The Questions of Good Community

I recently attended a wine and cheese night for a non-profit I support. Most of the attendees were strangers to me, but I figured we already had a number of things in common so conversation would flow somewhat naturally. I could not have been more wrong. On the bright side, there were very few awkward silences. The down side was the fact that the lack of silence was due to non-stop talking from the people I met. In retrospect, I’m not sure I was asked one question the entire evening. We are losing the art of conversation, and our connections to each other are suffering as a result.

It's time for summer pool parties, barbecues, outdoor movie nights and other resident gatherings. These can be strategic opportunities to get residents connecting and building a sense of community. However, while good food, loud music and a stocked bar may attract people, they are not enough to create more substantial connections; the sense of being known.

Krista Tippett--who’s podcast, On Being, is characterized by insightful conversations with a wide range of individuals--believes good questions can change a life. She points out that the answers we get are mirrors of our questions. Generous, open-hearted questions elicit generous, open-hearted responses. Thoughtful questions can diffuse tense situations (“What does that word mean to you?”) and positive questions can bring out joy and hopefulness (“What are you doing when you feel the most alive?”).

At CARES, we are always working to be better question-askers because we know the right question can build bridges, open hearts and empower. What questions have you found to be the most powerful in making connections with others? 


Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Engaging Introverts in Community

I‘m an introvert and, although I like the idea of community, it also makes me nervous. Even though I am socially adept, personable and confident (if I do say so myself), I’m not likely to show up at a large community event by myself. On the other hand, if I don’t feel connected in my community its not difficult to consider moving somewhere else. I know I’m not alone in this and I’m often surprised how unaware extroverts are of others who aren’t like them. 

What we know through the data is that a sense of community is an extremely high value for our residents and influences their decision to renew. But what a “sense of community’ means is less clear. And, the truth is that much of our community building activities are aimed at extroverts (or, include enough alcohol to increase extroverted tendencies). What we also know is that connectedness is important for emotional, mental and physical health regardless of introversion or extroversion. So, how do we tap into this often-overlooked demographic and increase their genuine sense of community?

The first thing to understand is that introversion (like extroversion) is more complex than once thought. Current theory suggests four types of introversion, social, thinking, anxious and restrained. This means no one strategy will meet the needs of all introverts. Here are some ideas to increase engagement:

  1. Don’t assume more reserved residents don’t desire engagement—a friendly face and a personal invitation to community events can help break the ice.
  2. When planning community calendars, seek out the input of introverts on your staff. Ask them what might entice them to attend.
  3. Offer a variety of options for connecting that include both quieter and higher energy events (louder doesn’t always mean more fun), large and small group events (deeper connections can be easier to form in smaller gatherings), and, if possible, have designated people at events who can help connect introverts to smaller groups of conversation. 

In our CARES Program we specialize in personal connection and customizing solutions to the audience. We’d love to discuss how we could help your community diversify its offerings.


Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Creating Communities of Engagement

Last week a millennial woman shared with me that she didn’t own a smartphone. To be honest, I didn’t know you could even buy a flip phone anymore, but she retrieved it from her purse to confirm this counter-cultural reality. She shared the freedom of using her phone to take phone calls and nothing else. That reality felt both intriguing and terrifying to me. While I know I’m too tied to my electronic devices, I wondered if there might be a less drastic way to regain some control. 

Adam Alter, professor of marketing and psychology at New York University, suggests that learning when to turn off our devices or creating “stopping cues” can help us live happier, more engaged lives. Not bringing our phones to bed or refusing to bring them to the dinner table can be great ways to untether ourselves from some of the negative effects of constant engagement with people who are not in front of us. 

Our commitment at CARES is helping replace screen time with real face time. Not because technology is bad, but because we need some help setting boundaries that will increase our mental, emotional and physical health. As research continues to uncover that increased screen time correlates to increased feelings of isolation, depression and unhappiness, we will have to be intentional about disconnecting and engaging in more face-to-face interactions. Contact us to see how we might work with you to create communities of real engagement.  


Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Healthcare and Multifamily Strategies

Healthcare in America continues to be a hot topic. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tackle it here. Except to suggest that multifamily environments could be as effective as diet and exercise in the fight for wellness and longevity. Ridiculous?  Not according to psychologist Susan Pinker. Her research has uncovered a hidden and inexpensive strategy that is a more accurate predictor of health and a long life than abstaining from tobacco or alcohol—face-to-face interactions. That’s right, frequent social encounters, intimacy and support networks work like a vaccine in the body to build resiliency and protect us from disease.

And, no, you can’t just connect via text or email. In-person interaction is the key. But even if you’re a strong introvert, you needn’t worry—the interactions can be short and even wordless. A quick smile or hello can release some of the same chemicals in the brain.

The bottom line is that increased social contact actually makes healthier, happier residents. Who knew that intentionally creating space for our residents to meaningfully connect could make so much social, physiological and financial sense! 

For nearly 15 years, the CARES Program has been working in conjunction with the multifamily industry to engage with residents and help foster healthy communities. For more information or for some ideas you can implement on your own, visit our Pinterest boards.


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Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

The Hidden Key to Renewal Success

Earlier this week I attempted to take my paddle board out on a day with a high wave advisory.  It was my day off, I was committed to this activity and was not to be dissuaded by a little thing like weather. This was not a good decision. Thirty minutes later, after being tossed around by waves, humiliating myself in public and losing my sunglasses to the sea, I returned to the shore with a fairly sizable hole in my board. Fixing holes in a fiberglass board is not in my skill set, but fortunately, I have a neighbor who is an expert. As I returned home, my neighbor was outside and I asked if he’d be willing to help me with my board in exchange for me babysitting his two-year old. Problem solved. 

The key to this exchange was both friendship and proximity. It would take a lot for me to relocate, with this kind of community available to me. And, I’m not alone in feeling this way. At CARES, we’ve long known the connection between friends on property and renewal highlighted in Multifamily Insider. That’s one of the reasons we are so passionate about connecting residents. 

More than half of apartment residents (53%) don’t have a single friend who lives on property. Upping their on-property number of friends to just one, increases the likelihood to renew by almost 10% (from 29% to 38%)! And greater numbers of friends continue to increase the payoff. Certainly, amenities, customer service, and speedy service request completion affect how your resident feels about their experience, but we may be overlooking a hidden key to success—the other residents. Contact us to get started enhancing community today!


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Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

How You Can Bring Healing To Our Fractured Country

You don’t have to be a social scientist to recognize this is a polarizing time. The one thing we seem to have in common is a feeling of powerlessness.  And, powerlessness leads to anger. In this condition, its all too easy to oversimplify the demographics that seem to be pulling us apart. But one recent study uncovers an interesting contributor to our dilemma—isolation and lack of community. 

Civic engagement is at an all-time low and, as a result, we can experience a sense of being alone and vulnerable. If we do connect to community, it is likely going to be with others who look, act and believe like us; fueling a great divide. 

Although multifamily communities aren’t a complete cross-section of society, they certainly house people of different demographics. In addition, many of our residents are battling isolation and loneliness. That’s where you come in. Creating opportunities for residents to connect and meet people who are surprisingly similar in spite of some differences, won’t only increase your retention, it may save the world. 

That may be an overstatement, but you will find yourself part of the solution and may save yourself from a sense of powerlessness and isolation. Its certainly worth a try!


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Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

The Strategy of Culture, Part II

In Part I, I discussed the importance of healthy office culture on the strategic results. In Part II, I want to inspire an even bigger cultural need—influencing the culture of the community.  Not necessarily the demographics or interests, but more the sense of community that many of our residents are looking for.

While we like to think that we make decisions based on logical factors like cost, location and services, the truth is that even the most rational of us are impacted by less concrete factors like the “feel” of a place or an emotional response.  Case in point, apartment renters consistently name a “sense of community” as a key amenity.

Certainly, community culture can be influenced by creating spaces to congregate or having amenities like a fitness center or pool. But nothing affects culture more than interaction with people.  We’ve all been to lame pool parties so we know that just setting out snacks and playing music doesn’t ensure a good time. In a time of increasing isolation and loneliness, personal interaction and authentic conversation have a strategic impact on culture; directly impacting resident satisfaction and retention.

CARES Program has over a decade of experience in creating a sense of community and positively shaping community culture. Even better, we’ve been able to quantify the strategic impact.  Give us a call to see if a partnership might be right for you.


Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

The Strategy of Culture, Part I

Management guru, Peter Drucker, once famously quipped that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.  Decades later we are still trying to practically address that reality.  It's not that organizational leaders don’t wish their people were better communicators, or had improved self-leadership and self-awareness, its just that in business, we often ignore what we can’t measure. Too many times I’ve been in conversations where leaders were desperately digging for a “performance” reason to fire a toxic employee as if poisoning the work culture wasn’t impacting business results.

This conversation has come up in more than one setting recently and I’m wondering if there might be some tangible ways to measure company or office culture as a component of a larger strategy. I continue to have conversations with leaders who are trying to manage staff who are technically accomplishing their tasks while negatively impacting the culture. Seth Godin suggests some categories to start. Qualities like self-control, productivity, wisdom, perception and influence greatly impact culture and, ultimately, the bottom line. Just because they take more creativity to measure doesn’t mean its not worth the time to figure out. And, perhaps more importantly , these qualities can be learned.

Response time to maintenance issues, seamless payment processing and meaningful amenities are all key strategy markers. But, how staff interacts both internally and externally has just as big an impact on the success of the property. How do these realities play out in your office? What is one culture improvement you’d like to see occur this year? What steps could you take today to define and measure the impact of your office culture?


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Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

The Limits of Data

Living in Silicon Valley, I have watched the rise of the UX (user experience) job title. A number of my friends hold this illustrious role and, frankly, I love to watch them work. These are some of the most imaginative people I know and their super power is asking good questions and then keeping their mouth shut. Sure, they often start with analytics. There is no shortage of data that can be generated. However, data has its limits.

Data has no emotion or desire or ideas. But people do. At Stanford Design School, students are taught to listen with an eye toward any emotions that might be displayed during a user interview. Did the user change their breathing, laugh uncomfortably, smile naturally or use emotion words when describing their experience? Probe deeper there. Ask more questions so you can create more imaginative solutions. We know this approach is more effective than simply looking at spreadsheets when it concerns technology purchases. Wouldn’t it be infinitely more effective when determining where to live or whether to stay living there?

So why are we satisfied with resident satisfaction surveys when we know that personal interviews are necessary to help us understand the data? At CARES, we can personally visit every new resident and every resident coming up for renewal. We listen and can help you create a community that truly meets the needs residents don’t even know how to express. Contact us today to experience how well we listen.


Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.