5 Life Lessons From the Book I’m Writing & Passing Along to My Children

5 Life Lessons From the Book I’m Writing & Passing Along to My Children

3 min read
Mark Ainley

Mark Ainley is an investor, managing broker, and property manager with almost two decades of experience in real estate. Mark has been a speaker at numerous events across the country including investing summits in Dallas, San Francisco, and Chicago.

Mark’s extensive experience allows him to share his knowledge and experience on many topics like property management, scaling a business, rehabbing and flipping, out of state investing, asset stabilization, market analysis, and more. Mark found his way into real estate by purchasing and flipping condominiums prior to the Great Recession, and since, he has built his own portfolio of rental portfolio alongside co-founding GC Realty & Development LLC (GCR&D), a full-service real estate brokerage, property management, and investment firm, and GC Realty Investments (GCRI). He has rehabbed and stabilized over 450 properties and currently manages over 900 investment properties throughout the Chicagoland area.

GCR&D consults with both local and out of state investors on the acquisition, stabilization, and management of their rental property portfolio, as well. In recent years, both companies have grown to include over 25 full- and part-time employees, running the management and development divisions with 27 additional brokers getting deals done.

Mark was featured on CNBC’s TV show The Deed, which chronicled one of his rehabs. He has also been featured on podcasts like the BiggerPockets Podcast, The Real Estate Mogul Podcast, Joe Fairless, REI Diamonds, and Positive Phil. In 2017, he was featured on the cover of Top Agent—Property Management Edition.

Mark loves to give feedback to beginners or less experienced entrepreneurs on what steps not to take or what steps to take sooner in growing a younger business.

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It has been a sad week around the office. A long-time contractor and friend died this week. It was totally unexpected. He left behind a wife and two daughters. It was a real shock to me and made me think about my own situation. What if something happened to me? My kids are too young for me to pass on life lessons, so I started writing a book for my kids — kind of a “daddy’s life lessons.”

I am not writing them with real estate in mind, but I wanted to pick out a few and share them with you. I think the ones that I chose lend themselves best to real estate investors and probably more specifically to aspiring real estate investors.

5 Life Lessons I’m Passing Along to My Children

Lesson #1: It is OK to fail; just make sure you get something out of it.

I believe everyone gets into real estate to make money, but money shouldn’t be the only focus. So you lost money on that flip — what did you learn from it? What new connections did you make from it? What new skills did you learn?

You take all of that with you regardless of what the bottom line says. Maybe you didn’t make money on the first one. But you’ve got to take all those lessons, connections, and skills that you have learned in the process with you to the next one. Your ability to gain those will have a huge impact on you becoming profitable.


Related: Teaching Kids to Be Entrepreneurs is Key to Addressing the Wealth Gap: Here’s Why

Lesson #2: Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

Become “world class” at something you are good at. If you have a high aptitude for something, develop that skill further. Developing that skill will not be as painful or as time consuming as you trying to develop a skill you aren’t very good at. Sometimes in the beginning of a business, you will be forced to take on roles that you aren’t good at, but once you start making money, hire someone to do the work that you aren’t good at.

Lesson #3: Never give equity to someone you can hire.

In the beginning, if you have no money, that may not be an option. Assuming you have some capital, and it doesn’t need to be a lot, only give equity to people who are integral to the success of your business. To find out if they are integral, ask yourself, “Can they be replaced?” If they can’t be, then an equity stake will keep them there and vested.

Lesson #4: Live frugally.

Your lifestyle will steal your life if you are not careful. I’ve seen many people who started making a little money and decided that a small starter home was no longer good enough, and they needed to get into that 4,000 sq. ft. McMansion. Or that 10-year-old car was no longer good, and they need to upgrade to a brand new luxury car.

Every time you make one of those upgrades, especially if debt is involved, you pledge a piece of your life away to make those payments. Instead, live frugally — and then you won’t need that 70-hour-a-week corporate job to make ends meet, but rather, you can take a lesser job and have the freedom to work on your real estate business. Having low overhead gives you more freedom and opportunities.


Lesson #5: Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Take action!

I never heard it put this way until I heard Jamie Foxx say it on an interview. After hearing it, I thought it couldn’t be said any better, so I stole it. I run a successful real estate company, I’ve done hundreds of deals, and fear still gets in my way.

Related: 5 Ways to Use Real Estate Investing to Teach Your Kids About Finance

To get what you want, you have to do things that may be uncomfortable. You have to push through it. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks — because they are too worried about what you think of them. Most people live their life in fear, afraid to make a mistake because of what someone else might think or say. So get out there and take some chances.

These are just 5 of the almost 50 life lessons that I have written down for my kids. It has been a great exercise. It is almost like writing out my own operating system. It really digs down deep into my beliefs and what I want to instill into my children.

What are some of the principles that you live by? What life lessons do you most want to pass on to your kids?

Leave your comments below.

It has been a sad week around the office. A long-time contractor and friend died this week. It was totally unexpected. He left behind a wife and two daughters. It […]