

It is important to note that (typically) case studies like these highlight the best possible outcome the author was able to generate in a controlled environment, and as such your results may vary.  But with that said, it isn’t illogical to think that your campaigns will benefit from 1) marketing to customers who are already familiar with your brand and 2) multichannel marketing.  

This marketing model can be used with both B2C and B2B marketing.  With the proliferation of devices, there are more ways than ever to market to consumers.  It is no longer the case when one channel effectively grabs attention and drives action; consumers want and need input from numerous sources.   And when you unpack it, businesses are really just companies made up of consumers; so the marketing techniques you use for consumers can and often do translate to successful strategies for marketing to businesses. 

In response to my friend’s query, I outlined the following checklist for enabling a campaign via email and social.  Please send me your feedback; it’s welcomed!


Before we start, we’ll need to setup a few things:

  • An bulk email service account.  There are numerous providers from which to choose – MailChimp is currently one of my favorites.  (est. 1 hour)
    • You’ll create a template email with logo.  This is what your email campaign will look like. I recommend a very clean look – perhaps your logo on a white background.  You do NOT want it to look like a marketing piece. 
  • Landing Page (est 4 hours per page)
    • This is the webpage where you’ll be driving your email recipients, when they click on a link in the email.  I always recommend a simple semi-generic landing page where their contact info is collected (or prefilled), and their requested item is promoted. 
      • Even better if this can drive to an immediate online purchase option.
    • You may want to consider including a direct dial number as well. Always give the option to speak to a human. 
  • Analytics Tracking (est. 30 min)
    • You’ll want to make sure that you have analytics software installed on your webpages, especially on your landing page.  This is a very simple process which can be done quickly by any webmaster, who will install the code on your website and in particular the landing page(s).
  • Identify 4-10 product / service offerings (est 2 hours)
    • You’re going to want to start with a handful of offers that will be attractive to a wide group of customers.  You’ll be promoting these in your emails, your paid social marketing, and on your landing page(s).   Choose items that have high margin (profit), low shipping costs, and aren’t perishable.
  • Identify initial target customers (est 2 hours)
    • These are the customers you’ll be reaching with the campaign.  This audience should be broad enough to reach a larger group. 
      • by industry
      • by geo
      • by title
  • Tracking
    • We’ll want to understand up front how we’ll be tracking the results, and then building those tracking mechanisms into the campaigns. 


This is very simple.  Your team will do an advanced search in your existingCRM system.  If you aren’t collecting email addresses from your clients, START TODAY!


The process for the email campaigns is quite simple: 

  1. The emails are loaded into MailChimp. 
  2. Your team uses the email template above to create a simple, personal, friendly campaign. 
  3. Emails are sent to clients. 
  4. You optimize the content / creative, frequency, and target audience for best results.  


  • The same emails are loaded into your preferred social media channel. 
  • A custom audience campaign is targeted towards those same contacts, only this time via the social channel. 


Tracking code will be included in all activities so that the results can be measured, and then the product offering and target audience is tracked.   This allows for an ever improving solution; you can identify which industries, regions, job titles, etc respond best. 

Armed with minimal resources, you can leverage the power of email + paid social to reach their customers with the optimal message to drive sales. 

How I Built My Real Estate Team

As I’ve said before, having the right team makes my role as a landlord exponentially easier. 

It took me a long time to accept that having a team was the right thing for me.  I’m fairly capable, and typically am able to do most anything if I put my mind to it.  I’ve always been curious, and enjoy “getting my hands dirty”, so my logic would be that it would be easier to do the task myself rather than take the time to find someone to do it for me, then manage them through the process.  And I was raised to be frugal – so I just viewed doing it myself as another way to save money.

This was admittedly a short sided view, as I wasn’t taking into consideration the true value of my time, nor the long term benefits of delegating work – namely the exponential time savings.  I never realized how much all of the little work, which I should have been delegating, was impeding my ability to grow my business.

Real Estate was one of the first places where I really took some time to build a team.  Once I had this realization and put into practice an exercise which identified and built my core team, I found that not only did having a great team save me time & money, but it also cleared my mind of all of the stress related to the tasks.   This allowed me to continue to grow my real estate business. 

As you’re building your team, it’s really important to pick people who are dependable, trustworthy, smart, knowledgeable in their field, and make themselves available.  Inexpensive, while a consideration, should be your last consideration.   The saying is true – sometimes you get what you paid for!

Unfortunately, you’re going to need to be constantly evaluating new potential members of your team.   People retire.  Sometimes as a vendor’s business grows their quality drops (ironically, most of the time it is because they haven’t taken the time to build the proper team).  Keep copious notes on the performance of existing team members, so that you don’t accidentally rehire someone who doesn’t do a good job.

But avoid burning a bridges.  You never know when you may be in a jam and absolutely need to rehire the person you swore you’d never use again.  No matter how bad the work product, never make it personal.  As you build out your team, you’ll also be building processes for working with your team – which includes setting SMART (specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals for each project.

For real estate, your team should include:

  1. A real estate agent (for each geographic region)
  2. A lender
  3. An insurance agent
  4. An attorney
  5. A handyperson
    1. (I also keep specialists, like plumbers and electricians, on hand)
  6. A gardener

    I make sure that the latter two are capable of video chat, and sending me before and after photos … just in case I’m on a beach and cannot be there in person.