It’s that time of the quarter again at my company where we’re preparing for our next investment round. Once again, I have to endure the self-flagellation that is the “Kenny salesman.” I’m decent at a small number of things, but putting myself out there and asking people to entrust me with their money isn’t one of them. Which is why it’s surprising this is also my favorite time of the quarter.
The melting pot of investors.
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Give Us Your Tired
Last weekend, my lovely British wife and I officially submitted her green card application (the wedding was great, thanks for asking, there’s a video of us swing dancing around the world on my personal blog). When I first proposed I was under the naive belief that when we moved back to America, the USCIS would gladly welcome the love of my life. Oh sure, I thought there might be an interview to make sure the the marriage was “the real deal,” but it wouldn’t be a significant inconvenience.
How naive was I?
The problem was I still viewed this country the way I was taught in elementary school. Foremost was the idea immortalized by the words engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
We were a a country of equal opportunity and acceptance. People from every walk of life come together and combining their viewpoints. The early Americans had any misconception it would be a smooth ride, but they believed the end result would be a stronger nation.
In my history book, we called this the melting pot (I remember because it was one of the bolded phrases). We had enough faith in this idea that immigration was encouraged.
Today it’s a 300 page visa application followed by a 8-12 month wait for the wife of a US Citizen to come into the country.
But I digress.
It’s the melting pot idea I’m going to run with in this article.
The Investor Melting Pot
In my current gig, I get to experience this melting pot every time deal with investors…and it’s great. Well, I say that now- ask me again when we have 1000 investors.
Why do I enjoy it so much?
They tell me I’m an idiot
OK, no one has called me an idiot…yet. However, none of our investors are shy about disagreeing with me.
And I love it.
If you’re a regular consumer of my posts either on BiggerPockets or my personal blog, you’ll know that I don’t shy away from unpopular opinions. (For example “Four reasons you shouldn’t invest in real estate”). I’m a big believer that the only way someone can improve is if they’re challenged.
Sure, I could put together a business where I do anything and everything I want and rule as a dictator. Trouble is, neither I, nor that business, will improve. Everyone needs people questioning and keeping tabs on them.
Sometimes I can explain I’m not an idiot
I’m a strong believer that you don’t really understand something until you teach someone else.
I attended school for Computer Science (CS). One of the things I had to do was tutor first year students, many of which weren’t pursuing a degree in CS.
I can honestly say that I learned more about coding by explaining the introductory material a thousand times than I did in any of my more “advanced” classes. Forcing me to review the most basic material and talk about it in an a simple, easily understandable, way created a very strong fundamental understanding of CS.
And it’s all about fundamentals.
With few exceptions, the most advanced concepts in a given subject are nothing more than applying the basics in a unique way.
That’s why I like talking to our investors. Every investor brings a unique view based on their background and acumen. Having to explain what we do and how we do it (tailored to their interests of course) creates the same fundamental understanding I got from my computer science teaching.
There is still plenty about real estate investing that I’m learning, but I know for a fact being forced to think deeply about what I do know will yield a strong dividend in the future.
I have to know where we’re going
I’m gradually beginning to learn that investors won’t give you any money unless they’re excited about the future. I need to paint a vivid, and detailed painting for them.
Fortunately for us, our ideal exit plan is aggressive: we want to get to a point where we are able to form a REIT and IPO.
However, you can’t simply state that and move on. People want to know how we’re going to get from point A to point B. I have to know the general steps and start laying the foundation today.
Now, for a number of reasons, I think long term plans aren’t particularly useful (check out my post on Antifragility for more on this topic.) However, understanding the options is invaluable.
Wrap it Up: The Value of the Melting Pot
I am a bit old fashioned in my thinking. I still think a country designed as a melting pot is perfectly viable (one day I’ll write a post on why I like Australia so much, but that’s for later). I still think my wife, or pretty much anyone else, shouldn’t have an issue entering this country.
However, I don’t think this is going to change any time in the near future, at least in America.
In my little microcosm, I’m excited that this melting pot idea is still alive and well. The melting pot that is our investors helps ensure we will wind up with a stronger investment business in the long run.
So I’m going to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our investors. We would never have made it this far without you.
Photo: tim caynes