Kaira Rouda, founder of Real You, the brand creator for Real Living, and best-selling author of "Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs," has just released her first novel, "Here, Home, Hope."

"Here, Home, Hope" is not only a fun read — it’s a primer from one of real estate’s most successful women on how to build a successful real estate practice.

Kelly Mills Johnson, age 39, is the mother of two teenage boys who is facing a midlife crisis. As you follow Kelly’s journey from housewife and mom to budding home stager, Rouda provides a road map for business success coupled with plenty of laughs and tears along the way.

One of Kelly’s most endearing traits is her constant creation of Post-it notes for her "Things to Change" list. Below are five of the 20 items from Kelly’s list that are worth exploring in your real estate business.

1. If you think the grass is greener next door, you’re probably not looking closely
At the beginning of the book, Kelly is convinced that her friends and neighbors have it all. As the plot unwinds, you learn that those perfect exteriors disguise lives and relationships that are falling apart. The lesson from Kelly’s list is "Don’t compare yourself to others — love who you are." And if you think the grass is greener elsewhere, take a closer look.

2. Take self-defense classes
When confronted by local mean mom Rachel, Kelly normally wimps out or says something catty to make Rachel go away. By the end of the book, however, Kelly realizes that she was allowing Rachel to have power over her.

As she puts it: "I had a choice. I could allow her to raise my blood pressure, stress me out with her very presence, or I could let it go. Move on. She only had power over me if I allowed it."

While you can’t control the other people in your life, you can choose how you react to them. Either you are in control of you, or they are.

3. Don’t be gullible/clueless (be aware)
Kelly’s Realtor friend, Charlotte, asks Kelly to stage the house across the street. In fact, Charlotte suggests they form a partnership where Kelly would stage all of Charlotte’s listings.

Kelly researches staging online and decides that she wants to start a business. She begins by writing a business plan. Part of her business plan is to invite 600 people to her home for a kickoff party and to show the house she staged for Charlotte.

It turns out that Charlotte really wanted the house staged so her boyfriend, who was divorcing his wife to marry Charlotte, would buy it. Charlotte is now living there and becomes indignant when she learns that Kelly wants other agents to see her work.

"If you offer your services to all the real estate agents in Grandville, then you are cutting into my business … This was my idea, not yours. I really can’t believe this!"

Kelly avoids two critical mistakes that virtually all agents make. The first mistake is operating without a business plan. Kelly realizes that if she is going to have a steady stream of business, she cannot rely exclusively on one agent, even if that agent is a close friend.

Second, if Kelly were to rely exclusively on Charlotte, she would be limited by how many listings Charlotte took. The result would be that she had a job, but not a business.

When agents rely on referrals, sign calls and other passive sources of business, they are at the mercy of others. To avoid having this happen to you, make sure that you engage in active prospecting activities such as calling on owners of expired listings, building your connections on social media with business pages devoted to the niches you serve, and having a website or blog that is set up to convert online leads into business for you.

4. Take charge of your hair (step into your power)
Like most women, Kelly has an ongoing battle with her hair. The metaphor, however, speaks to how we present ourselves as real estate professionals. Not everyone is going to like us, whether it’s our hairdo or our value proposition.

After several successful appointments, Kelly runs into two rejections. Rather than caving on her price, she realizes that she is worth what she is charging and that these leads simply aren’t customers for her business.

Kelly also realizes that if she is to grow her business, she must track how many leads she generates as well as her conversion ratio.

The same strategy works in your real estate business, too. If you are not tracking how many leads your business generates, what percentage of those leads sign a contract, and then what percentage actually close, there is no better time than now to begin doing so.

5. Put your passion into action by helping others
At the beginning of the book, Kelly is focused on herself and her family. She’s worried about grinding her teeth, hoping her husband’s company won’t cancel their sales trip to Italy, and how she looks.

By the end of the book, she discovers that her real satisfaction has come from pursuing her passion, but always with an eye to helping others. And most of all, expressing gratitude for the people and the love in her life.

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