Last week my daughter said she needed to talk. Want more articles like this? Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox Sign up for free Fresh back from her first year in college, and not unlike the millions of college kids who go away for their first time – she had had a challenging first year at school. As college is known to do, for the very first time in her young adult life, she was faced with real world issues and was forced to handle them on her own – all outside the comfy confines of a home environment. These are kinds of things that we all deal with and as it was her first time away from home, she had had a challenging time. But best of all, she had handled these roadblocks with grace and integrity – and I was really proud of her for coming out the other side more mature and far stronger as a result. Of course, always wanting to help her in any way I can, it was rare that she would “set a meeting” with me to talk about something on her mind. It was obviously important, but as a protective father I immediately asked her if something was wrong. She said there wasn’t anything wrong – but that she wanted to discuss something that she had been thinking about for some time. With some trepidation on my part, we “set a meeting” for the next day. The Talk When we sat down to talk – and much to my relief – “the talk” was not about her wanting to change her major, leave school and join a Tibetan monastery nor was it to tell me that she had mysteriously fallen in love with a garage band guitarist and was planning to get hitched in Vegas and tour America…(not that she would ever do anything like that, mind you). But I am an overly protective, if not slightly paranoid father…and we all jump to irrational conclusions at times! Instead – and to my even greater surprise than the Tibetan monk thing – was that she wanted to talk to me about getting involved in my real estate investing business. To my shock, amazement and an overwhelming sense of pride, we talked about it for over an hour. And at first blush, it sounded to me like it may actually work. I just never thought she would willfully approach me on something like this. But she did. I guess I never fully realized the power of indirect influence. Influence And the Power of Exposure How much do you influence your kids? How much do you influence your kids when it comes to your career? I’ve been told so many times that kids don’t learn from what you say…they learn only from what you do. And as a role model and father, I’ve always tried my best to make a strong connection with my two daughter to not only reinforce to them the value and importance of family and spending quality and quantity of time with them – but I have always wanted to show them that although family is important, you need to strike a balance while having an extremely strong work ethic and dedication to your job as well. I’ve always tried to impress on them that if you find out what you really love to do and do it to the best of your ability – then the money will follow at some point in time. I never thought that by me doing what it is that I really love to do, it would influence her to the point of actually wanting to help me – in a paid capacity of course – in my real estate investing business. I never tried to convince her to get in to real estate. No way. I always wanted her to make her own choices. And I am so proud of her because she had. I just never thought that those choices would somehow bring her to have an interest in working with me. Family, Preaching and the Real Estate Investing Business Whether you are a full-time real estate investor or have a different career altogether but invest in real estate, when is the right time to start to educate them on real estate? If you’ve been a reader here on BiggerPockets for any length of time, we all know how lucrative real estate investing can be. And for those of us that didn’t start doing it in their forties (except for that “real estate in your twenties” guy Brandon Turner) we know that if you start early enough you can gain financial independence at a far earlier age than most of us here on BP. I can certainly say that is the case for me. Like many of us who started later than our twenties (or younger), I wish I had started sooner. But here’s the deal…. If you go after your dreams and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it or you can’t have it but you are passionate about what you do, success will follow. If you love life and always give first – even if it is in small ways until you can give in bigger ways, you will eventually get it back. Don’t worry about making the wrong decision. It is better to try and fail at something – than never trying at all and always wondering what if? As an at times “preachy” father, these are the things I have been saying to my kids for the past ten-plus years. I just never really thought they were listening! My sense is that they listened because I wasn’t just TELLING them…I was also DOING it as well. The Family Real Estate Investing Business? I have two daughters, Hayley 12 and Katlyn 18. I am not saying this because they are my kids (well, perhaps I am), but I just couldn’t be more proud of them both. Both are straight-A students and no trouble at all. Like I said, my oldest just finished her first year in college and is studying Interior Design at a great school in Boston. Hmmm…do you seed the connection with real estate? I didn’t at first…but I do now. Kids follow what you do and not just what you say… Katlyn is working for an architect this summer and after our talk, she is now working with me a few days a week at my new real estate office. Coincidence? I don’t know. I never preached to either of my children they should get involved in real estate. In retrospect, I don’t think I had to. Yes, the money is great and in my opinion, it’s THE best way to gain financial independence when done correctly. Although I never preached real estate investing and house flipping, I always told them and continue to tell them that when it comes to your career – to do something you love. Work so it’s not a job, but instead it’s something you enjoy doing – and just so happen to get paid for it. Like I said, I am a firm believer if you love what you do and are passionate it about it the money will follow. Now whether that is through becoming a full-time real estate investor or if you make lots of money in your field and then invest the fruits of your labors into real estate to grow your wealth and financial independence, it doesn’t matter. Either way, you are doing what you love. The real estate just becomes a different vehicle for the objective. What Is Your Why? An interesting thing happened as my daughter Katlyn planned her college essay for the college she selected to attend. All these years I didn’t really know if she was really listening to my lectures on success and happiness and all the other cliché stuff we all hurl at our kids on a regular basis. If you’re a parent, you know how kids can be when you try to talk to them about life, decisions, and all those other things I mentioned above. “Yeah, yeah Dad, I know”. Sure, I said to myself…is she really listening? What I was trying to do was make her understand that the world owes her nothing and it is ultimately up to her to decide what she will become. Only she will only define success in her own ways. Was she really listening? Like I said as much as I hoped she was – I wasn’t ever really sure. A little while ago, I had the opportunity to read her essay and as I write this I get goose bumps thinking about it… She in fact, was listening because much to my surprise, her essay was about me. In her essay she described how I had inspired her to pursue her dreams by abruptly changing my career path in my 40’s – giving up a very lucrative flooring business in the process, mind you – to take a chance doing the thing I really loved and was totally passionate about. That passion was of course, real estate investing. She actually wrote about all those things I was telling and preaching to her – not because I just TOLD her to do it but because I actually DID what I was telling her what to do. The two messages were congruent. She was listening – and it was a very proud and humbling moment for me. What is your why? Why is it that do you do what you do? For me, my “why” are my kids. I want them to have every opportunity their hearts desire. And I get up every day to lead by example because now I know that they do in fact listen and they do in fact, pay attention – even when you think they aren’t. The Power of Influence…Taught By 12 and 18 Year Olds So whatever it is that you’re doing, whether you realize it or not, you are influencing. You are always influencing â when you are with your kids, when you are negotiating a deal with a rel estate agent, when you are working out the details of a job with your contractor or when you're at your local church on Sundays. You are always influencing. People (and not just your kids) learn and understand who you are by what you do and not just by what you say. The best of all words is what you DO and you SAY are perfectly in line with each other. And I don’t think I ever truly realized how powerful an influencer the “what you do” part really is. And it took my daughters to make me realize how important and influential that indirect influence truly is. If you’ve made it this far, please leave a comment below! What is YOUR why? How do you influence – your kids, your business associates, etc? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think! Photo: B.Riordan.