Finding Success by Doing the Ordinary in an Extraordinary Way

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His voice was crisp, authoritative.  It caught my daughter’s attention immediately.  The funny thing is she doesn’t normally listen to talk radio when we’re in the car together.  But this time she was paying attention.

The man on the FM station told the story of a well-to-do executive that had recently lost his job.  He had to deliver pizzas in order to make ends meet.  This executive quickly became the best paid pizza delivery driver anyone could remember.

His secret?

First of all, he developed an Excel spreadsheet that tracked his delivery routes.  By analyzing the data and making adjustments he figured out a way to reduce his door-to-door times.  The customer got the pizza faster – and hotter.  And guess what?  His tips increased.

Next, he went to Home Depot and bought an orange apron.  You know the ones the employees wear?  Then he filled up the apron pockets with doggie treats.  If he delivered a pizza to a customer with a dog he’d give it a snack.  And what canine loving master wouldn’t appreciate that?   His tips quickly doubled.

The voice we heard on the airwaves that day was Dave Ramsey, a personal finance author and advisor.  He explained that the point of the story was this – excellence is achieved by doing the ordinary in an extraordinary way.

I’m currently reading Malcomb Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success.  In it he profiles successful Canadian hockey players, attorneys and computer programmers.  He wrote about Bill Gates and the Beatles too.  Gladwell explains that their success can be attributed to 10,000 hours or more of preparation.  The researchers interviewed for the book found that while natural ability played some part the real difference between the good and the great was the amount of time each successful individual spent honing their craft. 

Now you may not have 10,000 hours of real estate investing experience.  That’s fine.  I don’t either.  However, you and I can do the ordinary in an extraordinary way while working towards the 10,000 hour milestone. 

real estate investing excellenceTo me this means returning phone calls and emails in 24 hours or less.  It’s spending 30 minutes a day reading about what’s going on in our industry.  It  also includes attending local real estate classes, conferences and networking events.  More importantly, it’s reaching out and connecting with the real estate outliers – those successful individuals with 10,000 hours in the business.

They’re not hard to find.  Chances are your local newspaper or TV station interviews these outliers for real estate related news stories.  You may also find them here on BiggerPockets.

After Dave Ramsey finished his broadcast that day my daughter brought up a good point.  She asked about the pizza delivery driver and his doggie treats.  What if the customer had a cat she wondered.  I explained to her that most cats don’t come running when someone is at the door.  That may be true she said but the delivery guy should still have some Fancy Feast to hand out for the felines.  I had to agree.  That would really be doing the ordinary in an extraordinary way.

About Author

Marty (G+) is the Chief Financial Officer for Rising Sun Capital Group, LLC, a real estate investment firm based in Gilbert, AZ. His firm purchases homes at the courthouse steps and public REO auctions. They have two exit strategies, either fix and flip or seller financing.


    • Jill, I heard Bob Proctor once say that very few people devote the time it takes to become an expert at what they do. I wonder if that’s because they think it requires natural ability. If you read Outliers it’s clear preparation is the real key. Thanks for reading.

  1. Hey Marty — That book, in my opinion, outed a lot of people, experts and wannabes alike. What’s really sweet is having mentors who had a minimum of 30,000 hours doin’ what they were teaching. The title to this post is extraordinary. Who knows how many readers you’ve inspired today.

  2. I love this story! I know a guy who managed a hedge fund. The hedge fund blew up (don’t they all eventually??) and he was out of work – with a wife and a $4 million home to support.

    I met him on the first day of his new real estate career. That was 4 months before the housing bubble popped!

    Still, he looked around, got some of his investor buddies to fund the purchases of REO homes. He gave them a 15% return (the stock market was negative about 35%) and made over a million dollar profit on in his first year by fixing up the homes and selling them to anxious first time home buyers who had been unable to buy a home just three years before.

    I’ve got to go – I’m going to go out and buy some doggie-treats!

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