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Curaytor's Chris Smith and Jimmy Mackin invited Stacey Harmon to join their weekly real estate webshow #Watercooler for a spirited discussion about Evernote for real estate. Stacey held her own against these dynamic personalities and even convinced Jimmy to give Evernote another try. See how in the webinar replay from this popular episode.

Video Highlights

Original Air Date: August 2014

[6:30] Evernote as your external brain
[11:00] Evernote's differentiating factor
[16:15] Evernote's suite of applications
[18:30] Business cards
[25:30] Powerful, contextual search
[31:50] Evernote and GTD
[41:00] Task management

Video Transcript 

[Jimmy] Cheers guys, we’re live. Tonight we have a close friend, Stacey Harmon, the Evernote Ambassador. If I were to describe Stacey here for a moment, she is the exact opposite of Chris and I in a lot of ways. She’s well-organized, she's very methodical, and tonight’s show is about a tool that I know very little about: Evernote.

This show in particular got a tremendous response from our community, Stacey, people signing up to learn more about Evernote, because I believe that we in 2014 are looking for better ways to run our business and I think that the chaotic feeling we all have… sometimes we wake up and it’s not getting away… people are looking at technology to solve that problem and obviously Evernote is one of those tools that people actually use, love it, and rant and rave about it.

[Chris] We’re going to cover the basics of Stacey’s book. Evernote is a revolutionary technology. I always think it's funny, we’re always trying so hard to get adoption in the real estate space. Evernote didn’t even have to try to get mass adoption. They built something really useful.  They are one of the few apps from the original iPhone. When I got to interview their CEO Phil Libin, there were two big takeaways for me that I want to start: one was he has a hundred-year business plan for Evernote and in the technology space even with real estate agents, we’re looking at how can we double our income this year how can we sell twice as many homes?

We don’t think long term, so Phil Libin, genius guy, the 100 yearr business model is fascinating. There’s also a cohort analysis. What the cohort analysis shows Jimmy is that when you're new to Evernote, there's a very low likelihood that you’ll upgrade, because you just haven't found as much value out of the app to pay yet. If you look at people three years in or like four years into using Evernote, like 25 or 30 percent of those people do pay an upgrade because they found a lot of value in that freemium model they were really kinda pioneered. At a certain point you're gonna find enough value to pay to unlock more features. That's called a cohort analysis,

[Jimmy] I understand the concept of cohort analysis, but is there a practical application in the server space?

[Chris] If you provide value without the expectation of someone upgrading, they’ll upgrade. But it takes time; you have to earn their trust and earn their business. So as a real estate agent the top producers, the ones that crush it every year, have typically been in the business for a longer time. They've been providing value to people over time. So for me that the service element, to access their customer service you have to be a paid member they're actually monetizing you know that secondary level of service. The takeaway for people watching is are you doing anything valuable enough to pay for and giving it away for free? That's what the cohort analysis shows us.  

[Jimmy] So Stacey, sell me on Evernote for real estate. There's going to be a practical applications that’s going to make my life better.  

[Stacey] What I'd ask you is this? Have you ever forgotten anything?

[Jimmy] Like in last 10 seconds? Yeah.

[Stacey] Evernote really endeavors to be like your external brain or a place where you can retain everything that really is about your life and your business. It's very fluid in that. So the world today is very fluid in how, especially a real estate agent shifting between business and personal. I mean how many real estate agents choose real estate because the flexibility right? Evernote is a software tool that allows them and supports that flexibility. We called the book Untethered with Evernote because it allows you to untether yourself from the office and be out in the field getting in front a clients and working from wherever you are. I'm in California right now; I'm totally untethered and my business is right here as a result of Evernote being my hub. It really offers you this opportunity to centralize your business, retain anything that you might need anytime and put it in a digital and paperless format that's really flexible and can grow with you over time.

I find that to be you know the key value. Common questions: what is Evernote? Why should it matter?  I like to think about it as a filing cabinet. You’ve got all your files in your office right that are both personal archives and business archives from years past plus what you're doing today. We're going to make that digital, and Evernote is going to be the service that does that. It allows you to go paperless. It’s going to add context to what it is you put in there. So a manilla folder doesn’t have a lot context around it, Evernote allows you to create some context on its meaning. In addition, because its cloud-based you can access it from anywhere and the beauty of Evernote is that you can access it on any device. It is device agnostic.  

Even if you want to change devices overtime, you’re not locked into a system based on your device. In addition to that you can just put in as much information as you want and the searchability in Evernote is outstanding. If you think Google is fast and gives you results that you want, Evernote’s as fast and is indexing your data and your words to help you retrieve that.

[Chris] Jimmy doesn’t really want to be untethered. He likes being tethered to the desk and the computer. That’s where he gets most of the work done. A lot of our audience is hustling out in the field. They're pulling over to the side of the road to close a deal. The client asks for something and they have to be untethered. One other things with context that is great about Evernote, let’s say tou’re walking through a property with a buyer, and part of that process is taking some additional photos because the ones on the MLS probably suck, right? Also you’re taking down some notes about what the buyer had to say about each room… so if you're not doing that right now, be a professional.  

If you do that in Evernote, as you leave a note, Evernote is geo-aware. If I just pop open Evernote and look at the map view of my notes I can actually see where I was when I took the note or when I took the picture. Your notepad doesn't do that. Evernote isn’t for every random thought you ever have, it's for categorized thoughts. For me, I have a folder for Curator…when I was researching the book I don't know how I could have lived without Evernote and the Web Clipper.

[Jimmy] What I’m trying to fundamentally understand, is that we talk about cloud-based, device agnostic, these are common characteristics about applications in 2014. What you both are saying right now is the searchability and the ability to organize your data that separates Evernote from another cloud-based software? Is that one killer feature?

[Stacey] It’s certainly a key feature. I would debate that most apps work across all platforms. I’m finding that competitors that are as feature-rich only work on one device or another. They are not functioning across all devices as beautifully. Evernote is designing an application for each device and each platform. The searchability is a key element. Evernote is kinda like a blank slate. This is what I think happens to people who don't get hooked on Evernote, they don't understand why people like Chris and I are so enthusiastic about it… I call it the sushi factor. I don’t get people who absolutely love sushi! But if you like sushi you LOVE sushi! Right? I LOVE Evernote! The searchability is one of those things. People that don’t fully embrace it see it as kind of a blank slate and it doesn't have organization to their workflow. What they need to understand is that if you put everything into it, you can find it.

[Chris] If you don't have a problem to solve, then Evernote won’t stick. If you use post-it notes, handwritten notes, filing folders and filing cabinets… the ability to get rid of those things is pretty damn 2014. The other thing I think that separates it is the multiple types of notes. To me, where in the past you just write a note, they have they have photo notes, they have audio notes. Let's see if you have a post it note, you can photography that. Or on a whiteboard. You can even take a picture of a note and then the words in the post-it note are searchable. 

Let's talk about the idea of workflows, sharing, collaborating with a client.

[Jimmy] Let’s talk about the technlogoy itself. Chris alluded to the WebClipper, but give us a run down that you should be installing or utilizing if you are new to Evernote.

[Chris] From Twitter: Joe basically uses the recording feature. He said he loves to talk to Evernote while he drives. Eric says he when he drives by a X, he stops to take photos and putting them into their own folder. 

[Stacey] Evernote is much more than the app. It is a suite of applications that work in conjunction. They also have an open API to allow for third party applications to make digitizing your world easier. Some other key ones that Evernote actually owns are the Web Clipper which is a browser-based extension that works on all browsers. It allows you to clip and or take a picture of or keep information from any website that you go to. If you've got a lead from the up desk and you decide to Google somebody and you find their profile on LinkedIn you can just hit one button and have that LinkedIn profile saved over automatically into Evernote.

Or, if you see a blog post that would be great for your Facebook business page or Google+ page, you can capture that content. There's also Skitch, which is the ability to annotate or markup any image. If you put an image into Evernote, whether it's a photograph, a clipping, a check or anything from a website like a screencapture, you can annotate it. Right within Evernote you can annotate those images. Real estate is a visual business. I know a deal will fall apart because you didn't clarify if that particular light fixture was included in the deal or not, so you know, you can take a picture of that light fixture from the property a draw an arrow to it, email it off to the agent and say is this the one you're talking about?

Skitch is what allows you to do that and it's really integrated right into the functionality of Evernote. There's thousands that work to make different processes easier.

[Chris] In the journey to sell in Evernote, I know you’re familiar with Instapaper and Pocket and Read It later, so having the Web Clipper, that's one more folder in Evernote that's you know “helpful articles.” Evernote is best kind of eliminating meeting seventeen different apps. The business card feature, Stacey.

[Stacey] Talk about a workflow! That’s where agents should start. Everybody's got a stack of business cards as a result of their networking activities. Evernote is a brilliant solution, they just replaced LinkedIn's card munch feature so that now you bear the source for digitizing business cards. Here's what should happen, let me just give you an example for my business. We do a consulting and I'm helping you know people adapt these digital technologies and their marketing and their workflows. I'm at a bar in Austin, I meet somebody who is new to our group. We have a conversation where it is clear that there's a need. I get his card, take a picture through the Evernote application through their camera feature on my iOS phone. It automatically scours the card, takes a picture, then auto populates all the data into fields.

I have my setting set so that it’s automatically added to the contacts on my phone, and it searches LinkedIn for the email address that it finds on his card. If it finds a match, gives me an opportunity to connect with him in one touch on LinkedIn. I can also send my contact information via email to him with one button. In a matter of seconds, plus it geo-located my location. When I was standing there, he looked at his phone, “you just e-mailed me and sent me a request on LinkedIn!” He was impressed.

[Chris] You can use the Evernote business card scanner to build your agency network, as well. Most successful businesspeople at these networking events, it sucks but business cards are part of that.  

Jimmy, she mentioned that when she takes the picture in Evernote it adds the contacts in the phone… some more advanced features can be added with If This Than That. On IFTTT, you can use that flexible API to do anything with that card. If I do this in Evernote, do this in Dropbox. Any email that I star in Gmail saves that email in Evernote permanently. I also love the feature in Evernote where you can forward any email to your Evernote default notebook.

Evernote gives you a custom email address and anything important you just forward it basically to yourself into Evernote. 

[Stacey] You can use that to BCC yourself on client communications. You just incorporate it into your general workflows. Chris touches on something that's really important which is you know a lot of people will be organizing their workflows in their business in there email system and email fails as a project and task manager because its only got one real skill set. Evernote gives you the ability to have email plus documents plus images plus typed notes. This context plus geography, all these things in one place which is really is what’s important when you're doing any level of project management. For real estate that might be a transaction or marketing piece or you know a lead management system. 

We can debate whether or not Evernote should be your full portal for managing the real estate transaction. There's a lot of varying points of view on that. There's not a right or wrong, it depends on a lot of factors and if it's the right solution for you or not. Here's the thing to remember, regardless of whether you’re going to do your transactions in Evernote. As a small businessperson, as a real estate agent whose independently employed you have to deal with taxes. You have to deal with the kids schedule and the grocery list. You have to deal with managing your health and marketing and projects.

[Jimmy] The inevitable thing that I experience when I’m using a tool, once it becomes  unorganized, I dread going in there. Google Reader is a good example. At some point I had like five thousand unread articles. How do people who are like me avoid that natural disorganization? Are there any workflow tips you recommend there?

[Stacey] The great thing it that the search is so strong that even if you don't have a workflow understanding how to search and find in Evernote can be your solution. It can be a workflow; you can search not just by text but by the way one other jaw dropping features is the handwriting search. Evernote will pick up your handwriting.  If you’re a note taker just take a picture of it, put in there and Evernote will find it.

The search is so powerful and contextual that it actually doles out results to you and suggestions based on information that's in your account. Things that you actually typed. Beyond that you need to understand what the constraints of Evernote are so that you can design really a workflow system that'll work for you.

There's four basic building blocks in Evernote and that they can be constructed in a variety of ways. There's notes, notebooks, stacks and tags. You can design workflows around how those tools operate. One of the constraints that you should be aware of is that you can put a notebook into a stack. Think of a notebook like a manila folder on your desktop and think of a stack as that wire rack that you put a bunch of manila folders in. That’s the analogy to the digital forum. A restraint of Evernote is you can have a notebook in a stack, you can't have a notebook in a notebook. You can only go one deep. That's different than say, Outlook where people are used to putting nested folders and notebooks in there.

You also need to know there's a constraint where if you’re a premium user or free user, there’s a 250 notebook limit. If you're doing a lot of transactions it might be better to organize a tag system as opposed to a notebook system. If you're doing a few transactions and archiving, then maybe a notebook structure would work.  

[Chris] I use notebooks for people work. When I would click on the Web Clipper when I was researching a company, I could put it into that notebook right away. You also have the ability to either share the notebook and turn it into a collaborative notebook.  

[Stacey] The flexibility of Evernote and the sharing/collaboration space is really really strong, too. Just because you use Evernote doesn't mean that the people you want to share information with have to use Evernote. There are opportunities to share notes and notebooks with people through a link that just give them access to any browser. You can email a note to somebody., Your data is not trapped in there and you can collaborate and send information to people that are not Evernote users. I've switched all my handouts to public note links so I don't do any paper hand outs anymore when I do presentations.

They are rich, contextual web pages. They have active hyperlinks, emails, images these kinds of things that are all run and flexible and updatable from my Evernote. Obviously if you're dealing with somebody else that's an Evernote user, you have a greater collaborative opportunity. My assistant and I both have Evernote accounts, we share notebooks, we have collaborative workspaces that we can both access to. We have a shared task list to project manage our work and what we’re doing as well as with our client work.

[Chris] Evernote is giving you the app that will get the job done across a number of things to do. It's a pretty complex a system.

[Jimmy] You mention, in the book, the Getting Things Done approach to your design in Evernote. Help us understand what you mean by that? I’ve read it, I actually don’t remember a lot of his strategy. So how does that approach help you organize Evernote more effectively? 

30:45 [Stacey] Getting Things Done (GTD) is a productivity philosophy that's championed by David Allen who wrote the book called Getting Things Done. National bestseller and it's a productivity philosophy that I adhere to. It's very analog and paper oriented in its approach. When I read the book, I was already a savvy Evernote user and I read the book and I said “I get this, this makes sense to me!” I said I can deploy this in Evernote. I mapped out how I was going to use tags, notes, notebooks and stacks and have something that will be scalable. Now I deploy this philosophy in Evernote totally digital. It's my central portal for everything. I still use my calendar, all these other elements but Evernote is my central dashboard.

The thing to keep in mind is that David's philosophy takes the same amount of brainpower to solve a really difficult project as it does to remember to feed your dog. What you need to do is get everything off your brain. Your brain is not good filing cabinet. It should be used for problem-solving and organizing your day. Evernote is that place where I can store any thought that I have. And it is my trusted system for knowing that I can retrieve it. Evernote provides that tool. It allows me to clear my brain of all the ideas and concepts that are cluttering it up, making noise, shifting around trying to interfere with what I need to be focused on.

It allows my brain to solve problems and it allows me to know and I can trust that I can access that idea I had at 8 a.m. when I need it. I'm able to search and find it. That's how Evernote supports it.   

[Jimmy] Never memorize who you look up. Use your brain for problem solving. What are the types of applications do you find to be most useful in our space? You sort of touched on sharing documents with customers or clients… would you want to dive a little deeper in that?

33:50 [Stacey] One of the things that agents typically do… let's talk about a transaction. Dean Ouellette does a great job describing this in his book Evernote for Real Estate. He talks about you know you answering the same questions over and over at the close of the transaction: you're giving them the local utility hook up information in various cities. You should just create a note for that and then just share that note through with your customer. The nice thing about shared notes is the customer just has to have a link to it and if the information changes at the source level you just update your note and the note is updated there for them. That's just one way to do it. You can email a history of conversation logs to your broker for the file. Legally, protecting yourself. 

When I was selling real estate people, to keep a call log every time I talk to the client. I would put in the manila folder, an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, staple it, and write down what we discussed. Now I would do that in Evernote. I can retain that and email it to my broker as part of the transaction file. You can share with your transaction coordinator, you know get them on Evernote and have the documents being… it could be that robust if that's how you want to structure it. You could have every transaction in there and have a list with documents, or a checklist and centralize it.

Agents have this marketing role as well, you can annotate to say no make this change to the layout and you take up you know you have the PDF in there you could ask to change copy or color and email that off. How many of you are trying to revamp your website? Anything visual can really be collaborated on is brilliant in Evernote.

[Chris] Our new Facebook Ads for our clients at Curator that are crossing it. I’ve been using Skitch for that. It's a great software for collaborating when you're designing a website was it notable was that the only issues yet with the one the one we currently use. 

[Jimmy] Right now we’re using Envision for collaborating. It is specifically designed for website iterations and marketing iterations and collaboration. It does that one thing better than anyone else I've seen out there.

[Chris] A lot of people are asking on Twitter “what exact folder should I create?” I think  only you can answer that question. I created a folder for a book I was writing, a creative folder for a website I was building, etc. At a simple level, you can create notebook for each of your clients and you can start that notebook with what we would call killer content.  

Think about that first experience with the client. Once I invite them into the workspace, and it’s going to have every answer to every question you're going to have as a buyer over the next four to six months. If you're working with a client and you know they're looking at Zillow and Trulia, you could use the Web Clipper, put it in the shared notebook, and keep information there.

Christina Wise has been pretty known for you know being an Evernote Ambassador, she’s a huge proponent for them and she's all about creating that experience. Instead of allowing all these things to exist around the, you know, peripheral, bring it all into a shared Evernote notebook with your client. one other coping this most people have heard about her know you know while my wife as ever know like it's not not trying to sell them on some technology they've never heard of

[Jimmy] I’ve been thinking about how to structure my day to be really productive. What is the one thing you do in Evernote for like an hour every day, that sets you into the right direction?

[Stacey] I actually manage all my tasks and projects in Evernote. I'm always in my task management structure. I detail that out really strongly in the book; it's like step by step so that you can see how I work that workflow. I'm in there constantly. It's the first thing I do in the morning. My calendar holds all of my hard appointments, and then Evernote has all the stuff that's needs to be done on a certain day that has some time flexibility to it. I'm in my task manager, one of the workflows we discuss extensively.