Real Estate Investing Basics

How Do We Learn Widely Based Complex Disciplines?

Expertise: Personal Development, Personal Finance, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Real Estate Investing Basics, Flipping Houses
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One of my all-time favorite quotes: “In the end it all comes down to talent. You can talk all you want about intangibles, I just don’t know what that means. Talent makes winners, not intangibles. Can nice guys win? Sure, nice guys can win — if they’re nice guys with a lot of talent. Nice guys with a little talent finish fourth and nice guys with no talent finish last.”(emphasis mine)

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Let me know in the comments who you think might’ve said it. Don’t Google it, OK? 🙂 Hint: It was an iconic sports figure of my youth — and no, it wasn’t Leo Durocher.

One of the things brought to us by the Perfect Storm of Bubbles from which we’re struggling mightily to emerge, is the realization that investing in real estate is not only a good idea — done correctly — but doable for far more people than previously believed. I know, cuz I’ve personally seen the change in real time in my own practice. Slowly, but as surely as the sun will again set in the west, more and more of the neighbors eatin’ your burgers ‘n drinkin’ your beer at last Saturday’s BBQ, own or want to own income property.

What’s so often missing is the talent mentioned in the opening quote.

I loved the quote at the end of Richard Warren’s latest post.

You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar. – David H. Sandler

There are indeed things we can learn in a seminar — but in my experience it was because the baseline understanding of the subject matter had already been in place. A 10 year old kid who’s been ridin’ a bike like Evil Knieval since he was five, can indeed attend a seminar put on by a professional with 20 years of competitive experience — and not only learn, but apply.

Speakin’ only for myself, once I learned the basics one on one from a few very kind and generous mentors, headin’ out to study real estate investment broker icons was my life for a couple years. Learning from those who were still walkin’ the talk they were teachin’ was the most effective, nuts ‘n bolts learning I ever encountered. Whether it was the 200 hours of CCIM training or the myriad 2-3 day seminars taught by the legends of 30 years ago, the results were almost always immediately measurable in dollars comin’ my way — not to mention the benefits accrued to my clients.

The one irreplaceable factor in your investment success is, by orders of magnitude, expertise — talent if you will. Hard work without talent will get a ditch dug and not much else when it comes to real estate investment.

Many of the writers here at BiggerPockets are eager to take your game to the next level. They know where that level is cuz they’ve already blown by it. Many think they can get started investing by readin’ enough from some of these wonderful writers. Maybe one in 100 — at best. When just beginning, real estate investing is um, harder than learning to ride a bike.

Grab yourself a serious mentor. I mean Roman OldSchool serious — you become the apprentice gopher. I was originally mentored in much the same manner as the boy in Karate Kid. You know, Wipe on…Wipe off. Before I knew what was happening, I was doin’ five year after tax cash flow analyses — before computers, by hand, using nothing but a handheld calculator and a tedious form. There was no fakin’ it. 🙂

The learning formula was simple, and still generates predictable results today.

Intense one on one mentoring, followed by advanced education via seminars taught by pros who’re still functioning at the level of your original mentor — if not higher — will get you where you wanna go.

There wasn’t a single time I attended those seminars, back in the day, when I didn’t feel an incredible debt of gratitude for the guys/gal who gave their precious time — one on one — to help mold such a pitiful mound of clay as I surely must have been back then.

Your career as an investor will skyrocket once you take on ‘grasshopper’ status and become somebody’s gopher, um, apprentice. Learn from them one on one as long as they’ll tolerate your presence. 🙂 Then go to seminars and learn the truly sophisticated, and/or complex techniques taught by those equal to or more qualified than your first mentor(s).

My three one on one mentors gave me a base the true value of which escaped me ’till attending these seminars taught by the real estate investment brokerage icons of the 70’s and 80’s. Instead of the blank stares emanating from most attendees, I was smiling ear to ear as a seeming endless parade of lightbulbs kept going on for me. Those couple years of non-stop learning from the giants of the industry literally altered the course of my career.

You can experience the same results, as long as you’re willing to admit the need for the original one on one mentoring. The rest will be up to you. I’ve yet to see the formula fail.

Note to real estate agents in Arizona: On the evening of August 24th, in Scottsdale, I’m being allowed to fetch coffee ‘n donuts for Russell Shaw and Jay Thompson. It’s called No BS Real Estate, and is aimed at agents who would like learn what we do, how we do it, and what tools we use. Russell, Jay, and I use different approaches, yet share many common denominators. Believe it or not, it’s free. I could understand if it was just me on the dais, but those two? Gotta be the best deal this year for serious real estate agents wanting to take their game to the next level.

Licensed since 1969, broker/owner since 1977. Extensively trained and experienced in tax deferred exchanges, and long term retirement planning.

    Replied over 9 years ago
    Jeff, I am all for having a mentor. I have accomplished more in the last 4 months then in the previous 3 years having Peter Giardini as a mentor. Heck even if its someone to knock you upside the head once in awhile, its worth it. Jason
    Jeff Brown
    Replied over 9 years ago
    Those knocks upside the head were half of my learning curve. 🙂
    Christopher Somers
    Replied over 9 years ago
    Great idea what Jay is doing ! Most real estate agents do not really understand the investor mindset. Those that do can really carve a nice niche market and excel in it. Because we are investors ourselves, that helps a lot in terms of being able to relate and understand the mindset and the goals of other investors.
    Christopher Somers
    Replied over 9 years ago
    Great idea what Jay is doing ! Most real estate agents do not really understand the investor mindset. Those that do can really carve a nice niche market and excel in it. Because we are investors ourselves, that helps a lot in terms of being able to relate and understand the mindset and the goals of other investors.
    Jay Thompson
    Replied over 9 years ago
    Great advice Jeff! Really looking forward to speaking with you and Russell. I love that quote. Pretty sure it was Koufax?
    Jeff Brown
    Replied over 9 years ago
    I’m lookin’ forward to that night, too. It’s gonna be big time fun. Yeah, it was Koufax. He also had this chilling quote: “Pitching is the art of instilling fear.”
    J Scott
    Replied over 9 years ago
    Great post, Jeff! I would go one step further and say that while a great mentor will take you a VERY long way, hands on experience is even more important. And for anyone interested in how talent is fostered (and the neuro-physical chemistry behind building talent), I highly recommend this book: The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle It focuses on physical talent, but those successful in business endeavors will see the correlation very easily.
    Taylor White, PHD
    Replied over 9 years ago
    Koufax also would wizz some past peoples heads to make sure they were paying attention…and to scare everyone else who was coming up next. And if you are following a guy who just hit a home run off the lefty…good luck.