If You’d Just Stop Doin’ This One Thing


We’ve all done it. I’m a repeat offender — as a real estate brokerage owner, investor, and surely as a raw, young, know-it-all agent. We make the decision to do something for which we’re simply not qualified. I opened a real estate investment firm at 25 — an ignorantly arrogant move if ever there was one. Fortunately, my partner was another broker/owner/investor with almost 20 years experience, who was also a practicing real estate attorney — and my dad.

We shoulda been called Wizard of Oz RE Investments, as the senior Brown was the guy behind the curtain, regardless of who the formal designated broker was. At 25 and with seven whole years of experience, just over three of which were full time, I was completely unaware, till a decade later, how many times he’d distracted, talked me out of, or simply vetoed a foolish move. Lookin’ back, it’s now quite obvious, I was far too ignorant to be fearful of much of anything.

Fast-forward to now.

You’re chompin’ at the bit to either do the next deal, or, maybe your first. If it works as planned, you’re in the chips. If not? You’re possibly worse off than when you started. Yet still, you and thousands of others will jump off that 20 foot cliff into water, the depth of which is no concern of yours.

Become an apprentice.

Serve your time under the tutorage of what used to be called a master. It’ll take as long as it takes. Learning by trial and error works for knitting and tiddlywinks. It can literally sidetrack your life when it comes to real estate.

So what I humbly recommend you consider, is to continue with your plan, but instead of attempting to be your own wizard before your time, be a wizard’s apprentice. The time spent will produce rewards lasting a lifetime. Learning from one who’s already put in their time, is invaluable, and more likely than not will save you from potentially crippling financial calamity.

Don’t believe me though. Seek out those in any industry who were apprenticed OldSchool. I can virtually assure you they’ll swear by both the process, the experience and the lifelong benefits. In the end, they’ll all tell you they wound up makin’ more money, rising to the top faster, yet without the trauma many of their peers endured.

The School of Hard Knocks is for chumps and slow learners, as unlike the past, opportunities for apprenticeship abound.

So as 2011 inexorably careens into your life, promise yourself you’ll make it an A-List priority to methodically search for someone, a legitimate expert, who’ll take you on as their apprentice. Consciously choose the pathway leading to you becoming an expert — not the easy way, as there’s no such thing. But the easier way. The way without needless drama, trauma, and sometimes even tragedy.

Apprentices get the best of both worlds. On one hand they’re honored to watch and learn in real time, how a real expert makes their magic. On the other hand they’re shown how badly things can turn out, and why — but without having to experience the horrific stress and heartache of the real McCoy.

There, I feel much mo betta. To all BiggerPockets followers everywhere — Happy New Year!

About Author

Jeff Brown

Licensed since 1969, broker/owner since 1977. Extensively trained and experienced in tax deferred exchanges, and long term retirement planning.


  1. Since all of my brothers and sisters are older than me…I have learned by watching them. Today many of my choices are based on the lessons I learned from their lives. In terms of real estate I am blessed that my brokerage has and onsite coach…. his door is always open and he gives out informational freely which cuts my learning curve.
    Great article and a good reminder that I need to leverage all of my resources.

  2. Thanks for the reality check. Since I’m the type of guy that likes to take inspiration and run with it. BP has been helping ma gather my thoughts together to make a precise plan. And with all of the wonderful and helpful recourses at my digital finger tips i was going to try and “have at it” all on my own. But, stepping back and looking at it, a real live mentor that can devote their actual time to show me “the ropes” would be invaluable.


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