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Why Hiring a Mentor Might Not Be the Stupidest Thing You Could Do

Ben Leybovich
6 min read
Why Hiring a Mentor Might Not Be the Stupidest Thing You Could Do

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a well-written and quite compelling article by a fellow BP-er Ned Carey entitled How Do I Find a Mentor in which, having sighted a lot of the cons, he eloquently states the case against hiring a paid mentor.  The overriding point Ned makes in his article is that because so many experienced people are willing to offer free advice here on BiggerPockets.com and elsewhere, that there hardly is a need to pay for any guidance.

Predictably enough, I concur with a lot of the points being made by Ned.  Most mentors are not mentors – they are gurus; information peddlers.  Most of them charge exorbitant amounts of money for what they offer.  Most are not active as real estate investors.  And most will never actually be there to pick-up the phone when you call…

Even still, I find myself taking exception to the premise that one should never pay a mentor.  There are good guys out there who are busy enough doing deals and living life that they won’t mentor you for free.  Having helped so many people into the game, my wife sat me down one day to tell me that even though she knows how much I love what I do, that I simply can not continue to take unlimited time away from our family.  I have to agree with my wife because she is way smarter than I am…

I Don’t Know About You, But I Pay for Training.

My wife Patrisha and I enjoy ballroom dancing and every Friday night we make our way to a local dance school for a lesson.  I get a kick out of knowing how to dace just cause I like it, but equally important to me is the fact that I score BIG, HUGE points with Patrisha for looking as something other than a lamp-post when she pulls me out onto the dance floor at one of those rare “events” we attend!

Well, Patrisha has had ballet training and she is just an absolute whiz on the dance floor.  When working with her, the teacher offers “pointers” and “suggestions”…and then there’s me.  Don’t get me wrong, I can hold my own, specifically in Latin dances, but in order for me to learn a new move the teacher needs to first show it to me, then show it to me a few more times, then dance it with me making sure to lead me forcefully, and then maybe, just maybe…

I could log onto YouTube and watch incredible artists perform a Samba routine anytime I want, and I do.  I could even watch a lesson on Samba which teaches the various steps, and I do that also.  But I promise you, try as I may I could not possibly learn to dance Samba this way, or at least learn it in a reasonable amount of time.  To shorten my learning curve I pay a pro to walk me through the conscious and the subconscious learning…

Why would learning the skill and the art of real estate investing be any different?

Companies Hire Consultants.

It is standard practice in the corporate world to hire consultants.  Why – it’s not like the in-house employees aren’t qualified to solve problems?  Corporations do this for two reasons:

  1. This is a way to facilitate another, unbiased set of eyes to look at the problem.
  2. By paying for the service, corporations make themselves accountable.  No one likes to “waste” money, and it is amazing how our thinking and behavior can change when we “go hard” by putting dough on the table – we become more focused, more committed, and more inspired to make things work.

Why would learning the skill and the art of real estate investing be any different?

Knowledge is Never Free – Nor Should it Be!

We have to get away from the notion that knowledge can ever be free.  Sure, if you read every article and post that I’ve ever written and every article and post that J Scott, Bill Gulley, Clay Huber, Brandon Turner, Ned Carrey, Jeff Brown, Chris Clothier, and many, many others have ever written, you can gain a meaningful perspective.

Time Is Money – Do you have a decade?

And besides, there are some things that one can only learn by doing – it’s called the school of hard knocks.  I went through it when I bought a house for $45,000, sold it for $110,000 and managed to lose $20,000 – price of tuition.  If that’s how you want it, be my guest.  If not, you can pay someone to watch your back – it’ll be cheaper!

Related: How To Get a Mentor For Flipping Houses in 3 Simple Steps

Do You Know What Success Feels Like?

My mother is a very wise woman, and one of her favorite sayings goes something like this:  Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are!

Experience tells me that she is absolutely right – again 🙂  Success is not an event or a circumstance – it is a frame of mind.  To be successful you must think as successful people think.  Do you know how successful people think?

Let me say it differently – in real estate we tend to use a lot of jargon, a lot of terminology that sounds completely foreign to newbies and can be quite intimidating.  Some have even said that we invented this crazy language specifically to intimidate and keep people out of our little club.

The language of success is kind of like that too – it is foreign to people that haven’t experienced it.  I think that it is crucially important for you as a new player to surround yourself with people who have personal knowledge of success.  You can do what I did – ask and beg for 5 years before these people let me into the club – Five Years!  I hope you don’t think that it was free; believe me when I tell you this – I PAID the price of admission!  Do you have 5 years?  Or, you could hire a mentor, and if you hire the right person you will get more than your money’s worth.

Most People in Your Life Will Want You to Fail!

That’s right, I said it – most people in your life will want you to fail.  It’s not because they don’t wish you well.  In fact, it has very little to do with you at all.  It is them…

Your friends have known you for years.  They are comfortable with you; the old you.  The you that sits on the couch with them watching football, eating chips, drinking beer, and scratching yourself; the you that tells them how the money is tight at the end of the month; the you that complains to them about your boss being a prick.  This is the you that they know and love, and the you they are comfortable with.

But, this is not who you are any more.  You’ve made the choice to break the cycle; you’ve decided to be positive; you’ve decided to live your life in the world of abundance not scarcity; you’ve decided to create opportunity not wait for it; you’ve decided to pick-up the reigns and be proactive and accountable; you’ve made the choice to go after what you want!  This is you now, and GOOD FOR YOU!

But, you need to realize that by moving forward you are necessarily making people in your life feel as though they are falling back; have you heard of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity?  Your friends are exactly where and what they’ve always been.  But they “perceive” being left in the dust because you are moving forward…

Nobody likes this feeling, and basic human nature dictates that to save their perception of themselves they will try to hold you back. What makes this even more difficult and dangerous is that most of this happens subconsciously – most people will mean you well, but they will still try to hold you back, and they will instill doubt in you if you let them!

Does it pay to have someone on your team who can recognize the signs and interfere? 

Related: Should You Pay For a Real Estate Investing Mentor? Here’s My Strategy…


I’ve taken up a lot of words to build a case for why you should hire a mentor.  And yet, nowhere on these three pages have I disagreed with any of the logic to the contrary provided to us by Ned.

Fact – there are a lot of shysters out there charging exorbitant amount of money for mentorship or coaching.  But, there are good guys too, who will truly help you perform at you capacity and do their very best to keep you out of trouble – if you listen!  From here, whether to hire a mentor or not is a personal decision and I hope that this article helps some of you to make it.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo: Fred Astaire Upper Montclair

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.