Continuing Your Education is Key for Real Estate Entrepreneurial Success

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No matter how you view it, the real estate business is a business for entrepreneurs!  It is the ultimate capitalist endeavor.  Whether your chosen route is as a real estate agent, a long-term real estate investor or a short-term speculator, deciding to make a living in the realm of real estate takes the guts, the brains and the bravery of a tried and true entrepreneur.  Many of the best and brightest real estate professionals will attest to using the exact same techniques of some of America’s greatest business minds when growing their own businesses.  It doesn’t matter if the business is located in Ames, Iowa or Los Angeles, California, the path to success is the same.  Ask any of these real estate professionals and they will all tell you the same thing…The Best Never Stop Learning! 

My grandfather was an entrepreneur here in Memphis in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s.  I watched from afar as he built an incredible business and touched the lives of hundreds of employees.  But he failed to do one thing that most entrepreneurs say is paramount when building a business.  He failed to look around the corners in front of him.  He failed to anticipate what was next.  Now his business remained successful, but he had an opportunity to build something incredible and lost a lot of ground and time to his competition because he could not anticipate what was coming next.

My father on the other hand became an entrepreneur in 1983 when I was 11 years old.  I grew up in a hectic and stressful environment and watched as my father built three separate businesses and each one grew to be more successful than the first.  I was lucky to be able to spend time with both my grandfather and my father and see the subtle differences and apply what I learned to my own companies.  One lesson on education stuck out to me and still impacts my real estate investing business on a weekly basis.  In order to innovate and even anticipate what is coming next and how to stay ahead of the curve, you must always be learning something new.  Anyone can work hard.  People have been doing that for hundreds of years.  But Education is the key to success.  The difference between those working hard and those working smart is the amount of time spent educating and learning their craft.

I am a big believer in self educating and constantly looking for new resources of information.  I love to read about how others have succeeded or the pitfalls they had to overcome along their paths.  I also have a heavy does of humility when it comes to learning from others and have no problem admitting what I don’t know and searching for ways to learn.

Real Estate is just like any business and it takes an open mind and willingness to learn new things if you want to be able to stay ahead of the competition and anticipate the next move.  I am a big advocate of watching webinars, attending presentations, registering for white papers and most importantly reading the latest and best books from a variety of genres.  I watched my father read business books, self help books, coaching books, how-to books and every book purporting to have a secret to learning new fads.  He taught me that reading was a great way to self educate and learn.  I am going to list some of the top books I have read in the last couple of years and regardless of the actual profession you undertake in real estate…these are the titles  you need to read if you want to reach new levels of success in 2012!

Rework – an unbelievably good book that is a short and easy read, but will absolutely blow your mind with the simple suggestions and common sense approach to growing a business and finding additional income streams that are literally laying in front of you.

Strengths Finder 2.0 – Why spend your time trying to improve your weaknesses?  You are who you are and you have special talents that are specific to you.  Is it not a better idea to improve and capitalize on your strengths!  We have a number of leaders in our company and this book was great at pointing out each of our strengths and helping us work on our individual strengths as a team and letting others strengths make up for our personal weaknesses.  Great book!

Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way – What is the single most important factor today in your growing business.  If you have read some of my other blogs on here you might remember that I am a big fan of KNOWING YOUR CUSTOMERS!  This book is a great tool for a real estate entrepreneur because it reminds us that the customer is the reason we are in business and our customers want us to lead them to what they want – not sell them what we have.

Building Wealth One House at a Time – If you are looking for a good jumping off point, a good book to get you started with some simple concepts and action oriented thinking, then this book is a good one.  John W. Schaub is a well respected real estate educator and although I have never attended a seminar of his, I found his book to be easy to understand and a really good resource.

Make It Big – Frank McKinney is the definition of real estate entrepreneur!  This book is one that I read every single year and can pick up at any time and turn to a section of the book to find inspiration and focus.  Even though it has an outlandish title, it helps ground me and bring me back to what is important as I try to balance life and business.

Crush It – If you know what you are good at and are ready to tell the world, this book needs to be next on your list!  This book is all about cashing in on your passion and establishing yourself as the expert in your field.

The Go Giver – the book says this is a “little story about a powerful business idea”.  I will tell you that it is so much more and can absolutely change the way you approach relationships in your every day life.  The title says it all – this book is all about giving before you receive.

The Alchemist – I saved this book for last because it is the one that truly has meaning for me beyond simply being a great book.  It is not a business book per se, but it has taught me a lot about how to face each day in the business world.  I will simply tell you that this book was a life changer for me.  I read it in one night and re-read it 3 more times over the next few weeks as I began to focus my mind everyday on my ambitions.  This book taught me that sometimes the greatest treasure is the journey…

If you were expecting a long list of real estate titles, I hope I did not disappoint with the above list.  Often times, it is the books we least expect to have a huge impact that effect us the most.  Several of the books on my favorites list deal with the psychology of how we treat people and how we approach relationships such as clients, partners, employees and prospects.  The better I understand how to deal with everyday relationships, the better I am able to influence those relationships to help grow my business.  I constantly seek to grow and educate myself and I can assure you that if you do the same, your path to success as a real estate entrepreneur will be shorter, faster and have far greater meaning as you travel!

About Author

Chris Clothier

In 2005, Chris Clothier (G+) began working with passive real estate investors and has since helped more than 1,100 investors purchase over 3,400 investment properties in Memphis, Dallas and Houston through the Memphis Invest family of companies.


  1. Hi Chris!

    This is very true! No matter how well-established you are, there’s always something new to learn.

    Thank you for the book recommendations! Going to put these on my Christmas wishlist. 🙂

    Great article!

    • Chris Clothier

      Morgan –

      Thank you so much for reading the blog and responding! Keep reading and looking for great ways to educate yourself. If you get some of those books be sure to come back and tell me what you think. I believe they can have a huge impact!


  2. Another great article!!! Knowledge is truly power, but like you stated having the humility to express that you do ‘t know it all and seek out answers is the key to gaining more knowledge. There are many intelligent folks I know who don’t have this quality and stuggle because of it. I would much rather concede that I don’t know more on a topic that a person and learn something from them because I gain from it. I believe only a wise man can learn from the “village idiot”.

    It is incredible to learn from reading books as you gain perspective from alternative points of view. Its this fascination that breeds the humor from childrens thoughts as they are developing thoughts and ideas from an unbias perspective. I had this moment from reading strengths finder. When they go into detail on how to focus on strengths instead of weaknesses and the factors leading up to this with the funtions of the human brain it is eye-opening. (I believe its that book, its been a while since I read that concept). Keep up the great articles, Chris. Thanks

    • Chris Clothier

      Kyle –

      I appreciate your reading the blog and you made some great points in your post. Stay humble and keep taking actions that lead to you learning and essentially nothing can stop you. If you are willing to implement what you learn, then you can grow as an entrepreneur as much as you wish. You are correct on the Strengths Finder book –

      Thanks again for reading and commenting! I appreciate reading your comments.


  3. Chris,

    Nice list of books. I have personally met John Schaub at a free intro seminar. Very nice easy going guy. His strategy is very simpble but strategic. I remember him saying… buy single family homes with a garage, tenants will move in and pack the garage full and not want to move.

    It’s interesting how focused we can get studying real estate. We develop tunnel vision on the subject and fail to realize all the other industies or subjects that relate to real estate.


    • Chris Clothier

      Frank –

      Great point and I really appreciate you writing it on here. One of my earlier blog discussed the concept that we are really not in the real estate business. Understanding the best way to grow in all areas of sales, service, innovation, technology…the list would go on and on and we can literally always be learning new things.

      Thanks again for reading the blog. By the way, that is a great comment by Schaub on the garage! Very true.

  4. Chris,

    I have been around you guys for many years and have seen firsthand this amazing company grow. I have seen and been a part of continuing education. We all can grow whatever we do by education and perseverance.

  5. Chris,

    Thank you so much for your insight, and especially for sharing your reading list. I plan to read all of the books that you have listed above, but I do have question. The book you mentioned was a life changer for you, The Alchemist, which one are you refering to? Reason I ask is because I went to the book store this morning, and I saw two books by the same title, but with different authors, so I was confused as to which one to pick up. Other than that, thanks again for such a great article Chris.


    • Chris Clothier

      Hi Luis –

      Thanks so much for reading the article and taking the time to post a comment. The author of The Alchemist is Paulo Coehlo. I have a number of his books including Warrior Light and By the River Piedra and all of them are fantastic, but The Alchemist has the biggest effect on me. Enjoy your reading.


  6. Chris Clothier

    Hey Frank –

    I am a road warrior, but sadly, I’m also a purist! I have difficulty listening to books on audio format. I have a library at hoe with about 400 books in it and I’ve become almost obsessed with collecting books. The comforting thing about the collection is being able to select one from the shelf that fits whatever mood I am in or question I have. I like being able to find the answer I need on the shelf.

    All the best – Chris

  7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is also inspirational and helpful in setting a life course and following up. One of the points he makes is don’t give up – and supplies a number of examples where folks have pushed past a “failure” to ultimate success.

  8. Chris,
    Thank you for your list of “non-real estate books” . i look forward to reading all of the them. Would you please post the author of The Alchemist? There are several with similar titles.

    Thanks so much for your articles and willingness to share.

    • Dave Visaya
      Dave Visaya on

      Judy Hi, I think that this is Paulo Coelho’s Book The Alchemist. It’s indeed a good read, but not entirely business related. It’s more of a self help/discovery kind.

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