What My 2 Daughters Taught Me About The Power of Indirect Influence


Last week my daughter said she needed to talk.

Fresh back from her first year in college, and not unlike the millions of college kids who go away for their first time – she had had a challenging first year at school. As college is known to do, for the very first time in her young adult life, she was faced with real world issues and was forced to handle them on her own – all outside the comfy confines of a home environment.

These are kinds of things that we all deal with and as it was her first time away from home, she had had a challenging time.

But best of all, she had handled these roadblocks with grace and integrity – and I was really proud of her for coming out the other side more mature and far stronger as a result.

Of course, always wanting to help her in any way I can, it was rare that she would “set a meeting” with me to talk about something on her mind.

It was obviously important, but as a protective father I immediately asked her if something was wrong. She said there wasn’t anything wrong – but that she wanted to discuss something that she had been thinking about for some time.

With some trepidation on my part, we “set a meeting” for the next day.

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The Talk

When we sat down to talk – and much to my relief – “the talk” was not about her wanting to change her major, leave school and join a Tibetan monastery nor was it to tell me that she had mysteriously fallen in love with a garage band guitarist and was planning to get hitched in Vegas and tour America…(not that she would ever do anything like that, mind you).

But I am an overly protective, if not slightly paranoid father…and we all jump to irrational conclusions at times!

Instead – and to my even greater surprise than the Tibetan monk thing – was that she wanted to talk to me about getting involved in my real estate investing business.

To my shock, amazement and an overwhelming sense of pride, we talked about it for over an hour. And at first blush, it sounded to me like it may actually work.

I just never thought she would willfully approach me on something like this. But she did.

I guess I never fully realized the power of indirect influence.

Influence And the Power of Exposure

How much do you influence your kids? How much do you influence your kids when it comes to your career?

I’ve been told so many times that kids don’t learn from what you say…they learn only from what you do. And as a role model and father, I’ve always tried my best to make a strong connection with my two daughter to not only reinforce to them the value and importance of family and spending quality and quantity of time with them – but I have always wanted to show them that although family is important, you need to strike a balance while having an extremely strong work ethic and dedication to your job as well.

I’ve always tried to impress on them that if you find out what you really love to do and do it to the best of your ability – then the money will follow at some point in time.

I never thought that by me doing what it is that I really love to do, it would influence her to the point of actually wanting to help me – in a paid capacity of course – in my real estate investing business. I never tried to convince her to get in to real estate. No way. I always wanted her to make her own choices.

And I am so proud of her because she had. I just never thought that those choices would somehow bring her to have an interest in working with me.

Family, Preaching and the Real Estate Investing Business

Whether you are a full-time real estate investor or have a different career altogether but invest in real estate, when is the right time to start to educate them on real estate?

If you’ve been a reader here on BiggerPockets for any length of time, we all know how lucrative real estate investing can be. And for those of us that didn’t start doing it in their forties (except for that “real estate in your twenties” guy Brandon Turner) we know that if you start early enough you can gain financial independence at a far earlier age than most of us here on BP. I can certainly say that is the case for me.

Like many of us who started later than our twenties (or younger), I wish I had started sooner.

But here’s the deal….

If you go after your dreams and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it or you can’t have it but you are passionate about what you do, success will follow.

If you love life and always give first – even if it is in small ways until you can give in bigger ways, you will eventually get it back.

Don’t worry about making the wrong decision. It is better to try and fail at something – than never trying at all and always wondering what if?

As an at times “preachy” father, these are the things I have been saying to my kids for the past ten-plus years.

I just never really thought they were listening!

My sense is that they listened because I wasn’t just TELLING them…I was also DOING it as well.

The Family Real Estate Investing Business?

I have two daughters, Hayley 12 and Katlyn 18.  I am not saying this because they are my kids (well, perhaps I am), but I just couldn’t be more proud of them both. Both are straight-A students and no trouble at all.

Like I said, my oldest just finished her first year in college and is studying Interior Design at a great school in Boston.

Hmmm…do you seed the connection with real estate? I didn’t at first…but I do now.

Kids follow what you do and not just what you say…

Katlyn is working for an architect this summer and after our talk, she is now working with me a few days a week at my new real estate office.

Coincidence? I don’t know. I never preached to either of my children they should get involved in real estate.

In retrospect, I don’t think I had to.

Yes, the money is great and in my opinion, it’s THE best way to gain financial independence when done correctly. Although I never preached real estate investing and house flipping, I always told them and continue to tell them that when it comes to your career – to do something you love.

Work so it’s not a job, but instead it’s something you enjoy doing – and just so happen to get paid for it.

Like I said, I am a firm believer if you love what you do and are passionate it about it the money will follow. Now whether that is through becoming a full-time real estate investor or if you make lots of money in your field and then invest the fruits of your labors into real estate to grow your wealth and financial independence, it doesn’t matter.

Either way, you are doing what you love. The real estate just becomes a different vehicle for the objective.

What Is Your Why?

An interesting thing happened as my daughter Katlyn planned her college essay for the college she selected to attend.

All these years I didn’t really know if she was really listening to my lectures on success and happiness and all the other cliché stuff we all hurl at our kids on a regular basis. If you’re a parent, you know how kids can be when you try to talk to them about life, decisions, and all those other things I mentioned above.

“Yeah, yeah Dad, I know”.

Sure, I said to myself…is she really listening?

What I was trying to do was make her understand that the world owes her nothing and it is ultimately up to her to decide what she will become. Only she will only define success in her own ways.

Was she really listening?

Like I said as much as I hoped she was – I wasn’t ever really sure.

A little while ago, I had the opportunity to read her essay and as I write this I get goose bumps thinking about it…

She in fact, was listening because much to my surprise, her essay was about me.

In her essay she described how I had inspired her to pursue her dreams by abruptly changing my career path in my 40’s – giving up a very lucrative flooring business in the process, mind you – to take a chance doing the thing I really loved and was totally passionate about.

That passion was of course, real estate investing.

She actually wrote about all those things I was telling and preaching to her – not because I just TOLD her to do it but because I actually DID what I was telling her what to do. The two messages were congruent.

She was listening – and it was a very proud and humbling moment for me.

What is your why? Why is it that do you do what you do?

For me, my “why” are my kids. I want them to have every opportunity their hearts desire. And I get up every day to lead by example because now I know that they do in fact listen and they do in fact, pay attention – even when you think they aren’t.

The Power of Influence…Taught By 12 and 18 Year Olds

So whatever it is that you’re doing, whether you realize it or not, you are influencing. You are always influencing – when you are with your kids, when you are negotiating a deal with a rel estate agent, when you are working out the details of a job with your contractor or when you’re at your local church on Sundays. You are always influencing.

People (and not just your kids) learn and understand who you are by what you do and not just by what you say.

The best of all words is what you DO and you SAY are perfectly in line with each other.

And I don’t think I ever truly realized how powerful an influencer the “what you do” part really is.

And it took my daughters to make me realize how important and influential that indirect influence truly is.

If you’ve made it this far, please leave a comment below! What is YOUR why? How do you influence – your kids, your business associates, etc? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think!

Photo: B.Riordan.

About Author

Mike LaCava

Michael LaCava is a full time real estate investor, house flipping coach and the President of Hold Em Realty located in Wareham, MA. He runs the website House Flipping School to teach new real estate investors how to flip houses and is the author of "How to Flip a House in 5 Simple Steps".


  1. Very nice post. I started when I was 21, my daughter grew up knowing that I invest in real estate and “how to” buy, rehab and cash flow. She told me one day in her teens that she wanted to retire at 42 like I did. Well she’s in her 40’s, single Mom, low income and renting. She knows a lot about property but chose other ways of making a living (barely). I’m so happy for you and your daughters, a bright and prosperous futures for all.

  2. Thanks, you said it in best ways. My son was always with me during negotiations for motel, apts, several homes purchases. He picked some of my language, take it or leave it, give me a break, give and take, financing contingencies, contract for deed, differences between loan assumptions Vs subject to etc. You are right, we feel they are not listening, but it is opposite.

      • Also, I got to tell you, he saved me a bundle, by telling me to get rid of Blockbuster Video, and told me to listen to young generation for a change!!! Glad I listened to him after he bugged me for a year. He sent me a nice but nasty e-mail, hope to find and attach it here, which reminds me of Essay by your daughter. He was also involved in purchase of CVS and Walgreens, so got into Commercial end as well. Thanks

        • Wow. Sounds like a smart kid you raised! Was he hit with those floods recently. Hope not. I would like to get into apts some day but I have been hearing of some great and very bad deals so I will proceed with great caution.
          I can remember when you could start renting movies on tv and I said how are all the video stores going to make it? I wish I knew enough about shorting the market On the BB of the world. Good thing you got out when you did.
          Thanks for sharing

  3. Excellent article. Thank you for writing it. I invested in real estate from 1998-2008. For five years I tried other biz opps as my real estate business collapsed and disappeared 100%. At 41, I am going back to real estate for good. This is the best place to hang my hat for good

    • Hope it works out this time around Stuart
      If you don’t mind sharing what went wrong with your last portfolio. You bought in 1998 so you must of got a nice run up until the 2006 collapse started.
      Always learning so just curious

  4. In a nutshell, I only flipped homes for a decade thinking that buy and hold was something I could do “later” in my real estate career. Dumb.

    I had a bunch of properties in 2008 that I sat on too long thinking I could wait out the downturn. Had to give properties back to lenders, sell at a loss, and lose all equity I ever had. Got disillusioned with real estate and wandered around for a few years in other deals.

    I never had a mentor to guide me in the early years which I really regret. Now I am looking for mentoring and trying to learn from the past for a bright future.

    • Well Stuart I am sure you’re not alone. For me I talked about getting involved in real estate for over 20 years and when I finally did at the end of 2006 on my first flip with a friend it didn’t end well. Like buying into the stock market right before the bubble bursts. I could’ve quit but I said no way. I did something about it and spent 2 years before I bought my first flip in December 2008 and haven’t looked back. If your mind believes you can do it then you will.
      Just talking about is a great start for you. I wish you much success in starting over as I imagine it wasn’t easy for you.

  5. Mike – That’s a great story. We all wonder if they are “really listening”.

    I have taken my granddaughter who is also 12 with me on work related things for years. Many times when she was really small, I would take her to vacant houses to pick up radon monitors when I had my home inspection company. In these houses we would talk about problems, look at layouts and desirable things like big walk in closets. By the time she was 5 or 6 she would point these same things out to me on her own (usually the big closets are the fine finishes). We would also talk about problems, and I would point out stains on a ceiling and a bad roof, how water could cause mold and such things. Like you said, you never really know if they are listening.

    About a 18 months ago, we were in a house that I was looking to buy. She noticed a strong smell of bleach in the basement and she went off to look around. It was only a minute or two until she had found an area of mold under some steps that the homeowners had missed in their “clean up”. I never really knew if she was “hearing me” but she was. It’s really funny that now we will drive down the street and she will say, “Did you see that? There are some shingles missing on that roof”.

    I also drag her to closings in the summer and go over the HUD1 with her (which she finds totally boring for the most part). I want her to understand that whatever she chooses to do in life, she has the opportunity to make a job “optional” and be an entrepreneur instead.

    Whether or not she ends up in real estate is really not important as really getting the whole “entrepreneur experience”. I want her to have the experience of “creating money”.

    Like your daughter, she is also very artistic and design will likely be a route she heads down.


  6. Very touching story Mike I tried to get my kids interested in real estate investing – and probably pushed too hard. What’s the best way to get your kids involved? And when do you do it? You obviously did it right. Interested in seeing what others think as well. Great article Thanks for writing

    • Thanks Kevin – The thing is I never tried to hard. it is still too early to tell where this may all go but I am happy to have working the office during school break. Funny because my wife works for a real estate company and I mentioned a couple times about maybe considering to sell all our properties in house. She has her broker license and it make sense. However she needs to decide if she want to go down that road. She likes what she is doing and I don’t’ want to disrupt that process. Besides she knows too well and I can be a tough “Boss”.
      She is the real Boss and that could be a problem in the workplace. LOL
      I rather her make that decision like my kids.
      Thanks for your comments

      • I get the sense I’d you push too hard it pushes them right away. My kids are in their early teens and getting them to think about saving money and all is a challenge. They see us investing and are curious but no real interest. When the right time to even mention it? My neighbor says dont until they’re in their twenties. I think Thats too late. Thoughts?

  7. Thanks Michael, No flod issue, more to south in San Antonio. Apts that we have is TIC, in student housing. Thought they are recession proof, since parents are paying the rents!!!!! But it all depends upon location, and management company, hardly getting 2% COC, but not losing money though!!! Good, if you can get into 4 plex’s or 8 units on your own.

  8. Glenn Schworm


    Loved your post man. As one Dad to another it was great. My kids are still young but time flies as you know. I support whatever they want to do, but think it sure would be great to have them follow in my footsteps. Really enjoyed it.


    • Glad you liked it Glenn. Enjoy those younger years with your kids. They grow up quick.
      I am sure you and your wife will do them proud and they will realize it later.

  9. Brian McConnell on


    Your story resonates with me, love it. I too, am in the same situation. I am currently making my transition into real estate investing and my children are my “why” as well. Happy success to you.


      • Michael,

        Right now I am unsure in which direction to pursue, although I have considered buy and hold. I am just now in the beginning of my financial do over but I do see that you have a website in which I will be looking for some education. I have been a heavy equipment operator for some time now so I think a hands on type investments seems clear to me. Though I have no experience, I will be happy finding my niche and will accept any advice you may have. Thank you for asking.


  10. Mike that is such a wonderful story.
    My girls are still very young but I can only wish that I can have this kind of experience in 10 years or so.

    I imagine it can be hard NOT to push them towards what you do sometimes. You really have to just love them and support them and raise them to be good people and trust them to find what they will love doing.

    This reminds me of when I first decided to take my investing up a notch just about 2 years ago I was writing out all my short, medium and long term goals and objectives and had this as my last one:
    When I die: Leave the girls a fortune, raise them well enough that they don’t need it.

    Not your typical SMART goal but I like it. 🙂

    Great article and thank you for sharing that wonderful experience.
    Enjoy your summer working with your daughter!

    • Thanks Shaun
      No doubt you are a good Dad and will instill those same values into your girls. By the time you get done with them they will be flipping apartment buildings and malls. LOL.
      You have a great summer my friend as well. Enjoy those younger years as they go by quick.

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