You Don’t Know… What You Don’t Know!

17

WHAT… you say!

Be patient and I will explain.

I am a huge fan of fellow BiggerPockets Blog author Jeff Brown.  I make it a point to read everything Jeff writes.  He gets real estate investing… not because he has read a few books… but because he has lived it!  The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I have detected in many of his articles a subtle theme that, when fully understood by every investor, will accelerate their business and all but guarantee their profits.

And that is where the title of this article comes into play.  It is Jeff’s theme!

When I was first confronted with the notion that I “didn’t know… what I didn’t know” I thought my mentor at that time had just lost his mind.  Interesting thought, given that he sold his business in the past couple of years for millions.

Let me explain this concept and how it applies to you. 

It goes like this…

You know, what you know!  Well, that’s fairly simple isn’t it?  You know that you know simple math like that required of most real estate deals.  You know that one of the basics of real estate investing is that you have to find a quality deal.  How do you know these things?  Simple… you do them everyday.

You know, what you don’t know!  Again, fairly simple.  You know that you don’t know brain surgery.  You know that you can’t fly on your own.  You know that you don’t know a foreign language (go with the example here).  Again, how do you know these things… most likely because you made a conscience decision not to know them.

You don’t know, what you know!  Hmmm, its getting a bit more complicated.  At one level breathing fits into this category.  It’s something that we don’t think about… we just do it.  In fact, unless specifically trained, we never give it much thought.

And finally…

You don’t know, what you don’t know!  Let me share a real life example.  I met with a new investor a couple of weeks ago.  This investor was just starting out, and like many “newbies” she wanted to get started as a wholesaler.  In my discussions with her it was obvious that she was smart, motivated and understood the basics of real estate investing.  In other words, she seemed to have a good grasp on the first three concepts above. 

As I was discussing both the general concepts and the many details to be managed by a successful wholesaler, I watched as she started to grapple with a new reality.  A reality that said:

Oh My Gosh… this is harder then I thought.  In other words… I don’t know, what I don’t know!

And then I watched as another new reality hit. If I don’t know this basic stuff and didn’t realize that I even needed to know it, what else don’t I know? 

And, how do I go about figuring out what it is I don’t know but need to know? 

Yet another million dollar question!

And that is Jeff’s theme. So many investors continue to struggle not because they:

Know what they know… or

Know what they don’t know… or

Don’t know what they know…

NO…

They struggle because THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW, and they don’t stop long enough to find someone who having gone before them, has walked in their footsteps, carried the scars, and who can now claim that they know what they know precisely because of those experiences.

HAVE I GOT YOUR ATTENTION?

I hope so, because in today’s market, a market where the “new normal” changes quickly and sometimes drastically, if there are things you need to know but you are not even aware that you need to know them… you are TOAST!

Fear not, there is a solution!

  1. Network, network, network.  This market is not the time to go it alone!
  2. Ask questions — as many questions as you can get away with.  You will find that often times the real answer, the answer to the question you didn’t even know to ask, will be revealed only through continued questions.
  3. Actively participate on the BiggerPockets Forums.  The amount of information exchanged on a daily basis is as good as any ten bootcamps you could attend.
  4. At the risk of contradicting the recommendations above, be selective about who seek advice from.  As Jeff says, if they haven’t written more then 5000 words regarding their field of expertise… be careful.

In closing… always keep in mind that we can never cure our lack of knowledge on any particular subject.  As they say…

It’s a journey… enjoy the ride and never stop learning.

Photo: CarbonNYC

About Author

Peter is an active and successful real estate investor in the Baltimore Maryland region for the past 8 years and is one of the founders of The Club Mastermind a real estate investing coaching program focused on local coaches helping investors to perfect their game.

17 Comments

  1. Haha!! That was a tough one to follow but I love the point!! What I don’t know is usually what costs me money so that is why every week I try to add strength to my team (because I can’t possibly become an expert at everything nor do I want to) and I dedicate at least 30 minutes 6 days a week to learning.

    Thanks for this creative and powerful post!

  2. I think that’s what sets good investors apart from average ones. A good investor realizes when they “don’t know what they don’t know” and actively find ways to remedy the situation. That comes from raw experience and cannot be taught. Often times trail and error is utilized, but with a little investigative work most realize they are not the first to walk that path, someone has experience and knowledge to help guide through the dark.

    Pete, good stuff. I always marvel at the concept of “you don’t know what you don’t know”.

    Jason

  3. Khary Reynolds on

    Great post Peter. We all have been at that stage where We Don’t Know… What We Don’t Know. I’m not sure if we ever really leave that stage in one area of our life or another. But as far as business is concern, your post shows why it is so important to have a mentor or a coach to help guide you down the road that leads to accomplishing your goals. Every real estate investing book I have ever read suggested getting a mentor and I totally ignored this advice for many years. It wasn’t until I actually took the time to find a knowledgeable mentor to help show me what I didn’t know, that things started to progress for me.

    • Khary, thanx for the comment. While the primary purpose was not to say everyone should seek out a mentor or coach, as you point out… those who have mentors/coaches seem to accelerate their business and find success more easily.

      Pete

  4. Khary Reynolds on

    Great post Peter. We all have been at that stage where We Don’t Know… What We Don’t Know. I’m not sure if we ever really leave that stage in one area of our life or another. But as far as business is concern, your post shows why it is so important to have a mentor or a coach to help guide you down the road that leads to accomplishing your goals. Every real estate investing book I have ever read suggested getting a mentor and I totally ignored this advice for many years. It wasn’t until I actually took the time to find a knowledgeable mentor to help show me what I didn’t know, that things started to progress for me.

  5. Jeff Brown

    Hey Peter — Late here, as The Boss had the day off yesterday. (and I don’t mean me) 🙂

    You put this concept in HighDef perspective. What superb writing.

    I first ran into this personally at around 26 or so, when one of my mentors said something I thought was not only hugely mistaken, but made me wonder about him in general. Silly me. It was the day I learned that tax deferred exchanges weren’t like being pregnant — you could have a partial exchange. I was dumbfounded, and downtrodden the rest of the day. My mentor bought me lunch. He then explained that I’d just learned the most valuable lesson I’d ever learn about being a real estate investment broker/advisor. Paraphrasing him, “Son, you can’t find the answers to questions you don’t even know to ask.”

    He then told me about the old movie, a western, in which the young gunslinger was in the middle of the town’s main street, calling out his mentor to a gunfight. His teacher said, again paraphrasing, “Boy, be careful what you wish for. It’s true, I taught you everything you know. What you haven’t figured out yet is that I haven’t yet taught you everything I know.” Oops.

    From that day forward I was so paranoid about real knowledge, I sometimes would triple check the calendar to ensure I new what day of the week it was.

    Good stuff, Peter.

  6. I agree with the last tip whole heartedly. Finding a mentor is esential to making it in todays real estate investing climate. I mean, sure, you can go it alone, but the sad truth is you will be learning a hard lesson. The best reccomendastion I can give is to go to the local REIA meetings and find out who the best investors in the city are. Then actively seek them out for advice and mentorship. Most will be flattered and more than willing to help. Some of the really well known real estate investors even have coaching programs you can buy into being a part of. If you have the cash to spend on it, it is a great way to have someone hold your hand for the first year or two and make sure you are a success. Find a mentor and increase your chances of success.

  7. Great article. I just found a mentor and I’m glad I did. Like most newbies I thought wholesaling would be my entry but after learning more I realize it’s not for me at this time. I spoke to the gentleman who will be mentoring me yesterday and found out more of what I didn’t know. I appreciate Julie Broad’s saying that she still puts aside time for education. I was wondering how some of the pros went about continuing education.
    Thank you,
    E.

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