The vision to be more impactful with my real estate investing started several years ago. It began as an idea, seemingly out of nowhere. There’s a show I like to watch called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, hosted by Jerry Seinfeld. In every episode, there’s a little gem of wisdom from one of the most successful people in the history of television. In one particular episode, Jerry has this great little line where he says, “Ideas are like mice; they just appear.” The more I think about that line, the more I believe it to be true. It’s tough to really pin down where an idea comes from. The idea for me to put on and host this year’s Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Investor Summit just appeared for me like a mouse maybe two or three years ago. And not only did we sell out the entire venue (with investors attending our little event in Center City Philadelphia from as far as Hong Kong!), but I had one of my most impactful years yet, having raised over $50,000 through the event for our local charity partner ProjectHOME!
Of course, I don’t remember where the idea for all this came from exactly, but I can’t help but think the little mouse has been around for quite some time.
Truth be told, I’ve been a connector most of my career. I tell this story in my new book, but I didn’t just wake up with a network of tens of thousands of people all across the globe. I started out by simply looking for connections, attending local real estate club meetings and other local real estate networking events. In fact, I attended as many as I could, literally going to meetings multiple times a week for years on end. It was there that I not only picked up a slew of knowledge and a variety of interesting investing strategies from speakers and experts from all over the country, but I was able to build a network of my own. This network drastically increased when I decided, “Hey, maybe it’s time I start a networking group.” Over the course of a few years, my now-defunct networking group grew to about six cities in five different states with thousands of members. And then I found notes.
Related: 3 Ways Investors Can Give Back to Their Communities (& the Larger World)
Any business owner will tell you that starting a business and then managing that business will eat up most of your time. And I won’t tell you anything different. Over the years, my group slowly disbanded in most of the cities, and though I’d attend meetings when I could, it wasn’t like before. Around the same time, I started touring the country, becoming one of these speakers myself, teaching investors how to invest in notes. Combined with my writing, I started to reach an even bigger audience.
A Sea Change
Time flies, one year bleeds into another, and next thing I knew, I’d landed speaking gigs all over the U.S. and I didn’t know if it was a good thing or bad thing. Sure, I was talking to a lot of investors and trying to be impactful when I could, but I noticed the model for these events was tired, sales-y, and not really doing it for me anymore. Then, seemingly overnight, appearing like a mouse, a new type of event was announced.
A young guy and fellow BiggerPockets member, J. Martin, started a brand new event no one had ever attempted before—a large scale, no selling/no pitching/no B.S. event exclusively for real estate investors called the SF Bay Summit. And because of my work on this site, he happened to reach out to me to be one of the first speakers. I think I may have been the only person to be crazy enough to fly 3,000 miles to an event with no track record for a guy I didn’t even know, but something spoke to me about what he was doing. He wasn’t doing it for himself; it was for the community. And he even raised money for charity. I enjoyed the event so much, I’ve come back time and again each year, and every one seems more successful than the past.
Fast forward a little bit, and another guy I almost blew off reached out to me to be on his new podcasts. This is back when I probably didn’t even know what a podcast was. Again, I took a chance, we recorded a good interview, and we both went our separate ways. Years later, I keep hearing this name that sounded familiar: “Joe Fairless.” I heard it again and again, and podcasts becoming all the rage, I began to noticed that he’d actually grown to host one of the most popular podcasts ever! And since interviewing me, he’d gone on to interview the likes of Robert Kiyosaki, Barbara Corcoran, and even sports legends like Emmitt Smith and Tony Hawk! Well, lo and behold, he started an event with a very similar ethos to J. Martin’s called the Best Ever Conference in Denver, CO. And guess what? It was also a huge success.
After attending and speaking on a panel at this year’s Best Ever event, I noticed there was something in the air ,and I knew what we were planning could be something special. We were even lucky enough to snag Mr. Joe Fairless himself to be our first keynote speaker. But it doesn’t stop there.
Now fellow BP-ers Brie Schmidt and John Casmon out of Chicago are hosting a new event for Midwestern Investors called the Midwest Real Estate Networking Summit on May 11th and 12th. And you’ll never guess who is going to be there. That’s right: superstars like Joe Fairless, J. Martin, and even a little investor named Dave Van Horn. And I can’t wait! It’s so rewarding to be part of this open source form of Real Estate information and networking, all with a strong social impact to help investors and serve the community at large.
How Will You Be Remembered?
Reading Tim Ferriss’ recent book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, I took note when he spoke about his friend Dr. Peter Attia and how he defines success. To sum it up, they rolled all into one major question, one that I can’t help but think about more and more recently: “What do you want to be remembered for?”
It was when I first asked myself this type of question that I realized I didn’t want to be remembered only for my business—or any of my work, really. I just hope to be remember for helping others. Most of my career, I’ve been in accumulation mode. I was all about building wealth and making money. But at some point, when is enough enough? It’s a good question. Last time I checked, I don’t think there’s ever been a tombstone that showed how many units an investor owned. So, I started to think about how I could do more.
In the beginning, I started out small. First, I investigated making rental units available to tenants with Section 8 vouchers through HUD. Then I became familiar with Community Action. I was first introduced to it as a property manager. I learned tenants who were approaching eviction could get assistance to keep their home or to provide a down payment or security deposit on a new apartment. At one point, I worked with Community Action to provide housing for women who experienced domestic abuse. They would guarantee payments for a set period of time (i.e. two years) to help their clients to get a fresh start.
And then about eight years ago, my wife and I made the decision to convert our former primary residence into a drug and alcohol recovery center that I still manage with my oldest son to this day. This has by far been the most rewarding rental property I’ve ever had, directly impacting hundreds of former addicts over the years. Hopefully with properties like these and events like ours, we can show that investors, no matter how small, can make impactful change for the community with our investments.
Time to Change Our Bad Rap
Real estate investors often get a bad rap. They’re seen as greedy or selfish, and although I can understand why that is, I’ve found with all of my networking over the years that that’s just not true.
One thing that always attracted me to real estate was the fact that everyone needs a home, and through my rentals or flips, in some way, I was responsible for helping families find homes. And not only that: I could turn blighted or rundown properties into viable homes, putting them back on the tax roll.
And to be honest, this socially conscious element is one of the big reasons I’ve been attracted to notes. The idea of investors helping borrowers stay in their homes without incurring any more debt that could cause further repercussions down the road is a powerful thing. Unlike stocks, which are a zero-sum game with investors playing either side of the investment, always leaving one party at a loss, notes can actually be advantageous for not only the investor but for every party involved.
- Borrowers benefit from working with note buyers to create a viable solution to stay in their property or move on and/or buy time without incurring debt that can be detrimental to their financial life.
- Banks benefit from others investing in notes as well because they are able to remove what are considered to be “toxic” assets off their books, thus given a greater lending power to do what they do best: lend money.
- Housing makes up a large percentage of the economy, and reforming distressed debt in that area is beneficial to the entire economic system. When a person is not paying their mortgage, they’re also not paying their taxes or insurance escrowed in their mortgage. By turning these delinquent mortgages into performing ones, note investors not only help an individual through their financial struggles, but they also help improve the community at large.
After all, it’s up to all of us to make a difference. So, I have to ask the question of all real estate and note investors reading this: How many people will you help this year with your business or investing?
Comment below and let’s all be a part of the solution!