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When Due Diligence Can Save Your Life

by Chris Clothier on January 22, 2013 · 15 comments

  
Due Diligence

I rarely write articles , especially for the BiggerPockets Blog, that are not related to real life real estate subjects.  When you read this one, it may seem like it has more to do with ‘real life’ that is does real estate, but believe me, what good is taking all the right steps and making all the right moves in your real estate investment career if you are not around to enjoy it?  This is a story that every real estate investor, whether you are a husband, wife, father, mother, partner, friend and anyone working their backside off every day for someone else, needs to read…

Due Diligence Comes In Many Forms

My father told me a few years ago that I needed to go get a physical every year and he advised me to go to a physician who had treated several members of our family.  My family has some pretty good roots here in Memphis and I am a third generation entrepreneur here in the city.  There happens to be a doctor here who was my grand fathers’ physician and my fathers’ physician and now he is mine.  Unfortunately, there is a good reason for me to go to him.  There is a history of cancer and heart issues that runs in my family and it is always good for a doctor to have a good idea of what to be looking for.

So, I have gone to have a physical every year since the age of 35 and have always been pronounced perfectly fit.  My dad has a physical every year too and even though he is one of the fittest people I know at the age of 62, he never skips that doctor visit.  We are always looking for parallels to the real estate investing business and have laughed in the past that this is just good ‘Due Diligence’.  My fathers’ birthday is early January and he has his appointment every year just before his birthday – this year was no exception.  Let me paint a little clearer of a picture for you about my father, the man who started our company.

My Father – the Competitor

He is competitive guy and loves competition and more importantly, testing himself in everything he does.  I’ve explained before on here that our real estate investing company is hyper competitive because we simply want to be the best.  How that is scored and judged is a matter of interpretation, but there is no doubt that we are always trying to come up with new ways to improve.  We simply adopted his driven nature.  He has a stack of cards that he keeps.  The cards have the message he heard from Joel Osteen that day along with his workout schedule.  The man can tell you exactly how many days he has worked out every year along with what he did and if he liked Joel’s message that day or not!  People are always amazed that as a company we are so focused on recording and tracking data and I point to him as where it all started!

On his 60th birthday he gathered all of his sons together for a weight lifting competition where he wanted to see if the old man could out lift his sons.  He is a competitive softball player and has been competing for the National Championship for the past 10 years in his age brackets and in different competitive brackets.  Several times he has finished second and left the trophy in a trashcan in the parking lot because, as he says, “I came here to finish first!”.  He finally won the national championship two years ago and that was obviously a huge thrill for our office and a great chance for him to teach everyone that hard work and constant striving to improve can pay off with you reaching your goals.  He has related that message to everything we do in life, including investing in real estate and operating an investment real estate company.

Shocking News

Last week he had his yearly physical and the doctor marveled at how fit he was as he approached his 62nd birthday.  Is your cholesterol under control? Check.  Is your blood pressure low?  Check.  Any signs of fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breathe?  Nope.  Blood work all looks good and all other indicators of any problems check out perfect.  The doctor told him to head on down the road and we’ll see you next year.  Just out of curiosity, my dad thought to ask one more question.  He asked the doctor if he could get a dye-test where they checked your cardiovascular system.  He had never had one done and thought a little extra due diligence might be a good thing.  The doctor told him that they had a better test he could run called a Coronary Calcium Scan.  They joked that the higher the score, the more danger you were in and that my dad would probably score a 35, which would be lower than most 20 year olds!

My father completed the test, felt great and left the doctors’ office.  Two days later he joined me in Phoenix, Arizona to speak to a group of real estate investors and had some very sobering news.  His doctor had called him with a very stern warning.  He knew my dad was traveling and wanted to make sure he wasn’t traveling for softball.  He told him no straining, no running, no weight lifting, no yelling, no lifting his luggage…nothing.  He had a Theracic Aortic Aneurysm.

As if he needed to make matters worse, the doctor informed my father his calcium score was over 480.  My dad is a healthy eater, hardly ever drinks alcohol, has never smoked or touched a single drug, hates taking over the counter medication for anything and works out every day.  His cholesterol was in check, his blood pressure was well below any danger zones and his doctor had just cleared him as healthy two days earlier.  The thing is, there do not have to be any signs of trouble to have an aortic aneurysm.  It is by pure chance…luck, that my father happened to ask to do a check up that neither he nor his doctor saw any signs as a reason for getting.

Sometimes Due Diligence Means Doing More Than The Status Quo

So, as far as due diligence is concerned, just like with real estate investing, sometimes having trust, history and the good-ole eye ball test is not always enough.  Sometimes you have to ask one or two more questions, just to be sure, just to make sure every rock is over-turned and every scenario has been explored.  Due diligence is more than running the routine tests and sometimes requires a little more digging, even when you are dealing with someone who you have a long history with.  Due Diligence means asking one more question when every indicator says everything is good.

As it turns out, my father is having open-heart surgery in the next two weeks to repair his aortic artery and to bypass two other arteries on his heart.  He did have blockage in his arteries and if he had never asked for that test, there is no telling if he would have been with us long enough to have the test done at his next physical.  He has been working as an entrepreneur and investing in real estate for almost 30 years now and we’ve already talked about what a shame it would be to work so hard preparing for a time when he can relax with grand kids only to never be able to enjoy the fruits of his investments.

If you are spending time to build your portfolio, spend some time to make sure you can enjoy it!  We would love to hear from any other readers on how this article may effect them…even if it is nothing more than a dedication to do a little more due diligence on your health this year!

Photo: a.drian

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Glenn Espinosa January 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Chris,

There is a strong lesson here and it’s unfortunate that you are reminded of the importance of due diligence this way. Thank you for taking the time to share this story.

Sometimes it’s easy to pass of a certain deal when the eye ball test passed with flying colors. Thanks for the reminder to always take it a step further and to investigate every aspect of a deal.

As a health care provider, the words thoracic aortic aneurysm are scary ones. Thank goodness for your father’s due diligence. Best of luck in surgery! Let us know when he pulls through.

Best,

Glenn

Reply

Chris Clothier January 22, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Hey Glenn –

Thanks for the support and the comments on the article. My dad is a funny guy and sometimes he has a lot to say and other times he just lets actions speak for him. Today he and I were talking and he pointed out to me that not very many people get to schedule a surgery like this one – a little due diligence goes a long way.

Then he says, you know, performing due diligence after you buy a property is pretty stupid too! Hopefully, more people will take the two lessons I tried to show in this article to heart (literally) and keep it in mind

All the best to you –

Chris

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Joshua Dorkin January 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Hey Chris –
I’m sorry to hear about your dad and want to wish you and your family our best wishes as you work through this.

Best, Josh

Reply

Chris Clothier January 22, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Hey Josh –

Thanks for chiming in and reading the article. Always good to hear from you. I appreciate the support. It’s going to be all good.

All the best –

Chris

Reply

Bryan Jaskolka January 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm

By chance…by luck…I think your dad is an extremely smart man, and I’m so sorry that you both had to live through this. Thank you for passing your story on. Sometimes as investors we become so concerned about things like returns and strategies that we forget why we’re actually doing it. Thank you again for reminding us. Now, I think it’s time to schedule my yearly checkup…..

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Chris Clothier January 22, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Bryan –

Thanks so much for reading and responding. Thanks especially for catching the point about actually enjoying what in the heck we are doing and why we are doing it.

FYI – I’m 41 and I went and had a coronary calcium scan for the first time yesterday. I’m waiting to hear about the results, but I figured it was the absolute minimum I could do for my family.

All the best to you – Chris

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Jeff Brown January 22, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Hey Chris — God bless you, your dad, and your family. I pray for the fastest recovery ever. Strength to you and yours.

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Chris Clothier January 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Jeff –

Much respect for you on so many levels and I really appreciate the kind words. Keep doing what you do best and we will too. I will say that knowing brings a ton of strength. He was much more nervous until he knew the exact extent and had the additional tests. Now that he knows, it is just like everything else…make a plan and execute it.

Again, I appreciate the prayers. All the best to you –

Chris

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Sharon Vornholt January 23, 2013 at 9:51 am

What a great example of not settling for “average” or “what is generally acceptable”. He is one lucky man!

I tell my granddaughter Jordan all the time when she is doing homework or studying for a test; there is usually not a lot of time and effort involved in going from “average or good” to “great or extraordinary”. Just do a little more every day on everything, and great things will happen.

Best of luck to your dad.

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Chris Clothier January 23, 2013 at 10:18 am

Sharon –

That is a great comment. I love it!

And what a great take on the article and a great example you make for your granddaughter. It really is simple to take one more step or spend one more minute or in this case ask one more question that might lead to the information you need or the ability to be great at something. Thanks so much for reading and commenting and I appreciate the well wishes for my dad.

All the best – Chris

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Sharon Vornholt January 23, 2013 at 10:28 am

Thanks Chris.

Jordan will probably stand up at my funeral one day and say, “She was always telling me there’s just one more thing you really need to do…..” LOL

But that’s OK. What I really want her to remember is that she is extraordinary; so she shouldn’t settle for “OK or average” because it is almost always “just a little” bit easier.

Have a great day.
Sharon

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Karen Rittenhouse January 23, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Chris:

Congratulations to you, your entire family, and especially your dad for his extra due diligence.

I recently finished reading Good to Great by Jim Collins and was struck, once again, by how many are satisfied with Good when it takes very little extra effort to get to Great.

Your dad is a perfect example. Because of his extra little bit of effort, he made a very important discovery, the correction of which will take his health, which had always been good, to that better level of great.

Thanks for sharing. Hug your dad for me. Please, keep us updated on his progress.

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Chris Clothier January 23, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Hey Karen –

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m really glad that the article still has the real estate angle and so many are thinking about the need to complete your due diligence. In everything!

I love Jim Collins book and have read it several times. We employ the hedgehog theory in our companies and it really is true that dedication to excellence can be a factor in transforming a good company to great. I have the audio recording in my iTunes and listen to it often.

Thanks for your words of encouragement! Take care –

Chris

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Kelv!n February 25, 2013 at 5:09 am

Hey Chris,

Wow… that DD article wasn’t quite what I was expecting – just like how life can be… not what you expect/plan for. I hope your dad is doing well now after his surgery. Being big on DD, I suspect your family and he have already done a lot of DD/research on your own about options for heart disease. In case you haven’t heard about the latest in heart tech, check this out:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57324592/stem-cells-help-regenerate-damaged-heart/

I hear the latest in heart tech research everyday – cuz my wife’s head deep in the field. That said, I don’t know where they are in taking patients, BUT i have on good word they are prepping for second phase of the trial. While I prolly can’t give you any special VIP service for this study, I can connect you w/the clinical coordinator of the trial – basically the person who is acting PM on the stem cell study/trial. I’m in good w/the coordinator…. shhh… I’m sleeping with her. She’s my wife. ;)

If interested, shoot me an email and I’ll see what other info we can provide in your DD. At least your dad can give her a call to get the 411. Again, I can’t promise you any special privileges or access… this is a highly regulated and monitored/high profile study, and we like living outside of prison!

Anyway, much luck and good health to your dad!

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Chris Clothier February 25, 2013 at 8:03 am

Kelvin –

I appreciate the information. My dad is actually doing great and those that know him probably will be surprised by the fact that he is visiting the office today to do a little “work”. He has a hard time being away from the office and the atmosphere of being around everyone.

Anyway, I do appreciate the information and I also appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment on the article.

Take care – Chris

Reply

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