Finding my WHY in the face of adversity

10 Replies

This one is a little personal.  Which is fine, because at the end of the day, we all do this song and dance for personal reasons.  However, I'm sharing this because maybe my story will help the next person, and its sunday morning.  I get introspective sometimes.  What can I tell you, its been that kind of a week.  

One week ago, the real estate startup where I worked folded.  As in buh-bye, see ya later, we're outta money, deuces kids.  There was some writing on the wall, and those of us that were there from the beginning might have had some idea, but it came pretty far out of left field, timing wise.  Its sometimes hard to see when you're in the thick of generating revenue.  

I was always the weird guy in the office, I drove the cheapest car, and was rushing out to do stuff to my rentals.  You see, I come from a fairly warped background, and have always had a deep seated level of financial insecurity.  Although my parents did well, it was very much a roller coaster, and I've got a few scars.  So I got into this business with some specific goals in mind, the biggest being generating income that was actually secure, rather than controlled by the whims of others.  Its gone well, but at this point in my life, it is NOT a living wage yet.  Its close, but I have some family to help take care of, and as we all know, when the money gets thin is where the tough survive.  

I'm 35, have had a couple businesses, and depending on how you want to spin it, have either had a successful life or have F*cked up spectacularly.  Its all a matter of perception I suppose.  I do have a ton of knowledge and experience, but at times have not been able to translate that into financial success.  Some might say I have put principles ahead of profits, others might call it being a stubborn bullheaded SOB.  

The morning of being let go was not anything profound, just a coffee with my then boss, who matter of factly explained that they spent more than we were bringing in through wholesaling millions of dollars a month.  Whoops.  

However, this led me to head home, sit by my pool and think until my ears bled.  We all have success and failure stories, we all have reasons why we struggle, have triumphed, and have also had our a$$es handed back to us on plates.  What greater ideas do you have, what gets you out of bed, and what would you do once you didn't have to work at a job anymore?  What worries me at night, what am I leaving for the next round of humans who have to take their lap around the sun?  Does anyone give a $hit what I do all day?  Accepting the possibility that the answer is "no", might be a healthy choice.  As the line from Fight Club goes: you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. 

From this, I gathered a few things.  One is that $hit happens.  Two is that rentals are a great fallback income.  Duh.  Three was that I decided to not go back down the fast money rodeo of wholesale office, listening to idiot newbies talk about the rolex they are going to buy with their first spread, or posting to their IG account about some car that won't make them happy.  What would make for a happy business?  For me, for you, for my family?  To me, its got to have a purpose.  

Disclaimer here:  I am a bag of contradictions, but also strong opinions, loosely held.  The following might piss some people off and I don't care.  I grew up in a small town, can handle a rifle, field dress a deer and fix my own rentals, and weld circles around most people.  I also know (not think, KNOW - I've seen it) that we are killing our own planet due to unnecessary consumption and greed, and need to knock that $hit off.  I dislike a lot of cultural norms of this country, the one I hold in deepest contempt is complacency, followed closely by ignorance and the general cheapness and selfishness that consumerism has bred into us.  

About a year ago, I got down the rabbit hole of efficiency, energy, and other topics that seem to engross a lot of hippie morons with internet connections.  However, as a landlord with 11 doors of property and the power/water/gas bills all in my name, it has distilled me into what I would call an "eco-capitalist".  This is my why.  I believe we can live in well built houses that don't $hit all over the place we have to live, and that as a landlord, I bear some responsibility to manifest this change.   I have proven, with working projects, that you can use less, be responsible, be efficient and also live well.  You don't need to be sweating in a filthy hovel swatting flies.  You can, with a little intelligence, some hard work, and thinking outside the box, provide beautiful, efficient, responsible housing for lots of people, who in turn, will make you wealthy.  

So, what does all this ranting and raving mean, in a practical sense?  What did I do about it other than write some slightly nutty manifesto-esque piece on BP?  Well, over another coffee, with a guy who is basically me in 12 years, I fleshed out the basics, and will be taking clients for a new asset management company, which I started last week, to propagate what I believe in.  No, this isn't a solicitation, you'd have to be a lunatic to get in touch with me and ask me to run your rental, and I'll probably say no anyway.  

However, as I began with, I found my WHY in the face of adversity, and should you be in the same boat, I can honestly say that you should do the same.  It'll light a fire under your backside again, which is what I needed.  I also have slept better in the past week than I have in months.  

 - Darwin ; Scottsdale AZ. 

Here! here! to energy efficiency! I know a lot of us on here jumped on this a while ago. We don't call it a "start-up" but instead call it managing our properties properly. ;) 

Many of us realized how we can add to our bottom-line by properly insulating, updating appliances, furnaces, controlling water use, etc. Not only through reduced bills but through tax and utility credits.

We too have "proven, with working projects" - our buildings.

As for my "Why"- I walk my "whys" out to the bus stop every morning. My 'why'fe and I just planned a nice spur of the moment trip. I also look to having a large income when I "ret-why-re" from my w-2. I am very fortunate to have a job which is purpose driven and serves society.

If you are truly concerned about the planet then I believe the real fight is in human population. We will never be able to manage resources in a responsible way as long as our global population continues to grow by leaps and bounds... but then this would cut against your "start-ups" own interests, because we landlords love demand!

Best of luck in your new venture and try not to take yourself too seriously!

@Patrick M. I agree with everything you said, minus the population part because it is wrong. The world population is in decline. You can look it up here. But if we do form some kind of "Let's pick who is allowed to breed or remain alive" committee I get first dibs as chairman.

Updated over 3 years ago

After looking at the chart again, it shows the growth reducing, not the population.

@Bryan O. that is good to hear. Btw, I have added you to the list so you are covered.

Not sure if @Darwin Crawford was typing this from the 1980's based on his thunderbolt like epiphany that energy conservation= $$$.

I am always amazed at how these millennials repackage things :


Global human population growth amounts to around 75 million annually, or 1.1% per year. The global population has grown from 1 billion in 1800 to 7 billion in 2012. It is expected to keep growing, and estimates have put the total population at 8.4 billion by mid-2030, and 9.6 billion by mid-2050.

"Let's pick who is allowed to breed or remain alive" committee I get first dibs as chairman"

I am prepared to bribe whoever is on the selection committee to get the chairman position. 

Originally posted by @Bryan O. :

@Patrick M. I agree with everything you said, minus the population part because it is wrong. The world population is in decline. You can look it up here. But if we do form some kind of "Let's pick who is allowed to breed or remain alive" committee I get first dibs as chairman.

 Bryan, I've never used that site, but looking through it I don't see where we are in negative growth. I see where they've got worldwide annual rate of population change almost flat by 2100, but I don't see any 5 year decline anywhere. 

OP: I can relate because I'm a bag of contradictions myself. I refer to myself as a "bad socialist". I believe in providing the net, tools, and guarantee of reasonable existence to people on the premise that we are humans and should be compassionate to others, but I also believe many people are lazy shitbags that would consistently turn $100 into $1 no matter what advantages you provided. The world is not black and white, just shades of gray. And you are right that you can turn a profit and be responsible. 

I'm doing this to change my family's course in history. I want to be known as the one responsible for changing our course, and building the foundation that my children and grandchildren will build on. I want my children to be "wired" for success and not have to dismantle their brains and put it back together like i did.

@JD Martin and @Patrick M.

Looking at it again, it was the growth rate reducing, not the population. You are right, the population continues to grow. Good thing I got the chairman's position *whew*.

In other news, people should not be completely discounted as the problem. The resourcefulness of people is also the solution. I suppose we'll see what happens over time. I like to think that people will simply do what is better, though I have also seen the movie Idiocracy (the documentary from the future) so I don't know.

@Jd Martin I was listening to your podcast while I was reading your comment... you were in 2 different places at the SAME TIME!

Originally posted by @Bryan O. :

@Jd Martin and @Patrick M.

@Jd Martin I was listening to your podcast while I was reading your comment... you were in 2 different places at the SAME TIME!

 LOL. If I could figure out how to harness that in real life I'd be a machine!

@Patrick M. - appreciate the feedback.  At this point we don't have little "why's" yet, but are working on it.  Rumor has it they change the game....and you're completely right, the efficiency thing is yesterday's news.  what isn't is execution, where I live anyway.  To me, that is the critical difference.  I really dislike the cheap SOB's in this business, they are the ones who shop at wal-mart, and then complain that all the jobs are gone.  No concept of causation at all.  Not to mention they are wrong....

And yes, completely guilty of taking myself too seriously!

As they say - if more information were the solution, we'd all be billionaires with perfect abs....its what you DO that counts. 

@Thomas S. - you'd have my vote for chairman, or at least pretty darn high on the list. 

@JD Martin - I love the "bad socialist" example!  And I hear you on the lazy shitbirds, I grew up in mississippi, and still manage some commercial property there.  The complete pack of muppets that inhabit that place blows my mind.  You could take all the $ from the rich people there and give it to the muppets, and they'd lose it back to them in 2 years tops.  You couldn't get me to have residential rentals in the deep south again with a gun to my head.  

@Bryan O. - yep, humanity is breeding.  rapidly.  Some might call that "the fun part", but it does create problems.  the question is how do we deal with it?  My home city of Scottsdale/Phoenix is growing like crazy right now, and putting all these needy bipeds somewhere is a full time job.